战胜拖延症 Conquering Procrastination


Procrastination, the habit of putting tasks off to the last possible minute, can be a major problem in both your career and your personal life. Side effects include missed opportunities, 1)frenzied work hours, stress, 2)resentment, and guilt. It takes deliberate strategies to avoid becoming our own worst enemy by procrastinating on our intended actions. Here are some tips, all based on research that will keep you one step ahead of procrastination.

1. Time travel: How to counteract the 3)irrationality of human nature.
1. 时间旅行:如何应对人性中的非理性。

As Piers Steel makes clear in 4)temporal motivation theory and Dan Gilbert shows in his work on affective forecasting, we are not merely irrational but predictably so. We 5)discount future rewards as less important than a task at hand, particularly if it’s a more pleasant activity, and we really aren’t very good at predicting how we’ll feel in the future.

“Time travel” can help here. That is, we need to use 6)concrete mental images of the future more often and more accurately, to represent the future as though it were happening in the present. For example, a person who is procrastinating on saving for retirement might imagine as vividly as possible living on his or her potential retirement savings. To make a future image like this more concrete and accurate, it may be important to set out some numbers for a budget and take into account the reality of the need for, and increasing expense of, health care in old age. Planning shouldn’t be an abstract notion of “doing it tomorrow.” Think about the task in the real 7)context of the day, and think carefully about how these tasks make you feel.

2. Don’t give in to feeling good: Short-term gain, longterm pain.
2. 不要屈服于感觉良好:短期收益可能带来长期痛苦。

When self-regulation fails, it’s often because shortterm emotional repair takes 8)precedence over our longterm goals. For example, a task at hand makes us feel anxious or 9)overwhelmed, so we “give in to feel good,”seeking immediate emotional relief, and we walk away, leaving the task for tomorrow.

Here’s where emotional intelligence is so important to procrastinating less. Learn to recognize that we can have negative emotions without 10)acting on them. 11)Stay put for a minute—don’t walk away. Don’t give in to “I’ll feel more like it tomorrow.”12)Acknowledge the negative emotions, but get started anyway. Progress on a goal provides the motivation for another step forward. Just get started; the negative emotions will pass.

3. Reduce uncertainty and 13)distractions.
3. 减少犹豫和干扰。

1Planning is one thing; action is another. In fact, what can make a task 14)aversive to us when we’re simply making an intention or planning is how meaningful a goal is. The less meaningful the goal, the less likely we’ll want to do the task. However, when it’s time to act, aversive tasks—those we’re most likely to procrastinate on—are those for which we’re uncertain how to proceed. We’re most likely to procrastinate on tasks that lack structure.

This means that in addition to making your task concrete, it’s important to reduce the uncertainty about how to proceed—and, when it’s time to act, to reduce available distractions as well. Shut off your e-mail, isolate yourself as much as you can, and make sure the environment around you is working to strengthen your 15)willpower and focus, not to 16)undermine your efforts. Speaking of willpower…
这意味着除了将你的任务具体化以外,减少有关如何进展的不确定性因素也非常重要——并且,在该行动的时候,减少可能使你分心事物出现。关掉你的电子信箱,尽可能地把自己隔开,并确保周 围的环境能加强你的意志力和注意力,而不是摧毁你的努力。说到意志力……

4. Willpower: How to make the most of the willpower muscle.
4. 意志力:如何最大限度地利用意志力。

A great deal of recent research clearly indicates that willpower is like a muscle. You can exhaust it more quickly than you might imagine and, when you do, you lose your ability to self-regulate your behavior. One immediate method to strengthen your resolve in order to keep you on task is to remind yourself of your values. This process of 17)self-affirmation 18)bolsters our 19)flagging reserves of willpower.

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