Get A Grip On Procrastination By Understanding The Reason Behind It

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“Ah, I’ll do it later.” Have you ever said that to yourself? If you have, I hate to break it to you but you have entered the vicious cycle of procrastination. Statements like these, that we use to make fake promises to ourselves just so we can fool ourselves into feeling even a little bit productive, lead to a never-ending (unless there is an immediate deadline) cycle of doing nothing, and then feeling guilty about it later. If you think about it, 99% of the time, we procrastinate intentionally; because we know that it’d be better for us to just do the task at hand but we still avoid it. This isn’t a new phenomenon in any way, everyone deals with it at one point or another. Perhaps even Leonardo Da Vinci was procrastinating while working on the Mona Lisa, considering it took him 16 years to complete it. 

So, why do we procrastinate? There are a lot of different theories that answer the question. One of the most comprehensively explained theories is called Temporal Motivation Theory by Doctor Piers Steel. He explains it through a simple equation, which shows that the higher the utility or motivation, the less likely it is for someone to procrastinate over a particular task. If there is something that you are genuinely interested in doing, then you will most likely do the task immediately and not put it off. Author and psychologist, Dr. Tim Pychyl believes that the human brain prefers an immediate reward, so essentially, procrastination is our present selves saying, “I would rather feel good now.” This leads to delaying engagement, even though we are well aware of the consequences. 

The science behind procrastination can be explained by the wiring of the human brain. The limbic system, which is the part of our brain that is involved in our behavioral and emotional responses, is always working and is fully developed from birth. This system sometimes dominates our decision-making side of the brain, and that leads to us procrastinating and delaying our work for later. Think about it this way, if you have a deadline that is four days from now, you are likely to put it off till the last minute, and then complain about how you don’t have enough time to do anything. That is how the limbic system dominates our thoughts and actions, which later leads to regret and a ton of work that is pending.

The biggest drawback to procrastination is stress. When someone put off tasks, there is a deadline that eventually has to be met. Ultimately, this leads to a lot of stress and anxiety, which is not good for their physical or mental health. Another problem with procrastination is the fact that in the end, the work has to be completed in a rush, which means that we didn’t give our best in terms of completing the task and that portrays a shabby presentation of our work. So make sure for the sake of the quality of your work, you give yourself enough time and put in your best effort to complete the task. It is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and procrastination is one of the biggest things that stop us from doing so. 

Now that you know why we procrastinate and why it’s bad for us, it is also crucial to know how one can stop procrastinating and be motivated to get work done. 

Find excitement in your work: It is scientifically proven that if you do something with excitement and thrill, you will never want to delay doing that task. If you love your work, your work will also love you.

Make a schedule: If you have a lot of workload and don’t know when you should do what, it always helps when you make a schedule for your work and make sure that you follow it religiously. This will not only help in reducing the workload because of the way manage it, but it will also reduce the amount of stress that you may have because of it.

Follow a healthy lifestyle: Having a healthy lifestyle is very important both for your work and personal life. It will lead to a stressful and happy life. Eating healthier food and keeping your body active will help in keeping your mind active as well. 

Set Deadlines: Another tip to avoid procrastination is to set deadlines. It is important to set a specific date for when you want a project or assignment to be completed. This way, you can be strict with yourself and your deadlines so that there is some amount of pressure to get the work done. 

Take a break: It is important to take a break, even if it is for 5-10 minutes in between your work. Avoid working constantly because it will reduce your concentration level and make your body weak. An Oregon State University study shows that taking a break can increase focus, reduce stress, and help you better retain information.

Reward Yourself: Rewarding yourself can create an incentive to complete a task and help avoid procrastination! So next time you finish an assignment early, treat yourself by watching an episode of your favorite show or taking a quick nap!

These are only a few of the many ways you can use to get over the feeling of procrastination. Remember that all of these methods vary from person to person, so look for what suits you best and modify it to your needs and lifestyle. The most important step is to change your mindset and get in the headspace of being active and getting work done. 


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