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.
Reducing the number of choices helps save energy for “real” decisions. Prepare the clothes you will wear tomorrow, put the keys and other small items that you tend to lose in the same place, group similar activities to do them all at once, like buying Christmas gifts (in advance!) Or answering e-mail.
Keep a diary that allows you to manage your day, carefully writing down things to do in an orderly checklist.
Avoid putting yourself under pressure to avoid increasing your chances of making mistakes
The pressure increases the chances of making a mistake, as football players are well aware that they must take a penalty. Saying yourself, or being told “Don’t go wrong” increases exponentially the chances of things going wrong.
The unconscious and automatic stress response influences the heartbeat, lowers blood sugar and oxygen levels and decreases the capacity of our brain.
Things to do are:
- Remove the stay : you can change your decision at any time. It is not permanent;
- Decrease the importance, look at the thing for what it is : the Presidents must make decisions for which people die, yours are nowhere near as serious;
- Balances expectations : the more unrealistic, the more difficult it is to manage the situation;
- Break your big goal into small goals , imagine the “how” while you do it, not before you do it.
You are incredibly full of resources and creativity, start now, perfect later. It is never too late to start, but it is always too late to wait.
The muscle of the decision must be trained and one of the best ways is to get help: find a mentor, ask for advice from those who are more experienced than you. Learn from everyone, keep your eyes and ears open, and your mouth shut.
Resoluteness is a key word. It is a pre-requisite for success, being resolute will help you increase your ability to make decisions.
Prioritize important things
Don’t waste time on small activities. Parkinson’s law says that the work expands to fill all the time we make available to it to be done.
Giving small businesses a lot of time is uneconomical. There are no activities of the same weight: prioritize carefully and postpone what is not important. There are many schemes that can help you, but the easiest thing is to start with a list made from post-it notes that you can edit without problems.
Don’t waste time with activities that you can make others do. The art of delegation is also the art of knowing how to “let go”. There are tasks that you may like to do, but that you don’t have to do firsthand if you want to grow in professional life, as in private life.
Thomas Edison is said to have done about 10,000 experiments to fine-tune the light bulb, but that’s not the case: Edison turned to the Menlo Park research laboratory. When you wonder how to do something, replace “how” with “who”. Who has experience to do it? Who can do it quickly? Who has already done this?
Not all people manage to wake up at dawn
Don’t feel guilty if you can’t get up at 5 in the morning: not all of these are peak energy hours. You may be one of the people who needs 8 hours of sleep per night, and trying to reduce them to 7 or 6 can only make you less efficient.
Experiment and find your best hours and schedule key activities in that range. Getting to know you can take time, but once you do, you can truly manage your time in the most effective way.
The tomato technique to improve concentration and productivity
It is a method of organizing work based on periods of time of high focus and short interruptions. In practice, you will work for 25 minutes without giving yourself distractions and then you will do a short interval, repeating the cycle until you complete the activity you have set yourself.
How to be creative
It is easier than you think. Creativity is simply knowing how to balance what you know with what you don’t know, what is tangible with what is not.
Here is a list of methods you can apply:
- Listen to (or read) creative people, attend their seminars, get inspired by their words;
- Isolated from noise, interference, distractions and let ideas come to the surface;
- Speak less, listen more;
- Study innovation;
- Travel and get in touch with different cultures;
- Write: put your ideas on paper, observe them and improve them.
Setting deadlines helps you meet them
Set deadlines as often as you can for the activities you need or want to do. Even if you fail to hit them, you will still have done much of the work in an attempt to do so.
Give yourself rewards and punishments, choosing from the things you love or hate the most. Announce deadline: tell someone you will do a certain thing by a certain date, taking on the challenge will add motivation.
You cannot blame the world that breaks into your workspace and interrupts your activities: it’s up to you to keep the door closed and leave the distractions out of the room.
The fear of being cut off: FOMO
The acronym FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out. This fear is a strong limit to the ability to progress and be successful, as it leads to making decisions based on the opinion of others, what others are doing, not to be based on research and logic, but on envy, revenge and Lego.
If you feel that FOMO is strong in you at the moment when you are deciding something, it is better to wait, distance yourself and then decide on the basis of balance and experience.
The process that limits risks
The time invested in the decision must be proportional to the result that the decision will bring. Use a scale of 1 to 5 to manage this principle.
To limit the risks, use a cyclical process:
- Research (75%). Learn, prepare, but don’t over-analyze;
- Take tests . Testing takes less risk than doing;
- Check : look at the result, find out what’s good and what needs to be improved;
- Refine ;
- Repeat .
The right balance between intuition and information
The balance between intuition and information is delicate, it is about getting the best out of “what comes spontaneously from your heart” and what you can learn. The first is important to decide when it comes to moral dilemmas, situations that have to do with people, things you know well.
Information is important when it comes to analytical contexts, data, automation, technology, money.
Learn to change your mind
It sounds incredible, but some people just can’t say this: “You’re right, I’m wrong, thank you.” The sooner you manage to change your mind when faced with a wrong choice, the less impact your mistake will have.
Learn to rest and play
You can’t work hard if you don’t recover energy and emotional control and you don’t allow creativity to develop. In the same way, it is necessary to stop from time to time to clean and renew one’s physical and mental spaces.
On these occasions, a “vacuum” will be created which will be available for new things and ideas.
Choose carefully your commitments to respect the word given
Your credibility is important, don’t make commitments too easily. Choose your commitments carefully: think above all why you choose to do one thing. Respecting your commitments also means respecting the time and emotions of other people and is fundamental for your reputation.
Stop thinking, start doing it. Stop asking too many opinions. Don’t look behind your back, start early, as soon as possible, stop making excuses, GOYA Get Off Your Ass (raise your butt) and JFDI Just F’in do it (Just do it).