I recently read this great article “What causes your brain to procrastinate and how to face it” by Richard Sima, in the Washington Post. This post is a review of the article and some thoughts about how to face tasks we often procrastinate doing. Below is the direct link to the article being reviewed.
Why We Procrastinate
I am all to familiar with the concept of procrastination. There are times even now that I procrastinate in doing things that are simply not fun. This article was very interesting because it reviewed a study which examined what contributed towards people procrastinating.
In a study done, by Dr. Raphaël Le Bouc, with 43 adults they found several contributing factors that led to people procrastinating. The study found that people were more likely to procrastinate if their brain was convinced that doing the task in the future would be easier. They even concluded through MRI imaging that the part of the brain that makes this decision is the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex.
It was also concluded in the study that participants tended to procrastinate when the task was more difficult and not enjoyable. I can totally relate to this! For some reason when things are harder to accomplish it always feels like there will be a right time to do it in the future or to avoid doing to the point where I simply forget about it. This actually happened to me at work a couple of months ago where I was trying to figure out how to make a transition and was way overthinking and procrastinated. But in reality when I finally took care of it, it took 15 minutes to do. It was my perception of how hard the task was going to be that made it more difficult then it actually was.
Another finding that was concluded in this study is that people are more likely to do tasks for smaller rewards that come sooner then larger rewards that you have to wait for. This is I’m sure no surprise to any of us because we live in a world with instant gratification. The idea of doing more work with less immediate reward takes a lot more patience, discipline, and strategy. When I’m working towards goals that have bigger rewards but are far out in the future I often have to give myself a lot of pep talks to stay motivated and stay the course. It’s hard!!
How We Can Face Our Tasks
The study concluded that to decrease procrastination there are two main strategies to use. The first is to consistently remind yourself of the task. The second is to confront the idea that it will be easier in the future with the truth that it will be the same effort as completing the task today.
I actually started a to-do list journal for work last year and it has helped me a lot with procrastinating. I have a to do list for each month and one for each week. This allows me to stay on track and make the most of my time.
Comment below with your thoughts about the article and what helps you not procrastinate!
Sima, R. (2023). “What causes your brain to procrastinate and how to face it” Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/01/05/procrastination-help-brain-tasks/