It was during the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon 2019, which held on Saturday, February 2, 2019 that I heard, for the first time, the ubiquitous refrain in Lagos, ‘gbe body e’ (Yoruba statement for any of:‘arise’, ‘be active’, ‘pick up yourself’, ‘do not relent’), depending  on  the  context  of  its  use.  As we(runners) approached the Admiralty Circle Plaza, close to Oriental Hotel, we were assailed with the constant shout of ‘gbe body e’ by very excited bystanders from both ends of the Lekki-Epe expressway, as their own distinct way of encouraging us to push harder regarding the marathon, against the natural/human tether of fatigue.

The encouraging slogan also reverberated through other routes, especially on Akin Adesola and Bishop Oluwole Streets in Victoria Island, until we ended the run at Eko Atlantic. I did a mental interpretation of the phrase, and I thought about it in the context of avoiding procrastination, which I loosely define as “postponement of actions and tasks that a person needed to perform or execute.” Only recently, many Nigerians and members of the academic, literary, and media communities across the world passionately mourned the demise of Professor Pius Adesanmi, a Nigerian born Canadian, raised in Ilorin, Kwara state, but of the Okun ethnic descent in Kogi state. He was an academic; a writer, columnist, satirist, public affairs commentator, public policy analyst, husband, and father, and was also the Director of Institute of African Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Prof. Adesanmi, born in 1972, and who died at 47, was a member of my age range, my generation. Having graduated at a very young age of 20 in 1992, with a First Class B.A. degree in French Language at the University of Ilorin, at a period  when  such  a  class  of  degree was a herculean task due to so many factors, Pius set out in life as though he was in a hurry to achieve so many things before 50. Truly, the life Pius lived was an example in ‘gbe body e’ in many ramifications. He was awarded Masters and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in record time, from University of Ibadan and Canada’s British Columbia University respectively, and he capped it all  with  the  rank  of  Professor  of  Literature  and African Studies at Carleton University, Canada, in 2006 at age 34. He received many global recognitions and awards, which some people may not have received in two lifetimes. At personal and professional levels, procrastination is a major hindrance to progress, and it has been documented as one of the human frailties that are difficult to tame.

Procrastination occurs owing to legion reasons. Some of these include setting unclear/vague goals, being indecisive, anxiety, having too many things to do, excessive likeness of perfectionism, being afraid of failure, lack of self-motivation, regularly acting on a whim, lack of coordination, and the “what people may say” factor.  The following are practical steps to combat procrastination.

First, set clearly defined goals along with realistic deadlines. The tendency to set abstract goals, such as ‘I will write the proposal tomorrow’, ‘I should have it forwarded to you sometime soon’, etc. may actually aid procrastination.

Second, goals should be made smaller and actionable. Having highfalutin goals that tend toward the abnormally impossible is an exercise in self-deceit. When goals are broken down into bits that are truly actionable, the probability of conquering the malaise of procrastinating is more assured.

Third, do a self-introspection to determine why you procrastinate. Is it laziness? Is it a lack of self-motivation? Is it a laissez-faire attitude? Is it about your personal ‘productivity cycle’? Productivity cycle largely means periods of better performance of tasks by an individual. For some people, it is early morning at the office before most other employee resume with a view to avoiding distractions of telephone calls, emails, a knock on the door, meaningless gossips, etc. For others, it is very late at night when most ‘normal human beings’ are asleep. Once you know why you procrastinate, at a personal level, the solutions are no longer far-fetched.

Fourth, it is wise to conquer your fears and tendency to give excuses. The fear I referred to might be in the form of likely negative feedback, unanticipated consequences, etc., while excuses for not executing tasks could be ‘manufactured’ by anyone. Once you combat these two, focuses, which is essential for preventing procrastination, is easier to achieve.

Fifth, you should be accountable to yourself, directly, or through a trusted person.  Self accountability is desirable, but when other factors inhibit this, having someone else to monitor your progress on a task, is a good alternative.

Sixth, you should learn a way of rewarding yourself for progress attained. This kind of personal reward might be in the form of taking time off, having fun with friends, getting a personal gift, moderate self-indulgence, etc.

Seventh, discountenance distractions, which come in many ways, including long hours spent on watching TV (movies, multiple football games, soaps, especially the ubiquitous Telemundo/Novellas’), browsing through social media, notably in these days of too many disruptive WhatsApp platforms and groups; indoor and outdoor drinking, etc.

Lastly, you should recreate and refresh your self-motivation by visualizing the future- the ‘post-execution’ phase. This could arise in the form of imagining your state of mind and positive emotions after having delivered a project, written and launched a book, organized a ‘tough’ event, met a target, won a trophy, etc.

 

Concluding, I dare to modify that popular axiom: procrastination is the thief of time, to my version, namely: “procrastination is the thief of life”. You! Yes, you, that is reading this piece; regarding your career, family life, love life, relationships, aspirations, spirituality, aptitude, etc, etc: ‘gbe body e’!

 

Tajudeen Ahmed, a strategy expert, with several years of senior management experience in consulting, commercial banking, and FMCG, is the General Manager/Group Head Business Development at BUA Group.

 

CULLED FROM: Businessday of o1:04:2019

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