The rebel in us tends to put things off when it comes to meeting deadlines and targets. “I will do it later” seems to be the mantra of the procrastinators and when the ‘later’ part does arrive, it calls for another ‘a few minutes more’ to postpone the job. Procrastination can slow things down and can even lead to stress and anxiety, so it’s worth understanding why we procrastinate our tasks and how it can be avoided in the modern world.
The most common answer to procrastination is to avoid doing something we don’t like or the job is plain boring. And more than most of us would like to admit, it occurs on a regular basis. The most common of all examples would be sitting on an assignment and yet browsing Facebook because one just doesn’t feel like struggling with the assignment.
So before we do a How on it, let’s get a quick roundup on the Whys.
The Overwhelming Mountain of Tasks
The human brain is taught to reproduce and survive on every aspect. Survival being the key if the brain detects the tiniest morsel of a threatening situation, it would straightaway put up an emotional response which will relieve the stress a bit.
And how does it do it? It finds different ways to lay off the stress. Say, for instance, the quarterly report needs to go out at 12 PM and you have a meeting to prepare for after that. While the practical and reasonable thing is to do at the moment is go with the flow, but that will be too mainstream, right?
As soon as this overwhelming situation is judged by the brain, it takes all but a jiffy to put a defiance against the reasonable response.
And if we talk numbers, as per Maribeth Blunt it takes roughly 1/32th of a second.
So instead of continuing with the work, you’ll end up pulling your smartphone from your pocket to play Clash of Clans or browsing the internet to stalk your friends. Anything, but the task on hand.
In scientific terms, its the amygdala of the human brain who puts up a ‘fight it or ignore it’ response to the task at hand. In the meantime, the sense of overwhelming generates norepinephrine which induces fear and anxiety. And coupled with adrenaline, the dopamine factor kicks in. And starts the hunt for pleasureful tasks.
Till now, its has just been 1/32th of a second and the amygdala has already sent out its emotional response — beating the reasonable part of the brain by a whopping 2 and few seconds.
And that’s how procrastination is born.
How to Get Rid of It?
Well, surely our brain is wired to put up an emotional and non-threatening response to work pressure and assignments, but that doesn’t go down too well with our associates. Yeah, we live in a society, where a given work or timeline is considered ‘earned’ if one delivers it not just in time but also how the milestones were achieved. Moreover, howsoever, skilled are we, seldom is a rushed work seen as a good end-product.
Fortunately, there are various ways, technologies, and tasks we can do to keep the reasonable part of our brain intact. Among them is the most common remedy to beat it — write down the task, break down the task, analyze why you may feel threatened by it, etc.
And in doing so, the brain will start seeing this as doable tasks rather then unquantifiable jobs. And in the process, it’ll feel less threatened and increase the productivity.
The Techie Way
Thankfully, we are not alone when it comes to procrastination and we have ample apps and extensions to take care of it.
1. Momentum for Goals [Google Chrome]
Since the basic response to procrastination is jotting down your goals, no other extension can do it better than Momentum. All you need do is install it and jot down your goal.
Every time you open another tab to browse through Instagram or Pinterest, Bam! It’ll slap the goal of the day right on your face.
2. Stay Focused to Get Rid of Distractions [Google Chrome]
Now that the goal is dancing in front of you, how about banning all the other distractions like YouTube, Quora, and the likes? Say Hi to StayFocusd. This app will only give you a few minutes of precious time per day to view the distraction-full websites.
If you ask me, it’s quite effective in raising the productivity levels. I have programmed it to kick me out after 10 minutes (cumulative through the day) of activity on Facebook, Pinterest, and Quora.
Surely, distractions aren’t just limited to online browsing. They exist in the form of various apps in a smartphone. And to stop the hand from reaching out to such apps, install the Keep Focus app for Android.
Once you set the name of the apps and the time, it won’t let you access the app during the timespan. Though it can do with an additional lock, I suggest, ask a friend of yours to hide the app from plain sight.
A much more serious alternative is the Keep me Out app. True to its name, it will lock you out of your phone for a particular duration of time.
A Parting Shot
It’s safe to say that we all procrastinate. Be it the laundry business or writing a report. Often people just needs a push to complete a particular task.
Are you confused if you are a systematic procrastinator or just plain lazy? Take this quiz at MindTools to find out.