I’m sure many of us fight procrastination on a daily basis. The tendency to delay or postpone a project until the deadline approaches. It’s a very bad habit, and very hard to break. I’ve personally struggled with it ever since I was a child.

Back when electricity and cooking gas weren’t so readily available, paraffin stoves ruled. I remember we would buy paraffin every Sunday, to last the whole week. My mother decided that it would be my responsibility to buy the paraffin. So every Sunday afternoon, before leaving for her women’s chamaa, she would give me some money with strict instructions to buy the paraffin before she got back.

As you can guess, instead of immediately getting it over with, I would delay as much as possible. I would continue playing while constantly glancing at the wall clock, because I knew she usually got back by 6.30 pm. I would eventually run the errand around 6.10pm. This means that I would either get back just before she did, or meet her at the gate.

This is a paraffin stove, in case you were wondering

Why procrastination sucks

The problem with doing things at the last minute is that everything has to run smoothly, like a well oiled machine. Procrastination gives you no room for dealing with “unforeseen circumstances”. For example, while going to buy paraffin at the last minute, sometimes I would find a long queue, meaning I’d get home way after dark.

Other times I would discover to my horror that the vendor had run out of paraffin. Sometimes, another adult would send me on a different errand just as I was about to fetch the paraffin, which would still make me late.

At such times, I would have to explain to my mother why it took me all those hours to perform such a simple task. As you can guess, because I didn’t have a valid reason most times, I would pay a heavy price for my “insolence”.

Can it be classified as a medical condition?

What my mother didn’t understand is that I wasn’t purposefully being disrespectful, I always meant to buy the paraffin. Every time I glanced at the wall clock, I would commit to run the errand “before 3pm”, which would turn into “by 4pm…definitely not before 5pm…must do it by 6pm”, and so on.

In short, I kept pushing the deadline for doing it until I really had to do it. Sadly, even in my adulthood I still procrastinate. In fact I think it’s gotten worse. I do some online article writing for a few clients and no matter how much time they give me to turn in a project, I always do so at the last possible minute.

Some imagine that by giving me up to 24 hours to do a project, I will spend most of the time researching so I can come up with a good article. I do write good articles, but I always start about 1 to 2 hours to the deadline.

How do you deal with it?

Sometimes I read or watch videos about some successful individuals and get surprised at all they’re able to achieve. I see some people giving a list of all the things they’ve achieved in a single day and think to myself I wouldn’t achieve all those even if I had a week.

Some will wake up at 5am, hit the gym, read a book, post some inspirational messages on social media, go to their regular 8-5 jobs, visit friends, get back home in time for dinner with their families and still have enough time to engage in a hobby.

At such times, I wonder whether their days have more than 24 hours. There are times when I mean to perform a simple task like writing a 200 word article, only for the day to end without me doing it. I will open a blank word template, stare at it for about 5 minutes while trying to come up with a sentence to start the article, then ultimately get distracted.

I will find myself on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, or just doing some general browsing until the day ends without achieving the single goal I’d set for myself. It’s true what they say, procrastination really is a thief of time.

Overcoming procrastination

So is there a way to beat it? Can one really overcome this habit, or does it last for life? I’m inclined to believe it lasts a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fight it. In the world we live in, time management has to be the most precious skill one can have. This skill requires a lot of discipline. I’ve decided to wage war against procrastination, and I want to start immediately.

No more kicking the can down the road. I’ve started by compiling to-do lists for every day, basically imposing deadlines on myself. Every day I go through my to-do list and it’s amazing the things you can achieve when focused. At first it feels like “work”, but I guess even the first few days of hitting the gym feel hard. The key is to keep doing it until you start looking forward to it.

Don’t give up just yet

Wish me luck!

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