“One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow”
—Vincent T. Foss
As I sit here trying to write this article, my mind seems to be drifting… and then I realize—like 95% of all North Americans—I am procrastinating. Why? Is it my fault?
After reading an article by Amy Spencer, “The Science Behind Procrastination” from Real Simple, I now know that it’s not entirely my fault, because the brain is wired for procrastination. Two parts of our brain—the pre-fontal cortex and the limbic system—battle each other to either “engage on the task” or “put it off until later.”
The pre-fontal cortex is good at planning, decision-making, strategizing, etc. Unfortunately, it’s the weaker part of the brain, and not automatic. The pleasure-seeking limbic system, on the other hand, is automatic. It’s the more powerful of the two, and wants to give you immediate satisfaction.
Remember when I said it is not entirely our fault that we procrastinate? We are at fault when we do not take steps to “turn off” the procrastinator and “turn on” the frontal cortex. There are a number of things we can choose to do to keep on target.
- If the task appears to be too complex, break it down into smaller chunks. Accomplishing these chunks will give you a feeling of success and make the other chunks easier to complete.
- Some people believe you should do the easiest chunk first; others believe you should tackle the most difficult task first. Either way, you will have a feeling of success and accomplishment.
- If there are too many distractions, find an “out of the way” place where you can concentrate on the task.
- Are you an early riser who works best in the morning? Or do you do your best work in the afternoon or evening? Take advantage of your natural energy patterns by tackling the projects you find most challenging. This will help you avoid procrastination.
- Organize your day around large chunks of time where you can concentrate fully on the task at hand
- Ask someone to assist you in monitoring your progress and holding you accountable for the completion of the task.
Outsmarting procrastination is just one way to manage your time better. Joe will be discussing more time management strategies in his workshop, “If Only I Had More Time…Then What?” on March 20, 2014, in Buffalo, NY.