There's Always Later: 5 Scientific Explanations For Your Unexplainable Procrastination
Raise your hand if you’re exhausted because you stayed up late binge-watching another HBO series instead of finishing your work before the morning (the Emmy’s are coming up, we feel you).
Keep your hand up if you’re just now getting to said workplace and are cramming in as much as possible before hitting deadline (wait, then what are you doing reading this post?!).
Judging by the fact that you answered “yes” to all of the above and are currently reading Elite Daily (the best site to use to procrastinate better, duh) you are a seasoned procrastinator. Congratulations, now you can put off accepting this fact for another day.
For some of us, it’s the television. For others, it’s the fridge (which I affectionately call ‘procrastin-eating’). But, the one thing that unites us all is our keen ability to accomplish everything we don’t actually need to get done.
Though the laundry might remain unwashed, at least you just made it to the next level in Candy Crush! That’s gotta count for something, right?
That, precisely, is the great thing about procrastinating — there’s always tomorrow.
Science is interested in why you’re not interested. Here are five compelling findings about your procrastination problems — and don’t even think about reading this later:
1. We all can’t be winners
This is the one time in which your “why me?” excuse is actually plausible. Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder have found that some people are genetically predisposed to put things off until later.
When a new temptation or distraction comes into view, some people are more naturally inclined to take the bait. Like, when you’re trying to get work done at your desk and your co-worker brings in doughnuts.
Maybe you don’t even like doughnuts (um, maybe you also don’t have a soul) but you still go up to just check out the scene. Gotcha! You just fell victim to your own procrastination… or maybe you just have an extraordinarily severe case of ADD, no judgement.
2. It hurts so good
It’s that anxious feeling you get every Sunday night when you realize you have so much sh*t to do that’s leftover from the week.
You promise yourself you’ll be more disciplined (starting tomorrow, of course) and yet, despite your best efforts, you still find yourself putting together a PowerPoint on the train to work. Why, why do we do this to ourselves?
Because there’s a short-term boost of dopamine stimulating the brain — a feel-good chemical reward after you perform your procrastination activity of choice (viral cat videos anyone?).
“Every time something enjoyable happens, you get a dose of dopamine, which modifies the neurons in your brain, making you more likely to repeat this behavior,” according to AsapSCIENCE’s video on procrastination.
Procrastination is kind of like stretching: You’re going to be sore afterwards, but for now, it feels just right.
3. Blame the brain
You can thank your prefrontal cortex for choosing that extra glass of wine last night (seriously, thank you). It’s the part of the brain that is responsible for processing information and voluntary decision-making processes.
If we aren’t focused on the assignment or aren't engaged in the moment, our limbic system (one of the dominant parts of the brain that's in charge of emotions and behaviors) will take over, Timothy A. Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University, told Real Simple.
As a result, we give in to what feels good instead of doing the task at hand. This means that trolling Tumblr will win out every. single. time. (Yes, looking at funny GIFs of Kim Kardashian ugly-crying is still fun for us.)
4. You have no self-control
Anyone who has ever eaten an entire Costco bag of pita chips in one sitting (me! me!) will understand this one.
Procrastination is basically the result of a complete lack of self-control when it comes to completing assignments, even when they’re super simple and easy.
“A perfect storm of procrastination occurs when an unpleasant task meets a person who’s high in impulsivity and low in self-discipline,” says Eric Jaffe, the unofficial Captain Obvious, in Psychological Science.
5. Don’t be scared
You've probably experienced that moment when upon sitting down to say, write a paper, you’re suddenly so intimidated by the assignment that you can barely type the first sentence. Mmm, that crappy rerun of “Saved By the Bell” is looking pretty enticing right now…
Our procrastination often stems from mixed or negative emotions associated with certain tasks, which may result in you feeling apprehensive, nervous, fearful of failing or a complete lack of desire.
When this is true, you then view these tasks as obstacles to overcome rather than achievements or experiences to make. So, stop feeling so badly about your English paper and just get it done already! You’re probably going to get a decent grade anyway.
Okay, but right after this quick snack break…
H/T: Huffington Post, Photo Courtesy: Tumblr