All of us, as students, have been exposed to the magical and unyielding forces of procrastination. No matter how hard I try to keep my undivided attention on a calculus assignment for example, the distractions around me often find a way to infiltrate my focus and turn a few problems into an hour long endeavor. Something tells me I’m not the only one with these unfortunate experiences.
When life presents us with a stressful situation, a long night of work for example, our brain enters a fight or flight response. Like a gazelle that spots a cheetah, we enter an almost panicked state and adrenaline is released to help us brave the circumstances. At the same time, this adrenaline dulls the logical and reasoning systems of our brain, leaving us more vulnerable to rather impulsive ones. All of a sudden, Youtube seems like a much more enjoyable option than studying for tomorrow’s midterm. Since the reward that ultimately comes with completing those sources of stress are hard for us to constantly visualize in our minds, we begin to seek more immediate, tangible rewards. Therefore, while in an overwhelmed and overworked state, our brain yearns for anything satisfying that isn’t the task at hand. Again, a huge part of the problem lies in the dopamine neurotransmitter.
The first computers in the world served no entertainment purpose whatsoever; they were literally clusters of vacuum tubes that performed basic logic computations. Now, with innovations allowing for interactive and versatile devices to fit in a space as small as our pockets, entertainment serves as a huge engine for the computer industry. The modern computer gives us not only an efficient means of learning and completing our work, but also a way to do so many things instantly. For one to enjoy a game of chess, something which used to require time and logistical communication between two actual people, only a quick browse through one’s computer applications is required. No second person needed! Computers have, without a doubt, turned many forms of entertainment into readily available doses of instant gratification. And this in itself may not necessarily harm us, except for the fact it doesn’t cleanly integrate with our dopamine reward system and causes problems such as increased procrastination. With what feels like a flood of gadgets in our lives, many of which are used both for productivity and entertainment, it was inevitable that procrastination would strike harder than ever before.
The more times we succumb to our urges to distract ourselves with Facebook, Candy Crush, cat videos, and more, the more our brain solidifies that reward track. Though this track feels great and temporarily relieves our stress, it causes us to lose motivation in things that DON’T provide dopamine instantly and effortlessly. Though this problem presents itself in varying degrees in different people’s lives, everyone should defend themselves from letting procrastination destroy his/her goals. We can rewire our brains to see the reward of completing the harder tasks in life. We can break down the stressful projects into small easily digestible and rewardable tasks, and step by step, we can combat the onslaught of distractions. Not only will we learn to accomplish more, we will learn to become more.