You tell your friend you can’t meet for drinks tonight because you’re too busy. You cancel your morning meeting because you’re already running late on completing your project.
Finally, you have a full day ahead of you. Hours pass and you have done plenty of things — but not the project that pushed you to push aside everything else.
Your boss and colleagues probably think you’re lazy, you figure. You think you’re lazy. You spend more time preparing for your project rather than beginning it.
The situation above may seem familiar. Sure, there are times when laziness is the reason for not getting something done, but more often the root of procrastination is fear, says British philosopher and author Alain de Botton on his website, The Book of Life.
“We begin to work only when the fear of doing nothing at all exceeds the fear of not doing it very well … And that can take time,” he writes.
The only way to overcome this habit, then, is to abandon the accompanying habit of perfectionism. Instead of wasting time planning around and preparing for your project, find a way to begin it. Do not fuss over details as you move forward.
An imperfectly done task is better than an unfinished task.
The Book of Life’s parent organization, The School of Life, produced a short animated video that outlines de Botton’s thoughts on the subject: