I know my time is limited on this Earth, but why do I procrastinate?

If only we didn’t procrastinate, then where would we be? Would we be turning out as good of reports, products, widgets, etc.? This is a good question to explore. On the other side of the coin, how many anally retentive people do you know? Probably no one, unless they’re suffering from OCD or Asperger’s syndrome, so it doesn’t count if someone can’t control themselves. If procrastination actually improves output, why does it get a bad rap? For this answer, we’ll have to turn to risk management.

Risk management is all about prevention–now wonder the insurance industry stays in business–by using statistics and probability to calculate, assess, and assign a risk value to an event or occurrence. Psychologically, humans are risk averse–meaning we rather hold on to something if there’s a chance we will lose something–so paying insurance to provide some psychological relief is better than carrying around heavy and taxing baggage. Most important for the risk manager is avoiding and averting disaster, where the prescribed method would be using foresight and hindsight to prevent the unforeseeable risk from occurring. In this respect, starting a project early should be sufficient to effectively plan and complete a project with a greater margin of evading obstacles. What seems to be missing from this formula is the pressure that drives creativity and provides some closure to a project. I mean, without a deadline, you’ve got all the time in the world to kill. Still, experience is important in how we handle pressure. Whether we feel stressed or relaxed depends on how we react to our environment and situation. No situation is the same, however, there’s a common pattern that appears that drives us to make decisions and provide solutions based on experience. Stress is unavoidable, so we should use it to our advantage by using our creativity to transform stress into positive stress, eustress.

Cool heads always prevail in many situations, so containing first reaction by taking a step back to objectively look at a situation should be the first response. Remember, when you mother told you to count to 10 before responding? By suppressing first reactions, we can keep an open mind and keep many options on the table. On the other hand, if we respond with our initial reaction, we could become myopic creating a tunnel vision that makes finding a solution more time consuming. You are probably now thinking: how does this relate to procrastination?

Well, don’t wait to the last minute to start your project, and you might just avoid the unnecessary stress and burden that comes with every project. At a minimum, you could plan your project first before starting, which is better than doing nothing.

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