It’s often blown off as laziness or a lack of giving a fuck. For whatever reason deemed we all do the deed.
If we’re talking science, procrastination is the thing that happens when two parts of the brain clash heads, so to speak. The pleasure centre (limbic system) and the internal planner (prefrontal cortex).
The Limbic system is stronger and older than the prefrontal cortex. She’s on automatic. She’s the gal that tells you the tea you just sipped is too hot to drink – to flee from anything unpleasant. Immediate mood repair is her gig.
The prefrontal cortex is a newer part of our brain. It’s all about decisiveness and integrating information. Like a librarian. But she’s also a total bore. This part of the brain is what separates humans from animals. Animals are merely controlled by stimulus.
So when the librarian part of your brain and the pleasure seeking part of your brain collide it’s like an awkwardly matched blind date and results in procrastination.
pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən, prō-|
the action of delaying or postponing something: your first tip is to avoid procrastination.
So as the dictionary says, avoid it.
But let’s be real, the internet exists, so avoidance is sickly humorous.
The human brain is actually wired for procrastination. We’re wired for pleasure and to avoid suffering. So don’t blame yourself kid, blame your biology.
The procrastination habit is not cured by simply understanding why one procrastinates. The way to beat procrastination is often to trick yourself into it. To out trick the original trickster. (The voice in you head that is responsible for weird youtube spirals.)
Interesting: Adam Grant wrote an article for the New York Times called “Why I taught myself to procrastinate”. He talks about procrastination being a virtue for creativity. This article is where I learnt the term pre-crastination. He reveals that procrastination encourages alternate thinking. The ending rules.
Tips to Beat Procrastination: from the wise internet
1. Choose one thing and commit to it. Channel your inner librarian.
2. Do the worst thing first. Like when you were a kid and used to eat the broccoli before the good stuff. Why? People’s willpower source is limited and needs recharging. Use your strength on the toughest parts of your meal & life in general.
3. Cut the tasks into pieces. Being overwhelmed by a big task is often the reason we put something off to the very last moment. The best way to beat this overwhelm is to divide the task up into incy wincy pieces and hang out with them one by one.
4. Make yourself accountable to someone. It’s easy to get sucked into letting yourself down. But letting someone else down is harder. Tell your cat what your productive day looks like.
5. Do a power hour. It’s just an hour. Smash it out. Get it over with. You will be awed by how much you can get down in a power hour. A power hour is a way of framing time up differently. & rhymes make scary things less intimidating.
6. Figure out: what are you afraid of? Procrastination is often a result of unconscious fear. Fear of failing, of not understanding the task, of making a fool of yourself. Figure it out. Expose it. And do it anyway.
7. Take breaks. But time yourself. We’re not talking a 2 week break folks. Have a snack. Get outside. And return to productivity.
8. Use pleasure as an incentive, not an escape. Pick something you dig to do only once finished.
Note that you’re not in it alone. Humans are master procrastinators. We’re all doing it in one form or another. Be aware. Alter you behaviour. Trick yourself. Procrastinate a little. And get shit done.
For more information visit the links below:
Thomas Frank (Chris Bailey book review) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW2F4dOCC3U
Tim Urban – http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html (Ted Talk below)