JUL 07, 2017 07:33 AM PDT

Don't put off tomorrow what you can do today!


I know I'm not the only one who's ever put off doing something that I don't want to do. We've all experienced procrastination at least to some extent, but do you know why you do it and what can make you stop? Scientists in different fields have unique ways of naming the reasons behind procrastination, from calling it a coping mechanism to a failure of cognitive decision-making. On the neuropsychological level, procrastination is described as a problem with executive function, meaning that you are not effectively planning, prioritizing or carrying out tasks. The key point in this is that you KNOW you have to do something, but you purposely decide to not do it at the moment. That's why Canadian psychology Professor Timothy Pychyl calls procrastination "giving in to feel good".

Some evolutionary biologists are trying to determine if procrastination is at all genetic. In a case study analyzing fraternal and identical twins and the procrastination habits, a team of researchers found that about half the time differences in procrastination habits could be because of differences in genetics. But that begs the question: what about the other half of the time? In these nature vs. nurture situations, some people point toward purposeful procrastination as a strategy for improved work ethic, claiming that they work better under pressure. However medical science warns us that serial procrastination in fact can be harmful to your health, with increased stress generating high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, and even depression in some cases.

So how can you battle procrastination? Some studies with undergraduate psychology students have proven that in the academic setting giving yourself short-term deadlines and manageable chunks of work can encourage you to turn projects or essays in on time. So next time you have a hulking assignment, follow their example and take smaller bites.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 01, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 01, 2018
Oil Absorbing Sponge Made from Wood
  It has been eight years since the crude oil spill in the Mexico Gulf, but the shadow of aquatic petroleum contamination has never been far away. To...
NOV 07, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 07, 2018
Here's How Far Your Sneeze Can Travel
When you get stuck with a cold or the flu, sneezes are inevitable. But have you ever wondered how far your sneezes travel? As it turns out, your sneeze may...
NOV 08, 2018
Videos
NOV 08, 2018
Will There Ever be a Cure for the Common Cold?
Will There Ever be a Cure for the Common Cold? Well, one of the reasons why the common cold is not being cured—is it’s so difficult to attack a...
NOV 14, 2018
Videos
NOV 14, 2018
Visualizing Embryonic Development in Zebrafish
Zebrafish share genetic features with many other organisms, and they undergo a rapid developmental process in which they can remain transparent....
DEC 02, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2018
Here's Why Harvard Scientists Believe Oumuamua Could Have Been an Alien Spacecraft
  When an interstellar object came sailing through our solar system last year, it astonished astronomers because they couldn’t quite categorize...
DEC 07, 2018
Videos
DEC 07, 2018
A Common Pathogen: Norovirus
You've probably heard of norovirus before; it's a highly contagious family of viruses that can sicken large groups of people....
Loading Comments...