The Fight for your Life: The battle against indecision and procrastination
“My advice is, never do to-morrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!” –Charles Dickens
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” ― Abraham Lincoln
“Someone may have all the technical knowledge, scientific intellect and business know-how but when he/she decides to choose laziness, excuses, procrastination, complaining and other bad attitudes, his/her relevance is meaningless.”― Israelmore Ayivor
“the best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.” ― Dale Carnegie
“Your Life Is Happening Right Now: Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Be brave and take risks. Your life is happening right now.”― Roy T. Bennett
“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”― Epictetus
“Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in installments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”― Israelmore Ayivor
“Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today.” ― Benjamin Franklin
“Who says you need to wait until you ‘feel like’ doing something in order to start doing it? The problem, from this perspective, isn’t that you don’t feel motivated; it’s that you imagine you need to feel motivated. If you can regard your thoughts and emotions about whatever you’re procrastinating on as passing weather, you’ll realise that your reluctance about working isn’t something that needs to be eradicated or transformed into positivity. You can coexist with it. You can note the procrastinatory feelings and act anyway.” ― Oliver Burkeman
“He who every morning plans the transactions of that day and follows that plan carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” ― Victor Hugo
Indecision, paralysis by analysis, also known as procrastination is a deadly vice that we all face each and every day. We all know what to do but we keep on postponing the inevitable. Empires have fallen, many dreams, lives have been buried and ruined because of this nasty habit.
We need to deal with this terrible vice head on if we are to make any tangible progress in our lives. I would equate procrastination to a deadly disease like cancer. It has vanquished many lives and brought hopelessness and devastation wherever it has grown.
The good news is that it’s a vice that can be uprooted with the right focus and dedication. It’s a fight that we can win to drastically change and improve our lives.
Importance of taking action at the right time
A garden and the effect of weeds
Nature is the best teacher in life. We normally observe gardens and farms. Judging by the level of weeds in any garden or farm one can predict the outcome of the harvests expected from that farm.
Individuals who take time to weed their gardens and maintain them in proper shape expect to harvest bountiful harvests as opposed to those who leave weeds to overrun their gardens. Procrastination is that habit that allows weeds and other harmful plants to invade our gardens.
If we sit idly by and do nothing to root out these weeds we should expect poor or no harvests. It’s a simple law of life that can be applied to any activity we perform. What are the weeds we allow in our lives that ruin them?
Not investing and saving in time, medical checkup delays, not doing exercise, eating junk food, not upgrading our skills, been indecisive, not having the tough conversations with our kids. These are weeds that have harmful effects in our lives and need to be attacked and rooted out of our existence.
The Tragic effects of Procrastination
Procrastination taken to its extreme leads to loss of lives. There are many disasters that have been caused by simple procrastination and delay in taking corrective actions. We all personally know events and tragedies that would have been avoided if intervention and action was taken at the right time.
Here are three examples of one local disaster in my home country Uganda and other major international disasters that would have been avoided if the right action was taken in time.
The Bududa Landslide occurred in the year 2010 and resulted in the deaths of more than 100 individuals. Bududa is a district found in Eastern Uganda. It is located at the slopes of Mount Elgon an ancient volcanic mountain that straddles the two neighboring countries of Uganda and Kenya.
On 1st March 2010 a tragic landslide occurred that killed over 100 individuals. Despite warnings from the Government individuals from the local community decided to build houses at the slopes of the mountain from the year 2007.
Deforestation occurred and there was no mechanism to compact the soil and prevent a major landslide from occurring. Unfortunately, heavy rain fell on that fateful day and triggered a massive landslide that wiped off homes and any settlement built on the slopes.
This was totally preventable if the local community had adhered to the warnings that had been circulated prior to the disaster.
The Second World War
The Second World war fought in the year 1939 to 1945 was the most devastating war in human history. The weapons brought to the theatre of war had improved in quality and impact, they had the potential to cause industrial scale annihilation.
This was brought to reality by the Atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The major theatres of this war were in the Euro-Asian continents, the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The war resulted in over 75 million human casualties.
If you really dig deep into the major cause of this war key unresolved issues lingering over from the 1st World War and other related conflicts had not been resolved. The Germans were humiliated by the Versailles Treaty.
These sentiments were especially marked in Germany because of the significant territorial, colonial, and financial losses imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. Under the treaty, Germany lost around 13 percent of its home territory and all its overseas possessions, while German annexation of other states was prohibited, reparations were imposed, and limits were placed on the size and capability of the country’s armed forces.
Other conflicts that had not been resolved decisively included the Spanish Civil War, the second sino-Japanese War, Soviet–Japanese border conflicts that had been simmering. If proper attention had been paid to address German resentment after the First World War this conflict would largely have been avoided.
Unfortunately, procrastination ruled the day and the inevitable happened. Many individuals lost their lives due to these factors and many more will still be affected down the line as history always has a tendency of repeating itself.
This was a hurricane that hit the US Gulf Coast in the month of August 2005. The City of New Orleans, America was the hardest hit city. The death toll exceeded more than 1800 people and the damage was very extensive.
