Why we procrastinate

Why we procrastinate

Probably one of the things that is so relatable & universal when it comes to our species is procrastination.

At some point, all of us think about whether it's possible to stop procrastinating & really get stuff done but usually this thought only comes to us at that point when we realise this thing should have already been done.


Why does it only happen with certain tasks & work that actually has to get done?

Why don't we procrastinate when it comes to watching our favourite series or going out on a random trip with friends?

Now you might feel that procrastination is due to poor time management or you are just lazy, both of which might be true but don't blame yourself yet. 

Interestingly it's less about time management & more about emotional management.

Think about this, when there is a task or some work that is really demanding, how do you feel ?


These emotional responses trigger what we can call a tug of war between 2 parts of yourself.

The first is your limbic system or as we can call it your inbuilt survival guide which is automatic, dominating & linked to pleasure & safety.

The second is your prefrontal cortex or that part of your brain which needs you to actively & consciously kick start it & is responsible for things like integrating information, helping make decisions & influencing attention.

Now the problem in this tug of war is that your automatic side is powerful & dominating. It makes you put off those triggering & demanding tasks for later, which gives you a sense of temporary pleasure. 

Putting off tasks to feel better might be okay at times and we aren't perfect but if we have to learn to procrastinate less, there might be a few ways to go about it. 

Understand your habit loop.

What triggers you, how that makes you feel, how you behave after that and what pleasure or temporary pleasure you look for. 

(example : You have to complete a task but it makes you feel stressed thinking about it, so you put it off to feel better) 

This is not going to work overnight but when you start becoming conscious about these things you can start taking small actions. 

For example, if something makes you feel overwhelmed and that is why you put it off, it's most likely because you are looking at it as one big task. Instead break it up into smaller tasks and create a checklist. 

Slowly over time you will be able to recognise your emotional responses & associated behaviours before they take over and start introducing small actions that make you feel different.

This is what we call a positive habit loop. 

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