Procrastination. It’s simply about your brain doing mathematics.

Do you wanna know how to turn the result into action instead?

Angela Shurina
7 min readAug 30, 2022

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It’s not your fault. It’s your brain doing what it’s designed to do — ensuring your survival. That’s why you and I are alive today. The brain is pretty good at that.

If I was paid for every time people ask me, as a coach who helps people do things consistently, “Angela, how do I do things consistently? How do I stop procrastinating on the important things?” — I’d be the richest person in the world instead of Elon Musk.

How DO we indeed stop procrastinating on the things we want to get done? Get done consistently?

BRAIN’S PRIMARY PURPOSE aka what your brain is busy about the whole day

For whatever reason, I see brain performance indicators like motivation, focus, procrastination, and flow states as equations, ratios, and formulas. Maybe, it has to do with my background in computer science, love for calculations and precision, my musical and art background, which allows me to connect things in a more creative, non-straightforward way. Whatever the reason — this is how I see it, and current neuroscience research seems to agree.

I read this book a few weeks ago “7 1/2 lessons about the brain”, and it reminded me of the fact that the brain indeed loves mathematics. More specifically calculations about energy. The energy that we have, the energy that we spend, predictions and forecasting about possible energy spending in the near and distant futures.

“You can think about energy efficiency like a budget. A financial budget tracks money as it’s earned and spent. A budget for your body similarly tracks resources like water, salt, and glucose as you gain and lose them. Each action that spends resources, such as swimming or running, is like a withdrawal from your account. Actions that replenish your resources, such as eating and sleeping, are like deposits. This is a simplified explanation, but it captures the key idea that running a body requires biological resources. Every action you take (or don’t take) is an economic choice — your brain is guessing when to spend resources and when to save them. The best way to keep to a financial budget, as you may know from personal experience, is to avoid surprises — to anticipate your financial needs before they arise and make sure you have the resources to meet them. The same is true of a body budget.”

The brain is always calculating this energy equation as neuroscientists share. In fact, they say, it’s the brain’s primary purpose — to make sure we don’t run out of energy for life. If we do — we die. For any cell to function, for our heart to beat, for our brain to think, for our body to move us through space — we need energy. There’s no life without energy. Life itself is the quest for energy first, and then the rest of the deeper stuff — from the meaning of our life to running a purposeful business, that makes the world better. Energy always comes first. It’s the quest of the whole humanity, the quest for energy and not running out of it.

WHY WE PROCRASTINATINE… sometimes

Back to the brain, neuroscience, procrastination, and how you can improve your brain’s mathematics to make sure that you actually do DO what you plan to move things forward in life and business. Without action, no matter how much you believe in the law of attraction — no action, no change, no results.

Why do we procrastinate? Why do we procrastinate on some things, sometimes but not on other things, not other times?

What does our brain try to do every day? — Make sure we don’t run out of energy to live.

How does it do it? — Based on our life experience, the brain, having gathered all the data from your body and outside environment, concludes that some action will either cost you, making your energy balance sink, or it will bring you a reward, that tops up your energy balance.

You’d ask, “Angela, but any action takes energy, except for food and rest, why do we still take some non-food-related actions and not others?”

And you are right, a legitimate question.

Our brain is quite smart and it can think long-term.

🧠Inside of your brain: “Does this piece of writing have the potential to earn rewards that translate into status, rest, money, food — the things that top up my energy balance?” Only if the answer is YES — we get into action.

“When it came to body budgeting, prediction beat reaction. A creature that prepared its movement before the predator struck was more likely to be around tomorrow than a creature that awaited a predator’s pounce. Creatures that predicted correctly most of the time, or made nonfatal mistakes and learned from them, did well.”

When you decide to take any action, it’s because your brain believes the reward will eventually top up your energy account or will give you a better chance to do so at some point in the future.

