Time management Monday: Procrastination and your brain

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Dont just stand there, get to work

BBC recently had a very interesting article called Procrastination: It’s pretty much all in the mind (click link for full article).

In the article is a description of a research study that found people who are more likely to procrastinate have a larger amygdala (the part of the brain that processes emotions and motivation). One of the researchers in the study was quoted in the article: “Individuals with a larger amygdala may be more anxious about the negative consequences of an action – they tend to hesitate and put off things.”

The research also showed procrastinators have weaker connections between the amygdala and another part of the brain that determines which actions the body will take. According to the article, “The researchers suggest that procrastinators are less able to filter out interfering emotions and distractions because the connections between the amygdala and the DACC in their brains are not as good as in proactive individuals.”

It’s not all gloom and doom though: even if your brain is wired to procrastinate, there are ways to increase mindfulness to help control your emotions and focus on motivation.

The article lists some tactics most of us are familiar with: use a timer to add some time limits; break task lists down into small actionable items; minimize interruptions; carve out time to do the important things.

Personally, I don’t know how helpful it is to label someone a “procrastinator.” To be fair, we all procrastinate at least some of the time. Often it’s down to priorities: we can’t do everything, so we try to do what we can and put off what can be put off.

But when it’s a problem is when you put off the important things until it’s too late, or indefinitely. This is when it’s time to face reality.

I used to be a terrible procrastinator. As I got older (and more busy), I learned how to manage my time better. That’s not to say I get everything done all the time, but I do get the important things done. I’ve had to learn how to work toward my priorities and manage my expectations.

Every day when you think about what needs to be done today, make sure you add in those important things that could be all too easy to put off. Think about what the consequences would be if you put it off for a day, a week, a month, or longer. Would you only disappoint yourself? Would you disappoint other people? Or would there be other, more serious consequences?

For more information on how to determine your priorities and make time for them, read this post.

Here are 3 reasons why you might be procrastinating and how to get around them.


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