Procrastination can hold us back in many ways -- professionally, personally, even physically in the context of fitness and health. Although it creates very real negative consequences, procrastination is all in our heads.
Recent findings link procrastination to mood, self-regulation, and negative reinforcement.<1> As with other challenges that originate in the brain, procrastination may be helped by brain-boosting nootropics.
- Specifically, nootropics for procrastination naturally promote a more active, energized and motivated mind-set -- helping to stop your stalling and spark your inner drive to get more stuff done.
This guide discusses some of the best nootropics for beating procrastination and taking care of business. Let's swing into action.
What is Procrastination?
Psychologists define procrastination as a voluntary, irrational delay, enacted despite the expectation of a potential negative outcome.<2>
With procrastination, there is a gap between our intentions and our actions.
Although we are aware that procrastinating will most likely have negative consequences, we put off doing something important and do something frivolous instead. Procrastination may be defined as being:<3>
- usually harmful
- sometimes harmless
- never helpful
Procrastination vs. Delay
Sometimes people misuse the word procrastination to describe what are actually useful delays.
But we are not always procrastinating whenever we put something off.
“All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.” ~ Psychologist and procrastination researcher Tim Pychyl
Many times, proper timing demands that we save our efforts for another day. After all, we don’t throw a surprise birthday party months before the recipient’s actual birthday.
And sometimes we’re truly very busy with other, more important things.
When it’s not procrastination, it’s called delay.
Types of Delay
- Purposeful – We put things off purposefully. Often, we use purposeful delay as part of a time-management strategy or to optimize our schedule.
- Inevitable – Emergencies and urgent interruptions happen. However, if you find they happen often, it may be a result of poor time management or role conflicts.
- Arousal – Some people get a rush from doing something at the last minute and intentionally put things off until the last minute. If you are this type of person, you don’t feel stressed out under pressure and you have the skills and efficiency to complete the task well.
However, when you intend to do something and nothing’s stopping you from doing it but you still keep putting it off, that’s procrastination.
It’s not a time management issue. You’re the only thing standing in your way. You know the delay will likely have negative repercussions, but you do it anyway.
- Irrational – This response is anxiety-driven. Irrational procrastinators distract themselves with video games, Netflix, watching the ball game – anything but what they know they should be doing.
- Hedonistic – If you’re a hedonistic procrastinator, you probably could care less about doing the project well – or even doing it at all. You just want to do something fun instead. You have already committed to the task but you’re not interested in it – like when you sign up for a class but don’t care about the assignment.
- Emotional – Procrastination is often one of the symptoms of mood disorders like depression, anxiety or ADHD disorders. Temporary mood disruptions can result in procrastination as well. The loss of a loved one or a temporarily debilitating injury can sap the will to do anything productive for a period of time.<4>
Procrastination and the Brain
The limbic system is responsible for emotions, stress response (fight or flight), and survival instincts. It is the first responder of the brain.
When we don't feel like doing something, the limbic system sees that thing as a threat. It responds by drumming up anxious feelings in order to avoid the threat. Anxiety diminishes cognitive function, depresses mood, and prompts evasion.
- Nootropics for stress could help ease the tension, potentially helping you to overcome procrastinating tendencies.
The prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain that essentially makes us human. It is the rational, reasonable part of the brain where future planning takes place. But it takes time for the prefrontal cortex to evaluate the situation and put its two cents in.
By the time the prefrontal cortex sends the message to proceed, the rest of the brain has already been amped up by the limbic system and has come up with a plan to avoid the task at all costs. The plan is - do it later.
Self-regulation is the ability to inhibit inappropriate behaviors, stem emotionally-driven urges, and spur motivation. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) regulates the executive functions that support the cognitive processes related to self-regulation.<5>
- Damage to the lateral portions of the PFC are linked to problems with planning and initiation, apathy, and lack of motivation, especially when multiple goals are involved.
Poor self-regulation can result in weakness of will and the classic negative reinforcement of giving in to feel good. Self-regulation failure may manifest as:
- Emotional eating
- Binge drinking
- Shopping sprees
- Problematic gambling
Some potential nootropics for procrastination may work by helping us to improve self-regulation.
Procrastination and Mood
Psychologists think procrastination is linked to mood.
Procrastination basically begins with the internal question, “Do I feel like it or not?”
If you don’t feel like it, you may begin a self-deceptive inner dialogue in order to justify putting it off until later. It’s not necessarily about having fun, but more about avoiding a perceived threat.
Researchers have found strong links between stress and procrastination, noting that:
- "Students experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression may be more vulnerable to procrastination as a result of negative repetitive thought, particularly regarding past events.”<7>
People who procrastinate tend to achieve less and to under-perform on tasks they do complete.
