Getting Stronger: Discussion Forum

Discussion Topics => Psychology => : Todd Becker December 19, 2010, 04:36:22 PM

: Procrastination
: Todd Becker December 19, 2010, 04:36:22 PM
I just put up a new post on a method I've found useful in combatting procrastination. It's called the Premack Principle ( I came across it in Aubrey Daniel's great book ( on how to use positive reinforcement effectively. The book was ostensibly written about how to change others' behavior -- but it is really more about how to change your own behavior and reactions to things.

I see the Premack Principle as yet another technique for not only dealing with unpleasant or challenging tasks, but mastering them and sometimes even learning to like them.  Like the opponent-process theory, it is a way to adapt yourself to take on challenges you once thought beyond your capabilities, and thrive in doing that.

If you have a technique that has helped you deal with procrastination, let us know what has worked for you.
: Re: Procrastination
: Jbird December 20, 2010, 04:04:53 PM
Todd, thanks for your article on procrastination. If I'm understanding this correctly, it's what I do. I didn't realize it was anything unusual until a procrastinating colleague who sat next to me at work years ago asked me how I managed to be so productive and not miss deadlines (we were both writers). I just said I procrastinate in reverse. I get things done that I have to do and then reward myself by doing something I enjoy. I think this is a natural way for me to approach things because I am very sensitive to feeling burdened by thoughts of what I have to do. It's easier on me to do what I need to do rather than stress out about it. Recently I've started keeping track of tasks on an online list (part of Gmail), and I enjoy checking things off. I'm not naturally a list maker or naturally organized, but I am naturally conscientious. Somehow, I always manage to get everything done that I need to do, though I'm always trying to be more expedient and less chaotic in my approach. So the article was reinforcing, and it was interesting to see that my "reverse procrastination" technique has an official name and scientific validity. Glad it's working for you!
: Re: Procrastination
: Todd Becker December 21, 2010, 06:04:35 AM
I like the way you describe it as "reverse procrastination", Jaye!  And I think you pointed out another reinforcing benefit of the technique:  it's not just the enjoyable task or reward that you save for last, it's also the relief you get by "unburdening" yourself from the thought of the unpleasant or difficult tasks that are now done... and the satisfaction from having done them.  So there are multiple reinforcers at work.
: Re: Procrastination
: Jbird December 27, 2010, 08:04:09 PM
I was just reading the William Irvine piece on how he became a Stoic (that you posted in the philosophy section), and in reading about the Stoics' goal being a tranquil mind, I thought how that fits in with what I was saying about not wanting to feel the burden/stress of things I need to do. Doing what I need to do facilitates a tranquil mind, whereas procrastinating has the opposite effect.
: Re: Procrastination
: JC December 29, 2010, 02:58:13 PM
Hi Jbird and belated Merry Christmas,

I was also thinking a similar thing, that not procrastinating "clears the mind", because the undone task is always bugging me.  I use a similar idea from David Allen's GTD task management system, where he advises you to write down stray thoughts as soon as they occur, to get them out of your mind, for future reference.  It helps to avoid getting distracted from whatever you were in the middle doing.

I can do that part of GTD.  The problem I have is getting around to doing the things that I wrote down!

: Re: Procrastination
: Jbird January 03, 2011, 08:23:18 PM
Hi JC: Happy New Year! It's interesting that you came across the technique of jotting things down as they occur to you as part of someone's task management system. That helps reinforce what I'm experiencing. Having the Google task manager list at my fingertips is really working for me, and I do feel I'm being more efficient because I'm eager to keep my list to a minimum. Today, for example, I was caught up with my writing and was eager to do things I would normally put off (getting my photo taken for my driver's license, for example) because I wanted to cross things off my list. It's amazing how such a simple technique can be so effective! Plus, it's free!
: Re: Procrastination
: AnaGrey March 05, 2015, 06:04:05 AM
This is awesome! Thank you for sharing this Todd. :) I am so gonna need this, not just for myself but for a friend reviewing for the board as well :D