The procrastination syndrome — Lionesses of Africa

by Marjon Meyer

Procrastination can become a lifestyle. A very unsatisfactory one, in fact. It makes us feel guilty and unaccomplished.  Are you a expert? To be honest, I have been delaying – thus procrastinating – writing this article.  My life has a renewed sense of busyness after living slow during the pandemic.  There are several tasks on my to-do list that evade getting done … they even haunt me at times.

So what does this P-word mean? Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, despite knowing that there will be negative consequences for doing so.  This is done by usually by focusing on less urgent, more enjoyable, and easier activities instead. It is different from laziness, which is the unwillingness to act.

Procrastination can restrict your potential and undermine your career. A deadline is not merely a guideline!  Be a person of integrity – stick to your promises. It is almost a form of masochism or self-harm (very dramatic, I know), but the nagging weight of a task, decision or responsibility, causes feelings of guilt and not feeling accomplished or successful. However, procrastination is essentially irrational.  It tends not to be a one-off behaviour, but a cycle, one that easily becomes a chronic habit.

Procrastination is the action of unnecessarily and voluntarily delaying or postponing something. Also remember delaying a task could frustrate someone in your close circle.  Not great for relationships!

What type of tasks do we procrastinate about?

Tasks or decisions we find “difficult, unpleasant, aversive or just plain boring or stressful.” If a task feels especially overwhelming or provokes significant anxiety, it’s often easiest to avoid it.

The reality is that often it is a minor task which we give so much airtime to:

  • Making a telephone call, answering an e-mail or WhatsApp message

  • Sorting out an admin issue

  • Making a decision about something

  • Small maintenance tasks at home

  • Studying… yes, the deadline or exam date is not negotiable, is it?

Do you agree that organising a cupboard, drawer, electronic files, photos on your cell phone, e-mail inbox, etc. seems so unattractive, yet when done, brings satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment? Most people don’t deliberately make a mistake, so if some past decisions were not the best, use it as an opportunity to learn to make better decisions in the future. Never waste a good mistake!  All decisions eventually have to be made. Silencing the voice of procrastination will liberate you and give you extra time during their day.  Dopamine (a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure, motivation, and learning) is released in the brain when a task is accomplished. So “be happy, get the task done” could become alternative lyrics to Bobby Farrell’s popular Be Happy song.

Reasons we procrastinate include:

  • Perfectionism – perfect tomorrow rather than good enough today

  • Focusing on urgent, yet often not important tasks

  • Inability to focus or concentrate – being easily distracted

  • Lack of information and then no action plan to get the information.

  • Fear of making the “wrong” decision

  • Prudence, caution – I’m-a-low-risk-person: indecisiveness and fear

  • Lack of a deadline

  • Excessive workload

  • Too high expectations – rather than good enough today, choosing “perhaps perfect” tomorrow

  • Feelings of low mood, depression, and lack of a sense of purpose in life (please apply self-care and get professional help if this is the case)

Take a quick Pro-test

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