About the Fascination with Procrastination

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” – Charles Dickens

Procrastination. The bane of all our lives. Frankly speaking, I have been procrastinating to get this article written, and have had to literally force myself in front of the computer to do it. Well, to get on with it.

Something which annoys us to no end when we know that we need to sit down and focus on the task at hand, procrastination can make or break a team. Think about it: all that last minute rushing to put things into place, all that panic which ensues, most of the time it is attributable to procrastination, and can be avoided. But how? Most of the time it requires a fair bit of discipline to overcome the barrier emplaced by procrastination, discipline which many of us are unable to muster. Thus, here are some tips to help liberate you:

  1. Encouragement. Especially relevant whether working alone or in a team, encouragement can provide a good dose of motivation, which gives one the determination he needs to complete a task. So in a team, encourage each other periodically. Express your faith in the other person’s abilities. If working alone, while tougher, it is still possible to encourage yourself, by telling yourself not to give up.
  1. Organisation. Sometimes, procrastination occurs simply because we are not organised enough. Instead of looking continually at the final goal as what must be achieved, which can seem intimidating, set smaller, achievable goals. You will feel happier and more motivated when you achieve these milestones you set for yourself. Also, take some time to organise your thoughts, to plan what you need to do. Going in with a plan helps prevent procrastination by giving a clear direction towards which you know you have to work towards.
  1. Reward. Sometimes, the best motivation we can give ourselves is the promise of a reward when we complete what we have to do. Such rewards can take the form of anything. If you like sports, tell yourself that you’ll give yourself an hour after you complete what you have to do, or if you like food, pizza or ice cream. By promising to reward yourself with something you enjoy, you effectually motivate yourself to complete the task faster, which stops you from falling into the pit of procrastination.

Not to say that procrastination is all bad. Sometimes the most marvellous things happen when we are in the midst of procrastinating. For instance, because we are not doing what we have the opportunity to distance ourselves from what we have to do, there may be a much-needed creative spark which comes to us in the midst of all that procrastination which comes in the form of a solution to all our current problems. Moreover, if under severe stress, procrastination can help by giving an outlet for that stress, enabling one to relax and think more clearly.

However, more often than not procrastination simply impedes progress, and should the case be as such, hopefully we have given you the information you need.

Why Should We Forgive?

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”— Charlotte Brontë

Falling out with friends and family; making the acquaintance of people whom you just cannot see eye to eye with. These are all part and parcel of daily life. But what do we do when we find ourselves caught in such positions of conflict? It is easy to be angry, become enraged, and let ourselves be ruled by our seething emotions, where we become marionettes to mere chemical impulses. Yet, simply because it is easy, does not mean that it should be done.

What we can do and should do is to look the other way instead, and turn the other cheek: just because we disagree with someone does not mean that it is necessary to start or prolong a conflict.

In fact, if we think about longstanding feuds such as those which have occurred between families for multiple generations, most of the time we find it to be the case that the participants do not know the history behind the feud. They get embroiled in it simply because of a shared history; it is just one of those things they are a part of. Nonsensical, is it not? Similar to saying that we should hate the Japanese or the Germans for the atrocities they committed during World War 2, even though the people of today have had nothing to do with it.

Granted, to accept wrongs, to take blow after blow without ever retaliating, is too much to ask one for. Thus, instead of asking one to tolerate all wounds inflicted on him, it is more practical to ask him to tolerate to the extent that he is able to.

Not to say that anything goes beyond that threshold of tolerance, but rather that if the conflict does escalate beyond what is bearable, or that the person just seems to have a vendetta against you, then perhaps it is time to rethink the relationship with that person. Perhaps it is time to break off all contact with that person.

Yet even after we no longer have anything to do with that person, such is the irony of life, that we cannot forget about that person, and we are left with such deep impressions on our hearts and mind, that a single reminder of that person will leave us spiralling in descent back to the horrible experiences we have had in the past.

Thus, there is a need to forgive whatever wrong has been done. This comes naturally with time and distance — the longer we are apart from the person, the easier it will be to forgive and even forget that person. However, in the case where we still come into contact periodically with that person, then forgiveness only happens when we choose to make it so.

To facilitate the process, it is useful to imagine that the person regrets what he has done, to have lost a friend, a confidante. Or, we ourselves can be the catalyst, by realising that nursing grudges, pampering hatred, is little more than a redirection of our energy, energy that could have been used more productively.

