Procrastination Cure? A New Brain-Based Approach

You would never let a snake slither up your body, wrap itself around your neck and bite you. Right? Wrong. You’ve been bitten by the snake of procrastination time and time again. Now it’s time to find out why. And surprisingly, according to brain science, it has NOT been your fault.

Have you ever really wanted to achieve a big goal, even needed to get it done but… it didn’t happen? Maybe you were even in the right place to get it done: Sitting at your writing desk or you had workout clothes on but you ‘got caught up’, time passed and suddenly it’s too late.

At that point, the snake of procrastination withdraws its teeth from your neck and the poisonous venom of regret sets in. You feel like beating yourself up.

It’s not that you weren’t smart enough to do it. And you’re not lazy but it didn’t get done.

You’re discouraged and demoralized. It’s happened before and if it continues, you’ll never achieve the health, wealth or worthy goal you’re pursuing. Then all your hard work would be lost.

Why didn’t it happen?

What happened?

In this article, you’ll discover how it happened and more importantly, you’ll discover why it’s NOT your fault. You’ll also find out why so many folks who use traditional methods of fighting procrastination fail and you’ll even discover why they feel demoralized.

Brain Science Explains Procrastination and Why It's Not Your Fault

The answer was revealed in two incredible findings from science.

First, let’s address the ‘excuses’ that popped into your head leading you to procrastinate.

In order to explain those excuses, let me ask you two keys questions.

The key questions are…

  • Do you accept responsibility for your thoughts?
  • Are you responsible for the thoughts that come into your head?

Self-help commonly tells you to answer YES to both those questions.  But the surprising answer from science is NO. No, you’re NOT responsible for the thoughts that pop into your head.

In fact, Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz in his book, You Are NOT Your Brain, makes it clear that your brain generates thoughts without your consent, control or knowledge. He explains that your brain not only creates unwanted thoughts but it will LIE TO YOU. To get pleasure and avoid pain it, quite frankly, lies. He calls those lies ‘deceptive brain messages’.

Here’s how he explained it.

Dr. Schwartz said, “the reality of the situation is that the brain generates these deceptive brain messages… and none of us has a say in when or where those false messages will show up.”

Now you know why it’s not your fault when the snake of procrastination begins slithering up your legs.

Can you use willpower to stop them?

Many coaches, teachers and so-called gurus will tell you that beating procrastination is just a matter of using your willpower.  But consider this.

Dr. Schwartz said, “you cannot make your thoughts or urges disappear by using willpower alone. Trying to do so is a surefire prescription for discouragement, disappointment, and demoralization.”

So the very ‘cure’ self-help advises is what makes many people sick. If you’ve felt discouraged, disappointed or even humiliated, then now you know why.

It’s important to realize that when bitten by the snake of procrastination, at first you do NOT feel pain. At first, you actually feel pleasure. It’s a pleasure that puts you in zombie-like sleep… stealing your time, life and ultimately self-esteem.

What’s the source of procrastination’s pleasure and why is it bad?

The relief of avoiding that ‘hard’ work will have your brain doing cart-wheels. Here’s why that pleasure is a problem.

Dr. Schwartz said, “Whenever you repeatedly do something pleasurable or avoid some kind of overtly painful sensation, your brain ‘learns’ that these actions are a priority and generates thoughts, impulses, urges, and desires to make sure you keep doing them again and again.”

This is HUGE. You’re not just fighting passing thoughts. No, your brain fights by moving procrastination-promoting thoughts into the carpool lane of your brain. As those distracting thoughts speed ahead, your brain fights further by even giving you impulses and urges to procrastinate.

In the midst of productive activities, the Procrastination-Snake will have thoughts slither into your mind:

What does the procrastination snake whisper in your ear?

