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Never Let The “What If" get in the way of what you do!

Dr. Anshul Mishra “I think therefore I am”. I’m on my journey.

All my life I have always been an overthinker and on top of that Understanding Procrastination has been a part-time hobby and to be honest, I’ve been putting off writing this article for weeks, given the current state of healthcare workers, but yesterday, one of my colleagues read the draft and gave me a push to publish. While many accomplished writers have already written about the topic of Procrastination, I feel less emphasis is given to the point that it is not about managing time rather managing the emotion that causes us to procrastinate.

Braintickler

Procrastination or intentional delay?

Often people confuse the two, procrastination is the act of postponing a task. It can also be defined as the force that prevents you from following through. However, the intentional delay is more deliberate. For example, a student who has to hand in an assignment on deadline has started to do the dishes instead of working on the paper. This behaviour is an intentional delay, where a subject is deliberately delaying a task to either increase the pressure on self to perform better or to shift the focus to let the steam off. On the other hand, procrastination is more spontaneous, where one boards the thought train and is unable to deboard or pull the emergency brakes.

Let’s breakdown the theory into practical:

Procrastination and creativity go hand in hand:

All creative ideas need time to trickle and filter into a working model. Procrastination offers your creative ideas a levelled playfield to test and develop further on those concepts, e.g. most people find that the best place to think and work on a scenario is in the washroom or the shower where the mind is preoccupied without any external hindrance but very few realize why that is the case, well now you know, you're welcome!!

Procrastination due to Prioritization:

Often procrastination is the offset of Prioritization. It is an opposing force and acts as a couplet to neutralize the effects of Prioritization. In Healthcare we often quote the example of crisis du jour, i.e. crisis of the day, meaning there is one every day, so the workers get accustomed to the new normal and prioritize the work from urgent to important and the day goes on as it is. Procrastination takes the steam off the workload pressure from Prioritization.

Piece of mind or Peace of mind?

While many may confuse procrastination to be transient and therapeutic, it most certainly is not. The sense of overwhelm feeds one of the common patterns that they struggle with: the perfectionism-procrastination-paralysis cycle. It’s our brain that is not buying our plan. For many, the idea of accomplishing a task in a less-than-perfect way may be grounds enough to say, “Forget it!” It may be a well-laid-out plan with a small flaw that may jeopardize the mission, so our brain stalls it further until perfection.

Mental Health issues are on the list:

A longitudinal study of the costs and benefits of procrastination, performance and stress found that “procrastination is a self-defeating behaviour pattern characterized by short-term benefits and long-term costs, including an increase in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem”.

How to break the cycle?

Try to keep your tasks bite-sized. The smaller the task the faster the output hence less energy investment and higher returns on task accomplishment. While the world is drawn to SMART devices, be the one to form SMART goals i.e. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).

Often in life, a single narrative formed by some so-called self-proclaimed genius gets in circulation and is repeated many times over that we fail to even check the authenticity of that narrative before implementing it. Procrastination is not necessarily bad. No one needs to give a justification for its use and overuse. It may yield optimum results if you use it carefully. But always remember this to get off that thought train:

Never let the ‘What If” get in the way of what you do!

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