When talking about teams, it is the unfortunate truth that we often do not have the chance to choose our teammates, which means that in the event that we are grouped with someone with whose ideologies ours fail to coincide with, then it is necessary, if common ground cannot be found, to learn to forgive. After all, our time is limited. So what is the use of fostering thorns and letting our emotional wounds fester?


Pride: Overcoming the Overwhelming Tide of Emotions

“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.” – Emily Jane Brontë

Pride in moderation. It is perfectly normal to find delight in our achievements and in the achievements of others. But pride can be blinding: allow that sense of satisfaction to grow unchecked and it can become the debilitating disease of egoistic pleasure, where we take pride in ourselves; call it Narcissism if you will. And the most widely-known example of such unrestrained pride: Lucifer, who did not end up in a very desirable situation, I should think most of us should agree.

Thus, to heed by Lucifer’s lesson, it is necessary for us all to possess a degree of humility. But not in the modern sense of the word which is a grotesque disfiguration and the opposite of its original meaning. Instead, when we refer to possessing humility, we refer an inhibitor that stops us from getting ahead of ourselves, from allowing that pride to overrun our consciousness.

For instance, constantly reminding ourselves is that there is always someone better than us: the Chinese proverb, 一山比一山高 ( yi shan hai bi yi shan gao), which roughly translates into ‘there will always be a mountain taller than the last’ aptly encapsulates this idea. By telling ourselves this whenever we accomplish something, we can thus moderate swelling emotions.

Yet something intangible like the above can only do so much, and in the event that we are overwhelmed by our emotions, we need something tangible to keep us rooted in reality. Thus, while the past may hold many memories which we are not proud of, it is good to keep at least some relics from it, to not only serve as indications of our progress, but also to serve as reminders that we once had humbler beginnings.

Ultimately, there is a need to have an awareness that success and failure, like light and dark, while appearing to be contrasting forces, are in truth dependent on one another. One cannot exist without the other. Thus, successes are like failures: just part and parcel of life. As much as we love them, to be ruled by them is to give up our fundamental free will as our choices become dictated by them.

Extending this concept to the team level, take some time to celebrate together when your team achieves something. It works wonders for team camaraderie because there is a shared sense of achievement. However, do not let the team as a whole become complacent simply because it has faith in its achievements. That hinders progress, and can even lead to regression. Thus, be proud, but not too proud.

Turning Things Around: Breaking Free From the Cycle of Doom and Gloom

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” There are many idioms, proverbs, and sayings, all of which support the idea that compared to the good, the bad invariably has a greater hold over us. In the study of Psychology, this notion is supported by the concept of Negativity Bias, which states that the brain is naturally hardwired to have a greater sensitivity to unpleasant experiences. Thus, trying to look for a silver lining in the midst of a catastrophe is not as simple as we sometimes make out to be. Neither is trying to look on the bright side of life when things go wrong.

However, when in a team there is nothing worse than letting an obstacle pull you down. It takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch, and simply allowing that negative situation – whether personal or work-related – to influence your actions can mean disaster for the team. Thus, it is imperative that we are able to remain positive even when adversity rears its ugly head. This is possible, provided that we make several realisations:

  1. We are not alone. Oftentimes when we feel under the weather for whatever reason, the first thing that we feel is an excruciating sorrow that stems from the perception that we are alone in this world and that no one will ever understand our situation nor know how to remedy it. Unfortunately, or rather thankfully, this is false, and the reverse is true. There is definitely someone who has gone through what you are going through and has felt what you are feeling. There may even be someone going through the exact same experience. It does no harm to seek advice from such people. Their words will be enlightening and will see you through your crisis.
  1. Whatever challenge we are facing, it will come to pass. Nothing lasts forever, everything is transient: all joys, but also all sorrows. It is thus needless to say that brooding over something, imagining what could have been, thinking about what could have been done, is nothing but energy being wasted. Instead, try channelling that energy into thinking of a solution. A low is nothing more than an opportunity for creativity, for innovation.
  1. A person is not defined by his failures, just as he is not defined by his successes. It is a slippery slope down when we are feeling at our worst, as we tend to find ourselves caught in a cycle of hopelessness, as though Providence is against us, as though we have been forsaken by the universe. However, for everything wrong in our lives, there are just as many if not more that are right. Got your ideas rejected over and over again? You still have your family, your friends, your hobbies. That sense of futility is secondary in the great scheme of our lives, and there is no need to stay trapped by it.

So for those of you who feel down, fret not. Things will turn around soon enough. You just have to take the first step and realise that there is nothing is ever truly futile. And trust us, from experience we know that your team will appreciate your efforts.