Procrastination is one of the biggest obstacles that hinder our productivity and focus. It’s easy to get pulled in other directions, like browsing social media or checking emails, instead of staying on course with what needs to be done. But by understanding why procrastination happens and how to build our focus muscle, we can overcome the distractions and get things done. In this post, we’ll explore the different sections of our brain, why we procrastinate, and how to move from procrastination to productivity.

Understanding Brains

The human brain is incredibly complex, but it can be simplified into three sections: the neocortex, the mammalian brain, and the reptilian brain. The neocortex is responsible for language, logical thinking, and creativity. The mammalian brain is responsible for emotions, feelings, and relationships, and the reptilian brain is accountable for instinct, dominance, and survival. Knowing this, we can better understand the different pulls we experience and why we might be tempted to procrastinate when a task doesn’t feel immediately rewarding.

Reasons We Procrastinate

There are many reasons why we might procrastinate. We might be bored, anxious, overwhelmed, tired, perfectionists, resentful, or frustrated. Procrastination can become a self-defeating cycle that makes us feel worse about ourselves and our work.

Here’s a typical process of procrastination:

  1. You identify an outcome you’d like to achieve
  2. You find natural and imaginary benefits to delaying
  3. More delay leads to self-criticism and excuse-making
  4. You delay until the task must be done hastily or not at all
  5. You berate yourself and promise never to do this again
  6. You repeat the frustrating process.

Breaking the cycle requires recognizing when we’re procrastinating, understanding the underlying reasons, and practicing focus-building methods.

What is Focus?

Focus is giving our full attention to a task or goal. It helps us get work done, improves our relationships, and allows us to complete tasks without forgetting important details. There are two types of focus: shallow focus, which is task-oriented and follows a to-do list, and deep focus, which is more immersive and requires more energy and concentration. Both types require effort, but the more we practice, the easier it becomes.

How to Move from Procrastination to Productivity

Moving from procrastination to productivity requires recognizing when we’re procrastinating, understanding why, and building our focus muscle. To get started, take a moment to remember when you’re tempted to procrastinate. Then, take a step back and analyze why you feel that way. Maybe the task feels too daunting, or you’re distracted by social media notifications.

Once you understand what’s going on, it’s time to start building up your focus muscle by identifying what activities or thoughts help you focus, including:

  • Focus music playlists
  • Time tracking
  • Rewards
  • Time blocking

Overcoming Procrastination

Overcoming procrastination takes time and effort. It requires forgiving yourself for past procrastination and committing to working out your focus muscle with daily tasks. Set small goals and promise yourself a reward once you’ve accomplished the task. It’s also important to remove distractions from your environment as much as possible. Turn off your phone and computer notifications and find a quiet space to work in. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.

Procrastination can be a tricky obstacle to overcome, but it can be done with the right mindset and tools. Understanding how our brains work, why we procrastinate, and how to build our focus muscle are crucial steps in moving from procrastination to productivity. By recognizing the pull of different sections of our brains and paying attention to behaviors consistent with our values, we can improve our productivity and focus. So the next time you feel tempted to procrastinate, take a deep breath, analyze what’s going on, and then focus on the task. Your productivity will thank you!

Watch the full webinar, Focus, Productivity and Procrastination, on your Member Resource Hub!