Procrastination: how to not rush deadlines

Procrastination: how to not rush deadlines

Procrastination: how to not rush deadlines



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For many, the office is where much of the stress comes from. When work is overwhelming, some people would bite the bullet to finish it by stretching themselves and extending their work hours. Others, on the contrary, would try to evade stress and keep a blind eye to their responsibilities until the very last moment when no more delay is possible. This is known as “procrastination.” How this would exert even more pressure to us physiologically and mentally? If you become procrastinating, how should you deal with it? We are happy to have Dr Alex Chiu, Medical Director, Health and Employee Benefits of AXA and Dr Ting Sing-chuen, Vice-Chairman, Mental Health Foundation to explain all this to us.

65% of Hongkongers stressed with work but delaying is no solution

According to a recent survey 2020 “AXA Wellness Index,” more than 80% of the working class in Hong Kong have experienced moderate to high degree of pressure in the past six months, with 65% saying work is the key source of stress. Imagine a scenario when you have to conduct an important meeting, but presentation is not yet ready the night before. What would you choose to do?

1.       Staying up late to work it through;

2.       Get some sleep and dash in the morning.

Picking the first tactic means working deep into the night, and you probably have a bad sleep because the brain is still actively functioning when you are in bed. The next day, you cannot hope for great performance with your body in a bad shape. If you choose the second option, although you may work more effectively with some rest, the pressure mounting up because of the deadline may actually ended in messing things up.

Time management helps relieve stress

Dr Chiu points out that “procrastination” is not an illness. Rather, it is more of a bad habit that makes yourself and other people suffer - change it and things will get better. In the above example, the presentation preparation will obviously be better if you start working on it a few days earlier.

If signs of slackness emerge, Dr Chiu suggests we can overcome it by altering our behavior to avoid having to race deadlines constantly. Firstly, don’t hinge on the hope that things will work out okay by itself in the end. Instead, practise time management and schedule your works according to their importance. For difficult or complex jobs, you can improve the motivation by segregating the job into several more simple and smaller tasks. In this way, you can accomplish each task easier.  

See a doctor if it’s ruining life

Dr Ting agrees that procrastination in general is not a disease. But certain psychiatric problems do manifest procrastination as a symptom. For example:

1.       Anxiety: one chooses to dodge the fear of facing difficulties;

2.       Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Inability to concentrate results in jobs being kicked down the timeline;

3.       Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Inability to make decisions causes delays.

In case life is seriously affected by procrastination, Dr Ting recommends a consultation with a doctor. Non-medicinal means such as cognitive therapy and executive functioning therapy could help patients return to normal life, even if the procrastination may incur by other diseases.