Due Later, Do Later
We’ve all been there, sitting down to finish that paper/report/project. “I'll get started in a few minutes,” we tell ourselves as we divulge in a semi-related activity. After all, that desk seriously needed to be cleaned. Well and a coffee run is absolutely necessary. And that email needs a response ASAP. And was today the day that they were giving out donuts across the street? And on and on and on we go until it’s two hours before the deadline and we're watching conspiracy theory videos explaining how the Beatles never existed as we think they did. Future us is mad that past us let the procrastination go this far, but next time another project rolls around, we find ourselves in the same predicament.
Why? Why does procrastination feel so good, despite it continually hurting us? It may even lead to a higher likelihood of developing health problems! Well you can blame your parents and yourself mostly.
There have been a few studies that found that there might be a genetic component to why we procrastinate. In identical and fraternal twins, psychologists found that genetics may play a role in how prone one is to both procrastination and it’s ugly step sister, impulsivity. Why? Well this may harken back to the good ol’ cavemen days where you didn’t have time to think about your report on this year's hottest grasslands or your article on the 10 best ways to not get killed by a wild boar. No, you had to worry about survival today, right now, in the present. Those who were more likely to procrastinate on long term goals may have been better at staying alive in the short term and passed on their "procrastination as means for survival" genes. Now, in 2017 with wheatgrass shots and teacup pigs, having a longterm mindset is adventageous, putting those with the procrastination trait at a disadvantage.
Let’s be real though, some of your procrastination can only be blamed on you. You not wanting to deal with the stress, anxiety, and ~*negative vibes*~ that doing a task might cause. So present you decides to let future you deal with that problem while present you watches four episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix.
So how can you fix this? Well, first, start by accepting those bad feels, and just start doing the task at hand. Think about your future self not as some strange fictitious person, but as the same self that just read an article about how to raise a baby squirrel. Who knows? Future you may be more successful (maybe), rich (probably not), and even famous (definintely not), so be nice to future you. And if that doesn’t help, try setting smaller goals with rewards. Take a deep breath and get back to work.