  • “Wonder who’s trying to reach me on Facebook?  It’ll only take a second to check. A quick look couldn’t hurt.”
  • “What’s going on in the world? Let me just surf my news website headlines. That doesn’t take much time. And I’ll be better informed. Right?”
  • “I wonder what’s new on Netflix? Quick look couldn’t hurt.”
  • “Time for a quick tweet check.”
What activities disguised as 'momentary breaks' turn into time sucking procrastination?

What activities disguised as 'momentary breaks' turn into time sucking procrastination?

Those seemingly harmless, almost charming pleas are designed to draw you into a snake-pit. While you’re charmed, the snake is slithering up your leg, wrapping itself around your neck and it BITES YOU. Often, you didn’t even see it coming.

The brain doesn’t fight fair. It’ll also influence your FEELINGS. It’ll make you feel tired and then tell you “you’re too ‘tired’, sick or even busy”. It’ll say, “You’re just too busy to do this right now”.

It’ll trick you into working on some low-level, low impact activity over an activity that’s the lynchpin to moving you rapidly forward in life. My goodness. I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience. I’ve fallen for the brain’s deceptive messages so many times that I want to SCREAM. What about you?

So, how do you avoid getting bitten?

Look, we’ve been going for too long. And, as I've written before, there are additional ways to conquer procrastination. But the next suggestions will really put procrastination on ice. Let me give you a good way to deal with procrastination-snakes.

How do you prevent getting bitten?

Become a master procrastination-snake hunter instead of a snake bite victim.

Science proves procrastination can be stopped. Stop procrastination using these 7 tips.

You can hunt down procrastination and stop it in its track by using these 7 tips.

7 Tips for Master Procrastination-Snake Hunters:

  1. Procrastination-snakes feed on productive activities so when you’re working on a productive activity, be on alert. Expect a procrastination-snake. It'll offer you instant pleasure as it tries to slither into your mind. Be Proactive!
  2. Notice the signs, sounds and pleas of procrastination-snakes. Do NOT fall for time-sucking traps disguised as charming pleas for ‘momentary breaks’(it’s the snake). Did prior ‘momentary breaks’ really only take a moment? Or did it only take a ‘moment’ to get sucked into a time trap?
  3. Recognize the pleas for ‘momentary breaks’ as the repulsive sounds of a snake slithering up your leg. Aggressively shake it off.
    In Alcohol Anonymous they say "One drink. One drunk." One drink opens the floodgates to trouble. It's the same way with procrastination except that it's "One Moment. One Minute. One Mess. Big Regret". One 'momentary' Facebook, email or Netflix check opens the floodgates to procrastination.
    NOTE: Healthy breaks are OK. Walking, meditation and other forms of relief that do not turn into time traps can increase your productivity. But beware of activities that can (and have in the past) become time traps.
  4. Create a Procrastination Snake-pit List - Recognize snake-pits like Facebook, Netflix, internet surfing, video games and especially your cellphone. They are designed to grab your attention in just a moment then all suck you away from productive activities.
  5. Never forget the painful sting of regret that comes with procrastination-snakebites. Let that painful memory drive you forward and keep you alert.
  6. Master snake hunters never beat-up snakebite victims. Look, if you find yourself feeling demoralized and filled with regret because you once again procrastinated, then please cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a compassionate break because studies have proven that berating yourself only makes a bad situation worse.
  7. Learn from procrastination. Too often, folks beat themselves up so badly for past mistakes that their brain shuts down and stops learning. Stumbling blocks become stepping stones when you learn from past mistakes. I strongly suggest that you keep a procrastination log.
    5 Things to Write In Your Procrastination Log:

    • When did it happen?
    • What thoughts and feelings brought it on (were you bored, tired or exhausted?)
    • What time-sucking activity stole your time? Facebook, TV, news, ect...
    • Add that time-sucking activity to the list of activities in your procrastination snake-pit.
    • Keep your list of time-sucking activities (procrastination snake-pit) on your radar so you’re not tricked again.

Well, that’s all for today. Stay healthy.

To your habitual success,