Procrastination — mini Q & A

Q: I start every morning with clear intentions to complete one important task. For some reason I don’t get started and in the afternoon I’m too tired. What can I do?

A: Planning and prioritizing very much takes place in the part of the brain called prefrontal cortex. It´s an energy thirsty organ and it may run out of fuel if you delay to the afternoon. The best way to get started immediately in the morning is to, already the day before, leave office in the middle of a task. Our brain has a strong willingness to resume what we have started.

Q: When I start a new task, I usually make detailed plans of all steps upfront. I want to make sure, I don’t make any mistakes. Then I usually run out of time. Why?

A: Overplanning is not only a typical symptom of escape to procrastination, it even reduces your motivation to complete this task. Planning a task diminishes commitment to all other tasks. Planning too many subtasks in detail makes none of them seem important. Seeing all steps needed, makes you feel that it might be too hard to succeed. Commitment is undermined.

Q: I’m a notorious over-committer. Why do I always accept too many requests?

A: It’s the nature of our brains to expect more slack time in the future than in the present. Distant deadlines seems easy to meet and it makes us take on more than we can manage. It’s called time inconsistency when we have one intention when planning upfront, but change our mind when it’s time to do the task. The treatment is to make space for slack already in your planning and too clearly say ‘no’ when you won’t do a task anyway.

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