kitchen table math, the sequel: learned industriousness

Saturday, August 21, 2010

learned industriousness

Given the fundamental nature of procrastination, it is curious how such a mechanism could have become prevalent. One would expect that such a disadvantageous characteristic would have long been culled from our gene pool. To address this, George Ainslie argues that people in a hunter/gatherer environment should find that their motivational compulsions fit motivational demands almost perfectly: "As long as they sleep and hoard and mate when the relevant urge arises, they will behave more or less adaptively in the environment in which those urges evolved" (1992, p. 88). Unfortunately, in our civilized circumstances, contingencies are quite different, and it often becomes important to act not as nature intended.

There are some who have likely inherited characteristics that let them deal better with procrastination without any type of self-regulatory assistance. Like the naturally athletic, they don't need a lot of help to stay motivationally fit. Fortunately, there is help for the rest of us. There are many, many ways to reduce procrastination if not effectively eliminate it. Here we review three: Learned Industriousness, Energy Regulation, and Goal Setting. Of note, most procrastinators have a wide streak of impulsiveness in them and likely are looking for the "quick fix." Unfortunately, the more powerful the remedy for procrastination, the longer it takes to work.

Piers Steel at Procrastination Central

I am taking his advice re: learned industriousness to heart.

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