When you procrastinate — your brain concluded (without consulting you), that the reward is gonna drain your energy account, possibly threatening your survival. As a result, you don’t get any “fuel” (brain’s chemicals, actual energy released etc) to get things done. As a result, you delay the action, basically, you procrastinate.

It’s not your fault. It’s your brain doing what it’s designed to do — ensuring your survival. That’s why you and I are alive today. The brain is pretty good at that.

In our complex life, the brain doesn’t always do a perfect job though. Things are simply too complex. Hard to predict. There’s not enough clarity about energy costs and rewards. The world got too confusing, ambiguous, and too fast-paced. Especially when you try something new in your life — your brain has no experience with that, and it keeps you on the safe side with procrastination, just in case, to save energy.

ANTI-PROCRASTINATION BRAIN TALK

How do you get around that?

I got so good at that! I love teaching this to my genius but sometimes procrastinating clients.

You simply talk to your brain to make the reward seem bigger and the costs smaller, to skew the energy equation into a favorable outcome — ACTION.

(You can watch a detailed video of me explaining it all when you sign up for my free Brain Breakthrough newsletter HERE)

But let me walk you through one example here to illustrate it.

EXAMPLE:

Let’s say you consistently procrastinate on consistent exercise practice.

Exercise is energy-demanding. No doubt about it. Your brain knows it. It’s easier to sit on the couch and eat more, or do something more low-key like walking than to go lift weights, or sprint for HIIT training. It’s easier. Of course! Nothing wrong with your brain. Nothing is broken there.

Let’s talk to your brain to help you exercise.

THE TALK:

Exercise will make me fitter (no lack of data supporting it).

Exercise will make my brain work better (again, a ton of data supporting this).

Exercise will increase my motivation to pursue more resources (through dopamine and other pathways) — I’ll get to be a better “hunter.”

Exercise will give me a chance to get better and more mates.

Exercise will make me better at work and in my business. I’ll get more money, more rest, more food, more respect and status… and getting laid opportunities.

You get the idea — keep boosting, pumping up the reward. Look at the examples of people who have the life you want, the life you admire — they probably all exercise! It’s life-changing!

That’s how we make the reward bigger for our brain calculus to be “pro-action”.

But how do we make the costs appear smaller to crush procrastination even more powerfully?

Simplify the first step, make the process easier and simpler, start small, make it clear, chunk it down.

Instead of starting with some crazy exercise routine — start with 10–15 minutes. Grab some easy simple YouTube workouts. Use your body weight at first. Get some simple weights for home workouts. Whichever is the simplest first step — choose it and start there. Consistency first — intensity second.

Now the cost got THAT much smaller. The reward grew exponentially.

The calculation changed.

And you get a green light from your brain — GO! Lift and get us all the rewards we care about, all the money, mates and food.

And you can do it for writing, for creating social media posts, for starting your business, for eating healthier, for asking someone out, for going to bed earlier for…

Anything.

Once you get into the practice of turning your procrastination into a drive to act — there’s literally nothing you won’t be able to talk yourself into.

The brain listens — you just never talked to it in the right way.

Think of the things other people consider challenging but you are able to do them. I bet in your head, there’s a connection to a big reward and you consider costs small or insignificant.

Have you tried something similar in your life when you were able to talk yourself into something you didn’t want to do at first? How did you do that? Wasn’t it the same exact process?

DO THIS NOW:

▶️Take one action you’ve been procrastinating on and use this process. Having troubles? Book a call with me, your brain coach — we’ll do it together for more complex situations.

▶️Additional tools: sign up for my brand new Brain Breakthrough Newsletter and get my 3-video series on Focus, Motivation, Procrastination mastery.

🙂THANK YOU FOR READING! DO GREAT THINGS.

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Angela Shurina

Founder Coach. Neuroscience + Biohacking + Productivity "Unstoppable Founder Blueprint" : https://brainbreakthroughcoach.com/ceo-health-reset-360/