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Procrastination: Is It All in Your Head?
July 11, 2022
Only with heightened coping skills will we be able to rise above our shell shock and be who we want to be. All of us have the capacity to do this, and when we do, we will increase our own happiness and be of greater service to those around us.
-Mary Piper, psychologist and author

In case you’re putting off other tasks by reading ExchangeEveryDay, I’ll try to keep this brief: According to the BBC, researchers have identified two parts of the brain involved in procrastination. "This study provides physiological evidence of the problem procrastinators have with emotional control," says Professor Tim Pychyl, from Carleton University, Ottawa, "It shows how the emotional centers of the brain can overwhelm a person's ability for self-regulation."

"Individuals with a larger amygdala may be more anxious about the negative consequences of an action - they tend to hesitate and put off things," according to Erhan Genç, one of the study authors, based at Ruhr University Bochum. They also found more procrastination in those with weaker connections from the amgydala to the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which takes signals from the amygdala and helps the body decide how to respond.

Pychyl feels optimistic about brain plasticity. "Research has already shown that mindfulness meditation is related to amygdala shrinkage." Appreciative Inquiry, as a form of mindfulness, holds promise. In the Exchange Reflections "Appreciative Inquiry for a More Positive Professional Life," Ellen Drolette shares five principles for appreciative inquiry. The poetic principle "states that what we focus on grows. When we focus on something we are genuinely passionate about, like a project, advocacy for the early care and education field, or a child who needs early intervention, we find joy and confidence in pursuing that goal."

Exchange Reflections

Exchange Reflections are designed to help a team of people meet in-person or live online to think deeply together about a topic using an article from Exchange magazine as a guide. Included are discussion questions to help guide reflections, as well as a "Making Commitments" idea sheet to help prompt ideas into action. For your convenience, Exchange Reflections are available in PDF format and you can download immediately on your desktop.


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