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Understanding procrastination and how to beat it

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Have you ever felt the guilt of hitting the snooze button to get that extra 5 minutes in bed? Even with the knowledge that you probably won’t have adequate time to get ready and will end up having to rush frantically out of the house.


Many of us still have certain tasks that we will put off doing until the last possible moment, even when we know that there is a risk of negative consequences.


But why does procrastination happen?












What causes procrastination?


Whilst there are several reasons you may procrastinate, many of these can be explained by understanding a little about the evolution of the human brain.


For hundreds of years the brain only had to focus on immediate returns. This led it to evolve to value immediate results more than delayed returns.


Humans would go out to hunt so that they could eat now, and planning for the future was less important, as they didn’t have the means to preserve food in the way we freeze our leftovers today.


With the development of modern society, we largely live in a delayed return environment and the human brain is having to adapt.













Why is procrastination a problem?


These days, the decisions that we make will rarely offer an immediate benefit, we have to invest our time in the present in order to yield results in the future.


You were likely told to ‘study hard now so that you can have a good career in the future’ and then you started your career, only to be told that you ‘must start saving your earnings now so that you can enjoy your retirement later’.


This is logical thinking and an essential way to achieve success in modern society. However, there is a huge amount of uncertainty in a delayed return environment which is where a second conflict for the brain arises…


Why you’re procrastinating…


There is no guarantee that by working hard you will have a good career or assurance that by contributing to your pension you will be able to enjoy your retirement.


In the shorter term, you are not guaranteed that promotion by working hard and rehearsing your presentation doesn’t mean it will run smoothly.


This makes it difficult for our brains to prioritise a probable outcome over an immediate reward, even when we know this should directly benefit our future selves.


How are stress and procrastination related?


Research has shown that excessive procrastination can lead to a reduction in both productivity and motivation which can prevent us from reaching our goals.


Procrastinators also experience higher levels of stress which can lead to reduced sleep quality and reduces your performance at work. It also leads to an increase in interpersonal relationship issues.


Which is why we look to find ways to beat procrastination.














How to stop procrastinating


The good news is that the brain is malleable, and you can train your brain to procrastinate less.


By understanding the reasons behind why you procrastinate and how you can overcome these you could reduce your stress levels, regain control of your time and increase the quality of your work. These will all contribute to greater wellbeing and success.


Whilst we have provided some insight into procrastination, our team has a wealth of knowledge on procrastination, improving performance at work and keeping your team motivated.


So, what should you do when future self wants to run a 10k and your present self wants a donut?










Free Beating Procrastination Development Session


Come along to our next espresso session on the 16th August to explore some of the common reasons for procrastination and learn techniques for combating your own procrastination and staying on track.


In this session you will learn about procrastination, why we all do it to a greater or lesser extent and the impact it can have on you and those around you.


As part of this free virtual development session, you will:

  • Understand what procrastination is and what it isn't

  • Develop a deeper understanding of why you, or others, may do it

  • Learn about ways to help you combat it


See more and sign up in the link below. Feel free to share this with your wider network.


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