If you’re the kind of procrastinator who waits until the last minute to study or start projects, and you'd like to understand the science behind it so you can stop doing it, here’s my attempt to summarize Cal Newport's scientific explanation.
Human beings are special because we can do “complex planning.” We can consider future steps and decide for ourselves if those steps are actually a good idea. The part of your brain that does that evaluation knows that waiting to study until the night before an exam is a bad idea that won’t work. So it tells you not to take that course of action. It doesn’t necessarily tell you that the better alternative is to start sooner. It just tells you not to do what you were planning to do. So your brain screams, “Waiting until the last minute to study for a big exam is bad. Don’t do it. Watch movies and eat ice cream instead!”
So the solution might not be to just force yourself to study. The solution is to have a better plan in the first place.
I've found that our students who ignore our warnings and write cliché stories in their college essays are almost always the ones who still haven’t done their first drafts as the application deadlines approach. And those students who insist on applying to ten reach schools are always doing their applications at the last minute.
Maybe they know deep down that their plans aren’t good?