One reason people procrastinate is a deep-seated and subtle fear.
But sometimes there are other ingredients at play.
Research has shown that one critical reason for procrastination is simply whether someone is in a good mood or bad mood.
If you want to be maximally productive, take care with your mood.
The Procrastination Experiment
A psychology experiment had college students being instructed to prepare for a test. They were given various distractions and were read material that put them in various moods. They were also given aromatherapy candles and told the candles would improve their mood.
Although it’s interesting to read about such experiments being performed, the results weren’t very surprising.
The group that procrastinated the most had three ingredients:
1. They were in bad moods.
2. They believed that (through the candles) they had the power to change their mood.
3. They had access to lots of fun distractions.
This Makes Sense
As I’ve thought about this, I can remember time after time after time in my own life where I’ve procrastinated while I was in a bad mood.
Likewise, my most productive times tend to be when I’m also in a generally good mood.
I see three areas of application:
1. Do what you can to maintain a good mood.
Get enough sleep. Exercise. Spend time with friends. Laugh.
Although we don’t want to be slaves to our moods and emotions, it does seem wise to avail ourselves of every opportunity to affect our mood if that would make us more productive.
Jonathan Edwards did the same with his diet: paying close attention to what eating habits and what foods kept his mind sharp for study.
The same attention to our moods is biblically prudent.
2. If you do find yourself in a bad mood, take appropriate care to pull yourself out.
Again, we don’t want to be slaves to our emotions.
But the same diligence that we apply to maintaining a positive emotional state should also be used when we realize we’ve drifted into a foul mood.
Prayer, music, getting outdoors, practicing gratitude – these are all things that can improve our moods.
The key though is to use this appropriately. As the experiment showed, if we have believe that engaging in a particular practice will change our mood, then we’re much more likely to procrastinate by doing these activities.
Remember your boundaries here.
3. When you in a bad mood, know that you must be on guard.
I believe the greatest benefit in understanding the relationship between procrastination and our moods is that now we know when we’re more likely to procrastinate.
When you’re angry, when you’re sad, when you’re anxious – know that these times are times that the temptation to procrastinate will be extra burdensome.
What do you think is a Christian approach to dealing with the relationship between our moods and our productivity?
Photo Credit: Dmitry Kalinin (Creative Commons)
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