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Terrible at decision making? Here’s how much that’s costing you

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Lauren Geall
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Putting off decisions until the last-minute could be costing you almost £450 a year – here’s how.     

We’re all guilty of a little procrastination. Let’s face it – you’re probably procrastinating by reading this article.

Whether it’s a little scroll through social media here or a bit of day-dreaming there, procrastination isn’t always a bad thing – in fact, taking time to think and do something without a purpose can help us deal with stress and anxiety, according to the Dutch concept of niksen. 

But there’s a reason the phrase “too much of a good thing” exists, unfortunately. Putting-off decisions until the last-minute may be part of your routine by now, but it could be costing you more than you think. 

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According to new research by Nationwide Building Society, leaving things to the last minute could be costing you £449 a year – that’s a massive £29,200 over a lifetime.

The national survey of 2000 UK adults revealed nearly two in three of us self-identify as procrastinators, with technology having a huge part to play in us putting things off; 24% of us check our phones to delay decision making.

And what decisions are we particularly bad at? According to the survey, 50% of those involved were paying the price for leaving it late to find gifts (probably because of those last-minute delivery charges), while not putting money into a savings account (38%) and planning holidays last minute (30%) were other things we put off doing.  

Woman procrastinating by scrolling through social media
Putting off decisions until the last-minute can quickly become an expensive business.

It’s not all our fault, however. Besides the fact that women are already slightly less-likely to leave decisions to the last-minute than men (the average cost of last-minute decisions by women drops to £325 a year), there could be more going on (for both men and women) than just sheer laziness.

Decision-making can actually become a complex psychological process for some people, especially those who suffer from anxiety, meaning even the simplest decisions become easier to put off than tackle. Research published in Clinical Psychological Science in 2017 revealed how anxiety can “significantly” reduce our intuition index, making it much harder to make rational decisions. 

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So what can we do about it? According to hypnotherapist and anxiety expert Chloe Brotheridge, there are five coping strategies we can use if we’re struggling to make decisions, including trying to accept that there is no ‘perfect’ decision and thinking positively about mistakes we’ve made in the past to help us feel calmer at the prospect of things going wrong.

So don’t feel guilty about putting things off – we all do it, and it’s not always something within your control. But if you catch yourself procrastinating and need some inspiration to do something about it, just remember there could be £450 in it if you decide to do a bit of fore-planning. 

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Images: Doctor Macro/Getty / Lead image design: Alessia Armenise

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Lauren Geall

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