"I'll Do It Later.": Working Your Recovery By Overcoming Procrastination

Ever wonder why you keep putting off that pile of papers on your desk? Cleaning out your closet? Or making that phone call to set up a physical with your doctor?

When we overeat, gamble, use electronic devices to excess, or watch pornography, we flood the prefrontal cortex in our brain with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. If you do this often enough you run the risk of developing a process addiction, sometimes called a dopamine addiction.

One of the symptoms of a dopamine addiction is procrastination!

An important component of overcoming a dopamine addiction is to engage your pre-frontal cortex. One way you can do this is through purposeful activity. Since procrastination is the act of avoiding purposeful activity, setting a goal each day to do something you have been putting off can help you engage your prefrontal cortex in a healthy way.

Set yourself up for success. Don’t tackle the reorganization of your entire home in one day. Set small, attainable goals that you know you can achieve.

Let me tell you about my garage. The garage was a mess and I knew that I had neither the time nor the inclination to clean it. So, I set a goal to work in my garage for just 10 minutes a day. Each morning when I got up, I threw on some old clothes and forced myself into the garage. I set a timer for 10 minutes. I put my headphones in my ear and turned on some motivational music. Then, I worked until the timer went off. Within a month I had a clean and organized garage and, more importantly, I didn’t have to sacrifice my Saturday to do it!

Here are some tips for making this plan work:

  • Don’t wait until you feel like doing the task. It probably won’t happen.

  • Newton’s First Law of Motion tell us that a body in motion, stays in motion and a body at rest, stays at rest. So just start. It gets easier once you get moving.

  • Set small, attainable goals like organizing a small stack of papers rather than your entire desk.

  • Instead of focusing on how much you don’t want to do the task, instead congratulate yourself for doing something that will help your brain heal from addiction.

  • Write down your goal and then check it off when you are done. There is something rewarding about that checkmark.

  • Reward yourself when you complete a big task, like the garage. Reward yourself with something relaxing or fun that you will do when it is completed.

Recovery happens through small, consistent daily behaviors performed over time. You will increasingly feel more confident. Engage your pre-frontal cortex by not putting off until tomorrow something that you can do, or start on, today and live your Recovery!