Do you have a procrastination issue? Well, I do. If I’m being absolutely honest, I procrastinated writing this article ABOUT procrastination. It can’t get worse than that. But, why do we procrastinate and how can we stop? Procrastination can make it really hard to get anything done and can take a huge toll on your mental health — so let’s figure out how to quit procrastinating for good.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
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Procrastination is not a new issue — it has been discussed for centuries. The Greek poet Hesiod wrote around 800 B.C. that you should not “put your work off ’til tomorrow and the day after.” But what is procrastination, exactly?
Scientifically speaking, procrastination is a fight between the prefrontal cortex (that works as your internal planner) and the limbic system (which is the unconscious pleasure center). When faced with an unpleasant activity, the limbic center’s goal is to avoid it to relieve any unpleasant feelings of needing to, but not wanting to complete a task. When the limbic system wins, which is often, it results in procrastination or the “I can do it later” mindset.
But, don’t feel bad — it’s even deeper than that. The limbic system is one of the oldest and most dominant parts of the brain. It also runs automatically, just like when you pull your hand away from a hot flame. It works quickly to boost your mood and tries to avoid any inconveniences. Unlike the limbic system, the prefrontal cortex is a weaker and newer part of the brain that does not work automatically. This part of our brain helps us get the job done, but it needs to be kicked into gear; otherwise, it will be overtaken by the limbic system. We need to sit down and really say “Let’s do this thing!” for this part of the brain to kick in.
How We Can Stop Procrastinating?
While everyone is different, we found some tips that may help you kick procrastination to the curb. You may even want to try a few of these solutions out to see which will help you better and to figure out what you personally need in order to focus.
1. Finding An Underlying Condition
Procrastination can show up in conjunction with various mental health issues, like ADHD, eating disorders, perfectionism, anxiety, and depression. This is because procrastination is an avoidance strategy. If you have already been diagnosed with any of these, this may be something to discuss with your doctor. Procrastination also shows itself in many different ways, according to Rachel Eddins, a licensed professional counselor, and American Counseling Association member. These can be binge eating, struggling to clean your house or area, and other problems that may not even seem like they are linked to procrastination.
2. The Five Minute Rule
The Five Minute Rule is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique that works to combat procrastination. With it, you attempt the task you have been procrastinating on for only five minutes, and if it is still horrible after those five minutes, then you can stop. However, most people find that after those first initial five minutes, the task is a lot easier to complete. This is because setting the intention and beginning the process is often the hardest part, not even the task itself.
Setting Up Rewards
Just like how you train an animal to sit by using rewards, you can train yourself to stop putting off your work. Many people get stuck in the habit of procrastinating because when they actually get something done, they don’t even acknowledge it. Try rewarding yourself after completing a project — this will make it easier for you to stop procrastinating in the future. And if you struggle with feeling like you haven’t done enough, celebrate any little victory, whether it’s five minutes of work or finishing a project.
Mindfulness can combat procrastination, or so this study says. This is because procrastination is usually an impulsive behavior, and mindfulness is the act of being aware of your actions. While being mindful, you are able to slow down and process the negative feelings that may lead to procrastination. This will help you focus on your task and accept the feelings that may make you want to procrastinate.
I beat my procrastination by sitting down and finishing this article! What procrastination can you beat today? Let us know in the comments below.
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