How do I know I procrastinate? I’ve been waiting until the last minute to write this blog post. Waiting and waiting for the words to come. But they didn’t. So, I had to start without them.
It seems that it’s either…
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” – Bill Watterson, creator & author of Calvin & Hobbes
Pre-motherhood I was most definitely team “last-minute panic”. Post-children, due to necessity and survival, I don’t log as many hours for that team. I had to be more efficient because there was less time. So, I did. In recent years there has been scientific research geared toward answering the never ending conundrum – “why put off tomorrow what you can do the day after that?”
Discloser: I’m not a scientist or scientific researcher. To write this humble blog post, I stand on the work of many actual researchers. However, I am extremely interested in human nature and behavior. This stuff is truly fascinating, but speculative on my part.
Everyone gets a bit of the body’s feel good drug, dopamine, when they do something they enjoy, ie: there is more pleasure in checking our social media pages than cleaning our bathrooms. A battle in our mind ensues. And when we choose what is enjoyable, we get rewarded. Then, we tend to repeat that behavior. Procrastination has now become a symptom.
It’s in our genes.
Some of us may be predisposed to procrastinate by also being predisposed to impulsive behavior. Impulsiveness is a way in which we seek out pleasure. Impulsive people can get easily distracted and lose focus of their goals.
Self-control? What self-control?
Apparently, high impulsivity + low self-discipline = some serious procrastination.
The prefrontal cortex is not winning.
This part of our brain takes in information and then makes decisions. The catch is that the decision making process isn’t natural – it’s voluntary. So, we could choose to not finish writing our blog post, but instead go to the freezer and get ourselves a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream. Scientists call it “mood winning”.
There’s good news for us. 1. Our better half has already eaten the ice cream. It is now no longer a temptation. 2. We have the power within ourselves – technically our prefrontal cortex – to conquer our decision making process that leads to procrastination by simply choosing to move forward with our seemingly less pleasant task.
A wise friend of mine used to quote to me, “the you of tomorrow will thank the you of today.” It’s true. Although, if you are historically a procrastinator, there are times when you need to manufacture a last-minute panic in order to invite motivation. That means I’ll have to wait for the 8 AM Monday morning me to thank the 3 AM Sunday morning me that completed writing this blog post because the 7 AM – 10 PM Sunday me is going to be too tired.