Procrastinating. We all do it – it’s not just a neurodiverse activity. It’s just that ADHDers seem to do it more often.
Choosing to delay action, even though this delay will have negative consequences, is the working definition of procrastination. So, for example, putting off paying my bills is a form of procrastination, because I know that if I pay late, I will have to pay interest, and late fees. Yet I still choose to put it off, because ugh, bills.
There are many reasons we procrastinate – fear of doing the task incorrectly, lack of interest (and therefore no dopamine hit), needing “just right” circumstances, disorganization, feeling overwhelmed…the list goes on.
Is there anything can we do to successfully battle procrastination??
Enter Piers Steel, and the Procrastination Equation. Steel developed this equation to explain the components of motivation:
Motivation = Expectancy X Value/Impulsiveness X Delay
So, being a former Math teacher, I’m kind of partial to equations…but that’s me. Before you shriek “I hate Math!” and run away, let me try to translate this. What Steel is saying is how motivated you are depends on four components: expectancy, or how confident you are that you can complete the task; value, or how important completing the task is to you; impulsiveness, or how easily you can be distracted from the task; and delay, or how short or long the timeline is.
So, in order to increase motivation, per Steel’s equation, you need to increase confidence or importance, or decrease distraction or the timeline, in order to increase motivation.
Here is an example to make this even clearer.
Let’s go back to my procrastination relating to paying my bills. If I can increase my confidence that I can pay my bills correctly, and/or feel the value to me of paying them, I will be more motivated. So, using autopay can help me to feel confident, and recognizing how good it feels to have it done raises the value of doing the task.
Decreasing distractions, and shortening the timeline can also help curb procrastination. So I can pay my bills with my phone in Focus mode, and can break the task into smaller parts so that I have a “completion” more often.
What I love about this is that it’s ACTIONABLE. There are four different areas where you can make changes, and motivation will increase. This equation gives you a starting point.
Think about something that you have procrastinated on in the past, or are even avoiding right now. Can you make a change to one of the four components in Steel’s equation that will help lessen your desire to put something off? Even just tweaking one component-promising yourself a treat if you start the task will add some value, right-can make a difference.
I’m off to pay my bills. I’ll let you know how I do.