Is this you? You have to get something done; really, really have to get it done, but you put it off for a few days, the days become weeks and the weeks become ……? Then you decide to do what you were putting off; but out of nowhere, you have an inspiration to do some gardening, and then when you have done the gardening you decide you must wash your car and then you think it is a long time since you were in the pub so you go and have a pint and then the deadline is fast approaching and you go into panic mode.
I did not realise the impact of procrastination upon our society until I started digging into the subject.
There have been researches into the matter by psychologists. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, I personally believe the procrastination habits in society have increased massively. COVID-19 has put us into lockdown, taking away our freedom of choice in many ways. In an astonishingly short space of time things we once took for granted have gone. Disappeared. And we wait and wonder when or if they will come back.
I used to volunteer for two charity organisations: Emmaus and Family Action both support vulnerable people. And both of them have had to create new and safe ways of supporting people via telephone, video chats and social media groups, which is great, but I do wonder if the increase in our online activities has also made us a bit lazy and increased society’s levels of procrastination.
There are many reasons we procrastinate. Here is just an example that applies to both men and women.
We have instant access, literally at our fingertips. Want to eat pizza or Chinese? Just open an app and your order is delivered to your door. I use the internet and social media sparingly. I place orders for food on special occasions. Please understand. I think there are advantages to the internet and social media platforms. But they can lead very easily to distractions which so easily cause procrastination.
If you are self-employed (or work from home) the temptation is extremely high. Running a business is hard. You have to rely on yourself for motivation, planning, creating websites, finding ways to attract people to your website etc. and then you see a pop-up game. It screams at you ‘just take one minute and play me’. Next thing you know you are hooked. Why? The stress and anxiety from your business and, maybe, the lack of income from your business venture causes you to look for temporary relief elsewhere.
Procrastination comes from our thoughts, emotions and consciousness. Mostly we use it to self-distract. Procrastination can cause people to become poor, gain weight, lose jobs. The list goes on. The process is something like this: I have no clients for my business; no clients means no income; I have no clients and no income, therefore, I am useless. And once you start to believe that you are useless, the thoughts in your head get louder and more aggressive so you need a way to deal with them so you start overeating, you start playing online games, you start watching YouTube. Anything except dealing with the roots of the problem.
Do women have an advantage when it comes to procrastination?
Whilst procrastination affects both men and women, I believe that women are at an advantage in that they do talk to their girlfriends in a way that men don’t talk to their friends. In what way does that assist with procrastination? Because they want to have something to boast about. That is the motivation. It is as simple as that. It is a sharing of lives, a sharing of life’s achievements. I am speaking as a woman. We tell our girlfriends about new projects, and then the next time we meet we know we will have to give an update on how things are going. We instinctively compete with each other. Whilst we do procrastinate, we have an incentive not to do it. A fear of being left out of the loop. A fear of being seen to fail.
Men, on the other hand, whilst competitive in some ways (sports, girlfriends etc.) are not ashamed to be seen as procrastinators. So, men, if you know you are procrastinating, and know it; do something about it. Don’t waste your talent. Analyse what is going on in your life. Calculate what procrastination is costing you. And seek the help of a mentor or a life coach.
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