What neuroscience has to say about Procrastination!


What does neuroscience have to say about procrastination? The act of putting off something that can be done now? Procrastination has been with us for thousands of years, but after the Industrial Revolution it seems to be more prevalent among us because the urban being can procrastinate much more than the agricultural being, the one who can never afford to ignore a powerful mother nature’s request. . The numbers indicate that the act of procrastinating has increased even more in recent decades and most likely because it was much easier to watch television than to solve an aversive problem and it is now much easier to stay on the Internet. Research indicates that boys tend to procrastinate a little more than girls, perhaps because they are more impulsive – and the more impulsive generally procrastinate more. The procrastination rate at university is frightening for both sexes and is around 80% to 95%, which means that almost all university students procrastinate – a lot! 75% assumes having problems with the act of procrastinating. What’s the problem? Contrary to what many believe, the act of procrastinating produces much worse results – almost always! But people prefer to remember that 1 time in 100 that procrastination, in addition to not affecting, maybe even helped in performance. Believing that it’s okay to procrastinate is a fallacy that creates more stress, more anxiety, and more depression. In professional adulthood, almost everyone procrastinates, but 20% of procrastination is associated with poor results and horrendous losses that could be avoided. Powerful people also procrastinate and their late decisions generate losses of millions and billions of dollars, euros, reais, etc. in companies and governments. Think about public health policies? Apparently, just as our perception of future time is very bad, that is, the farther an event is in the future, the worse is our calculation of time, the further away an obligation, the longer it remains for later. An example: start saving to prepare for retirement. What exactly makes us procrastinate? Aversive tasks. The more aversive, the more we procrastinate. If the task is pleasant, there is no procrastination. This is the theory of temporal motivation: aversive tasks are not motivating and the further into the future, the more we leave it for later. And how to face the monster of procrastination? Step One: Meditate to reduce anxiety and increase concentration. Meditators generally procrastinate less. Second step: see procrastination as a war and thus organize that war into small battles. And since we are not made of iron, we must choose good rewards for each small battle won in the war against procrastination.

This is a summary of neuroscience studies on procrastination adapted from the review “The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure” by Piers Steel na Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 65-94 (2007) and the recent article “Procrastination, Distress and Life Satisfaction across the Age Range – A German Representative Community Study” written by Manfred E Beutel et al. and edited by Ulrich S Tran in PlosOne, 11(2), e0148054 (2016) .

Written by Feitosa-Santana

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