A study of 264 people’s brains has identified two areas of the brain that determine whether we are more likely to get on with a task or continually put it off.
It found that the amygdala, which processes our emotions and controls our motivation, was larger in procrastinators. They also had poorer connections between the amygdala and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC). The DACC uses information from the amygdala and decides what action the body will take. It helps keep the person on track by blocking out competing emotions and distractions.
Research has already shown that mindfulness meditation is related to amygdala shrinkage, expansion of the pre-frontal cortex and a weakening of the connection between these two areas
Tips for procrastinators
- If you don’t have an external deadline, use a timer to focus for set periods - for example, 25 minutes at a time with 5-minute breaks and a longer break every 90 minutes.
- Write a list of tasks but break it down into smaller, more specific ones. This makes them easier to action and complete.
- Try to minimise interruptions like email notifications. Putting your phone on “airplane mode” or going somewhere to work where you won’t be disturbed will also help.
- Being “busy” is easier than doing the thing we are avoiding. Instead of doing the task at hand, we do other stuff instead and kid ourselves that we don’t have the time. You do have the time. You just need to make it.