Human beings have been procrastinating for hundreds of years. It’s such a part of who we are that Greek philosophers as far back as Plato developed the word “akrasia” to describe this behavior. Akrasia is a state in which you do things against your better judgment — like surfing the internet instead of working on your project, or watching TV instead of doing the laundry. Loosely translated, akrasia is lack of self-control. It’s the force that takes you away from what you intended to do.
Interestingly, when you really want to do something, you find the time, money and energy to do it. You don’t procrastinate because, intrinsically, you know you will get more gain from it than the pain it takes to get going. The worst part about procrastination is its uncanny ability to rob us of our time while simultaneously making us feel guilty about it.
Recent research suggests that one of the most effective ways to overcome procrastination is to simply forgive yourself for procrastinating. Since procrastination is linked to negative feelings, forgiveness can reduce the guilt you feel about procrastinating, which is one of the main triggers for procrastinating in the first place.
Don’t wait until you “feel like it.” Pick up a project that you’ve been putting off and commit to doing it for just 10 minutes. Don’t wait for your mood to match the task (because it never will). Start the task and know that once there is momentum, your progress becomes satisfying, and because of this you’re more likely to finish. Be a master of the moment, and make decisions that allow you to thrive.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit YourHappinessU.com.