Procrastination & how to avoid it| Ameen's Canopy

Disclaimer - What is written in my blogs is from my own experience of the world with an addition of scientific evidences and references when needed

#Procrastination is one of those things which is so common in people's lives, yet so destructive. It's what I like to call a 'Success Destroyer'. Before we look at it's harmful effects on success and hard work, let's look at what procrastination actually is to begin with. According to the Oxford Learners Dictionary, procrastination is 'the act of delaying something that you should do, usually because you do not want to do it'. Now it does not specify whether the action is a good one or a bad one however it's important to note that when procrastination takes place, it's usually with something good or beneficial. However despite knowing the activity which you are avoiding is good for you, you still persist in avoiding and delaying it.

So for example, if you have an essay which is due in within a weeks time and you have not made a start to it, it's better for you to start now so you are ready to give it in on time rather than later. The problem arises when there are thoughts telling you to not do it, they're saying 'do it later', 'don't worry about it', 'it'll be fine' etc. These are the types of thoughts you usually get before you start procrastinating and if someone has already started procrastinating, they have most likely had these types of thoughts and decided to listen to them.

Some people have the ability to start a task or action late and still do it to a high standard, however not everyone can do that, in fact many of us are aware that when we procrastinate, our work rate decreases dramatically because we haven't left enough time to complete the task. Now let's say we have to complete a task but it is not time constricted, will this still affect you negatively? Well yes, it will because you have been avoiding the task for so long, you probably feel fed up of even the thought of doing that action or task, so when it comes to you actually doing it, you have lost so much momentum and desire to do it, it's simply futile and boring.

The science behind procrastination - There are two specific parts of the brain which have a lot to do with procrastination. These are both the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is a small collection of neurons which is connected to our emotional processing as well as our fear response. The role of the amygdala is to analyse the environment for threats. If it detects a threat in the environment, what it then does is it releases hormones which put you into either the fight or flight scenario, adrenaline being one of these hormones which is involved. The amygdala is located within the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system has a lot to do with emotions and behaviours in relation to survival. Whilst on the other hand we have the prefrontal cortex as mentioned before which is responsible for what is famously called 'executive functioning'.

What this means is, the prefrontal cortex helps an individual to alternate between tasks/actions and planning for future tasks. So what procrastination is in simple terms is a fight between the amygdala which is attempting to make you move away from anything which creates anxiety for you and the prefrontal cortex which is trying to disregard the negative emotions about the situation.

Solutions for procrastination -

Acknowledge you need to start the task/action - Being aware that you need to start a task is the first step to actually starting the task. If you believe that it's not important then the likelihood of you doing that action reduces because you don't really care much about it in order to implement it. Once you understand that not doing the task will result in failure or hardship, then it becomes easier to motivate yourself to action it.

Prioritise - Set out your day based on priorities - If you do not prioritise the activities you want to tackle during the day, then you may struggle trying to keep on top of commitments and this can have a knock on effect on all your daily activities. A lot of the time we may prioritise tasks which don't actually bring us any benefit such as, video games, binge eating and watching movies. There is a time to relax and a time to work hard, you have to balance and prioritise accordingly.

Organise - Organisation is extremely effective when it comes to getting things done properly and to a good standard. Regardless of whether you are someone who is prone to procrastination, being organised helps immensely, however it can only help even more for someone who procrastinates a lot. So for example if you are running a business and struggle to get your tasks done, have your equipment ready such as your laptop or notepad. This will help you to ensure you are ready for work the moment you wake up.

Change your mindset - If you are someone who procrastinates a lot then there is potentially a problem in your mindset. Before even thinking about successfully completing a task, you have to think about doing it first. Therefore this means your mindset has to be in the right place before practical implementation can take place. You have to understand the procrastinating will bring you no benefit and you will regret it later on.

References -

procrastination noun - Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary at (2020). Retrieved 29 August 2020, from

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