Procrastination is defined by the Collins dictionary as ‘leaving things you should do until later, often because you do not want to do them’. However recent studies, primarily a single study published in Psychological Science found that it is actually more about how our brains manage emotions and time than whether we want to do something now or later. If this is the case does that mean we are stuck in our ways or do our brains have the ability to change these unhelpful emotions and limit endless hours of procrastination.
The recent study published used surveys and scans of 264 peoples brains to see how proactive they were. It focused on an almond shaped portion of our brain known as the amygdala which processes our emotions and controls our motivation. Researchers found that this area was larger in procrastinators and that it had poorer connections to other sections of our brain that use information from the amygdala to decide what action the body will take. Therefore procrastinators are less able to block out interfering emotions and distractions because these connections are not as good.
So, how can we change this. One way in which psychologists have discovered is mindfulness meditation which has been known to shrink the Amygdala and improve its connections. If we perform mindfulness meditation and become more accepting of our emotions to a given task this in turn can promote more willful attempts to complete a task and stay on course until the negative emotions have past. Productivity expert Moyra Scotts has some top tips for procrastinators which include using a timer to schedule short periods of focus, minimise distractions such as mobile phones and break tasks into smaller more manageable sections.
Now I’ll be right back, I have 20 Instagram stories to watch.