• July 12th, 2020

Weekly takeaway with Lawrence Kamwi - What is the flip side of procrastination?


Reading through responses to last week’s article, I notice that readers feel that one question still needs an answer; what is the flip side of procrastination? 
While they have accepted that “procrastination is the thief of time,” they also point out to the equally engaging truths in “measure twice, cut once,” and “look before you leap.”  Consequently, the readers ask whether the weekly takeaway is suggesting hasty decision-making.
Last week’s column admittedly cautioned against the snare of slow, indecisive, and deleterious decision-making. It is, however, important to note that some of life’s encounters do not have easy solutions.

 In such circumstances, and given that decisions are not made in a vacuum, there is significant pressure to seek greater clarity and understanding, in order to enable correct, effective, and sustainable decision-making. 
Organisational effectiveness expert Allison Vaillancourt writes that, “you know that if you act too rashly, you could do some serious damage. At the same time, you recognise that if you act too slowly, you could make your situation even worse.”
 The Covid-19 environment, with its mandated hygiene and social distancing measures, has challenged the world with a new mass of uncharted waters. The global community has been encouraged to not only accept fast-moving shifts in cultural norms, societal values, and behaviours, but to acknowledge the inevitable need for reinvention and adaptation as well. 

The other side of procrastination is, therefore, not equivalent to making rapid decisions that run the risk of using imperfect information. The simultaneous public health and economic challenges have shown that both an insufficiency and overload of information pose serious obstacles to decision-making. 

Psychology professors David Rosenbaum and Edward Wasserman agree that procrastination is a “well-known and serious behavioural problem involving both practical and psychological implications”. However, they caution that its opposite can also be a serious problem.  They refer to a phenomenon called pre-crastination, and describe it as “a symptom of our harried (badgered and tormented) lives”.
They argue that if to procrastinate is to “put off doing something,” its opposite suggests “to deal with something beforehand.” The danger with this approach – which they equate to rushing for low-hanging fruit – is that the deadline becomes salient and overlooks the magnitude of the task.
  The Association of Psychological Science says pre-crastination, or the “mere urgency effect,” characterises people who rush to get things done even if they have to expend extra effort on decision-making. 

Author Kescia Gray writes that, “making decisions is a method that must be learned ... a step by step process that is usually ascertained from life experiences. Decisions are difficult because they are life-changing situations; they shape who we are, and they shape our future.”
 It is often argued with justification that a good way to make informed decisions is to sift through all available information and evidence, and to carefully weigh all the possible outcomes of a situation. It is also useful to consider perspectives and opinions that would ordinarily be seen as oppositional and anathema.
At the end of the day, it is a relief to remember that decisions can be revised or reversed. Although it is not the highest aspiration, the option is a useful part of decision-making and explains the value of such widely-used terms as test-runs, trial-period, pilot-programmes, and phased-approaches. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides suggested that, “the risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.”


Staff Reporter
2020-06-19 09:47:55 | 23 days ago

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