Procrastination occurs to everyone at least once in a lifetime.
You have a deadline coming, but you find yourself putting work off. You turn to reading Facebook, checking your email or text-messages instead. Before you know it, you only have a few hours left and you rushed out your work, usually under stress.
Procrastination can be more than just a bad habit. Research has found that up to 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. These people not only have their career affected, the constant stress that they put themselves in during last-minute rush of meeting deadlines, affect their health as well.
So many understand the harmful effects of procrastination, but why do we still procrastinate?
The brain is happier with instant rewards
When we know that we have serious work to do, the brain recognises it as something unpleasant. This makes the brain to activate areas associate to pain and induce you to turn away from the important tasks at hand. The brain, however, is inclined to short-term rewards. In a lot of cases, this means that we end up doing unimportant tasks or small fun things that give momentary pleasures.
Even though we know that the future rewards for completing important tasks are bigger, the mental and emotional rewards for doing small menial tasks seem more pleasant to the brain, at the present point of time.
Product triggers pain
The endpoint, or product, of a task is usually what triggers the pain. There is likely a psychological reason to this. For perfectionists, the fear of failure maybe the underlying reason for procrastination. Some people, however, may be indecisive. They may delay making a decision to avoid possible responsibilities for the outcome.
Trick your mind to overcome procrastination
While procrastination is pervasive, it is a bad habit that can be overcome by changing your mindset, your behaviors, allowing yourself a conducive environment and tricking your brain.
Firstly, put away negative feelings. Once the pain centers of the brain is activated, making you have the thought of “I’ll do it later”, you need to make some conscious effort of pushing these thoughts away. As mentioned previously, the product is what triggers the pain. Instead of thinking “I need to get X done by Y”, think “I am going to start on X regardless of finishing or not”. Focus on the building the process without thinking of the outcome. In most cases, once you get started on doing something, the momentum will be built and the neurodiscomfort will disappear after working.
Focus and concentrate
If you find yourself getting distracted easily, such as reading text messages, reading emails, remove yourself from the distractions. For example, find yourself a quiet place or turn your electronic devices off. Place yourself in a distraction free environment to better focus on your task. You may also use the Pomodoro technique to help you focus intently on doing one thing at a time.
Have a reward, have a chocolate
Your brain needs incentives to get work done. Therefore, reward yourself after completing a task. Considering that chocolates have been found to release neurotransmitters that reduce pain and increase happiness, perhaps you would like a Hershey’s or two.