Know Your Procrastination- Scientific View
(Synonyms-Deferment, postponement, stalling, delay, adjournment, putting off)
Let’s know the Procrastination before learning how to overcome it!
One obvious logic behind procrastination, you can find in Newton’s First Law of Motion- the Law of Inertia which has the potential to describe some of the human nature and behavior such as laziness and procrastination
Let’s revisit Newton’s First law from the perspective of our topic- The Procrastination. It states-“A body at rest will stay at rest until an external force applied”. Man, this is the reason why we all, along with the entire universe, procrastinate (a bit of pun intended)… But just because procrastination got scientific explanation doesn’t mean we must embrace it. And hello! Newton was a physicist, not a biologist.
Brain Science Behind Procrastination
While we all know the end result of procrastination – frustration, panic, regrets, something undesirable by all of us. Then what could be that in-depth, deep-rooted cause that compels us to procrastinate?
That short boost in a small dose of dopamine bursting through the brain, a feel-good chemical which could be a result of watching a movie or working in a garden or checking social media followers or even getting a haircut, pedicure, dog walking, talking to mom…list is endless.
While all the above actions will make you healthy or socially more popular, won’t help you get your most important assignment done within stipulated timeframe!
When something pleasing and easy is happening, your dopamine level is increased. This affects the neurons in your brain making you repeat this behavior. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for taking in information and making decisions. “This is that part of the brain that really separates humans from animals, who are just controlled by the stimulus,” Clearly this feel-good factor is responsible for the repeated procrastination.
Some Benefits Offered By Procrastination
- While procrastinating, our brain is still working on the problem or job in hand. The internal brain circuit is continuously being wired in favor of resolving that work.
- Generally, we tend to procrastinate when we see a very lengthy and complicated work waiting ahead. Individual brain differs in the capacity of processing vast information or understanding something complicated enough to work upon.
- Hence Procrastination can be seen as our brain’s coping and resting mechanism to understand and solve a problem by consuming some additional time to rewire and regenerate problem-solving neurons.
- Surprisingly yet rarely, procrastination may prove to be a boon in some situations, by rendering some room to take a decision and not working hurriedly or in a mess.
So one early morning you decide to change and upgrade your wardrobe and go shopping instantly, chances are you end up spending a huge amount. Whereas deferring this one can give you some sort of satisfaction in the form of saving your money and time.
How Do We Manage to Procrastinate Every Now and Then!
While procrastinating we really do weird and unexplainable things. Just a week ago, in a vein to complete a most urgent part of my eBook, I took a leave from my work. I was all set to publish it on Amazon KDP only after final writing, editing, and proofreading.
And guess what…”This is quite a work. Let me have a look at the greenery outside”, just to refresh and prepare my “mind and fingers” for the massive job ahead.
Once in the garden, instead of enjoying the woods, greens, air-aroma, birds, I came across many problems which were lying unaddressed for a while (as my gardener was invisible since long!). So what to do? Fix them now or never- “My inner self announced”.
I went in only to come out with garden equipment, fertilizer, soil, scissors, and cello tape. Started working as a professional gardener with undivided attention.
That day, I ended doing months of gardening and fixing what I could at my level best. Delighted with a strange satisfaction, I cleaned and rested well. But deep inside a discomfort and regret prevailed surpassing the newly acquired satisfaction from the just finished gardening job!
My active procrastination helped me to get some very rare insights into human nature
It’s not really hard to get focused and get your work done. The art and science lie in deciding where to focus and what to do first!
I really worked in the garden which appeared impossible some time back. But at the same time, I didn’t lay my hand on something more important which led me to take a leave from work that is publishing my book.
Out of sight became out of mind, here my bookish job. Publishing my book became abstract in comparison to the garden in my visual range.
Let’s Read some Quotes on Procrastination from the famous intellectuals- learn to recognize that you are procrastinating
“If your job is to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning, and if your job is to eat two frogs, eat the big one first”.- Mark Twain
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin
“There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.” – Joe Ryan
I think these are good explanations. If some confusion remains and you disagree with- read this one more example to reconnect with yourself; just 1 minute read-
Your exam dates have been announced. Classmates are running for the notes, books and extra hours to prepare and compile everything they gained in class lectures. But you are indifferent to their activities.
