Edward Young said ‘Procrastination is the thief of time’, but I prefer saying procrastination steals time but also gives you time to prepare a perfect comeback.
Procrastination is the avoidance of performing a task or delaying the performance of a task. It’s a good feeling to just relax and get things done later but you can also get into trouble when you miss a deadline. We read so much about the shortcomings but forget there can be good sides too if we have the right attitude.
No hasty conclusions yet, but here is why I say so.
Over the years, I have always had a knack to do things only when I am ready but the pointer is that I am never irresponsible about it. This is probably why my mum will always say to me ‘I know you give your best when you are ready but don’t take too much time to decide’. Thinking about it now, it almost became a prayer point because she thought procrastination had become too frequent and will make me lose opportunities. With time, she got to understand that I was not being negligent because I still got things done when due.
From my experience, I realised that when I stall on a particular task, I find myself always thinking about ways to solve it. I unconsciously relate every other activity towards the intending task and I just get new ideas. So in my head, I practise the processes and when it is time to actually implement, it just flows and I accomplish the task spending less time.
To get the best from procrastinating, you really just need to know the difference between NOW and LATER ( or in my case ‘now’ and ‘now now’). This is how it works:
• Be aware of the task you need to do.
Whether you like to write things down on paper, cram things or use task on microsoft outlook (shoutout to my first boss ever, he insisted I start creating my list of action items using task on microsoft outlook instead of saying I know them off my head), you must be aware of the things that need to be done or decisions you have to make. Ensure that these action items are visible and easily accessible.
• Know your Deadline.
It is important to know the deadline for each task you have to perform. You can create one if it is in your control. Again I will share my experience. Whenever my former boss gives me a task to do amongst all the other things that needs to be done, I ask him this – do you want it done ‘now’ or ‘now now’?. ‘Now’ stands for tasks that can be excusably done later in the day or the next day (I could basically stall a bit), while ‘now now’ meant the task had to be completed as soon as possible. Funny right, but his reponse determines how i handle the task so even though he is cheerful and not extremely insistent about it, I know that ‘now now’ means the task is very urgent and he could show up at my desk requesting for a response. Know your deadline so that you do not have to complete a task under pressure which is unavoidable anyway.
• You must Prioritise.
Prioritising is basically just applying scale of preference (Hi Economics class!!). This helps you arrange the tasks sequentially in the order it needs to be done. This is also where you decide if you can procrastinate or not. If by chance you have a deadline that allows you stall on a task or decision you have to make, by all means take your time. In the same manner, if the task has a close deadline then you know you must start immediately. There are people who give the best results when they procrastinate. These people do not have super powers, they only know how to prioritise. As much as procrastination gives you time to do other things, you must be clear on what needs to be done immediately or later.
• Brainstorm while doing other task.
The way you handle the period before the actual task is done determines the outcome of Procrastination. So even though you are starting task B while stalling on task A which should naturally come first, you can decide to still find answers to solve task A while researching for task B (don’t understand, start again and read slowly this time). Find ways to relate tasks that are similar, this way you already have resources to start task A when you are prepared. This might be easy for people who like to multitask but a bit distracting for someother people who will prefer to focus solely on a particular task. Know your capability and work around it.
In cases where you do not have another task to think about, use the spare time to find answers to the task you have to perform later. This allows you find several options, weigh those options and make an informed decision. In addition, brainstorming while postponing a task gives you the opportunity to criticise and re-convince yourself about the choices you have made.
• Implementing a task.
You know how excited you get when your teacher postpones the date for the test you have not really studied for? you go ahead to insist it was God watching your back then seize the opportunity to study so hard and actually perform well during the test. Seizing the opportunity to prepare is what permits a successful result and the same goes with our attitude towards procrastination.
After preparing so hard to carry out a task, the process is usually seamless when it is time to implement because you are equipped. You are also confident and less time is spent to achieve results because of the resources you have at your disposal. Do have it in mind that you can only get a good result from procrastinating if you spend your time finding possible solutions for the task to be achieved.
• Do not be irresponsible.
Everyone associates procrastination with being laidback, careless, unreliable… the list goes on. Bad news sells faster so if you fail to meet your target because you procrastinated even for a tiny bit, it instantly supersedes all the good decisions you have made in the past. When bad results from procrastinating becomes consistent, it starts to affect your teams perception about your personality, ethics and standard. While it is acceptable to make mistakes sometimes, you must make a conscious effort to ensure you meet service target when you stall on a task. Nobody wants to be tagged all the aliases of procrastination, right?
If you have the right attitude towards procrastination, the result is always good because your responses are well thought about, you make better decisions and it proves that you know how to get things done within a short time.
You can procrastinate as long as ‘it’ does not require immediate attention but remember you should only stall because you have prioritized your tasks.
Peace, Love and Cupcake