We all procrastinate, whether we choose to watch Netflix over studying, or go online to shop rather than pay bills. Although these tasks need to be done, we have a tendency to put them off. Some of us are more prone to procrastinating than others. What's the cause — and what can you do to boost your willpower?

Science suggests it has to do with the internal battle between the brain's limbic system and the prefrontal cortex.

In BrainCraft's latest video, “Are You a Chronic Procrastinator?” host Vanessa Hill explains that the limbic system is involved in emotion, motivation, and reward, while the prefrontal cortex handles executive function, planning, problem solving, and paying attention. These two are constantly in a “tug-of-war” with one another when it comes to doing undesirable tasks. For example, when we're washing the dishes, the limbic system immediately reacts, and tries to push us to do something less important like watching funny YouTube videos.

American psychologist Joseph Ferrari said, “We all procrastinate, but we aren't all procrastinators.” In his research, Ferrari found approximately 20 percent of people are what he defines as procrastinators — those who chronically procrastinate. Chronic procrastinators tend to have lower executive function in skills like planning, task initiation, behavioral inhibition, and organization.

This explains why some people's limbic systems may win that neural tug-of-war more than others. In a 2001 study that tracked students for semester, researchers found those who procrastinated initially reported lower levels of stress, but by the end of the semester, procrastinators ended up with, on average, lower grades, higher levels of stress and higher incidents of illness. The students didn't do well under pressure, and the stress caused by procrastinating made them more prone to getting sick

So, how can chronic procrastinators rewire their brain?

Setting personal deadlines is one way to help us get things done; external deadlines are even better. However, if deadlines don’t work, try to reframe the situation. Paying bills can be boring, but having your finances in check can help you feel more relaxed, and accomplishing a task just as good as avoiding one.

The negative emotions and consequences of procrastination, such as receiving an overdue bill notice and having no electricity, could be enough to teach the limbic system that procrastination is bad. This makes us less likely to procrastinate in the future.

Procrastination is tempting, but the more we put off something, the more it will loom over our heads in the future.