From: Study Hacks (edited)
Judging plans is an automatic, unconscious function of the brain. If your brain evaluates a plan and decides it's not sound, you're not going to want to do it.
What does that feel like? Complex planning is a pre-verbal evolutionary adaptation, so you're not going to hear a voice saying “plan rejected!” Instead, chemicals are going to be released that make you feel unmotivated in order to steer you away from a bad decision.
If this idea is true, then you would expect people with good plans to struggle less with procrastination and, that's what Cal Newman found when he studied elite undergrads: they were hyper-organized and only a few reported procrastination as a serious problem.
So, he believes that procrastination is not a character flaw but the manifestation of an evolutionary adaptation. It's simply a sign that your plan needs more work.
Procrastination and Fear
Cal insists that fear is not the cause of procrastination but I believe that he's wrong. A bad plan can lead to disaster so his idea about a natural aversion to bad planning fits neatly with the idea that the procrastinator backs away from action out of fear. He, himself, gives a good example to prove it.
Let's say an early man comes up with two plans to attack a mammoth. First, he sharpens a spear and plans to charge the elephant. Then, he realizes that he can sharpen a spear and throw it from a distance. The first plan would be rejected because it is dangerous and dangerous plans generate fear.
Here's another point about fear: it's often irrational. So, you might have an exaggerated fear of a perfectly rational plan. For instance, it might be wise to cold call people for business but you might feel that if they don't like you, you are going to die. The thing you need to work on there is your irrational vision of danger not your plan because that's the source of your procrastination.
From: Study Hacks
Cal Newport says he's counseled many people suffering from deep procrastination. The causes are always the same: a goal that doesn’t match the person’s real interests combined with a difficult workload.
When hard work is required by a goal that’s not in line with their real interests, people see it as an intrusion from an outside entity and they develop a strong aversion to it.
To avoid this problem, you have to figure out what you like to do. You might want to do things that don't please you. For instance, you might choose a path because it seems the most practical. You might want to do something to impress other people. Or, you might want to prove that you can do something to satisfy your ego. But work that meets these goals is not work that's chosen because it pleases you.
Cal has a theory about procrastination. The ability to create complex plans is what distinguishes us from earlier humans like the Neanderthal Man and he believes that our brains automatically reject bad plans by making us feel unmotivated.
He sees everyday procrastination is an aversion to a bad work plan and deep procrastination as the rejection of a bigger plan, like a bad life plan.
How To Cure Deep Procrastination
From: Study Hacks
When you have to do a lot of work to attain an unattractive goal you are asking your brain to expend lots of energy to no end. There is an ancient part of our brain that has evolved to evaluate your plans and after awhile it says “no more!”
The more modern, rational part of the brain tells you that you have to reach your goal but when the ancient brain asks why all you can say is, “Because I have to.” And this is where the problem occurs.
The ancient brain doesn't appreciate vague answers that don't clearly promise to deliver something good. To get it onside you have to form a clear, personally rewarding reason for action. Here's how:
1. Give a tentative answer to: What makes a good life good? Your goal is not the right answer, just a working hypothesis.
2. Decide how your work can lead to your vision of a good life.
3. Identify the tactics that will help you succeed.
Procrastination is not meaningless torture. It's a prompt to get your plans in order. When you have a well-thought out plan that leads to something good your brain has a reason to do what you want to do.
Focus on Process Not Results
Do Bad Plans Cause Procrastination
Rigid Rules For Productivity
The Virtue of Short Term Goals
How To Succeed Without Willpower
20 Minute Rule for Productivity