Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Understanding Procrastination

Procrastination in Numbers

Studies indicate that more than 80% of the population procrastinates. According to the American Psychological Association, 80%- 95% of college students procrastinate, with 75% of students admitting to being procrastinators while around 50% consider their procrastination a serious problem that needs a solution. The truth is most of us feel good saying we will do it tomorrow. We deceive ourselves by thinking that we will most likely be more hard working in the future but the sad truth is that we will most likely be lazy tomorrow as we are today.


The Loop of Procrastination


Most people want to live in their comfortable bubble, nothing disturbing their daily routines and sure as hell no one to burst that bubble. We procrastinate our dreams and goals each day because we do not want to get out of the comfort zone. We want to stay in it forever while we have fantasies of how awesome our lives could be in an alternate reality. Most people plan ideas and goals they are set to do but when that time comes, they decide to push the plans forward because they have no energy or motivation to do the tasks at hand. And when tomorrow finally comes, we say we'll do it tomorrow.


Understanding Procrastination


Our brain is in constant struggle, we know what we should do but we often don’t do it. This is because we have two primary brain parts that influence how we respond to the present and now. The part that we use for making our conscious decisions is called the prefrontal cortex while the part responsible for emotions, automatic response to stimuli and memory is called the limbic system. The limbic system which influences our emotions has a lot of real estate in our brains and is more powerful than the prefrontal cortex which is more rational.


While we love thinking that our rational brain is in control, the truth is the limbic system is in control and learning to hack it can greatly help in reducing procrastination. The limbic system is more active in making decisions in the now while the prefrontal cortex is responsible for making decisions about the future. We are impatient when making decisions in the present and patient when making decisions about the future. This explains why we set up our alarms but when they ring, we dismiss them. The reason is that, we set the alarm using our rational brain but when it rings our emotional brain kicks in, causing us to dismiss it. This can tell you how powerful our emotional brain is.


Another reason why we procrastinate is because of anxiety. The fear of the unknown greatly influences us. We are comfortable procrastinating because doing a certain activity causes us anxiety and as human beings, we are driven to avoid anxiety as much as possible. We tend to avoid anything that causes us anxiety or elicits negative feelings and seek positive and comfort.


As human being we tend to choose things we can easily do over things that are hard. When we set big goal, it causes us anxiety which causes us to avoid it and do things that come naturally to us. Reasons being, when we are procrastinating, we are choosing to pursue something we can easily do over something hard. Procrastination is simply engaging in other activities other than the ones we should be pursuing. We are distracting ourselves from what we should be doing. If you have realized, when procrastinating we are not usually idle, we keep ourselves engaged. That’s why most people feel like they were busy when they really didn’t do anything because we avoid doing what we should do in favor of something easier and rewarding. We avoid cleaning the house in favor of something easier and instantly rewarding such as social media.