• Yasharth


Instant Gratification

Humans desire Instant Gratification, that is, we get distracted from meeting our long-term goals by enjoying short term activities. Even though we know that the benefits of our long-term goals far outweigh the instant pleasure we desire, we continue to put of the task until the very last moment. That is what Procrastination is, the act of delaying the task at hand, with the expectancy that we can complete the task later.

We want good things, and we want them now. We know, that if we do not complete that essay, it will impact our grades, nonetheless, we avoid the work by getting distracted by something which is not as important. While doing so, we feel guilty and regret our decision every second, but we continue to procrastinate. Here are a few reasons why we seek instant gratification:

1. A desire to avoid delay – We have a desire for an instant reward, and we are willing to forego a larger but delayed reward in exchange for an immediate one.

2. Expectancy – We expect that we can complete the task later and it is absolutely fine to have a bit of fun now. This results in nothing but completion of the task at the very last moment – which can be stressful.

3. Mood – Mood can play an important role in procrastination. Sometimes, we just feel like doing nothing, it could depend on the weather, what lecture you are attending and even how hungry you are. But you cannot let mood affect your actions and decisions majorly.

The urge of hitting snooze instead of getting up early, the urge to watch cat videos while writing an essay, the desire to stay up late when you have plans to go cycling early in the morning are all examples of humans desiring instant gratification.

How can you overcome this desire for an immediate reward?

Put yourself in your future self’s shoes. Evaluate whether you would be able to complete the task if you procrastinate now. Will you feel guilty, regret your actions, lower your self-esteem? How strong is your desire to achieve these long-term goals? What will be the consequences of your current actions?

Once you acknowledge and realize that what you are doing is harmful to the future, you will start fighting this desire. Instead of justifying it by saying “I did sit down for 2 hours but I couldn’t think of anything,” ask, “what if I do not complete this assignment?”

The procrastinator

We feel guilty when we procrastinate. We are aware that what we are doing is counterproductive to our objectives, but we continue to do so. The majority of individuals defend their actions by saying, "I work best under pressure." They will put off the assignment till the last possible moment. When the deadline is approaching, they would suddenly labour all day and night to accomplish the job that could have been accomplished earlier. If they do well, they will use it as evidence to justify their premise, "I work well under pressure."

Procrastination through reward becomes a habit, it destroys our rational decisions. You might cherish those moments and use them to justify your future procrastination.

Well, alright, what if there is no pressure? What if there is no deadline which you must meet? What if the work your doing is completely by choice? That is when the trouble starts.

Suppose you want to start learning Japanese because you have plans to work in Japan in the future. There is no one forcing you and pressuring you. What you are doing is completely by choice. Without a deadline, you can suffer. It is not that you would fail at life if you do not study Japanese. But if you do, you might get better job opportunities which will benefit your future life. What I am trying to get at is that you must either change your thoughts or your actions. Your drive should be strong enough to push you all the way through, there should be a desire to succeed. Only then you will move towards your goals.

Distractions and Emotions

Distraction is an active choice we make. smartphones are a big source of distraction. If you try, it is quite easy to stay focused Clear your desk, anything that will distract you should be put out of reach. May it even be a book or your phone. Switch off the internet if you do not require it. When my phone is not in sight, I never get distracted. Distraction can lead to procrastination, so eliminating distraction is one of the most important steps in beating procrastination.

Try to get out of your comfort zone. Personally, when I am doing something which is challenging, I rarely find myself looking here and there. This may not work for everyone, but it does for me. When you are out of your comfort zone, all your attention will be used up, keeping you engaged and the work interesting.

Prof Tim Pychyl believes that emotion is a bigger problem than time management. It found that the Amygdala - an almond-shaped structure in the temporal (side) lobe which processes our emotions and controls our motivation - was larger in procrastinators. Research shows that people who deal with emotion control often tend to procrastinate as well. Meditation is one way to strengthen our connections between the amygdala and a part of the brain called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC) which uses information from the amygdala and decides what action the body will take.

"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". Tim Pychyl said.


Keeping focused is key in procrastination. Prioritizing your tasks and understanding their role in your life will help you have a clear image of what you want. The constant battle between what you should be doing and what you are doing should be resolved. This is a fight we all must face. Overcoming the habit of procrastinating will work miracles. I am still working to improve my time management skills, figuring how I can get everything done without wasting time. And I am not quite there yet.

It is alright to scroll through Twitter and watch cat videos on YouTube, but they should be done in their respective times, and not when you are supposed to be doing something else.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

-Abraham Lincoln

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