236/365 Responding to cognitive dissonance

Whenever you realize that you should be doing something but that you aren’t (psychologists call this separation between your actions and beliefs cognitive dissonance), you can respond in one of several ways to feel better about yourself. In his book, Pychyl identifies a number of unproductive responses people have when they procrastinate:

  • Distracting yourself, and thinking about other things
  • Forgetting what you have to do, either actively or passively (usually for unimportant tasks)
  • Downplaying the importance of what you have to do
  • Giving yourself affirmations, focusing on other your values and qualities that will solidify your sense of self
  • Denying responsibility to distance yourself from what you have to do
  • Seeking out new information that supports your procrastination (e.g. when you tell yourself you need to have more information before you get started on something)
  • Of course, the best possible response to cognitive dissonance is to change your behaviour and get started on whatever you’re procrastinating on, but that’s often much easier said than done.
    To push back against these biases, recognizing them is key. Then, Tim recommends that you “list the things that you commonly say or do to justify your procrastination”, and use these biases as triggers that you should respond to your behaviour differently.

    From “Here’s why you procrastinate, and 10 tactics that will help you stop
    by Chris Bailey

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