Most of us tend to think procrastination is simply down to laziness and poor time management. But researchers have found that it’s actually fuelled by weakness in the face of impulse, teamed with a failure to think about thinking.
If you’ve ever recorded TV programmes to watch later but never go around to it, leaving them to gather dust while you record more and more, you’ll recognise the impulse. There’s always something more exciting to record, so you chase the rainbow. We honestly believe we’ll eventually do what’s best for ourselves, but we rarely do it. Psychologists call it ‘present bias’.
The same goes for lists. They’re great for keeping your business life in order but if you find yourself moving list items forward to the next day for weeks on end, you’re experiencing present bias, unable to admit that what you want now isn’t the same thing you’ll want later. We all do it to one degree or another, whatever we do for a living.
One way to overcome the paralysis is to think about the way you’re thinking, so you can catch yourself procrastinating and nip it in the bud before it goes too far. As David McRaney says in his book about the ways we fool ourselves, You Are Not So Smart, “Your effort is better spent out-smarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push-ups’.
If you’ve been meaning to get your VAT house in order since this April, don’t put it off until next March. Beat the procrastination blues by getting me in to train you and/or your staff in the niceties of VAT (and a host of related subjects) or ask me about VAT consultancy. But if you can’t get round to even doing that, then send the paperwork to me. My bookkeepers and others in the “Outsourced Finance Department” will do it for you….Simples!