It's usually pretty obvious that your mood has a strong effect on your willpower, motivation and subsequent procrastination, but The Wall Street Journal explains exactly how our attempts at mood repair can derail productivity. The good news is that you can use that to your advantage.
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Despite what it sounds like, "mood repair" isn't really a good term. In fact, it's basically what we do to justify procrastination:
Often, procrastinators attempt to avoid the anxiety or worry aroused by a tough task with activities aimed at repairing their mood, such as checking Facebook or taking a nap. But the pattern, which researchers call "giving in to feel good," makes procrastinators feel worse later, when they face the consequences of missing a deadline or making a hasty, last-minute effort[.]
Basically, we all practise mood repair when we're putting off a dreaded task in favour of a short-term mood boost. However, you can can use those mood repair tactics to your advantage:
Researchers have come up with a playbook of strategies to help procrastinators turn mood repair to their advantage. Some are tried-and-true classics: Dr. Pychyl advises procrastinators to "just get started, and make the threshold for getting started quite low.... "A real mood boost comes from doing what we intend to do — the things that are important to us."
He also advises procrastinators to practice "time travel" — projecting themselves into the future to imagine the good feelings they will have after finishing a task, or the bad ones they will have if they don't. This remedies procrastinators' tendency to get so bogged down in present anxieties and worries that they fail to think about the future...
One mood-repair strategy, self-forgiveness, is aimed at dispelling the guilt and self-blame. University freshmen who forgave themselves for procrastinating on studying for the first exam in a course procrastinated less on the next exam, according to a 2010 study led by Michael Wohl, an associate professor of psychology at Carleton.
We've heard a lot of this before, but it's nice to see some more of the science behind how and why it works. Head over to The Wall Street Journal for a few more tips to use mood repair to your advantage.
To Stop Procrastinating, Look to Science of Mood Repair [The Wall Street Journal]