Reading Length: 8 minutes
- “We have a brain that is selected for preferring immediate reward. Procrastination is the present self saying I would rather feel good now. So we delay engagement even though it’s going to bite us on the butt.” – Dr Tim Pychyl, Author & Psychologist.
According to Anne-Laure Le Cunff from Ness Lab, procrastination has been happening for centuries and goes back to Greek philosophers such as Aristotle who associated it with the term “Akrasia.” People believe procrastination is just laziness or incompetence but it is ties to to our biology. There is a constant battle in our brain between our limbic system and prefrontal cortex which can lead to procrastination.
In an article by Eric Jaffe, editor at CityLab, a big misconception is that procrastination is a habit or it’s actually helpful. Some people claim that they work better under pressure. However, in a 1997 study at Case Western Reserve University, it showed that students who procrastinated earned lower grades and reported higher levels of stress and illness compared to other students.
Based on Kirstin O Donovan, a life coach, Here are some of the problems associated with procrastination:
- 1) Losing precious time.
It’s terrible to feel that years went by and nothing has changed. Nothing is worse than that feeling of regret and shame.
- 2) Missing out on opportunities.
Take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. Don’t miss out on the life-changing opportunities.
- 3) Not meeting your goals.
Our goals are tied to our desires to improve our lives. Don’t take away this possibility for yourself and never allow yourself to reach your goals.
- 4) Ruining your career.
Procrastination can disrupt your ability to meet deadlines or achieving monthly targets.
- 5) Lower self-esteem.
Procrastination can eat away your confidence and make you start to doubt yourself.
- 6) Poor decision making.
When procrastinating, a lot of the decisions made are from pressure and emotions. But this can affect our happiness, life and health.
- 7) Damaging reputation.
People may stop trusting you because of the empty promises made and this also ties to lower self-esteem.
- 8) Health risk.
Procrastination is linked to anxiety and stress and sometimes even depression. Studies have shown that stress is a silent killer on us.
According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, ,here are some tips to beating procrastination:
- 1) Tie future rewards to the present moment.
This is combining a good behavior for the long run which feels good in the short-run. The format is “Only do [THING YOU LOVE] while doing [THING YOU PROCRASTINATE ON].”
Some examples are:
- Only listen to audiobooks or podcasts you love while exercising.
- Only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.
- 2) Create immediate consequence for yourself.
If you’re doing things alone, you’re less likely to feel the consequence. But if you bring in a friend to a task, then the consequence increases and you’re less likely to skip out. You can also use a service called Stickk which gives your money to the charity you hate.
- 3) Design your future actions.
Psychologists call this “commitment device” which assists in shaping future actions ahead of time. For example, you delete all the apps on your phone or computer to stop your future self from wasting time on it.
- 4) Try the Ivy Lee Method.
This involves writing down the six most important things you need to complete the next day. You prioritize the six by importance. Once tomorrow hits, you focus on only the first task before going down the list. Move any unfinished tasks to the next day and repeat this process.
- 5) Try the 2-minute rule.
The rule is if the task takes less than 2 minutes then do it now. Another rule is when starting a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do. The rule ties to Sir Isaac Newton’s law of inertia that states objects at rest stay at rest and objects in motion stay in motion. This applies to us when we start doing something, we’ll be more likely to continue doing it.
MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS
My friends and classmates always prided themselves in doing all their work and assignments last minute by constantly putting it off. They also had the misconception that this was helpful to their life which influenced me as well. But I definitely faced lower self-esteem and lack of sleep from the stress and anxiety. Once I realized this was starting to impact my health negatively, I knew I needed to change my ways.
I personally follow some of James Clear’s tips such as by only listening to self-development books while I go out for a 30 minute walk. I also found an accountability partner on Reddit forums to assist with my progress. And I shut off all the notifications on my phone in order to remain focused with no distractions. I also like to write three to six most important things to get done this week rather than daily just to give myself more time and flexibility. For the two minute rule, sometimes I will tell myself to just make some progress on abdominal exercises for two minutes. However, once those two minutes are up, I often find myself going longer so the law of inertia is true for me!
How has procrastination affected you? What are some things you’re doing to make progress towards beating procrastination?
Check out this video I made on overcoming procrastination! Please like, comment and subscribe!
SUMMARY OF BLOGS
- Why we wait: the neuroscience of procrastination by Anne-Laure Le Cunff
- Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination by Eric Jaffe
- 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life by Kirstin O´Donovan
- Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating by James Clear