Have you ever promised yourself that you won’t procrastinate? That you will finish your home works and projects as soon as possible, but you always end up scrolling down on social media and lying down in your bed. You said that you will start reviewing for the exam ahead of time but you then end up with reviewing the night before the exam. This kind of situation makes you stressed and pressured, and it affects your health. So you can see that procrastination is a barrier for us to be productive and successful, it is like a disease. The more you procrastinate the longer it’ll take for you to reach your goals and aspirations. You may not be aware but all of us are procrastinators and everyone has procrastinated on something at one point in life.
But what is procrastination? Why we are doing it? How can we stop it? Procrastination is a habit where we avoid important things that are needed to be accomplished. We make small excuses for us not to do the task. We choose satisfying activities over the task that is needed to be done. For example, you are going home and you said that you will do your assignment as soon as you arrive home, then the time you arrive, you said that you will rest for 10 minutes that turns into 5 hours, then you start panicking because you didn’t do your assignment. It is hard for us to pick between doing the task or do satisfying things. It is the battle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. The limbic system is part of our brain where the pleasure center is located, while the prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning and decision making, when we are procrastinating the limbic system wins, we chose temporary relief for relaxing and satisfying activities over those unpleasant and hard activities. We underestimate the reward of finishing the task, we chose the reward of satisfying activities, this is temporal discounting. Temporal Discounting is where the reward loses its value when the given reward is delayed. For example, your father offered you a thousand pesos today or five thousand pesos in a month, most of us will choose a thousand pesos because we would always go for instant happiness. Every time we experience satisfying and enjoyable happens our brain releases dopamine that causes us to more likely to repeat procrastinating. Dopamine is a chemical found in our brain, it is a chemical messenger in our brain and is responsible for the feeling of pleasures and satisfaction. That is the reason why we are procrastinating, we feel rewarded. We want instant gratification, we want to feel happiness and satisfaction without delay.
How do we stop procrastinating? The first thing would be to look at our priorities. What is the importance of the task at hand and what will the impact be if it will be dome at a later time versus doing things right away. Being aware that failing to accomplish an activity will be detrimental to one’s goals will help a lot to motivate yourself. Learning that delayed gratification will be more fulfilling than getting something instantly. Think of another way of rewarding yourself on small achievements or in every step taken to accomplish something. This way you won’t lose focus on what is needed to be accomplished on the top of your priority list.