The Akrasia Effect (And 3 Easy Fixes)

Why don′t we follow through on what we set out to do and what to do about it.

Akrasia is what prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.

The reason akrasia rules our lives and procrastination pulls us in has to do with a behavioral economics term called “time inconsistency.” We procrastinate because the human brain values immediate rewards over future rewards.

Here are three tips on how to work around this tendency:

  1. Design Your Future Actions Create a “commitment device”, which is a choice you make in the present that controls your actions in the future, like preventing overeating by not buying in bulk. This allows you to automate your behavior before rather than relying on your willpower in the moment

  2. Reduce the Friction of Starting Most people don’t procrastinate on doing the work, they procrastinate on getting started. It is vital to building the habit of getting started, so it is easy to begin working

  3. Utilize Implementation Intentions This is when you specifically state your intention to implement a behavior in the future, like “I will exercise for 30 minutes on [date] in [place] at [time]”. Scheduling ahead of time can work, but making a declarative statement makes you 2 to 3x more likely to commit to the action