Back to the complete issue
Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Why do we procrastinate — and how can we put a stop to it?

Is poor time management really why we procrastinate? Traditional thinking still touted by university counseling centers around the world is that procrastination is a problem with time management, but new research suggests at its core, procrastination is the result of an emotional response, Mark Johanson writes for the BBC.

Making mountains out of molehills: The habit of letting tiny tasks take up an abnormally large space in our minds is the result of doubt, insecurity, fear, or feelings of incompetence, experts suggest. The process feeds on itself through the neural response known as the Amygdala Hijack, an overwhelming emotional response that is out of proportion with the stimulus that caused it, and can be triggered when we think of our outstanding tasks. This, of course, is counterproductive, as worrying about your own procrastination drains your cognitive abilities and reduces your problem solving capacities.

Procrastination is a misguided emotional regulation strategy: While it might bring short-term relief from an otherwise mundane or unpleasant task, people who procrastinate often feel guilty and more stressed after the fact, Christian Jarret writes for BBC. People who chronically procrastinate generally suffer from higher levels of psychological inflexibility, higher levels of stress, poor sleep patterns and worse job prospects. Procrastination is also linked to depression and anxiety, and can undermine personal relationships.

So how do you tackle your neverending to do list? First, practice self-compassion towards the emotional response, and reframe your mindset towards the task, experts suggest. Another suggestion is to jump straight into the task without giving it too much consideration, knowing that the serotonin boost you’re likely to get from that sense of accomplishment can keep you going. Fitting smaller tasks into the framework of a bigger task, like tidying the living room while the pasta cooks, can also help create the illusion that no extra time was lost on the unpleasant task.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Etisalat Misr (tax ID: 235-071-579), the leading telecoms provider in Egypt; and Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt.