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The Science Behind Procrastination Let's start by getting the basics nailed down. What does procrastination mean? What exactly are we dealing with here? Human beings have been procrastinating for centuries.
The problem is so timeless, in fact, that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else.
Here's a modern definition: Before we get too deep into this discussion, let's pause for just a second. If you're enjoying this article on procrastination, then you'll probably find my other writing on performance and human behavior useful.
Each week, I share self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research through my free email newsletter. Join my free email newsletter and get 2 free ebooks now. Why Do We Procrastinate? Ok, definitions are great and all, but Procrastination and action do we procrastinate?
What is going on in the brain that causes us to avoid the things we know we should be doing?
This is a good time to bring some science into our discussion. Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. When you set goals for yourself — like losing weight or writing a book or learning a language — you are actually making plans for your Future Self.
You are envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future. Researchers have found that when you think about your Future Self, it is quite easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits.
The Future Self values long-term rewards.
However, while the Future Self can set goals, only the Present Self can take action. When the time comes to make a decision, you are no longer making a choice for your Future Self. Now you are in the present moment, and your brain is thinking about the Present Self.
Researchers have discovered that the Present Self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff. So, the Present Self and the Future Self are often at odds with one another. The Future Self wants to be trim and fit, but the Present Self wants a donut.
Sure, everyone knows you should eat healthy today to avoid being overweight in 10 years. But consequences like an increased risk for diabetes or heart failure are years away.
Similarly, many young people know that saving for retirement in their 20s and 30s is crucial, but the benefit of doing so is decades off.
If you're curious, there are some very good evolutionary reasons for why our brain values immediate rewards more highly than long-term rewards. This is one reason why you might go to bed feeling motivated to make a change in your life, but when you wake up you find yourself falling back into old patterns.
Your brain values long-term benefits when they are in the future tomorrowbut it values immediate gratification when it comes to the present moment today. Instead, you have to find a way to move future rewards and punishments into the present moment.
You have to make the future consequences become present consequences. This is exactly what happens during the moment when we finally move beyond procrastination and take action.
For example, let's say you have a report to write. You've known about it for weeks and continued to put it off day after day.Theoretically, we could even say that this aspect of action control is a causal factor in understanding procrastination.
The really interesting thing . Anxiety is a common symptom of procrastination, and like all anxiety it is best remedied through action. Handling procrastination through the above simple steps is a quick and surefire way to return anxiety levels back down to normal. Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating.
Procrastination is a challenge we have all faced at one point or another. For as long as humans have been around, we have been struggling with delaying, avoiding, and procrastinating on issues that matter to us. The Procrastination-Action Line. You cannot rely on long-term.
If you can't decide what to do, you'll likely put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing. Warning: For some people, procrastination is more than a bad habit; it's a sign of a serious underlying health issue.
the action of delaying or postponing something: your first tip is to avoid procrastination. Who would have thought that after decades of struggle with procrastination, the dictionary, of all places, would hold the solution.
Avoid procrastination. So elegant in its simplicity. While we’re here, let.
Procrastination is the disease eating away at student productivity – and with exam season upon us, we're facing an epidemic. An American study estimates that over 70% of students "exhibit [this.