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Opinions of Thursday, 30 December 2021

Columnist: Kordson Ayrakwa

Procrastination; a hazard in the human experience

Procrastination is wasting time we can’t afford Procrastination is wasting time we can’t afford

In a recent conference I attended, Dr. Pychyl of Carleton University in Ottawa, delved into what procrastination is all about and argued that" the ability to deal with negative emotions is directly related to our ability to stop procrastinating. There are more downsides to procrastinating beyond the mere delay in getting started."

He further says "there is a correlation between procrastination, coronary heart disease, and hypertension." Pychyl is of the view that "it's not the delay that's the problem. It's the self-blame and the emotional disengagement that leads to internal struggles that undermine your health."

In addition, Sirois and Pychyl explained that there are the indirect effects of fewer wellness behaviours, such as the “I’ll exercise or diet later” adage, as well as more treatment delay.

Some researchers focus a lot of their attention on cognition and what we think concerning procrastination. But Pychyl argues that this isn’t necessarily the thing we should be focusing on.

“It’s all about our feelings”. In this regard, Pychyl argues that “Procrastination is the misregulation of emotion. We think that, by putting things off, we’re going to feel better.”

We all know about the "desire to reward ourselves. Maybe one more scoop of ice cream will satisfy us." Or if we buy that new outfit or clothing, we’ll be a little bit happier.

“We’re eating calories we can’t afford and spend money we can’t afford. Procrastination is wasting time we can’t afford.”

And although we can’t afford it, Pychyl admits that, in the short term, it is powerfully rewarding. And that’s what makes procrastination so undeniably tempting. The present self benefits, of course, but not the future self. And a great friend and brilliant analyst Peter Zomelo believes that "in the past, it was generally believed that, delaying some tasks can be a good thing because it reduces stress.

But on the contrary new evidence suggests that procrastination can lead to an increased feeling of anxiety, panic, and self-doubt - more stress, which contributes to negative psychophysical impacts on our body thereby increasing our vulnerability for illness."

He further stressed that "For now, I believe that, procrastination is a threat to productivity. But hey, we should not be surprised if it is declared a health risk in the future."

Other scholars also express different views on procrastination. For Sidney Harris, "Regret for things we did can be tempered with time; it is regret for things we did not do that is inconsolable." While Marc and Angel Hack indicate that, "Today, stop making excuses for why you can't get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen."

Thus, "If procrastination takes over your life, be brave to take risks. Your life is happening right now." Along similar lines, Mark Twain argues that "Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow." Bill Watterson on the other hand, stresses that "You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic." While our great leader, Benjamin Franklin says "You may delay, but time will not." Pablo Picasso on the other hand points out that, "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone."

But, Charles Dickens and David Copperfield indicate that "Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him." And in the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, "You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today." Perhaps, Leonardo da Vinci has something else to say. He argues that "It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end."

In summing these various views expressed by these scholars, it is important to mention that, as Denis Waitley says "Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can't buy more hours. Scientists can't invent new minutes. And you can't save time to spend it on another day.

"Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow."

Let us rise to perform our duties with faith, strength, vigour, resilience, and the determination to light the torch for great possibilities and accomplishment.

Procrastination must seize. A hazard in the human experience.