Sometimes, I get ‘stuck’. Do you know the feeling? There’s something I have to do – but I’m mindlessly scrolling Instagram, or letting Youtube autoplay, or just lying in bed staring at a spot on the ceiling. I know I have to do stuff, I’m absolutely 100% aware of my procrastination – but somehow I can’t get myself to just start. I feel a rising sense of panic, and guilt – but it’s like my brain is trapped in a body that refuses to cooperate. Internally? I’m panicking. Externally? I just keep scrolling.

Getting ‘stuck’ like this happens because there’s a difficult decision that your brain has to make. Regardless if you’re procrastinating something huge like an essay, or simple like picking your clothes up off the floor, anything that’s more difficult than mindlessly staring at a screen (which, as you can imagine, is most things) requires a lot of willpower to get yourself to do. You have to force yourself to do something more unpleasant – and the emotion-driven, primal, irrational part of your brain thinks doing something more unpleasant sounds like a very stupid idea. It’s so, so easy to just keep scrolling. It’s pretty much like getting out of bed in the morning –  an action that seems simple, but is so hard to get yourself to do because it’s a lot nicer being in bed than being out of it. Even though you know you have to do it eventually, you lie in for another 10 minutes, just to put off the inevitable decision.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to get around this is to trick my brain into productivity. When I’m faced with a task that I don’t want to do, or anytime I catch myself thinking ‘I’ll do it later’, I start counting down from three to one. 3, 2, 1. And when I get to one, I have to immediately stop whatever I’m doing and start doing the task. Sounds stupidly simple, right? But it really makes a difference. It works, because our brains are a bit stupid. And lazy. They need a cue to get going, a ‘kickstart’. Counting down gives us that cue – without it, we get stuck in an endless loop, with no signals to stop. And as you may have heard, starting is the hardest part – once you get going, the rest will be much easier.

Kate is a Year 12 student from Canterbury. She enjoys music, languages, sunny days, and a good book.

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