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What Happens When You Procrastinate Too Much

- [Narrator] Most of us have procrastinated

at some point in our lives,

but about one in every five of us are compulsive about it.

They put off tasks and chores nearly every chance they get.

They are called chronic procrastinators,

and it turns out this behavior does

a lot more damage than you might think.

We get it, doing work is hard.

But when you choose to watch TV over doing laundry

or washing dishes, you've just launched

an all-out battle in your brain.

On one side, you have your prefrontal cortex,

that's the part of your brain that sets long-term goals

and regulates self-control.

It's telling you that those dishes aren't

going to clean themselves.

And on the other side is the limbic system.

It deals with pleasure,

arousal, and reward, and it's telling you

that washing dishes is lame, dude.

You'd have a better time doing something else,

so procrastination essentially puts

your brain in its happy place.

It feels good, that's why you do it.

But of course, just because it feels good,

doesn't mean it's necessarily good for you.

For example, several studies have found

that undergraduate college students who procrastinated had

a lower GPA in the latter half

of the semester compared to non-procrastinators.

They were also more likely

to get sick based on their healthcare visits.

Moreover, other studies have found

that procrastinators report higher levels of guilt

and anxiety when they choose

to procrastinate in the first place.

And if you keep it up, researchers have found

that chronic procrastination is linked

to low self-confidence, low-energy, and depression.

Overall, your quality of life would probably be worse than

if you had just listened to that little prefrontal cortex.

And you may think that you just have a different workflow

or you perform better under pressure,

but sorry to say, there are no studies

to support any benefits of chronic procrastination.

Bottom line, it's unhealthy, but not all hope is lost.

In fact, researchers have conducted dozens

of scientific studies in search for ways

to help procrastinators.

What they've found time

and time again is how you think about tasks can make

a huge difference in how

likely you are to procrastinate on them.

Tasks like saving for retirement

for example can be so abstract,

there's no immediate deadline,

so you can always start tomorrow,

and this is the mentality that lead you to procrastinate.

Instead, make your tasks more concrete in your mind.

For example, a study in 2011 discovered

that people given an illustration of how they might look

at retirement age were more

likely to say they would save money

for retirement than people without an illustration.

The image was something tangible,

and therefore painted a more concrete picture

of their inevitable future.

So whatever the task, do your health a favor

and do the work right now.

You might even enjoy that TV show even

more once you get to it.