In this day and age procrastination is so common that we have even got to a point where we procrastinate simple things like showering, brushing our teeth, and cooking food. I have been wondering why we procrastinate so much in our lives but other things we don’t procrastinate on like watching TV or using our phone.
Why Do We Procrastinate More Now Than Ever Before?
We can answer this in one word: Dopamine.
Dopamine is the only reason we do what we do. If eating food didn’t give you a rush of dopamine, you wouldn’t eat unless you were hungry. That’s why people eat when they’re bored, because we want a dopamine rush to fill the void.
Everything we do revolves around dopamine. If for some reason your body can’t produce dopamine, you never get up out of bed. Dopamine(reward) is one thing that motivates us to do things.
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Dopamine is simply a reward chemical. Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. That’s why it’s sometimes called a chemical messenger. Dopamine plays a major role in how we feel pleasure, our ability to focus, think, and plays a role in our motivation. So if your body didn’t produce dopamine, you would have no motivation to do anything.
Dopamine plays a major role in mental health. If you would looked at the brain of someone with depression, you would see that their dopamine levels are low. Meaning they might have less dopamine receptors than someone who doesn’t have depression. Anxiety is the same way with dopamine.
Why Does Our Dopamine Receptors Decrease?
Why our dopamine receptors decrease is because your brain has to stay at a homeostasis or in other words, a balance. This happens when your brain gets such a high rush of dopamine from things like drugs, greasy foods, video games, TV shows, alcohol, pornography, and so on. These unnatural types of things give you endless amounts of dopamine. That is what makes it so bad, because you can sit in front of screen for hours on end just flooding your brain with dopamine. This causes your brain to have to decrease the dopamine receptors to stay at a balance. So now you need to do harder drugs, watch more TV, eat more unhealthy foods, and even post more on social media to get the same rush of dopamine as the first time. That’s why we repeat our bad habits because we are chasing the first rush of dopamine we got from the habit. Which one can never reach again unless they take 14 months off of things that give you a high rush of dopamine to reset your dopamine center or receptors. So the addict are just chasing their tail.
How Our Reward System Is Supposed To Function:
To keep the reward system(dopamine center)balanced, it has to go something for something. Meaning if you want to eat today, you should prepare and cook your food(effort) then you can eat it(reward). If you want to have sex today, you have to work for it. If you’re single, maybe you have to get out of your comfort zone and talk to someone in person, get them to like you, take them on a few couples dates, and win them over(effort). Then you get to have intercourse(reward). Or if you are in a relationship, maybe you prepare a lovely dinner for your spouse or clean the house for them or maybe just listen to them talk about their how the week went, then you get rewarded.
We are operating on this something for nothing mentality(tinder, grub hub, fast food, social media) and it is completely hijacking our dopamine and ruining us.
Our dopamine is supposed to act as a reward for effort and work not a reward for doing nothing, hence everything in 2020.
What Does Dopamine Have To Do With Procrastination?
For someone to not get any sort of dopamine, you would have to sit in a blank, white room by yourself, doing nothing, no exercising, no talking, nothing. That is when you won’t get any dopamine. That’s why we can’t sit still and do nothing because we are addicted to getting a reward. Even simply talking with people gives you a dopamine release. But some things give you a higher rush of dopamine than other things.
Dopamine is a major factor in us doing something or not doing something. Simply because according to your dopamine center which one is more rewarding short term, reading a book or watching TV? Watching TV easily gives you more dopamine than reading a book ever would. Reading a book is not as stimulating to the brain as watching TV is to the brain. So that’s why we have way more TV watchers than book readers.
Reading A Book(little dopamine) VS Playing Video Games(high dopamine)
Eating A Salad(little dopamine) VS Eating A Burger & Fries(high dopamine)
Just because one feels better than the other that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. The short term for playing video games is good but the long term is bad. The short term for reading doesn’t feel as good as playing video games, but the long term is good. Same goes for the food choices.
So that is why we procrastinate the things we should be doing because it doesn’t give us a high release of dopamine. So instead of during our work, we are scrolling on our phone, because that gives us a higher immediate reward.
Starting a business, reading, learning, or writing doesn’t give you a high immediate reward, so we go on choosing the things that give us the high dopamine reward like TV shows, movies, alcohol, drugs, video games, and so on.
How Do We Beat Procrastination For Good In 2020?
Practice the 5 minute rule. Whatever you have to do, do it for 5 minutes. If you have to go workout, then workout for 5 minutes and when the timer goes off, then you can decide if you want to stop or keep going. If you have to read or want to read but you keep pushing it off, just read for 5 minutes, and after 5 minutes you decide if you want to keep reading or not.
If you want to write a book or maybe you have to write an essay for work or for school, write for 5 minutes. After the timer goes off, you can decide if you want to quit or not. Today, I felt like procrastinating to write this article but I just told myself, that “I’ll write the first paragraph and see what happens.” After writing that first paragraph, something magical happened. I wanted to keep writing, I ended up finishing this article in under 1 hour. Because that little action for 5 minutes got me inspired and motivated to finish this article.
How Most Peoples Mind’s Work :
How most of us operate:
Inspiration —–> Motivation —–> Action
Basically you are just waiting until you feel like doing what you need to do. Let me tell you 1 truth, you will be waiting for the rest of your life to feel like doing what you need to be doing. If you only operate on waiting for inspiration to give you motivation to get into the gym(action) you will never get fit.
How we should be operating:
Action —–> Inspiration —–> Motivation
This is how the 5 minute rule operates. You do the action for 5 minutes and then you decide if you are inspired enough to keep going. If you are inspired then you will have the motivation to keep going. This is how you beat procrastination in this distracted world. Whatever you have to do, do it for 5 minutes, don’t wait to get inspired to do it. This is the very method I use to attack everyday. I don’t feel like writing this article on Easter Sunday but if I just write for 5 minutes, I will get inspired and motivated to finish it. That is exactly what happens every time.
Don’t wait until you feel like it because what your brain feels like doing is eating those potato chips in front of the TV getting high rush of dopamine. Just do the action for 5 minutes and your life will transform forever and procrastination will longer be a thing for you
HAPPY EASTER 🙂
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Great idea – 5 minute rule. Have you also heard of the 5 second rule by Mel Robbins? I use this for things like getting out of bed quicker or turning the shower on to cold for the last minute 😀
I love the 5 sec rule by Mel! It’s so helpful for taking action because if you don’t act on what you want to do, your brain kills the idea and starts talking yourself out of it! 😌
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Really interesting post, I completely agree that instant gratification is a huge problem in the digital age. The 5 minute advice is valuable, slow build up of discipline is important.
Absolutely Aris! Instant Gratification is the biggest problem for sure! If one could practice Delayed Gratification your life would start to improve.
My buddy Colin’s dad is 65 years old and he goes to this gym 6 times a week. His dad told me most of the time he doesn’t feel like working out but his secret is to just get to the gym that’s it. As long as he just walks into the gym, he gets motivated to workout.
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