Faced with an important task, how often do you say to yourself, “I have plenty of time to do this later”?
Or “I’ll do it first thing in the morning, when my mind’s fresh”?
Or “I just need to [fill in the blank] first”?
These are all signs of a procrastinator. We all do it sometimes–maybe you’re procrastinating even now by reading this article.
Procrastinators love distraction. And if there’s one thing we’re surrounded by in our current information age, it’s distraction.
Whether you’re online, tuned in to mass media, or communicating with others, there’s always something else to do.
Researchers who study human behavior have found that bossing yourself around may hold the secret to getting things done.
The method is called the multiple selves model. The concept is that your goal-oriented future self is almost constantly fighting with the immediate-gratification present self. They’re duking it out for control, and you’re the battlefield.
Years ago, when LeBron James wanted to make the leap from Cleveland to Miami, he told ESPN reporter Jon Greenberg, “I wanted to do what’s best for LeBron James and to do what makes LeBron James happy.”
It may sound like a self-centered verbal tic, but University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross says “using one’s own name … to refer to the self during introspection is a form of self-distancing that enhances self-regulation.”
It may even be a way of crystallizing that “two-selves” idea by helping you get the other you to listen for a change — and to stop procrastinating on doing what you want.
So how can we boss ourselves around to get things done?
When the duality kicks in, tell any uncooperative parts of your head, “I’m the boss here and we are going to tackle this problem now.”