Beat Procrastination? Treat Tasks Like a Game

One of the most common real causes of procrastination is that we feel like we’re not making progress.

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When we start a new project we feel excited about doing something new.

But as the weeks go by, we feel discouraged.

Your mind starts saying something like: "My hard work isn’t being rewarded; this isn’t fun."

Science says humans are intrinsically more motivated by instant gratification than delayed gratification. But worthwhile projects are rarely built overnight. So this tendency is annoyingly inconvenient.

The solution?

Stanford University behavioral scientist and lecturer BJ Fogg recommends creating systematic behavioral changes that correspond with “small wins.”

In other words, create your own way to celebrate small milestones. According to Fogg, every task should be accompanied by “a trigger” — and the easier the action better.

For example:

Say you’re committed to writing content for your new website. You might make an agreement with yourself to write one paragraph after each time you use the restroom, and continue to follow this trigger throughout the day.

Once you’ve completed the task, Fogg urges you to celebrate in a predetermined manner. The celebration could be as simple as treating yourself to a piece of chewing gum or as active as taking a bike ride through a favorite part of town.

Treat the series of actions like a game:

Trigger → Task → Celebration

Why does this work? Creating small wins provides an incentive to keep working toward the finish line. Eventually, the actions create a habit that may become enjoyable.