The way in which you mentally organise your time can have a huge effect on your productivity.
A study published the Journal of Consumer Research has revealed that people have a tendency to procrastinate not because they are lazy, but because they categorise time illogically.
People tend to manage their time in a routine fashion, such as arranging activities by the day, planning expenses by the month and setting goals for the year.
Students categorise events based on semesters, farmers by harvesting seasons and accountants by financial quarters.
The problem is that this influences when we initiate tasks and can cause procrastination.
The study uses an interesting example to illustrate this.
295 people were told to create a fund for educating children and then present a savings product. They were told they could earn a financial incentive if they opened the bank account and accumulated at least 5,000 in local currency in the account within 6 months.
It was found that those who were approached in June with a deadline in December were more likely to open the account immediately as opposed to those who were told in July that their deadline was in January.
Similarly, participants were also more willing to initiate tasks sooner if they were given a task on Monday with a deadline the following Monday than if it was due the following Tuesday.
This is because we tend to categorise tasks by the week – while Monday would be in the “like-the-present” category, Tuesday would fall into the “unlike-the-present” category and be classified as a “future” project.
Whether you’re preparing for a meeting, buying a gift or organising an event, having a mindset “characterised by action orientation, goal commitment, and willingness to make choices” can help you fight the procrastination blues.
Getting things done is part and parcel of life but it boils down to the mindset you use to achieving task-oriented goals.