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  • Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

  • Rob: and I'm Rob.

  • Alice: So Rob, did you get that research done that I asked you to do over the weekend?

  • Rob: Oh ... It was at the top of my to-do list.

  • But Sunday night came around so quickly, and I justyou know – I didn't get round to it.

  • Alice: Rob! If I'd known you weren't going to do the research, I'd have done it myself.

  • What did you actually do at the weekend, anyway?

  • Rob: Oh, you know, this and that. It's funny how time slips by without you noticing.

  • Alice: Hmm, yes.

  • I bet you spent the whole weekend watching cat videos on YouTubeand googling your own name.

  • Rob: What? That's unfair and untrue, Alice... well, mostly untrue, anyway

  • I did some shopping and I fixed my bike as well as watching videos and googling myself.

  • Alice: Well, perhaps I should say at this point that today's show is about procrastination,

  • which means not doing something you're supposed to do.

  • Rob: Well, I do feel bad about my procrastination actually.

  • Alice: Well, that's good to hear.

  • But let's move on now and hear today's quiz question:

  • Can you tell me which American said: 'You may delay, but time will not?' Was it...

  • a) John F Kennedy?

  • b) Benjamin Franklin?

  • Or c) Franklin J Roosevelt?

  • Rob: OK. I think I'll go for a) John F Kennedy

  • because I reckon he was good at making to-do lists and then getting on with them.

  • Alice: Unlike somebody I could mention.

  • Rob: Alice, I thought we were going to move on?

  • Alice: Alright then.

  • Rob: Personally, I think it's important to try and understand why we procrastinate.

  • So let's hear from Daphna Oyserman, Professor of Psychology, Communication and Education

  • at the University of Southern California, talking about this.

  • Daphna Oyserman: People spend most of their time focussed on the present, which makes

  • perfect sense because the present is now, and for sure.

  • Unfortunately, many things that are quite important about the future require that we

  • start doing things now rather than waiting for later to happen.

  • Things like saving for retirement, studying for college entry exams, revising papers, preparing for work reports.

  • Unfortunately, waiting till later means that we won't have much time.

  • Alice: So, we are too focussed on the present, and reluctant to engage in tasks that relate to the future.

  • Why's that, Rob?

  • Rob: Well, like Professor Oyserman says, things in the future may never happen

  • Or seem too far off for you to take seriously.

  • For example, when you're young, sorting out a pension plan doesn't feel like a priority

  • Or something that's more important than other things.

  • Alice: But according to a new study, if you think about time in smaller units

  • so days, for example, rather than months or yearsyou are likely to start a task more quickly.

  • Rob: So, this weekend I wasted two days...

  • Alice: Or 2,880 minutes.

  • Rob: That does sound more urgent, when you put it like that.

  • Alice: Yes. And you need to minimize or reduce distractions.

  • Turn off your tech and knuckle down to your tasks, Rob.

  • Rob: To knuckle down, by the way, means to start working hard.

  • But Alice, sometimes it's hard to knuckle down to a task when you don't know how to start it

  • Or you're scared to start it ... or sometimes just because you know it's going to be really tedious

  • And that means boring.

  • Alice: Yes. So what's your excuse, Rob?

  • Rob: Well, it's boredom, usually.

  • Alice: You should try temptation bundling.

  • Rob: Temptation bundling - what's that?

  • Alice: Temptation bundling means doing two activities together ... one you should do

  • but are avoiding, and one you love doing which isn't productive.

  • Rob: For example, eating biscuits while I work?

  • Alice: Yes, that's right. That sounds like a good one for you, Rob.

  • Rob: It might be a good idea actually.

  • Well, let's listen to Dr Catherine Loveday talking about how we often underestimate

  • how long things will take us.

  • Dr Catherine Loveday: There's this thing called the planning fallacy.

  • My favourite one is always the example of the Oxford English Dictionary that they started

  • in 1857 and it was supposed to take five years, but five years later they'd only got to the word 'ant'.

  • In the end it took another 70 years and then it was out of date and they had to start again anyway.

  • We never seem to get any better at judging time in the future and how long things will take us.

  • Rob: That's Dr Catherine Loveday. So what's a fallacy, Alice?

  • Alice: It's a mistaken belief or idea.

  • Rob: And for the famous Oxford English Dictionary

  • their mistake was to think they would get the work done in five years when it actually took 70!

  • Alice: Gosh! Wow! What a long time!

  • And talking about timeours is running outlet's go back to today's question.

  • I asked: Which American said, "You may delay, but time will not?"

  • Was it ... a) John F Kennedy, b) Benjamin Franklin or c) Franklin J Roosevelt?

  • Rob: And I very confidently said John F Kennedy.

  • Alice: Yes, you did. And you were wrong today Rob, I'm afraid.

  • It was Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

  • Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster,

  • scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

  • I doubt he wasted much time procrastinating!

  • Rob: No. OK, without further delay, here are the words we learned today:

  • procrastination

  • priority

  • minimize

  • knuckle down

  • tedious

  • temptation bundling

  • fallacy

  • Alice: Well, that's the end of today's 6 Minute English. Please join us again soon!

  • Both: Bye.

Alice: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice.

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B1 INT UK rob alice franklin rob rob knuckle temptation

BBC 6 Minute English June 30, 2016 - Get on with it!

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    Adam Huang posted on 2016/07/09
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