The results of this apparently simple manipulation were striking. Those who were thinking about the techniques of pointillism (concrete construal) returned their questionnaires in an average of 12.5 days while those thinking about emotion and harmony (abstract construal) took almost twice as long at an average of 20.5 days. This is an impressive result which seems to point to one very straightforward way of avoiding procrastination: to get tasks done, make sure you focus on the details.

Another reason this research is potentially very useful is its simplicity. Many of the other techniques for avoiding procrastination seem to involve a lot of mental effort – surely not good for procrastinators! Steel (2007) mentions things like increasing the expectation of success, increasing the value of the task and reducing distractions – all good suggestions but largely effortful. For example it’s difficult to increase your expectation of success without the evidence of having completed a similar task successfully. In other words you have to do the task to find out you can do it – exactly what procrastinators are avoiding!

My BOLD highlights. I recommend reading the entire article.

I call this stuff the “Holy Grail” of personal development.. there are many things that can be done to overcome procrastination (visualization of the end result, asf.), yet all of them still have issues to some extent or another.

What methods have you tried/used to combat procrastination?

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