We take a quick look at how procrastination functions, and its effects on the body and mind.
Let me tell you about procrastination. Right now, I should be finishing a speech that I have to give in approximately 36 hours to a classroom full of critical peers. I should be writing the thesis to the third major paper of my film evaluation. I should be finishing my Noir story, or working on my novel for NaNoWriMo. Instead, I’m sitting here with a flash game open in one tab, Triond in another, writing an article on a fiend that I know all too well.
Why? I guess there are several answers to that question. Laziness is certainly one part of it. Researching for my speech is tedious work, and writing it is worse. In addition, there isn’t the drive to finish my speech that Triond holds for me. By writing articles, I have the chance to earn some income, which I think is a pretty good incentive. In addition, like many brains, my mind has the ability to rationalize any event to twist events into sounding how I’d like them to sound. The speech? I have all day tomorrow to work on it. The thesis? It’s a paragraph and a half, tops. I can write that in thirty minutes tomorrow morning.
The question of course is, will I?
Some people have an inclination toward procrastination that is physiologically and psychologically based. As anxiety and stress ramp up to ever-increasing heights, so does the urge to put things off until life isn’t so crazy. This is based in the prefrontal cortex of ours brains, an area responsible for planning and impulse control. Procrastination is a side effect of the rationalization I mentioned earlier: Our brain wants to offload stress, so it invents reasons to put off tasks until a more managable time. You could be the ‘relaxed’ type of procrastinator, who offloads work in favor of more pleasurable pursuits. I can personally profess to being one of these. On the other hand, many people are the tense or afraid type of procrastinator, people who simply shut down in the face of a seemingly overwhelming task. In either case, procrastinators will tell themselves that they have plenty of time to get their task accomplished. While that may be true, the pattern seems to be that procrastinators will not begin fully applying themselves to a project until immediately before its deadline.
So what can we do? Procrastination lives in our brains, pulling the strings like a manic puppeteer. One simple way to divert the symptoms of procrastination is to split up large tasks before you begin. Tell yourself that you will do the research for your essay one day, and write the rough draft the next. By splitting up your work and managing your time effectively like this, you can split what once seemed like a momumental task into several more managable chunks. In addition, removing distractions is an enormous help. Though I know it’s difficult, attempt to pry yourself away from Facebook and Tumblr long enough to finish the task at hand. If it’s a writing project that you have to finish, try using an online tool such as Write or Die. Such systems are designed to keep your writing and on task, or face unpleasant consequences.
As for me, I believe I’ll go write my thesis. After that, research beckons. I’ll see you readers on the other side of tonight, and hopefully, I’ll have some more content to show than this article.
Image via CrunchBase
And stay away from this place. It eats productivity. ^