The science of delay

 Why do we leave things until the last-minute (procrastinate)?

 Why we cannot achieve our goals but others can?

Why some students achieve higher grades than others?

Why some business owners achieve more and they have happy working employees than others?

Why sometimes we are motivated, but other times we are less motivated?……

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I have been asking myself lots of questions about Procrastination. I found myself so fascinated about the science of delay and human behaviour and the ability of humans to achieve their goals.

So, I spent the last few months searching and studying the science behind procrastination which I am very happy to share with you today.

People who delay tasks and goals think in a certain way and most of the time they think that the results of their goals are not attainable or it is so far away thus they procrastinate.

There are many causes of procrastination, such as:

  • The lack of focus
  • Not having enough time, you say you will do it later
  • Easily distracted
  • Low energy
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Self-doubt
  • Depression and stress
  • Anxiety
  • Disorganization and laziness
  • Lack of motivation
  • The hard work and effort.
  • Negative thinking
  • and many more………

There are many theories regarding procrastination and their cause factors. My focus is to understand the science behind procrastination or delaying projects/goals. I believe that once we understand what is happening inside our brain and the cause of the problem we will able to tackle the problem accordingly. So, We are all different and we are all behave in a different way to certain stimulus in life. Once we know ourselves carefully and what is triggers us, then we would be able to overcome procrastination.

According to Expectancy Theory by Victor H. Vroom in, 1964, When we are motivated we behave in a certain way to achieve the expected (wanted) outcome. Vroom explains that the behaviour of why individuals who choose one behaviour over the other and the correlation between efforts and performance. He suggests that there are three components in motivation called the Expectancy Theory and they are:

Expectancy – instrumentality – valence

Expectancy is the Effort (E) that will result in the desired Performance (P). which depends on personal confidence and experience, skills, knowledge and the difficulty to achieve the goal and perception.

Instrumentality is the expected reward if the Performance (P) expectation is met.

For instance, at a workplace, manager may reward an employee for doing a good job this could be pay rise, promotion or even a position.

Valence (V) is the individual value on the rewards and the direction of the motivation to attain the outcome. The valence could be

-1 which is avoiding valence – 0 indifferent to the outcome – +1 welcome the outcome

The motivational force is the option which the individual uses to complete a task and its equation is:

Motivational Force MF = Expectancy x instrumentality x valence.

So, to have high motivation force and accomplish your goals you will need high expectancy, high instrumentality and high valency.

To use the Expectancy Theory in real life, you will need to understand what exactly motivates you and the value behind it that will make you achieve your goals.

For instance, in a business; Managers should engage with their employee and ensure making their organization goals clear to everyone. Managers need to understand their employee goals too and what makes them motivated or triggers them to do a good job and put rewards system that matches their employee needs and performance.

Everything that is in human mind is connected to their behaviour from rewards, and organizational goals. According to the psychologist David McClelland there are three types of motivation in all individuals and you will need to understand those three types of individual motivation or how to reward an employee or students, children or manifest higher bigger goals. The three types are:

  • Need for achievement

Individuals of this category are identified by their achievements or accomplishments in finishing tasks and working hard to be acknowledged from people around them.

  • Need for affiliation

Individuals of this type like social relationship and enjoy being in a group. People like that are very good in sales or customer service positions.

  • Need for power

Individuals of this type are after high place of value and recognition, prestige and they are always hungry for personal status and to win and make the other person lose.

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Humans are very intriguing species. We tend to choose easy routes and avoid hardships and hard work or discomfort. When it comes to delaying projects and procrastination the brain finds it hard to see the rewards that we are after because it is so far away in time and the brain can only see the arrival of the sooner goals or pleasure. That is why we procrastinate and that is when Temporal Motivation Theory (TMT) comes in and the TMT theory was developed by Piers Steel and Konig. In the theory; time plays a major role in motivation and achievements. The theory formula is:

   procrastination-equation

Motivation is the reward or desired outcome

Expectancy is the probability of success

Value is the reward of the outcome

Impulsiveness is the distraction to complete the task

Delay is the amount of time taken to finish the task

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Finally, I am not going to discuss how to overcome procrastination but I want you to understand what triggers you and what is exactly that you want. I think life is too short to waste time on the things that gives us temporary pleasure instead I would like you to focus on the things that will give you long-term pleasure and success. Write your goals down and focus on them, read and educate yourself but remember to do everything in moderation.

 

Thank you so much for reading and I appreciate you.

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