I am going to be bluntly honest: I am writing this blog at 8:30 pm on Wednesday night with the deadline being in 1 and a half hours to hand it in. You may be wondering why I have left it so late? The simple answer is that I procrastinated. Why is it so common that people leave the important things until the last minute?
Historically speaking, procrastination isn’t a new idea that came along with the rise of modern society. Hesoid, a Greek poet who lived around the time 800 B.C.E, warned people to not procrastinate in one of his writings as it is harmful to the quality of the work produced. I would like to think that this is not true (as I partake in my fair share of procrastinating for school), but I have noticed that my work is of higher quality and more complete when I don’t leave it to the last minute.
Psychologically, procrastination is a habit that people adopt due to a multitude of reasons. People tend to underestimate how soon the deadline is, and underestimate how much time the activities will take up. Procrastination can have a negative effect on the mental health of the procrastinator due to the added stress. Also, after you procrastinate, you feel unsatisfied with your actions and beat yourself up for leaving the task to the last minute.
The simple science behind procrastination is that the animalistic aspect of our brain takes precedence over our logical intelligence. We often seek instant positive stimulus, like wasting time scrolling through Instagram, over spending time studying for the math exam the next day, despite well-knowing that this is the logical choice. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that makes the decisions that will benefit us in the long run; the part of the brain that separates humans from animals. The prefrontal cortex loses to the animalistic side of the brain sometimes; and when this happens, you procrastinate.
Next time you have an essay due in two weeks, think about how proud your prefrontal cortex would be if you did it right away!