Indecision and tendency to procrastinate manifest themselves in various forms, but the reason behind this behavior is always the same: reaction to the perception of a threat.
In practice, a part of our brain has not kept pace with the change that has taken place around us: certain behaviors are no longer necessary to keep us alive. What is still positive about procrastination is that we can analyze why we do it: understanding the mechanism that triggers it tells us what we are afraid of.
Perfectionism is often considered an asset, but it can be a blockage that we activate to protect ourselves from the fear of failure. The paradox is that we are perfectly imperfect and the push towards “is never enough”, instead of helping us to do better, can only hinder us.
Don’t label yourself as a procrastinator. Instead, think about strengthening your skills in the area where you are best. The muscle of the decision must be trained and you know in which field you can be decisive, practice in that. Build your decision muscle, success after success.
What does it mean to pre-crastinate and how to avoid doing it
You will have experienced the feeling of having to do something immediately, immediately, something that distracts you from what you are doing, that you know perfectly well that you have to finish. Reply to emails while you’re writing your presentation, tidy up the drawers while you’re reading a report.
It’s called pre-crastinating, and it’s a trick that gives us a good excuse for not doing what we know we have to do, it gives us the illusion of being busy. The rule to apply is Start Now. It takes more energy to start doing something than to continue doing it: a moving body tends to stay moving, and a stationary body to stay still.
Stop pre-crastinating, don’t give yourself the chance to move things just to postpone the time to really start.
Who is the easiest person to lie to? Yourself. Pre-crastination is a relative of active procrastination, which leads you to act, to create yourself a busy day without really “doing” something.
We often deceive ourselves by putting small or unimportant activities on the to-do list: doing them takes time, it keeps us busy. Uselessly. You have to take control and stop this sadistic part of yourself that forces you to waste energy for no good reason. Start Now with something important and high priority.
Don’t put it off until tomorrow. The things you leave on one side grow and become more complex to deal with. However, the decision not to do is a decision.
Jumping from one activity to another is penalizing
The illusion of moving forward and being busy is the reason why we often have many activities started at the same time and jump from one to the other. This behavior is harmful because it wastes energy, like a computer with too many software open, your head is not working as it should.
Each time you switch from one activity to another, the jump in context will cost you time: Gloria Mark, in her “The cost of interrupted labor”, quantifies this jump in an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow the state of intrinsic motivation in which a person is fully immersed in what he is doing, to the point of losing the sense of time. Once you are in this condition, the activity that is being carried out quickly flows to its conclusion.
Our brain hates to be interrupted. In a moment he loses track of what he was doing. Even if you feel there is something else urgent to do, you must resist the temptation to stop, stay focused. You have to concentrate the energy all in one place, and this also applies to private life.
Many people are afraid of missing important opportunities and move from one thing to another, from one interest to another, from one relationship to another, repeating the same pattern throughout their lives. Avoid distractions, isolate yourself and try to keep the flow state for as long as possible.
There are no big decisions but many small decisions
Let’s dispel this belief: the decisions are not great, individual events that change our life in a moment, are the starting point of a path that requires commitment, energy and time to achieve what has been decided.
It is estimated that an adult makes 35,000 – barely aware – decisions per day, almost 3,000 of them are related to food. Big decisions are built from many small decisions that got you there. If you decide to break a relationship, you don’t go from loving to not loving in a nanosecond.
It takes months, if not years, of small questions, feelings, decisions, which will lead you to break. We tend to place too much weight on decisions as they were big.
The thing to do is reduce the size of the decisions, breaking them into gradual decisions, so that if one of them is wrong it will not be a hindrance to the global project. Start making more – small – decisions.
The things we worry about rarely really happen
Think about how many times you have a fight with someone … only in your head! Stop imagining the most terrible scenarios, imagine people judging you.
Stop thinking that the results of your actions are permanent, contextualize and dismantle your imaginary fears. Stop living in the past, reworking what has happened, and stop living in the future, giving body to your fears. Make a decision, and let what has to happen happen, knowing that you can correct and control it.
Living in the past often means confronting today with the then, which generates nostalgia, resentment, guilt. Stop the past from influencing and damaging your future by charging yourself with negative emotions. Consider that, according to a Northwestern University study, your memory of an event is not truly the memory of that event, but a reenactment of the last reenactment of that event. The more times we evoke it, the greater the chance that we will change it.
What others think of you shouldn’t affect your actions. If you spend your life doing things by examining them as if they were submitted to the judgment of others, you will never be as authentic as you could.
We spend an average of 1 hour and 50 minutes a day, 12 hours and 53 minutes a week, 4 years and 11 months of adulthood up to 64 years of age worrying and making decisions – or putting them off – to please others. But, as Churchill said, “If you stop and throw stones at every barking dog, you’ll never get to your destination.”
People will judge, however, worrying about it is just a waste of time.
What are polarized sensations?
We often experience polarized sensations: one part of us wants one thing, the other is opposed. We would like to go to the gym, but a part of us keeps us from doing it.
This creates frustration or worse, paralysis. But polarization is natural, every human being proves it, and can be used as an advantageous tool to clarify and investigate the facts before making a decision. What happens if you decide not to decide? There are questions that you won’t be able to answer in your entire life if you don’t start making decisions right now.
You make the best possible decisions based on the context in which you find yourself, the knowledge, resources and experiences you have. You will never intentionally make bad decisions. Most decisions are not final, and in many cases you can radically change them.
If you are in doubt about a difficult decision, try to establish a link with your world view, with your reference values. How does the decision you are making respect or go against your core values?
Every decision, good or bad, and even every non-decision, is a step in the dark. Waiting until the facts are no longer outlined is often the worst thing to do. Remember that every good decision contains many decisions, some of which are certainly wrong.
The paradox of choice: just reduce it!
Barry Schwartz demonstrated in his “The paradox of choice: because more is less” that the abundance of possibilities to choose from creates frustration and indecision; the more the number of things to choose from grows, the more people become paralyzed and prefer to do nothing.