Your mind is working in a different direction. Assuming something like -“plenty of time is left, why everyone is so panicked”. Or another one- “I can sacrifice my two-night sleep to prepare for my exams.
One more of the same nature-
You are calling in the panic- your CA who is not picking your phone call. Hurriedly you drop to his office. Then not finding him somehow, desperately calling his best friend only to learn that he is out of town to see his ailing mother. All this is happening when tomorrow is the last date filing your ITR. You are feeling hot flushes, high pulse rate, perspiration, and overall discomfort!
If you are panicked on the last date of tax day or electricity bill or your child’s school fee, 99 percent chances of you’re being a superb procrastinator!
Procrastination is a widely discussed phenomenon because of the harms it causes to an individual.
Just have a look:
The American Heritage Dictionary defines procrastination as
“To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness”.
Oxford English Dictionary sounds even more convincing by stating “often with the sense of deferring through indecision, when early action would have been preferable,” or as “deferring action, especially without good reason.”
Procrastination may not be as harmful in your day to day life. Half an hour in social media or watching your favorite TV show or shifting your laundry bunch on another day.
But when it comes to the events which really matter in your life…such as tax payment, doctors’ appointment, ticket booking, college admission, insurance renewals, bill payments etc. –your decision may make you most comfortable person on the earth or leave crippled for a long time!!!
Conventional wisdom has long suggested that procrastination is all about poor time management and willpower. But more recently, psychologists have been discovering that it may have more to do with how our brains and emotions work.
Interestingly, all procrastination is a delay, but vice-versa is not true
Sometimes you intentionally put off a job in hand to gather more relevant information or to wait for more favorable conditions! For example, your house renovation. You deferred it to wait for a dry weather or decline in construction material rates for example. This is not a case of procrastination. This comes in the category of scheduling a job in favors of better results.
Procrastination is when you realized that you should have done the thing earlier, and then deferred somehow, even expecting worse results.
Research reveals that typical procrastinators have an irrational sense of time management! They assume there is plenty of time in hand to complete an important assignment, which is actually not the case. More recent research suggests procrastination is linked to difficulty in managing distress.
While you may fall prey to procrastination in order to avoid stress but in long run, it may lead you more distress. Further causing sleep issues with lots of regret further leading to poor mental and physical health.
How to Overcome Procrastination?
Huh, so much on a mindset! Anyway now it is going to be far easier to get rid of the habit of stalling an important job. Following the points, which will now be told, you will find it impossible to procrastinate again in the future. So read them carefully.
Don’t feel overwhelmed
One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is because they get overwhelmed by the amount of hard work or time needed to accomplish an assignment. They are trapped into the feelings of a tough, boring, or stressful process of completing the task; whatever the case, the inner feeling is that doing the task will be “too difficult to achieve”.
In reality, challenges, boredom, and hard work will not kill you — or even make you sick. Procrastination, on the other hand, will! Think of the stress you feel when you have not prepared your lesson for your exams-its consequences –and the final stress…
Avoiding such situation is not impossible. To be determined to repeat this to yourself- “However boring this chapter be, I am going to start working on it now.” Starting a task is the biggest hurdle which when crossed once, remains no more a hurdle.
Imagine the end results
You tend to procrastinate because you want to avoid the stress related to completion of the job. Instead of short-term relaxation, try to imagine the amount of satisfaction and gain you acquire at the end of the process.
Once you focus on why you are doing something and its benefits, things will be a lot easier!
Break-up your goals
Set realistic goals. Not so often should you rely on such feelings “I am waiting for some favorable conditions to accomplish my pending job”. More often those desirable situations don’t strike automatically. You have to fabricate them instead!
It’s better to schedule and chalk out a time slot for an important project. Always keep some additional time handy, usually finishing a project may take some extra hours than you expected.
Chunking a big and lengthy task
Procrastination steps in when the task appears complicated. Hence chunking a task into bite-size is the smarter way of working!
One example– cleaning and de-cluttering of your complete room vs. the same operation on your study table only, then bookshelf the next day and then wardrobe and so on. All one by one will make your tedious job into a doable one.
Another– think about learning a complete lesson vs. small topics and then commit to learning it one by one. This is a proven method of learning and memorizing.
Here comes the technique-very popular and scientifically proven to come over procrastination.
THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are named Pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word Pomodoro (tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.
The technique has been widely popularized by dozens of apps and websites providing timers and instructions.
How does it work?
These are the steps you need to follow the Pomodoro technique effectively.
First, decide on the most urgent task to be completed.
Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
Work on the task with undivided attention.
End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper. Take a short break of around 5 minutes.
You have completed one Pomodoro.
After four such Pomodoro you are entitled to enjoy the long break- say 20 to30 minutes.
Repeat the process until you finish the task at hand.
Thus Pomodoro technique involves stages: planning, visualizing, implementing, tracking, and recording.
Planning phase decides on the time and efforts required to complete a task.
In the visualization phase, you chunk your task which is doable in 25 minutes of time.
You start implementing and tracking your journey to accomplish a very important work in hand.
Recording each step is also important for your satisfaction, improvement, and self-realization.
**Rewarding is always beneficial and a must after completion of an important task! This is the best way for your next motivation. So you can watch Netflix (occasionally!).
Rewarding could be a highly creative and healthy in the form of active rest such as Beginning yoga practice and Meditation, take some Power Nap, Or ***Eat something really healthy for you.
Download Here ” Healthy Eating guide for office/college”.
Practice to be imperfect
Trying to be perfect is- Do all or none. Ironically, most fall into this category. Most favoring quote supporting imperfection is “Something is always better than nothing” So think for better not perfect! While striving for excellence, don’t decelerate your work. Concentrate more on getting the work done!
“Done is better than perfect”.
Forgive yourself for procrastinating
Procrastination, psychologists realized, appears to be a coping mechanism. When people procrastinate, they’re avoiding emotionally unpleasant tasks and instead of doing something has more pleasure although temporary. But this behavior may cause shame and guilt — which in turn leads some to procrastinate even further, creating a hurtful cycle. This is why forgiving and self-compassion is the best tool to break the cycle.
Hence as a student, if you forgave yourself for procrastinating on a previous exam would actually be less likely to procrastinate on the next test.
Conclusion- How to Overcome Procrastination
Timothy A. Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University advises procrastinators to practice ‘time travel’— projecting themselves into the future to imagine the good feelings they will have after finishing a task, or the bad ones they will have if they don’t,” relieving the anxiety and worry they subconsciously feel about the future.
This says everything about to combat your procrastination- the silent productivity killer. If You got totally overwhelmed by the above points, suggestions and the write-up as a whole, here is the summary:
Be smart and recognize that you are procrastinating.
If it is happening because you think the job in-hand is too complicated, time-consuming- divide into the smaller chunk of the doable task and set your daily goal and time.
Manage your time the first thing in the morning (easier said than done, but is possible!).
Start using the Pomodoro Technique. It may bring substantial changes in your life.
Don’t get stressed once you fall into “Procrastination Trap“. Forgive yourself and be compassionate towards your self.
Most effective weapon against procrastination is – Go ahead and Start Working. Give yourself visual simulations of the job- be quick to open your book, notes or laptop. Once you are able to establish an eye-contact with your project, it would be far easier to OVERCOME YOUR PROCRASTINATION.
Thanks for accompanying me up to this point. Hello! do you agree with these methods of busting your habit of ALWAYS putting the things off to the edges? Please let me know in the contact form and do leave your valuable comments which are rewarding enough to come up with a good content.
The last thing, please use social media share buttons to help your friends/followers combating there Procrastination!
What are you doing this morning? Having a date with some healthy routine or still procrastinating!!
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Very usefully informative article. Cleared difference between procrastination and prioritisation of the works…forced for self evaluation, if we are procrastinate. Article is stimulating enough for the secretion of feel good neuropeptide; Serotonin.
Thank you so much, Dr. Luvkush Dwivedi! Rightly said. Prioritization only changes your preferences which are essentially needed when you have so many to-dos. On the other hand, procrastination is mostly deferring a task mindlessly.
Well, keep visiting us for a frequent rush of neuropeptide and Serotonin. Ha-ha!
It was a new topic for me. It is informative and interesting as well! We all seek productivity but rarely pay heed. Procrastination is psychological and can be treated with little mindfulness. Thanks for this post.
Thanks, Dr Neelam for visiting yogarsutra regularily. Yes we all seek productivity which comes after viable actions taken in time.