We talked to an expert about the causes of procrastination and how to overcome it
During procrastination, a person puts things off and then tries to do everything in five minutes to meet the deadline. Spends a lot of effort and energy, promises next time to start exactly in advance, and each time turns out to be wrong. Together with the expert, we looked at what parts of the brain are responsible for procrastination, why we do not want to take on important things for as long as possible, and how to stop procrastinating.
What Is Procrastination
Procrastination is the deliberate putting off important things for the future. Procrastination does not include situations where a person has forgotten to do something. When we procrastinate, we understand that this decision will have its consequences, but we still choose not to do what needs to be done. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for the procrastination process.
Why People Procrastinate
- Fear of a large amount of work. The bigger the task, the more difficult it seems, so when we think of a “big and important task,” we get scared. This is a normal feature of the brain.
- Unobviousness of goals. The brain doesn’t know what the benefits will be of completing the task. If we don’t see a pleasant prospect, the brain simply refuses to take on the task. We don’t see the goal, lose motivation, and end up just avoiding responsibility.
- Fear of failure. When there is a possibility of failure, the brain chooses the easiest solution to avoid that failure: to do nothing.
- Fear of uncertainty. Sometimes we are aware of the benefits of completing a task, but we are afraid to imagine what will happen when we reach the goal. The goal drives us, gives us energy, and the lack of a final point scares us into desolation.
- Perfectionism. People who are used to making everything perfect find it harder to take on tasks because the amount of work seems even greater for them.
- An unnatural process. Some researchers argue that human beings are not historically built for a long time to achieve goals. People used to live much smaller lives, and the only tasks they worried about were eating, escaping predators, and getting through today. So it’s hard to explain to the brain that if you do something long and hard, it will have its perks in the future. The brain is much happier thinking about the little rewards that are available right now. For example, social media or delicious food.
Procrastinators Vs. People Who Do Everything on Time
There are people for whom doing everything at the last minute is a way of life. They are comfortable with it. Some do it much less frequently. One way or another, we all have things we put off, it’s normal and inherent to all people.
How to Cope With Procrastination
- Divide the big task into smaller tasks. When your brain thinks of a big task, it gets scared. Instead, do a little at a time; it’s not as scary. Doing a little is better than nothing anyway. You’ll notice how the tasks start to scare you a lot less. If there is a time limit, getting essay help will be helpful occasionally.
- Reward yourself for every task you complete. For example, if I write a page of an article today, that I will go and watch an episode of my favorite show. The reward must match the size of the task. If you go watch a movie for the paragraph you’ve written, you’ll only restart the procrastination process and get even lazier.
- Remove distractions. Isolate yourself from anything that takes you away from the task at hand. Many students, in preparation for exams, turn off social media and delete notification apps. This is a pretty conscious act, it can help you focus on the task at hand.
- Get timely and quality rest. A person who goes to bed at 10 p.m., but sits in social networks until 2 a.m., will not get enough sleep the next day and will justify procrastination with poor health. It is better instead to take regular breaks, get plenty of rest and sleep a comfortable number of hours for the body.
- More often remember for what you took the case. Think about what you really want and how working on the task will help you achieve it.
When to Contact a Professional
If putting things off leads to problems with school or work, personal life suffers from it and people let their loved ones and themselves down, you can turn to a specialist. For example, a psychologist or psychotherapist.