Abstactness of Time

Human nature

The fourth contributor to a habit of procrastination has to do with Time itself. The way this works is a basic trait of human nature.

Compared to imminent happenings, we tend to see future goals more abstractly, more indistinct. Whereas, immediate goals appear more concrete, with lots of detail about who, what where and when.

Goals framed in abstract terms, like “Engaging in self development” are less likely to be pursued than goals framed in concrete terms like .. “on Sunday I’ll read Jon’s blog” .

Other examples of abstract verses concrete terms might be:

  • I’ll be healthier in a year – Verses – 30 minute walk in the mornings
  • I must read this book – Verses – Read the 3rd chapter tonight
  • I have that essay to write – Verses – Writing the paragraph on motivation

Since we are likely to frame long term goals more abstractly we are more likely to postpone them. Framing a goal more concretely increases our motivation.

Shopping story

A couple of months ago I unwisely played tennis in my better shoes (I know, I know ! I just did, right !?) – and the stitching gave way.  So I needed to shop for another pair of shoes but that idear seemed hard to me (sorry ladies if you don’t understand this example).  I loved these old shoes and I had no idea what I would end up with to replace them. Consequently, I was still wearing my old shoes, and looking like a dag.

Eventually an opportunity presented itself to do some shopping. Begrudgingly I coaxed myself into it. Gingerly checking out the range, noticing the current styles, narrowing the options, I inched myself closer.

Then there became a point at which it became clear:

  1. Colorado’s
  2. Mockason look
  3. Leather upper.
  4. Lace ups
  5. Tan
  6. Size
  7. $100.00.

Boom. The abstract became concretised and any residual procrastination turned to a motivation that was visceral.

This is Procrastination’s dark heart – that because we view the future more abstractly we will procrastinate.

Therefore, no rocket science that ‘Time’ and its naturally occurring abstractness becomes a significant factor in the procrastination equation.


(Ref: Piers Steel 2011)

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