If you’re like me, you leave the dinner dishes in the sink overnight knowing full well that it’s going to be 100% harder to scrape off the hardened crud in the morning than it would be to suck it up and wash the dishes now.
I mean, really, it’s only going to take 10 minutes, at most. But, meh, I just don’t want to.
Why do I put off doing chores only to make more work for myself later?
The Need for Instant Gratification
The human brain is wired for instant gratification. Sure, there’s some logic in there that says you’ll be better off if you do XYZ now instead of later. But it’s a small voice. And it hardly ever wins.
According to Princeton University, your brain constantly battles itself over short-term rewards versus long-term goals. The emotional side of your brain argues for instant gratification. The logical side tries to bring reason to the conversation, but it faces a difficult battle. After all, the instant reward is right in front of you. Long-term rewards are more abstract and difficult to envision. For this reason, your brain almost always chooses the quick payoff.
Doing Chores Requires Lots of Willpower
Chores are a slog. Everyone hates them. That’s why they’re called chores. Some chores are worse than others — A new survey reports that 37% of people would rather do laundry than any other household chore. So maybe laundry isn’t so bad. But if you put laundry up against a bite of chocolate or dip in the pool, it likely won’t come out on top.
The truth is, it takes willpower to do chores. And willpower isn’t an abundant or static resource. It gets depleted. Each time you choose to put off instant gratification, going to work instead of staying home or eating a salad instead of a burger, you use a little of your willpower. Like the life meter on your favorite video game, it will come back… slowly. In the meantime, you may choose more instant rewards over long-term gains.
How to Break the Procrastination Cycle
Fortunately, we can all break the procrastination cycle if we put our minds to it. Part of it is scheduling a routine and removing temptation. If you don’t give yourself a choice, you will learn to do tasks without giving it a second thought.
Psychology Today also recommends considering the big picture and finding ways to make tasks more rewarding. It’s a good idea to take a good, honest look at yourself as well. See where your habits can improve and work toward changing them.
Humans are procrastinators. It’s in our DNA. But that doesn’t mean we have to give in to it. There are things we can do to stop the procrastination cycle. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start making changes right away.
Well, tomorrow… there’s no sense in starting something new in the middle of the day.
Hmm… Monday at the latest!
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