Acting in good time

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When are you most rushed?  Could you try acting well in advance?  Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Humans are built to react to things, but not necessarily to act a good time in advance.  We are natural procrastinators, only responding to things when the need to take action stares us in the face.

THE URGENT VERSUS THE IMPORTANT

This tendency means that we are more likely to attend to something that demands immediate action.  We will deal with the person who is ‘in our face’.  We will do the work if we feel that we will lose our livelihood if we do not.  The fear of immediate pain rules our lives.

This means that truly important things get relegated to second-best.  We become automatic responders to our environment, and our days become a constant series of responses to what demands our immediate attention.

WE ACT AGAINST OUR OWN INTERESTS

In doing this, we are acting against our own best interests.  We get up as late as feasibly possible.  We get to appointments just in time.  We stay up as long as possible.  We answer important questions as late as we can.  Generally, we wait until pain is imminent before we act.

The results are plain to see.  We are always rushing.  Leaving things to the last minute means that there is no room for error, and last-minute mistakes become catastrophes.  It will seem to us that we are having bad luck; but in fact we have asked for bad things to happen with our lack of planning.

LEARN WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO ACT EARLY

Some people have genuinely never had the experience of being in good time for anything.  They are so used to being just-in-time, or late, that they forget there could be another way.

If you want to start acting early, in your own interests, then you will have to get used to a different feeling.  For example:

  • getting up early will feel weird and unnatural at first, but you may clear some good me-time by doing so
  • getting to appointments early may feel similarly weird, but we may notice that we are ultimately much more relaxed
  • getting to bed early may feel like giving in, but we may notice we are more healthy and less sleep-starved
AN EXERCISE

Take a brief look at your own life, and notice where you are always rushing.

Consider how it would be if you could complete those rushed tasks so early that there is no longer a sense of rush.

Maybe have a go at changing your habits.  It could work.

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SUMMARY

Humans are, unfortunately, natural procrastinators.

This is often against our own interests, but we persist in doing things at the last possible minute.

Notice when you seem to rush most often.  Consider how you could reframe those tasks so that they are done well before they have to be.

It can feel weird at first, but provide rewards later.

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