So naturally I raised the question with my own psychologist. And she told me that Piers is right. My procrastination problem isn’t due to perfectionism at all, it’s down mostly to impulsiveness. That’s deeply counter-intuitive, but it means I have a tendency to veer off into doing easier or more pleasurable tasks, instead of doing the important or pressing ones. I do what is pleasurable right now, instead of doing the difficult thing now to avoid discomfort and to enjoy pleasure later.
She pointed me towards a survey I could do online which, as if to prove her point, I started as soon as I got home but then found I had to create an online account to complete it, so I put it off until later and watched something on Netflix instead. And I still haven’t done the survey.
But my therapist did try to assure me I do not have too much to worry about, despite the stress that stems from my procrastination problem. Chronic procrastinators often can be paralysed by indecision, and while I often find it a difficult hurdle to clear, I’m not yet at that stage. It does happen to someone I know, so I understand the implications, and it is a serious issue. Luckily, she has friends who know all about it and can help when it gets particularly bad. The usual sign that it’s happening is when she disappears from social media for more than 48 hours.
The question for procrastinators is why the anxiety that often accompanies the condition isn’t more of a spur to action – you know, actually doing something about it, in a timely manner, to avoid the stress and anxiety that inevitably results. That’s something I have not yet got to the bottom of, but I’m working on it. Who knows, someday I might get around to writing about it.