Procrastination as a prize? Think twice

A bunch of post-it notes that read "Do it!"

One of many ways of behavior changing techniques you can “apply on yourself”, say, to become a better student, get rid of social awkwardness, or virtually any characteristic you feel is bad for you, is that of giving yourself a prize for any goal accomplished. While that is pretty much ok, what kind of prize it is will affect the way the “behavior changing technique” becomes useful or useless.

Giving yourself chocolate for every mile ran is kind of contradictory if you’re trying to lose weight. Giving yourself a chocolate for every page of homework done is a different approach, a more useful one.

In matters of doing any kind of work; school work, job-related work; your body will always look for ways not to do the work. Why? Because naturally it’s boring. This is a generalization, but most times people don’t want to do their homework, or job things. People like to procrastinate, as I wrote here, and so doing a boring task will make you want to procrastinate, a.k.a. lose focus, time.

So the reason to write this article is to state that procrastination is not a good prize for doing the things you have to do. Procrastination is interpreted as “not doing anything” by most people, but even if you think otherwise (like it being “doing different, de-stressing things”), your body likes the way it changes your working status to your relaxing one.

And because we always look for relaxing, setting that as a prize can be tricky. You may think it’s a good idea; in fact, if you trained your body to do things for the sake of getting rest after it, you may find it working. But to train your body for that is the actually hard part. Your body looks for leisure, or relaxing, time. So training yourself not to rest until something’s done might turn out to be pretty hard.

Specially when you like to rest. I mean, when you’re a lazy person. Other prizes might work better, but procrastination is always among us, in one way or another. You can procrastinate watching TV or reading an unrelated page on Wikipedia. At the end, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to.

Personally, I don’t feel the Wikipedia example is a waste of time. In fact, sometimes TV isn’t a waste, either. But I do feel that making them your prizes, when you’re accustomed to procrastinate in the middle of any task, could be difficult.

Photo by hang_in_there.

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