A Friday thought on a Sunday

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today!

As I type my Friday thought on a Sunday afternoon I am given to thinking about procrastination.  The thief of time it is often said.  In the main I would agree.  So many times we waste time, miss opportunities or lose efficiencies by simply not acting in a timely manner.  I can think of many examples at work where I have put something off until the last minute, only to find it is less of a job than I thought and wish I had done it ages ago.  Then I am given to think of all the occasions where I have not acted immediately and put off an action.  Then when I come to perform the task, I approach it completely differently to how I first thought.  With the benefit of hindsight, I look back at my initial plan and recognise that I had a lucky escape and have now acted in a far more considered and balanced way.

So, is procrastination such a bad thing after all?

Sadly, yes it is.  However, taking time for further consideration or a little introspection is often worthwhile and allows you to perform at a much higher level than could be achieved by simply acting on instinct.

While we would all agree that decisions and actions should be based on facts and an assessment of these, we must also accept that we all act differently and bring our own personality to work and business.  Given the same set of facts and information, different managers will act in different ways.  So what can introspection bring to the table here?

Let’s ask Wiki: “Introspection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state……”

So while taking time to consider one’s initial judgement or gut feeling, take a look at what you were doing at the time.  What else was on your mind, what had you just been doing before making the decision and what mood were you in?  Moreover, think about the personalities involved, did you reach a conclusion based more on the people involved than the facts? 

If the process of introspection is alien to you, why not search the term and get a few tips on how to go about it?  Simple tips like vocalising your thoughts out loud, or quantifying your mood elements will help you discover what your true decision drivers were.  Once you have been through this process and revisited the facts available you will either confirm your gut reaction or arrive at a different course of action that proves more fruitful.  In each case you have added value.

This takes time, so when do I do it and when do I go with my gut?

There is no hard-and-fast rule as to when introspection will add value to your work.  Like everything in life we need to exercise a little judgement.  For insignificant choices, don’t waste time examining your conscience or mood.  When choosing a new hole-punch for your desk, it matters not if you choose the wrong one, it will still punch holes.  Likewise, if the building is on fire and your team ask what to do, “Get out, stay out and get the fire brigade out!” is probably going to be appropriate.  No need to question your motives in this case.  It is the area in between where we often need to take the time.  So if you instinctively know you have a decision to make, the outcome is significant and you have time to deliver your response, try a little introspection.  Make a quick judgement and then test this later and analyse the version of you that made this judgement.

Some people have a natural inclination to introspect and may need to dial it back a little in order to get things done.  If you find you get lots done but it doesn’t always turn out for the best, maybe you need to spend a little time examining yourself and your thoughts.

So, on Friday whilst on holiday I was going to post a simple meme about contentment as my Friday thought.  I decided to reflect on this and concluded I was just re-pasting someone else’s thought in order to minimise the interruption to my family time.  So, having taken a little time to consider my thoughts I hope my offering today is more edifying!



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