According to research, c 24% of people say that they are chronic procrastinators although I would suggest, after 17 years of coaching senior executives, that this figure is on the low side.
Back in the 1920s, Bluma Zeigarnik did some research based on watching waiters work patterns in Austria. She noticed that once people paid their bills, the waiters found it incredibly difficult to remember the order whereas if the bill was still ‘open’, they had total recall. She noted that if you start an activity, you experience some anxiety until it is completed. Once it is done, the mind can move on and focus on new activities.
This is important for procrastinators as they often say that they keep putting off tasks as they feel overwhelmed by the size or complexity of the situation. However, if they break the task down into very small, manageable components and get started – even 5 minutes at a time, they are much more likely to keep the momentum and get it done.
If there’s something on your list that you have been putting off (perhaps your tax return?!), can you divide what you need to collate and just take 5 minutes to get started. It’s worth a try.