Thought leaders - Can you work within the desired or set time frames?
Google this year decided to forgo its annual tradition of elaborate pranks on April Fool’s Day. Instead, the company said it was taking the year off “out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic”. The Business Insider magazine applauded Google’s efforts to contain and limit the spread of “misleading and extraneous, misinforming features.”
The reporter, Tim McTague, has however argued that humour helps us to recover two things, namely control and connect, which the world desperately needs. He writes: “we might be scared, but we seem determined to carry on laughing.” McTague says humour protects us from life’s grim reality, adding that, “laughter is primarily a social vocalisation that binds people together.”
In similar light-hearted tones, one commentator remarks that the Christmas holidays should be brought forward, with the year 2020 being subsequently written off. Regardless of the many shades of comments, this year has indeed, given rise to, or at least, revisited questions, which cannot be ignored.
For example, the world has grappled with the question of whether the year is a black swan event. In his 2007 book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, the mathematical statistician, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, describes the black swan as an event that is beyond normal expectations, one that is so rare that even the possibility that it might occur is unknown.
Further, Taleb writes that the event has a catastrophic impact when it does occur, and is explained on hindsight as if it were predictable.
In a counter-argument, scientist Gary Klein observes that “belief in black swans comes with a delusion that once informed about a threat, we will expeditiously take action.”
He regrets that, “we know this isn’t true.”
If anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has, once more, exposed the subject of procrastination to full and brutal scrutiny. From the time of the discovery of the new coronavirus strand to the confirmation of the pandemic, many questions have focused on the promptness and viability of response mechanisms.
Professor Timothy Pychyl defines procrastination as a “kind of avoidance behaviour, a coping mechanism gone awry, in which people give in to feel-good choices...when people fear or dread, or have anxiety about, the important task awaiting them.”
Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute or past their deadlines. While delays, rescheduling, and change of plans are familiar actions, procrastination becomes a problem when it affects the quality of relationships, and performance in the classroom or at work.
Reporter Charlotte Lieberman has explained in the New York Times that procrastination is also derived from the Greek word, akrasia, which means to do something against our better judgement.
It is estimated that 20% of adults may have a real, long-lasting problem with compulsively putting things off. Procrastination can, indeed, cause serious stress and illness.
Life is replete with stories of people who delayed medical tests or treatments, or failed in personal and professional development, through recklessly delayed actions.
Some of the causes of procrastination include the domineering fear of failure; anxiety; decision fatigue; weaknesses in planning and implementing multi-step processes, and lack of focus. Quite often, the quest for perfectionism can also lead to disabling procrastination.
Concerning remedial action, psychologist Robert Schachter suggests that focus should be on time management and organisational skills. But, he notes that challenges can arise in circumstances where mental health issues like depression are concerned. Such occurrences require appropriate counselling and medical interventions.
Procrastination is a witty and indefatigable enemy. Journalist Ana Swanson has called it a “strong and mysterious force.” It can easily involve useless pursuits, which seem to accomplish something. However, the problem is that after the initial feel-good emotions, one realises that the more urgent tasks still await.
2020-06-12 10:10:28 | 1 months ago