The Akrasia Effect & The Art of Procrastination

What is the Akrasia Effect and What does it have to do with Procrastination?

Simply put, the Akrasia Effect is what happens when a human being establishes an intention or plan and does not follow through with it. It is the state of mind where you have all of the facts and information to make a proper and positive decision yet decide not to. For all intents and purposes, Akrasia is procrastination combined with a lack of self control.

This state of mind has existed for thousands and thousands of years. Akrasia was actually coined by the philosopher Socrates over 1,600 years ago. But we all know that humans have been experiencing what he called Akrasia from the moment they showed up on this planet.

Procrastination is Usually a “Yes” or “No” Question”

When it comes to making the decision to do something or not, your brain usually has a “gut instinct” answer of yes or no, before the words even come out of your mouth. You consider what benefit it has for you first. Then, perhaps, what benefit it has for another person. Then you consider other criteria like the time, strength, and effort it will take before you actually “decide” what it is you’re going to do. This all happens in a split second before you commit and the answer comes out of your mouth.

It’s important to note that this is also a learned behavior. If you have been lying, manipulating, cheating and skating through life for years, saying yes to the hard questions does not come naturally to you. Nor will it, without a considerable amount of mindful practice. So the next time you find yourself engaging in procrastination, simply ask yourself, “is this the best use of my time?” You can append this question with “for myself,” or, “those around me,” if you wish to be more considerate as well!

How can the Akrasia Effect be combated or mitigated?

There are several ways. Procrastination, at its core, is just a decision to do or not to do something. Educate yourself on what it means to experience delayed gratification. Almost universally, harder work with a long-term payoff is better than the short term instant gratification you would receive otherwise. The ironic part is, a lot of us already know that!

So combating the Akrasia Effect comes down to just what we have always said is so important: mindfulness. Mindfulness of your thought processes and decision making right in the moment, right when it happens. The next time someone asks you to do something or you are confronted with a situation where you could skip out or avoid it altogether, do the opposite. Try living a different way. You may be surprised by what you find.

Remember, the Akrasia Effect is all in your head

You’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s the starting that’s the hardest part.” That rings true for many things, but having the right mental attitude and taking the first step often makes the rest of the process seem much easier in comparison. The trick is, we have to train our minds in order to make that “yes” answer our “gut reaction,” instead of avoidance being our go-to.

Be organized. Use a calendar. Really listen to people when they speak with you, and pay attention to your thoughts before you give responses. Be aware of your thinking and the negativity that comes along with it and you will find yourself less and less inclined to take the easy way out. This isn’t a disease, it’s just a habit!

Have you been able to battle the akrasia effect and procrastination in your own life?

Many of us have had experiences with the Akrasia Effect, yet have gone on to be successful. If you are one of these, we want to know how you changed your behavior. What other suggestions do you have for our readers who have struggled with laziness, procrastination and avoidance? Comment below!

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