A lot of you have must have heard about the word procrastination. So, what exactly is procrastination? And how do we stop procrastinating?
Have you ever had a task at hand and you see the deadline approaching but you still put off the work until the next day and then the next? Finally, the D-day arrives and at the 11th hour, you are left with no other choice but to save the day by working your fingers to the bone for the task which you could have completed weeks ago.
Have you ever woken up in the morning, feeling positive and energetic, and decided to do something productive but ended up watching random videos of random people online?
That is P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N.
What is Procrastination?
Procrastination, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is “the action of delaying or postponing something”. In essence, ‘procrastination’ means putting off some work or task to some other day when it could be done at the very moment.
Why do we Procrastinate?
TED talks are a great way to change your life. One such TED talk is by Tim Urban titled “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator”. In this TED Talk, he has a hypothesis explaining how the brain of a procrastinator is different from that of a non-procrastinator.
As per his theory, there exists a rational decision-maker inside the brain of both – the procrastinators as well as the non-procrastinators, who has control of the steering which helps us make our choices.
But there also exists a monkey inside the brain of a procrastinator who believes in instantaneous gratification. It has no clue of the past, no future knowledge, and only cares about things that are easy and fun. So, it takes control of the wheel from the decision-maker whenever he makes a rational decision to be productive and steers into the direction where things seem to be fun. Makes sense? So, you see procrastination tends to kill our enthusiastic vibes. It is not optional for the procrastinators and they don’t do it by choice.
Types of Procrastination
There can be two types of procrastination – with and without deadlines.
“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”
To understand this quote by Rita Mae Brown, let’s talk about Tim Urban’s hypothesis that there exists one more character inside a procrastinator’s brain, called the Panic Monster. The gratification monkey is scared of this Panic Monster that is usually inactive but wakes up as soon as it sees a deadline approaching.
Now, as the name suggests, the Panic Monster creates a panic inside the brain of the procrastinator, forcing the monkey to run away and giving all the control of the wheel to the rational decision-maker. That is how a procrastinator gets his work done eventually. It is not pretty, but that’s how the type one procrastination system works.
But what about type two? What if there is no deadline? There isn’t going to be any Panic Monster involved!!! What is the monkey going to do?
This type involves tasks like exercising, learning a new language, starting to work on a start-up, etc. This long-term kind of procrastination is not much talked about. It is usually suffered privately and quietly causing long-term unhappiness, regrets, self-doubts which might even lead to major psychological problems.
So, how do you overcome it? How do you train the rational decision-maker to take back control of the steering of choices?
How can we Procrastinate Less?
Here are a few points that you can keep in mind when the monkey inside your brain tries to steer your decision-making wheel in the wrong direction.
- If you have got a lot on your plate, try to prioritize your work and split it up into goals, make a to-do list, and finish it one by one. The feeling of striking tasks from a to-do list after completing them is just amazing.
- Make it a habit to allot time frames for each task or goal. Do not try to overdo it in less time because that might affect the quality of your work.
- Many times, it happens that when you are working, something irrelevant to what you were working on pops up in your head followed by a few more irrelevant tasks or thoughts. In such cases, you should jot down your thoughts somewhere so that those thoughts do not consume you any further and you can easily get back to work at hand.
- Visualize yourself working on the task. The research says that if you picture yourself following the process, it becomes much easier to do it in real life.
- Envision the rewards or appraisals you’ll receive after you do what you had decided you would do. It works as an incentive for you.
- Tell your family, friends, colleagues about the tasks that you are willing to achieve. So that even if you get out of the zone, someone reminds you to get back into it.
- Try not to use electronic devices like phones, laptops while working until and unless it is required because we all know how it starts from ‘just five minutes and lasts for hours.
- Lastly, plan for failure. If you happen to come to a roadblock, do not give up.
Why should we stop procrastinating?
Let’s talk about what is in there for us if we don’t let the monkey control our decision-making wheel.
- First and foremost, your self-control in your brain increases. You don’t let the monkey convince you to do stuff that seems fun and is not productive.
- Grab those opportunities which you would have missed if you were putting off work to some other day.
- Try to feel relaxed, calm, tension-free when all your work has already been taken care of by you.
- You solve the problems before they create a situation of crisis. You stop them from augmenting by not delaying dealing with them.
- Enhance your productivity by completing all those tasks you had decided to do. It gives you a sense of establishment.
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”― Karen Lamb
Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It only leaves you with R-E-G-R-E-T. Procrastination can restrict your potential and undermine your career. So, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to prevent it.
The first step to overcoming procrastination is to recognize that you’re doing it. Then, identify the reasons behind your behavior and use appropriate strategies to manage and overcome it.
Do check out our other blogs.
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