Like most people, I have been known to procrastinate on tasks and projects that are not at the top of my list of “interesting things to do.” It is not because I am unaware of the consequences of putting these things off. Rather, I am aware that putting the task off is a bad idea, but I do it anyway. Doing something that we know will have negative consequences is essentially an irrational choice.

Psychologists at the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University explain, however, that in the immediate present, putting off a task provides relief — a small, though temporary, reward. Our inclination to prioritize immediate needs over future ones is a great example of present bias. Behavioral decision-making expert Hal Hershfield has found that on a neural level, we actually think about our “future selves” in an abstract way rather than a personal way. When we put things off, our brains view the consequences as somebody else’s problem — the problem of the “future self.”

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