What causes procrastination?
I think it is fear. Fear that I won't be able to complete the task - or do it well enough. Fear that it may involve me getting my hands dirty or have repercussions. Fear that it may attract criticism. Fear that it may turn out not to have been necessary after all and I've spent hours of misery on it.
We all know that we should write a "to do" list. Trouble is I put that off because I have a nasty feeling that it may turn out to have 150 items on it. Even when I've crossed off all the non-essential items there will still be more than I can finish today and several items that I am incapable of doing - or just too scared.
I actually read a whole book about procrastination once. It was called "Do it now". It did help a bit - it said that you should take a big scary task and break it down into tiny steps. E.g. You have a long report to write: Step 1 - switch on PC, Step 2 - Type a working title for the report, Step 3 - add your name, the date and any header and footer information, Step 4 - Save the file. This method works well when applied to something that you are good at - in my case, writing reports.
The method doesn't work well when applied to things that you are genuinely scared of because it is almost impossible to write the list as it makes you feel uncomfortable. E.g. filling in my tax return - I can't get past the line, 'Get tax return'.
There is another deadly cause - indecisiveness. If there are alternatives and you can't choose which one to take then you are effectively making a choice. Your choice is to do nothing. And the consequences of doing nothing are those that you will face.
Whenever you write a list of alternative actions to take, "Do Nothing" should always be top of the list. Firstly because that is what you are probably going to do. Secondly, because you need to think hard about whether the consequences of doing nothing are so bad that you are really going to HAVE to take action. E.g. if I don't fill in my tax return I will be fined £100 in January with further tax penalties to come.
Well, as you can see I know far more about this topic than is healthy. It must be obvious to you that I don't do very much. My question for you is, do you do very much? If so, why are you reading this?