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Sure, we all wanted 2021 to be a new year for us all that brings forth abundance and growth, right? Well, you can’t really have those things if you’re doing nothing but procrastinating, can you?

While getting things done right away is not always something we want to do, it can help us in the long-run more-so than we want to admit. Procrastinating does nothing but delay the inevitable and put us behind. The more aware we are of this the better we can address things as we move forth through life and through the year before us. I recently came across an INC article that noted there are in regard to research four questions we should be asking ourselves now if we really want to stop procrastinating in 2021.

This article went over research that was published back in December of 2020 in the journal Applied Psychology: An International Review. The title of this body of research was/is “A Low-Intensity, High-Frequency Intervention to Reduce Procrastination.” The things within it could be applied to this year or seemingly any other to come depending on how you look at things and I believe we should all be working to reduce procrastination considering how 2020 played out as a whole. 

The four questions noted within this body of research were the ones that those who participated within the study were asked to reflect on and they go as follows:

“Our analyses suggest that students who do best in this course start early and submit their lab report the day before it’s due. To demonstrate you have read the above statement, in the following box, please repeat what students who perform the best do:”

“Imagine yourself the day before this assignment is due, and you haven’t started working on it. How do you feel?”

“Research has found breaking larger tasks into smaller tasks can help with motivation. What is your next step?”

“If you could do one thing to ensure you finish the lab report on time, what would it be?”

While those might sound oddly specific because they cater to the study itself they can be applied to just about anything and help you be more productive in a lot of ways. Basically, you just need to ask yourself what you should do to perform your best in what you’re doing, ask yourself how you feel when you’ve not started something yet, what your next step is along the way, and what you need to do to make sure things get done on time. For instance, if you’re turning in an essay you should be aware that those who want to make a good impact will get things done in a timely manner, you will feel off when you’ve not yet started because you still have things to get done, your next step should be something in regards to getting things done, and you could work hard to manage your time properly to get things done as you should. 

It’s not as complex as it sounds. Breaking things down into small steps can be the key to really keeping your attention where it needs to be which is something I personally find quite helpful overall. I know, these things might sound as if they should go without saying but some people let them fly right over their heads. 

The abstract to this study goes as follows:

Studies assessing the efficacy of interventions aimed at reducing procrastination have generally lacked robust longitudinal measurement tools. Recent developments in communication technology and applications of the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) have made observations of such dynamic phenomena possible. We leveraged recent advancements in smartphone technology and ESM to measure delay associated with procrastination, while testing a low‐intensity, high‐frequency intervention to reducing that delay. First‐year university students (N = 107) reported their progress on an assignment twice daily over 14 days prior to the required submission date. Half (n = 51) were randomly allocated to an intervention condition in which they were also asked open‐ended questions designed to prompt reflection on four domains proposed to reduce procrastination, namely: expectancy, value, delay sensitivity, and metacognition. Multilevel mixed effect models revealed lower behavioral delay in the intervention condition compared to the control condition. This effect was strongest in those who at baseline scored below the median on trait procrastination. Behavioral delay over the 14‐day period was not associated with later assignment submission or lower assignment marks. These findings support a novel method for reducing delay and suggest procrastination can be alleviated in a wide range of contexts using relatively inexpensive and non‐intrusive strategies.

What do you think about all of this? Could something of this sort help you get more done? I know, it might not always be ideal but procrastinating is something we should work to avoid as best we can.