The procrastination dilemma

Published February 3, 2024
Illustration by Sumbul
Illustration by Sumbul

So you don’t want to get up and change the uniform after coming back from school? Or finish the assignment you started last night because it feels boring so you don’t even want to touch it? I know it feels great to lie down and watch TV or use a smartphone for as long as your mum can hold herself from snatching away the gadget from you and then strictly ordering you to get up, and do your pending tasks. If this sounds familiar to you, then it means you are prone to procrastinating.

Procrastination is derived from the Latin verb ‘procrastinare’ which means to put off until tomorrow. In other words, to keep on delaying something that has to be done either because it is unpleasant or boring.

Procrastination is unnecessarily delaying important tasks while focusing on the less urgent and less important ones, or those that are enjoyable and need less work. Like for instance, you know that if you do not prepare your assignment, the teacher will deduct your marks or punish you. But instead of completing your assignment, you squander your time by aimlessly scrolling your phone or flickering on TV channels. And when you do get up to finally do the assignment, it is done in such a rush that you don’t do it well.

All of us procrastinate sometime or the other, and that’s natural since we are not machines that run on an auto mode. But the problem starts this becomes a habit to delay things for no good reason.

So why does a person procrastinate? Well there are many reasons and let’s check them out.

Causes of procrastination

• People doubt their abilities and negativity takes over.

• They think they will not meet the desired expectations and will therefore face embarrassment.

• They find the assigned task tedious or daunting, and choose interesting activities. Which is choosing short-term contentment over long-term achievement.

• Distractions take their attention and they lose focus.

The effects of procrastination

Once the person avoids doing something assigned to him, he feels guilty for not getting on with his duties. As the time draws closer, he panics and performs badly. A bad experience results in him getting more anxious in the future about his ability to perform similar tasks, thereby increasing the probability of procrastinating in the future.

Let’s take an example where you had to do a math assignment. You know that some equations are beyond your understanding and you need to get help in doing them, either from someone in your family or from your friend, but you don’t feel inclined to do. Therefore you avoided it and did your favourite leisure activity. However, deep down, feelings of guilt kept on pinching you the whole day. And finally, before going to bed, you give it a try.

Since little time was left and you were too tired, you panicked and weren’t able to do justice. As a result, the next day you face humiliation in front of the whole class, which ultimately makes you more demotivated for something you were already not happy about.

Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

What are the consequences of procrastination?

Research has shown that procrastination causes the person to encounter feelings of guilt, humiliation and embarrassment. Deep down, the individual knows that by not performing the assigned task/ work, he has fallen short of the expectations of others, which has badly affected his reputation and distorted his perception in the eyes of others. When this level of discomfort soars, it instils in him feelings of negativity and low self-esteem. His confidence level dips, which in turn leads to poor performance and overall bad reputation in the school, college or even at home.

How to put an end to procrastination?

• Start now. Yes, it’s not a lack of time management actually that leads to procrastination, but more of an emotional management that we need be able to dealt with.

This means that if you want to defeat those feelings that alienate you from your goals, instead of waiting for the right time to begin, the solution is to get started that instant, even if you don’t feel like doing it. As the adage goes, ‘Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try’.

• Put first things first. Things that need to be addressed first must be done before trivial tasks. So, manage your time wisely and direct your efforts towards completing each task.

• Break it into bite-sized chunks. We all get overwhelmed when we see the amount of work that needs to be done and we fret and try to avoid it. So instead of steering the entire work load all together in one go, break it up into smaller units that can be completed one at a time. This will not only help you stay focused, but will give you a sense of satisfaction as you progress your way toward the end.

• Clear surroundings. Ensure that there are no disturbances around you. So anything that steals your attention from work must be cleared away so that you remain focused such as any kind of noise, chatter, phone, TV or even sitting with your family members can take your attention away.

Upon completion of each task and after mounting every next step, be grateful, praise yourself by acknowledging your efforts and then remind yourself that you must continue with the same spirit to finish off the entire work successfully. This will help boost your self-confidence, enable you to stay directed toward your goals, and motivate you to do even better in the future.

Indeed, it is difficult to break away from procrastinating immediately, but remember nothing is impossible. At the beginning, it would seem strenuous, but by following the above steps accompanied with an unyielding frame of mind, I am sure you will be able to put an end to this habit. As it has been rightly said, ‘Procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder’.

Published in Dawn, Young World, February 3rd, 2024

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