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Four easy ways to beat procrastination and increase productivity

Australian psychologist Jason Wessel has suggested four simple questions to ask yourself when you are feeling lazy about completing tasks.

January 14, 2021 / 05:32 PM IST

‘Ask yourself this question, do you want to be rich?’ the Pet Shop Boys sang in their hit single ‘Opportunities – Let’s Make Lots of Money’.

But you will have to ask yourselves not one but four questions if you want to defeat procrastination, a common stumbling block to success.

These questions are striking in their lucidity and import. According to the BBC, they were deduced by Australian psychologist Jason Wessel as part of his PhD at Griffith University in Australia. Go over them every time you feel lazy about completing a task.

  • How would someone successful complete the goal?

  • How would you feel if you don’t do the required task?

  • What is the next immediate step you need to do?

  • If you could do one thing to achieve the goal on time, what would it be?

The questions, or ‘reflection points’ as Wessel calls them, are based on the principles of the temporal motivation theory, which was developed by two organisational psychology experts and professors, Dr. Piers Steel and Cornelius Konig. Being cognizant of reflection points helps resist distractions and allows you to concentrate on things that really matter.

“If you notice that you are always putting stuff off, they could be a good way of checking your behaviour,” says Wessel, who has also designed an app for diet goals called ‘Contemplate’.

A simplistic definition of procrastination is laziness. But it also has far-reaching implications on mental and physical health.


The BBC wrote that according to the temporal motivation theory, there are four interlinked causes of procrastination. Cause no. 1 is 'expectancy'. People underestimate their abilities to perform a task, which dampens motivation. Cause no. 2 is 'sensitivity to delay', or the lack of. Procrastinators do not fully appreciate the impact of their tardiness on deadlines and projects. Cause No. 3 is failing to appreciate the value of the task and the benefits of getting it done on time. Instead, we fall prey to the instant gratification of distractions and forget the long-term consequences of such actions. Cause No. 4, Wessel says, is that we lack ‘metacognition’, the self-awareness and ability to analyse our own thinking, which would allow us to eliminate harmful behaviours.

Normally, people look for answers to their problems. In this case, the answers lie in the four questions mentioned above.
Akshay Sawai
first published: Jan 14, 2021 05:32 pm

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