The Problem of Akrasia or Why We Procrastinate

We’ve all been there, going to sleep with a cool plan on changing our life to the better, on becoming a new person. Then we wake up, and all the motivation goes away with the night. Or we succeed for a day and then come back to the old behavioral patterns. This response has been in our minds for so many years that in ancient Greece philosophers have developed a word for it – akrasia.

We call it procrastination nowadays, when you create a plan but don’t follow it.

Why We Procrastinate

It turns out that when we make those plans, we envision our future self – the more successful, fit, healthy, educated one. It inspires us to follow our plan and achieve results, which will be a gift. However, when it comes to actually doing something, we think about our present self, realizing there will be no gifts on the way until the very end.

And our present self loves gifts, that’s why after a bomb workout some of us go and have a doughnut because “you deserve a reward”. The ability to control yourself throughout the time of goal achieving and delay the gifts usually leads to success.

How to Beat the Akrasia Effect

There are some steps you can make to beat procrastination:

  • Create a commitment device.
    A commitment device is something you do in the present that will help you control your future behavior. This will ensure you keep going towards your goal, whether it’s finishing your assignment on time or get education for a new career move.
  • Make the start less difficult.
    The most difficult thing in doing any work is starting it. That’s when we go on and procrastinate, and it’s actually even more frustrating than being in the middle of a huge assignment. We feel guilty for doing nothing and realizing the deadline is near. So make sure you develop a good habit of an easy start. Think of a ritual or something that will help you boost yourself.
  • Use precise scheduling.
    Try creating a schedule and writing when, where, and for how long are you going to do a particular job. Make it as precise as you can, and the possibilities of you actually doing the thing will increase two to three times.

Developing Enkrateia

There’s an antonym for akrasia – enkrateia, which means taking control over oneself. This means creating detailed schedules, special things you have or do before the start of your work, developing commitment devices, etc. It’s possible to establish this system that will make you much more productive and, consequentially, successful.

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