Procrastination… or, Overchoice?!
We all know the feeling. So much to do, so many places to be and things to accomplish, so we do… nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Ok, maybe not entirely nothing. We might convince someone they are wrong on the internet in a heated Facebook debate. Or, find a terribly important thing to clean thoroughly, in minute detail. Or, give ourselves repetitive strain injury because we refresh the Instagram feed so often.
Then begins the downward spiral of further overwhelm, panic, guilt and shame, leading to further overwhelm, panic, guilt and shame… Yeah. You get it.
The thing is, it might not be procrastination. Or rather, it might be procrastination due to overchoice. What’s that, you say?
Overchoice (choice overload) occurs when many equivalent choices are available, and making a decision becomes overwhelming due to the many potential outcomes and risks that may result from making the wrong choice.
Having too many approximately equally good options is mentally draining because each option must be weighed against alternatives to select the best one.
It’s very much related to Decision Fatigue – the deteriorating quality of decisions in any given day or other long session of decision making. We have a limited number of quality decision making ‘tokens’ each day, as it turns out. And when we spend them, they’re gone, til we can re-set and accrue new tokens (ie, sleep).
Author Tim Ferriss recommends a Choice Minimal Lifestyle, with 6 basic rules or formulas that can be used to limit overchoice and decision fatigue, and seriously cut down on the resulting procrastination.
- Set rules for yourself so you can automate as much decision-making as possible (see the rules I use to outsource my e-mail to Canada as an example of this)
- Don’t provoke deliberation before you can take action.
- Don’t postpone decisions or open “loops,” to use GTD parlance, just to avoid uncomfortable conversations.
- Learn to make non-fatal or reversible decisions as quickly as possible.
- Don’t strive for variation—and thus increase option consideration—when it’s not needed. Routine enables innovation where it’s most valuable.
- Regret is past-tense decision making. Eliminate complaining to minimize regret.
Why not start this path by setting a very simple set of steps you can do in an unthinking Morning Routine? Same hygiene practice, same sort of clothes (or set them out the night before, or 5 outfits ready on hangers at the weekend!), same breakfast.
Try it for 7 days, and see how you get on.