An interesting fact was that the City’s vulnerabilities and susceptibility to a major hurricane were already documented and well known but nothing was done to address these vulnerabilities in time and the resultant devastation was totally avoidable.
Excerpt from a researcher and reporter
One of the most alarming aspects of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans in 2005 was the fact that the city’s vulnerabilities had been well-documented and understood.
The city’s main newspaper, The Times-Picayune, had devoted several days of coverage to a special series, “Washing Away,” just three years before Katrina hit. In the series, reporters said officials were “tempting fate” by failing to address weaknesses in the levees meant to protect New Orleans, and cautioned that it was “only a matter of time before south Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane.”
But this kind of prescience isn’t as eerie as it may seem. Identifying a problem and solving it, of course, are not the same thing. They’re often separated by time and politics, particularly when a solution requires federal dollars.
Movies have been made about this world-famous disaster. RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner cruise ship, operated by the White Star Line company, that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on the 15th April 1912.
It struck an iceberg and sunk during its first journey from Southampton, England, to New York City, United States. Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died. making it the deadliest sinking of a single ship up to that time.
Human error was at fault, and the disaster was preventable. The ship’s “captain ignored 20-plus warnings about icebergs,” continuing to operate after night had fallen when icebergs are nearly impossible to see. The ship had been provided with too few lifeboats for the passengers and crew aboard the ship.
Another ship, the SS California, was in the vicinity and the Captain and crew heeded the ‘ice berg’ warnings and decided to stop movement until day light visibility was restored. This is the ultimate danger posed by not heeding warnings in time
Lifestyle diseases are the scourge of the modern age. These are diseases that have arisen due to the advent of modernity and ease of living. Here is the Lifestyle disease – Wikipedia definition of Lifestyle Diseases
Lifestyle diseases can be defined as diseases linked with one’s lifestyle. These diseases are non-communicable diseases. They are caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating, alcohol, substance use disorders and smoking tobacco, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, obesity, type II diabetes and lung cancer. The diseases that appear to increase in frequency as countries become more industrialized and people live longer include Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, atherosclerosis, asthma, cancer, chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney failure, osteoporosis, PCOD, stroke, depression, obesity and vascular dementia.
These are very expensive diseases to treat and they are usually caused by poor diet, habits and sedentary lifestyles over time. The habit of procrastination is the major cause of these terrible afflictions.
We know what we need to do but we normally avoid doing the necessary activities. This usually harms us down the line. I have personally witnessed my own parents and many other relatives succumb to the effects of diabetes.
The human cost and financial cost are totally avoidable if we learn how to tame the effects of procrastination and control this vice.
Tips to Fight Procrastination
Taking Action, the Formula of Life.
Ideas or the key principles of life are worth nothing without execution:
The Value of Ideas on Average
Idea with zero execution = Zero Dollars
Idea with Poor Execution = USD 1,000
Idea with Mediocre/Average Execution = USD 5,000
Idea with Excellent Execution = USD 10,000 and above
Action is key in life. There are three broad themes to fight procrastination and improve our task execution, focus and concentration.
1. Fight Distraction and do Deep Work
Minimize distraction and work on better focus and concentration. There are two key elements involved here:
– Physical and Digital Environment
We cannot focus and concentrate when we are distracted. A disorganized physical environment normally induces mental distraction as well.
Reduce clutter in your life it has a direct influence in your mental clarity.
In this day of social media apps, email, TV and other digital forms of communication there is mass production of information that is overwhelming the masses. We need to have social media, internet browsing and digital media time offs to improve our clarity of thought.
– Meditation and Emotional Mastery
Our minds left to their own devices keep on wondering. We are either living in the past or future and not giving our present actions their due focus. This is where meditation is vital and leaving space for the mind to settle is key.
There is a reason why all key religions strive to ensure their followers have periods of self-reflection and contemplation. They recognize the importance of deep meditation and its influence on our focus and concentration.
Harness the power of meditation in our lives to improve the mastery over our actions and emotions.
2. Habit Formation Time Table Management, To Do Lists and Systematic organization of our time
The most successful individuals are adherents to processes and systems especially Calendar Management of their time. Systems are actually habits in an indirect sense. Procrastination is a bad habit/system that works against us.
Decisiveness, systematic organization and a bent for action are the habits that are the direct opposites of procrastination. We need to embrace an identity of an action taker, doer to counter the vice of procrastination.
Having our key projects broken down to constituent mile stones and individual tasks which are then incorporated into our calendars does have a positive effect on our total organization.
No CEO worth their title does not have a tightly scripted calendar. Operating without such tools is a predicator for failure.
3. Energy Management and Massive Action
We cannot perform or execute tasks when we are ill and faced with poor health. Exercise, sleep and diet come into play here.
It’s crucial we manage these three aspects carefully. Without managing our energy optimally, we cannot perform optimally. We have to be in peak shape, both physically and mentally, to execute our tasks to the standards of execution they deserve.
Atomic Habits – James Clear
Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world – Carl Newport
Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable – Tim Grover
The 10x Rule- Grant Cardone
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – Dave Allen
The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy
15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management – Kevin Kruse
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield