Procrastination Holding You Back?
8 Effective Tips to Release its Hold NOW.
I decided to write this article on procrastination for all of you loyal readers because so many people are recently coming to me for help with this difficulty. For those of you who think procrastination is just about laziness, there is much to learn ‘grasshoppers’.
We all engage in procrastination at times but the frequency and extent to which we engage in it varies greatly from person to person and at different points in our lives. It turns out there are a variety of reasons you procrastinate. Since this is my blog for you, I’m sure you already know that science, the mind and the brain are going to be discussed.
If you think of the behavior superficially, it really doesn’t make any sense. Just why on earth would you want to put off doing something that is important to you only to be faced with the anxiety, worry and panic coming along with the procrastination?
One reason is that there is a short-term uplift that accompanies procrastination. Where does this come from? I’m a huge cat lover yet, until the day before yesterday, I’d never tuned out by watching cat videos. I started and then just couldn’t seem to stop even though I knew precious moments were drifting away. My short-term uplift came from a spurt of dopamine being released through my brain as I laughed with delight over the cats’ antics.
Dopamine is widely known among the neurotransmitters as the “feel-good” chemical with addictive type effects. With the spurt of dopamine, some of the neurons in my brain were impacted increasing the chances of this behavior or similar type of behavior occurring again.
I don’t know if there is a Procrastinators’ Anonymous (PA) but there certainly may be the need for one.
It turns out that there may be a genetic predisposition for procrastination. University of Colorado at Boulder scientists discovered that some individuals are more likely to be derailed by distractions than others.
In addition, some people tend to be more impulsive and tend to put off long term goals preferring to pursue things they’ll enjoy in the short term. Now, while not all procrastinators are impulsive people, the study did find there was a relationship or correlation between the two characteristics.
Your Brainy Procrastination?
The ability to focus has a huge amount to do with completing tasks, finishing assignments and wrapping up projects. Two parts of the brain are involved with determining whether focus will be sufficiently present to eliminate the short-term rewards of procrastination.
The advanced part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex, is associated with decision-making, focus, planning and other complex activities. During goal-oriented activity, the so-called ‘task-positive network’
is voluntarily focusing on carrying out thoughts and actions.
On the other hand, if you’re really not aware and focused on a task at hand, your ‘default mode network’ takes over.
This network is involved with mind-wandering, creativity and thinking about nothing.This network must be deactivated for focus on activities and completion of tasks to occur. You need to make a conscious decision to pay attention and carry out responsibilities and strive to stay focused if you want to get things done. This takes intention and energy.
Another reason many procrastinate is due to fears. The fears include fear of failure, fear of not performing well, fear of making mistakes and, yes, even fear of success. Remember that the
emotion of fear comes from your negative automatic or subconscious thoughts and beliefs.
If you’ve been selected to write up the findings of a market research project, automatic negative thoughts such as, “I’m going to misinterpret the findings and everybody will know I’m an idiot…that I don’t know my subject area…they won’t want to be associated to such a loser…they’ll reject me.” Look how far you’re negative thinking took you – all the way to the point at which you’re fearfully forecasting rejection.
The thought of being rejected is extremely serious as, in an evolutionary sense, when our ancestors were rejected from the group this was akin to death.
Procrastination’s Swan Song
There are a variety of simple, effective things you can do to say “sayonara” to putting things off:
- Make a list of the actions, projects, etc., that you’re avoiding doing and assign deadlines (more help with that coming below).
- When a project or action seems complex or big, break it down into action steps and assign deadlines to these. Accomplishing these easier, smaller tasks can re-engage the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and may lead to the production of dopamine thereby becoming self-reinforcing.
- Use learning theory: if you don’t accomplish a task by the deadline, you have to do something negative. For example, you have to contribute a certain amount of money to a cause you despise.
- Do some time-traveling. Jump into the imaginary future after you’ve completed your task and bask in how good it feels to have finished and to be able to enjoy other positive consequences. This can also work in the opposing manner. Jump into the future when you still have NOT completed your task and ask yourself what you notice, what it feels like and see the negative consequences.
- Reward thyself. When you’ve done what you set out to do, go out to dinner, watch the movie you’ve wanted to see or get together with friends you had to avoid seeing during your focus time.
- Eliminate temptations seductively calling out your name. Go to: http://visitsteve.com/made/selfcontrol to learn about SelfControlApp.com which limits your access to email, facebook and twitter for 90 minute periods of time.
- Accountability can be a savior. Tell your coach or a dependable friend just what your plan of action is and its timeframe.
- You can always outsource or ask for help if you feel too overwhelmed or the task takes you away from what is truly important to you.
Use one or more of these powerful tips and your procrastination ability
will surely decline and your success increase! Hey, give yourself an ice cream cone for that!
If you’re interested in services and products offered by Dr. Simone, Book your Strategy Session at www.successbraincoach.com.
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” – Bill Watterson