What is Procrastination ?

I was reading through my post from yesterday, which listed twenty improvements to make TODO lists better, and I noticed that quite a few of those features were oriented towards helping people who procrastinate. Long term readers of this blog know that I am no stranger to this annoying habit. Procrastination comes in many forms and shapes hindering people from making decisions and executing them to completion. Some suffer from not being able to decide what to do, while many find themselves pushing off acting on a decision until the very last minute at which they time they scramble to finish it off.

Not all procrastination tendencies are too apparent. Instead of actually writing a blog post, one might spend time reading internet articles about ‘How to write a blog daily’ and then continue to read about the benefits of reading and writing daily. Then browse over to Amazon to check on reviews about favorite books and their availability in public library and then go out for a walk and now it is already bed time. A common form in which procrastination manifests itself is when people keep themselves busy with trivial and pointless activities and use that as an excuse to not tackle important things that are beneficial in the long term.

Turns out procrastination is not such an evil force that needs to be shunned, but a normal way of emotion processing by our brain. Studies show that people give way too much importance to present time than their future self and so they end up giving in to pleasures of the now, like watching that YouTube clip or eating the cake in front of them – both of which make them happy instantly, instead of hitting the gym or choosing to eat healthy, whose benefits won’t be realized until much later. This is just a natural way of thinking for our brains which has evolved to maximize pleasure and minimize pain as much as possible. The trick is then to reframe the action that seems painful now into something that is pleasurable. I’ll let behavioral economist, author and researcher Dan Ariely tell you how it is done.

That is right. By modifying our perspective, we can trick our brains to look at hard, demotivating tasks in a different, positive light which would actually make us want to do those tasks instead of avoiding them. When practiced regularly, with time, this technique could pretty much eliminate skipped workout sessions, unmet deadlines and, certainly, missed blog posts.

Video found at Brain Pickings.

[Post: 290 of 365] [Days Missed: 103]
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