The four components of procrastination (Expectancy, Value, Impulsiveness and Delay – reviewed last week) fit together into an equation of sorts, making it possible to observe our personal processes and our likelihood of procrastinating. Knowledge is power, right? And understanding the procrastination pieces and how they fit together offers the potential to change the puzzle.

Which will you choose?

Mental exercise 1

Imagine there are two piles of cash on the table in front of you. The pile on the left I am willing to give you 😉. But the one on the right (the taller pile) I’m possibly not going to give you.

If you could ask for only one pile, which would you choose?  My bet is that, being a sure thing, you would take the money pile on the left.

This playful exercise demonstrates how Expectancy (referring to the probability of success) effects your decisions.

Mental exercise 2

However, what if I remind you that the money pile on the left was a much smaller $ amount than the risker pile on the right, might you reconsider?

( This is actually a pretty common situation. Its like choosing to keep your money in low rate government bonds or to do something more speculative like investing in the stockmarket. )
(Or using the amount of personal agency you have to either maintain the status quo or use it to bring about further growth and development within yourself).

To make sense of your options you have to incorporate Value into your decision making. How much bigger would the pile on the right need to be to inspire you to take more risk (or endure more pain)? As I vary the size of the pile on the right and the probability of you receiving it, your preferences will flip from left to right – and vice versa.


The formula … Expectancy x Value does a fair job of following your internal process when there is choice. (There is always choice!).
For each option, assign a number (between 1-10) to your level of EXPECTANCY of receiving the reward. Then assign a different number for the perceived VALUE of the reward to you. By multiplying the numbers together, then comparing the numeric for each option, you will predict which option you are likely to choose. A factor above 40 is a good prediction guide.

Simple Life Example.

Two options.
Option 1/ Mow the grass now.
Option 2/ Mow the grass in a few days.

Option 1
Expectancy – It will be a rush but suspect if I start the job I’ll be able to finish it pretty well.
Assigned Numeric =7
Value – I mowed it last week. It’s starting to look ragety but probably no-one will notice.
Assigned Numeric = 5
Expectancy x Value factor = 35

Option 2 – Mow the grass in a few days.
Expectancy- in a few days I’ll have a better time slot and will probably do a better job.
Assigned Numeric = 9
Value – the family is coming over on the weekend. The yard will look nice and I’ll feel good about that.
Assigned Numeric= 7
Expectancy x Value factor = 63

You can see I’m going to opt to Mow the grass later. ! Assigning the numbers probably doesn’t change what will happen – but it does make my processes more explicit and helps me understand how to tweak them if I want.

Give it a go in your patch.


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