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Surprising Science

Pay Your Future Self Forward, Stop Procrastinating

Leigh Buchanan takes readers into a deep-dive on the psychology behind productivity and why it matters to be mindful of your future self.

We view our future selves the same way we might see a stranger — unrecognizable. So, it might explain why we sometimes have issues taking our most pressing problems of the day and getting them under control, you know, right now.

Leigh Buchanan from Inc has some interesting ideas on the psychology of productivity. At one particular point in her post, she describes how a disconnect to our future selves can be detrimental to our health and future productivity. The ease of delegating tasks our present selves would rather not work on at the moment can just be pushed off tomorrow. She writes:

“At its core, procrastination represents shoddy treatment of the one person who should matter most to you: the future you.”

While the present self gets to enjoy a neural boost by binge-watching House of Cards, the future self is left with nothing but a stressed-out schedule, crammed with several days’ worth of tasks into one Friday afternoon. Buchanan looks to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, to help provide potent advice. Pychyl has found in his own research that in order to address this kind of future-self abuse we must be mindful of our feelings. He says:

“So the first step is to have some awareness of how you are feeling. ‘Why do I keep not wanting to do this?'”

These feelings can manifest as a lack of interest, inability to find meaning with what you’re doing, or even as a fear of failure, but they’re all mental barriers that keep us from addressing what needs to be done today. For your future’s sake, it’s better to get done what you need to now.

To read more about the psychology of productivity, check out Buchanan’s article on Inc.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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