Habitual procrastination can turn into a depressing cycle. When you know you're consistently not living up to your potential, unhappiness can become the norm, leading to more procrastination, and on and on.
Nootropics for procrastination could help break the cycle.
Breaking the Habit
Procrastination expert Tim Pychyl recommends adopting a slogan like "Just start it."
Once we begin a project it’s usually not as bad as we thought it would be. Finishing even a small part of a project can create a positive mood and motivate us to continue.
When you feel like procrastinating, use that feeling as a mental cue to work on your project for just ten minutes. And you could try nootropics for motivation to give yourself an edge.
Other things you can do to conquer procrastination and get in a more productive zone include:
- Minimize distractions to help establish a flow state
- Find a good workspace where you can stay focused
- Do your most important and creative tasks in the morning when your brain is fresh
- Avoid multitasking
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Procrastination
Brain-boosting nootropic supplements can help cognition in many ways. Among the many nootropic benefits are apparent advantages for energized, dynamic thinking than can launch you into action and leave procrastination in the dust.
Mind Lab Pro® supplies the best nootropics for procrastination, including:
Citicoline increases mental energy - enhancing attention, concentration, and focus.
These versatile brain-boosting bioactivities may help to spark motivation and confidence, especially when stacked with other nootropics for procrastination. And, studies suggest citicoline may also help improve self-regulation through cognitive inhibition.<8>
More on Mind Lab Pro® Citicoline
Rhodiola rosea supports a positive mood by optimizing dopamine and serotonin levels, so you can feel good about taking on a task you were not too excited about. It also fights the mental fatigue that can drain motivation, restoring energized cognitive performance that makes it easier to tackle daunting tasks (instead of avoiding them).
In addition, natural herbal nootropic Rhodiola rosea helps sustain acetylcholine, a brain chemical that augments cognitive flexibility and inhibits excitatory feedback in cortical circuits resulting from the stress response that can lead to procrastination.<9>
More on Mind Lab Pro® Rhodiola Rosea
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)
NALT may combat procrastination by reducing the detrimental effects of stress and fatigue on cognitive performance.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is a more bioavailable form of Tyrosine, an amino acid involved in cell communication. It is also a precursor to dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to improved focus, alertness, and mood.
With these attributes, NALT may help to promote an active, productive and energized minstate before you can say procrastinate.
More on Mind Lab Pro® N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
L-theanine may be one of the best nootropics for beating procrastination. It inhibits excessive neuronal response to stress by increasing GABA levels -- calming brain activity, improving focus, and blocking distractions that can protract procrastination.
L-theanine also supports dopamine -- decreasing anxiety and improving mood to encourage motivation and help get you going.
More on Mind Lab Pro® L-Theanine
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for procrastination include advanced support for motivation, energy, mood and more.
Mind Lab Pro®’s whole-brain-boosting Universal Nootropic™ stack is formulated to unlock 100% Brainpower™, a peak-performing mind-state that can help you do everything better, no matter who you are or what your lifestyle is like.
- As part of this whole-brain approach, Mind Lab Pro® can support motivation to crush procrastination spur you into action, along with sharp cognitive performance to excel at whatever task you might have been avoiding.
By helping to remove the insidious obstacle of procrastination, Mind Lab Pro® opens yet another natural pathway for unleashing peak productivity and realizing superior life performance.
- Van Earde W. Procrastination: Self‐regulation in Initiating Aversive Goals. Applied Psychology. 25 Dec 2001. https://doi.org/10.1111/1464-0597.00021
- Sirois F, Pychyl, TA. Procrastination. In H. Friedman (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Mental Health. 2015. New York: Elsevier.
- Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 65–94.
- Haghbin M. CONCEPTUALIZATION AND OPERATIONALIZATION OF DELAY: DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF THE MULTIFACETED MEASURE OF ACADEMIC PROCRASTINATION AND THE DELAY QUESTIONNAIRE. Carleton University. 2015. Ottawa, Canada.
- Heatherton TF. Neuroscience of Self and Self-Regulation. Annu Rev Psychol. 2011; 62: 363–390. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.121208.131616
- Botvinick MM, Braver TS, Barch DM, Carter CS, Cohen JD. Conflict monitoring and cognitive control. Psychol Rev. 2001 Jul;108(3):624-52.
- Constantin, K., English, M.M., & Mazmanian, D. (2017). Anxiety, depression, and procrastination among students: Rumination plays a larger mediating role than worry. Journal of Rational-Emotive Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. DOI 10.1007/s10942-017-0271-5
- McGlade E, et al. Improved Attentional Performance Following Citicoline Administration in Healthy Adult Women. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2012, 3, 769-773. doi: 10.4236/fns.2012.36103
- Hasselmo ME. The Role of Acetylcholine in Learning and Memory. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2006 Dec; 16(6): 710–715. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2006.09.002