Friday, June 10, 2011

The Truth behind Why We Procrastinate

There comes times when even the most self-motivated of us procrastinate. Finding ways to put off things from doing can be literally endless. Some of us would say we are just “lazy” and some would think we procrastinate because we don’t enjoy what we are doing. It makes sense to me. Doesn't it? Why would anyone want to do now something he/she dislikes doing?

The answer can be quite simple. Rewards.

Whether you are doing what you are doing because of money, recognition, grades or even praise, you are doing it because of a reward. A means to an end—the reward. If the reward isn’t good enough then why bother?

That’s how you could get workers to do boring repetitive tasks even if they dislike doing them by offering them a bonus or a raise every once in a while. But what if there is no reward from doing that task, the basic simple not so creative task? Well, then you are stumped because when there is no reward there is not really so much motivation to do things we dislike doing. That’s how things are.

Except that I have left out another reason we do some of the things we do. It’s for self enjoyment. It’s the things we do without expecting anything in return (or a reward) such as playing sports for fun, painting or writing a piece of poetry for pleasure. In this case it’s the end; there is no reward.

Still sometimes we do procrastinate doing the things that are pleasurable to us. For some, that might be quite frustrating; the above explanation of not doing it because we dislike it doesn’t really fit.

Here comes the interesting irony. When you are offered a reward for doing something you do for self enjoyment and which happens to be a creative activity, you wouldn’t want to do it anymore. According to studies, you will become less motivated to do it and your creativity will hinder. For example, if you wrote a poem just because you love doing it, the piece would be more creative (because it is the end) than if you wrote another poem to be published, enter a competition or get paid (because it is the means to an end).

In that case, reward is no motivator when it comes to creativity. As a result, we tend to procrastinate doing creative tasks when there is a reward.

Bottom line is, if what needs to be done is a systematic activity, rewards are the answer. If, on the other hand, creativity is what you have on mind, don’t push it. It wouldn’t work. 

Image Credits to: graur codrin

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Mohamed Hani said...

i like this :)

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