Procrastination is an ugly word

Putting things off is a bad habit and also widespread. A survey of 2000 UK adults published in The Times on 19th February showed that 75% were serial procrastinators.
Apparently we all choose to tackle low priority tasks ahead of more important ones, and tend to do more enjoyable things first. Nor is it that we don’t know that it’s a bad idea. Psychologists tell us that we know that we are going to be worse off if we choose to delay important projects.
It seems to be a deep-seated characteristic rather than just errant behaviour. In that respect it is like being an owl rather than a lark, a pessimist rather than an optimist, or a blamer as opposed to a pacifier. We have neuroplasticity to account for this. We learn how and when to do things (or not). We develop habits. The subconscious takes over, and we become hard-wired to exhibit habitual behaviour, which often turns out to be negative.
Nor is this just down to laziness. It also seems to relate to anxiety and lack of self-confidence – and extreme caution.
As a bit of an obsessive on the subject of decision making, I worry about procrastination, and have been looking at possible cures – lest the 75% of people who put things off all become poor deciders.
Here’s my short list of possible remedies:
1. Put pen to paper. Don’t just agonise. Make some notes. Plot the task – the goal, the sticking points, the options ahead of you, with upsides and downsides
2. Use your imagination to envisage having made the decision or completed the task. How does that feel? Does it give you some clues about getting around the obstacles
3. At least make a start. Start thinking in earnest. Give the document a name and start typing. It is so much easier completing a task than starting from scratch
4. If you can see a series of problems, look really hard for an equal and opposite opportunity. Identifying and realising an opportunity beats the hell out of mere problem-solving
5. But sometimes we do have to wrestle with particularly intransigent problems. My advice to you if you are faced by one such at the moment: choose a lesser problem and solve that. It will warm up your brain for dealing with the big one
6. Finally remember that the whole point of decision making is to make a decision! It doesn’t have to be the final, ultimate, defining decision. Just embarking on lap one of the decision making journey will do for now. Don’t put it off. Make the right decision – at least for now. And then manage it through by making it as right as possible.