Many of us may be struggling with procrastination during the time in which we all find ourselves right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. What started off as an exciting chance to “go digital”, “go online”, “work from home”, etc. has begun to show signs of boredom, depression and procrastination brought on by the inability to move around freely outside of your residence. For some it’s been an opportunity to do the things we always wanted to do but now that that is all done we have become bored out of our minds. The result is that the things, we are supposed to be doing just don’t seem to get done. So, over the next few weeks I will be posting some of my ideas and suggestions on what I call Proactive Procrastination.

There’s a proverb that says, “Procrastination is the thief of time”. The truth is that procrastination is also the thief of opportunities, relationships, progress and love. When one delays dealing with a significant issue that appropriately and decisively, procrastination steps in and threatens a possible favourable outcome for that issue. Procrastination silently and covertly erodes the very fabric of our existence as human beings by distorting the meaning of life and living and our purpose for being alive on this planet.

Procrastination is like a cancer that infects not only the host but also every person the host comes into contact with causing debilitating consequences that paralyse the mind-body and spirit until only a shell remains – empty and void of both structure and function. Like cancer, procrastination goes through various stages and many people who have it don’t realise that they do until it has reached stage 4. By then it will have metastasised to all areas of their lives – family, friends, significant others. It has by that time spread throughout the host weakening their immune system so that they are unable to fight off other conditions such as fatigue, depression, unhealthy eating habits, mood swings, etc. Some may even resort to medication to help with the symptoms of procrastination thinking that eventually, time will sort out the problem. This is a fatal mistake because it has begun to dull the senses leading to the situation beginning to spiral out of control with disastrous consequences.

How do we contract the disease called procrastination?

1. Putting off to tomorrow what can be done today.

When the consequences of an issue are so blatantly obvious and will undoubtedly harm your life if it is not dealt with immediately, procrastination threatens to step in. Pre-longing the action required just serves to escalate and worsen the problem making it increasingly difficult to resolve. Soon the issue becomes more emotional and begins to gain support solidifying its position and making it increasingly difficult to control. We then begin to convince ourselves that if we leave it alone it will simply go away on its own. The only way to fend off this enemy is to be decisive and to act deliberately and with intent.

2. Indecisiveness / indecision

The inability to make up your mind on what course of action to follow. Procrastination is even referenced in holy texts with the Christian Bible describing it as a double-minded person is unstable in all their ways (Bible: James 1:8). Procrastination feeds off indecision as cancer feeds off sugar in the body. The more indecisiveness there is (not dealing with the issue… or dealing with it in a lethargic way) the more it spreads and grows and begins to take on a form of its own. When you make up your mind and resolve to face the consequences of your decision, whether good or bad, it strips procrastination of its power over you. It kick-starts a process of growth that provides you with the antibodies you need to fight procrastination. Soon you will have gained enough resistance to prevent it from laying siege over your life.

3. Fear of failure / unknown/negative outcome

Procrastination has an amazing way of convincing its host that failure is inevitable when you take action and because of that the best response is to delay at all cost. That is the most counter-productive and destructive effects of procrastination because it is mostly through failure and disappointment that character, tenacity, determination and the will to succeed, no matter what it takes, is built up. Failure is a destroyer of procrastination because it ignites all the gifts, talents and skills of the individual to deal with the issue at hand. It creates a heightened understanding of the problem, giving insight into the issue beyond the senses of smell, sight, hearing, tasting and touch. The individual becomes more intuitive, aware, and perceptive, almost to the level of the supernatural. Fear moves the individual to act, either fight or flee, but to do something and not to just sit and do nothing in the hope that the issue will go away.

4.Lack of trust

Procrastination affects all of us… some of us have mastered it by creating what we call deliberate or planned procrastination or procrastination on purpose or as I describe it proactive procrastination. These are set intervals of procrastination that allows the mind, body and spirit to consciously and subconsciously prepare for an appropriate course of action. It is the brains way of restoring or increasing your trust in yourself and your ability to deal with the issue within the belief that you are able to connect or access the resources that available to you. The reality is that procrastination will affect you at some point in your life or perhaps multiple points in your life. The good news is that you can create a mental system that kicks in when procrastination does come around to ensure that the time is not wasted. In Part 2, I will give examples of the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself when difficult, emotional or challenging issue arises, and procrastination threatens to take over.

Ric Amansure, Head: Communications, Fund-and Business Development at the IJR