Why we procrastinate and what we can do about it (TED Ed video)

"Procrastination," according to this TED Ed video, "is when we avoid a task we said we would do for no good reason, despite expecting our behavior to bring negative consequences."

The video explains that "procrastination is the result of our bodies trying to protect us, specifically by avoiding a task we see as threatening." In other words, we perceive deadlines as threats, so we try to avoid engaging with the threat by paying attention to something less stressful, like cleaning your kitchen.

The video suggests beating procrastination by "breaking a task into smaller elements," "journaling why it's stressing you out," "removing nearby distractions that make it easy to impulsively procrastinate," and "more than anything, it helps to cultivate an attitude of self-compassion, forgiving yourself, and making a plan to do better next time."

I often suffer from procrastination myself. My best way of overcoming it is to go into "robot mode," which I wrote about for Lifehacker in 2011.

Thumbnail: TED Ed/YouTube