In helping ourselves get abreast of our Procrastination tendencies, we can’t rely on ‘Expectancy x Value ‘ alone to describe the way we work (see last weeks post) . For one, it doesn’t allow any room for my irrational behaviour.
Sure, we respond to incentives (VALUE) to the extent we believe that they are attainable (EXPECTANCY). But the third dominant factor is TIME (which might also be termed ‘delay’). Time delay tends to make the goal appear more abstract. Delay makes more cloudy whatever motivation we may have otherwise had, making us more passive in our pursuits.
So, from Behavioural Research circles, one accepted formula for human motivation is:
MOTIVATION = EXPECTANCY x VALUE
In this view, the product of Expectancy and Value is divided by Delay. So, the greater the delay, the less your motivation.
Deal Now or Deal Then
Lets play a game called … ‘Deal Now or Deal Then’
You are a contestant in a competition and, as it happens, you have won $1,000.00
The prize money is placed into your hands in 10 x crisp $100 bills – the new ones!
However, I also have a Certified Cheque ( guaranteed money) postdated one year from now. Here is the dilemma.
What is the minimum amount I would have to write on the cheque to get you to hand back the wad of $100’s in exchange for the postdated cheque – and wait 365 days to cash it. Go on… what figure would it be??
If pressed for a gut response, many folks say they would wait 12 months for between $2000 and $3000. i.e. the VALUE would need to doubled or tripled.
If you wish to insert a numeric into the formula to indicate ‘Delay’ let it depend of ‘orders of magnitude’. If your deadline is in the order of months, count the months; if in the order of weeks, count the weeks; if days then count the days. This will give your a number to work with in the equation. Its ‘ball park’ I know, but will be somewhat be relative to the time scale you are dealing with. However, If delay is not big deal for you – modify your number accordingly, to make it seem about right.
Next week we’ll also take a look at ‘Impulsiveness’ and how it further impacts on the procrastination equation – and our relationship to procrastination.