“That’s a problem for future Homer. I sure don’t envy that guy”, said Homer Simpson after Marge berated him for something.
Homer at that moment showed something that eludes most of us most of the time: the ability to see our future selves.
He didn’t give a hoot of course, but at least he saw it.
Usually, we don’t pay much attention to our future self.
In our mind, the future self is awesome, wealthy, successful, SUPER-productive and just ridiculously efficient.
Don’t think so?
We procrastinate until the last moment because we keep thinking our future self will just deal with the backlog in a massively efficient and productive way.
We spend money we don’t have because with all the work we’re doing these days, we’re bound to have plenty of money to pay off debts soon, right?
We riff off a shoddy first draft or mockup for a client deliverable, because tomorrow-me will have nooooo trouble at all knocking that puppy into shape.
In each of those cases, we leave it up to our future self to deal with whatever thing our present-self isn’t going to deal with.
And very often, future self shows up to the mess, says ‘screw this’ and goes off to procrastinate like the world were about to end.
This inability to see yourself experiencing the consequences of your current actions and decisions is what psychologists call ‘temporal myopia’, and we all have it to some degree.
If you want to get stuff done and reduce procrastination, you’ll do well to stop treating your future self like some heroic fixer-of-everything workslave, and instead treat them like a dearly loved one.
Someone you care for, whom you want to be happy and comfortable and stress-free.
This little trick – to deliberately consider yourself as a different and separate person from the one you’ll be in the future – is how you reduce temporal myopia.
It’s the easiest way to become more efficient and productive, and to reduce procrastination.
Also published on Medium.