It's Friday, Let's Procrastinate!
Procrastination, got to love it! It actively helps you avoid those things you don't think you want to do because they are boring, difficult, overwhelming, too important so there's a fear of failure... and so the list goes on. But what if I told you procrastination will help with that overwhelming mammoth task.
Research has shown that depending on the level of how much of a procrastinator a person is, it can actually be beneficial in the quality and creativity of the solutions achieved. The theory is based on the fact that people can find out a problem or task and instead of immediately trying to solve and complete it, they just think about it and then avoid working on it for a while. This process enables the problem to be brought to their attention and then their subconscious can work on solving it whilst they continue with other tasks. The result, better solutions and productive time! Needless to say, justifying your procrastination as being creative and never tackling the task is actually just avoidance, not active procrastination.
Desire is an important emotion, as no promise of reward guarantees unhappiness, as without the promise of reward we have no motivation. This is probably why we procrastinate so much on tedious tasks. As explained in Bryony's article on High Performance, dopamine is our neurotransmitter which is part of our primitive motivational system that makes us want to do more, it promises us pleasure so we keep wanting.
The answer? Consciously use your dopamine response system to stimulate the need and want for reward. This can positively wipe out procrastination from those tasks that don't need a creative solution but just need doing. Put scratch cards by tedious tasks or do your tax return having an indulgent coffee, or as shown in the picture bite the ends off a penguin biscuit, use it as a straw for your tea, then finish by eating the gooey chocolate biscuit...but only as motivation for completing that epic report! Couple up something you like doing that makes you want to do more, with a task that is tedious and you avoid.
Stimulating other neurotransmitters in your plight for productive procrastination may also help you find work life balance and happiness. Exercise not only increases dopamine (great for keeping you going, promising you pleasure) but also serotonin and noradrenalin can enhance mood positively creating feelings of happiness and energy. Need to make a difficult phone call, go for a walk where you know you'll have reception, or even better go for the walk after and enjoy 5 minutes peace straight afterwards.
Whatever your reason for procrastination, be it avoidance of a tedious task or the need to percolate creativity for an overwhelming task, knowledge is power. The more you know about how and why you do the things you do, the better equipped you are at manipulating the unhelpful reactions and capitalising on the positive ones all leading to greater productivity and more time to do with as you please! Winner!
Bryony Vandenberg is an Impact Associate.