Procrastination is the action of postponing or delaying something. This can relate to work, parenting, or any other area in life. Procrastination isn’t about laziness. It’s more of a lack in motivation or determination to get something done in a timely fashion.
This could be seen in a person who is always late. A person who hands their paperwork in on the last possible day, or a teen who waits until the night before a big test to study are procrastinators. There are many examples of procrastination we can provide, but today we wanted to focus on the science behind procrastination.
The Battle of the Mind
Procrastination lies more in the mind than it does in laziness. The battle of procrastinators lies in their limbic system and prefrontal cortex. Essentially these two areas of the mind are battling each other in the brain of those who procrastinate.
The limbic system is one of the oldest portions of our brain that works the most. This is the part of your brain that tells you to run when you’re in danger and you’ll run. It works pretty efficiently and quickly. The limbic system is an automatic system, in that you don’t have to think too hard for this system to kick in and work.
The prefrontal cortex of your brain came around much later and is a less-developed weaker part of your mind. This is the area where your emotions and personality happens. The prefrontal cortex may be more emotionally driven than logical; unlike the limbic system that’s more logical and fast acting.
The limbic system may be more to blame than the prefrontal cortex for procrastination because the limbic system wants you to feel good and safe right now. Obviously having a big stressful task to do isn’t keeping you feeling good. This is where the limbic system automatically kicks in and begs you to procrastinate.
This process is nearly automatic and takes a lot of strength to fight. You’ll have to use the prefrontal cortex portion of your brain to fight the limbic system’s automatic response to procrastinate so that you don’t have to feel stress. The limbic system may recognize ‘stress’ as ‘danger’, thus making allowing you to procrastinate to ‘stay safe’.
Now that you know that two portions of your brain are fighting to win this battle with procrastination, you’re probably wondering how you can win the battle? Well that’s easy.
It’s going to take some work, but you’ll want to start redirecting your thoughts away from needing instant reward and start practicing getting things done quickly. Start completing the daily tasks you dislike so that you’re more apt to continue on with your day getting things done on time.
You can win the battle between your limbic system and prefrontal cortex, just remain dedicated and focused to change this habit of being a procrastinator.