Sybil Shaibu column: Are you like Me?


One of the hardest things I have struggled with as an adult is putting things off. At a point in my life it became torn in my flesh so much that getting things done daily was such a hustle. It might sound like something which shouldn’t be an issue but if you’re like me you’d understand. You keep telling yourself “I will do it”, as to when is the question. And if you find yourself in a 9-5 job then the struggle is even worse.

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. It could also mean to put off intentionally and habitually something that should be done. All people procrastinate from time to time, but if you find that you frequently procrastinate then you might be a procrastinator.

It’s said that there are four main types of procrastinators;

  1. The Performer

They force themselves to focus by shrinking the time they have to tackle a task. Their biggest challenge is getting started.

  1. The Self-deprecator

They tend to blame their inaction on laziness or stubbornness rather than admit they are tired. Their biggest challenge is not taking a break.

  1. The Over booker

They say I’m busy, they fill up their calendar and then they create chaos to avoid facing being overwhelmed. Their biggest challenge is doing what they need to do.

  1. The novelty seeker

They constantly come up with new projects to take on and later get bored. They get intrigued by latest trends and will be quick to implement but not follow through. Their biggest challenge is completion.

Figuring out which group you’re in can help you break out of your procrastination patterns.

Procrastination is often confused for laziness, but they are very different. Procrastination is an active process; you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing. Laziness on the other hand however is inactivity and unwillingness to act.

Why do people procrastinate? Many people procrastinate because they’re afraid of failing at the tasks that they need to complete. Also certain personality traits such as low self-esteem and low self –confidence, are associated with an increased fear of failure which makes people procrastinate.

Some people spend so much time procrastinating that they are unable to complete important daily tasks. They may feel the strong desire to stop procrastinating but feel they cannot do so. It’s a relief though to know that procrastination is not a mental health diagnosis. However, it may be a characteristic feature of some mental health issues such as Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Depression and Anxiety.

Some research suggests that procrastination is closely linked to mood. People may procrastinate when stressed or overwhelmed in the hopes that their future self will be better equipped to tackle a certain task. Long-term procrastination can lead to chronic stress, difficulty with work or school and trouble in relationships.

How to beat procrastination

  1. Address what’s triggering the procrastination.
  2. Find an accountability partner.
  3. Break your work into little steps.
  4. Make a to do list.
  5. Schedule your tasks.
  6. Create an inspiring environment.
  7. Visualize yourself finishing your work.
  8. Forgive and trust yourself
  9. Work with a therapist or counselor
  10. Just do it

When procrastination is a symptom of a psychiatric condition, medication and therapy to address the underlying condition can help reduce a person’s tendency to procrastinate.

On the other hand, if procrastination occurs so frequently that it negatively interferes with daily functioning, therapy can help a person identify why and when they procrastinate, replace self-defeating thoughts with more productive thoughts, and learn new behavioral strategies to cope with stress.

Procrastination is a self-defeating behavior, and it can be frustrating to keep delaying tasks without knowing how to stop it. Seek help if you identify that you’re struggling, there’s nothing to be shy about. Acknowledging that you’re struggling is the first step in overcoming the challenge.

It took me a while but I sought help and I’m glad I did. Though I’m not out of the woods yet, procrastination isn’t as much a challenge as it used to be. And no, it wasn’t easy but I made it a point to work through my challenge and it worked out well.

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