Procrastination: Good And Bad

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I have been trying to write this article since my last post but procrastination got the best of me and I’ve found myself giving excuses why I shouldn’t.

Sounds familiar? I guess so. You have something important to get done but you keep putting it off till the very last minute.

We are all guilty of procrastination – one way or another. Everybody procrastinates at some point for a variety of reasons, some of which are unconvincing to anyone including ourselves.

Procrastination is a bad habit that can prevent one from meeting his/her deadline or preparing well for an exam/meeting/interview. As a result, it is a basic tool for prioritisation and time management.

As students, we procrastinate for assignments, dissertation, thesis and/or exam at some point. For instance, it’s exam time and you’ve planned to make most of your day but at the end of the day you find out that you’ve actually read for just an hour and wasted time sleeping, watching television, cleaning your room, calling your friends/family, surfing the net, chatting or whatever other diversion you can devise.

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We try to avoid doing an important task by becoming involved with less important tasks. In the end, we feel guilty, race against time and thence put ourselves under unnecessary pressure/stress due to our fire-brigade approach to things.

Fear may be the reason why we procrastinate. The fear of failure or success can prevent one from doing a task even when s/he knows s/he should. We are often afraid to start a task because it appears tedious, or don’t know how/where to start, or feel our effort will not be appreciated.

Fear can make one anxious when faced with a task but imagine the adrenaline rush one feels when a deadline for an important task (that will not be completed because of procrastination) is around the corner. We often procrastinate to avoid stress but are faced with even more stress, anxiety, shame and guilt in the long run.

Completing your work on time gives one a sense of strength, peace of mind and self-control. It saves you from receiving an earful from your boss and also, mental stress which be harmful to your health.

However, procrastination isn’t always a bad thing; it can be a good thing. It is sometimes good to procrastinate. Sometimes it is good to delay life decisions; take a step back, relax and think the whole thing through.

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Sometimes we can get too emotionally attached to a problem and become psychologically drained to come up with a solution. For instance, replying a mail or SMS when one is angry can make one regret his/her actions but procrastination can help one come up with the most useful answer.

Procrastination can give you a break from work which is actually a good thing. Being glued to your work can leave you stressed and out of ideas. Procrastination helps you to take some time out to re-energise thereby improving the quality of your work.

During my Master’s degree, I found my dissertation hectic. I spent months trying to find the solution to a problem. Surprisingly, the solution came to me when/where I least expected it. I took my foot off the pedal, travelled and came up with a solution whilst taking a shower.

Procrastination is a natural phenomenon. Some tasks will always be more important than others on our scale of preference. We have to purposefully prioritise the important ones and defer the less important ones.

Procrastination becomes a problem when it is used as a form of escape from reality or when it diminishes productivity. Learn to procrastinate well.

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Pay Attention To Your Feedback

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As a Nigerian, I have come to realise that one of the things we, as a people, are often afraid of is people’s criticisms/negative feedback. No one likes to be criticised so we tend to develop strong resistance and reluctance to it.

Critiques often trigger strong emotions in us all. We tend to get bitter, angry or try to hurt people who have offered their critiques. We create a defensive stance to protect our self-worth which we feel is under vicious attack.

As a result, we try to disconnect from our social environment and prefer to live in our heads or associate with people who share our ideas and values. We develop an intemperate dislike for other people’s values/opinions and grow insensitive to people’s differences.

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Our environment encompasses people from different cultures and backgrounds who we interact with on a daily basis. We fail to understand that paying attention to our environment is necessary for human survival.

Almost everything we do is for the public – large or small. For instance, an entrepreneur develops his/her products for public consumption, a teacher/lecturer does his job for his students (public), the students do their school work to impress their teachers (public), the public office holders serve the poor masses etc. Thus, no matter what you do, we depend on people’s feedback to forge ahead.

Your ideas/work may seem brilliant to you but without feedback from people, our ideas/endeavours become especial and illusions. Hear American Rapper 50 Cent, “The public is never wrong. When people don’t respond to what you do, they are telling you something loud and clear. You’re just not listening.

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I remember when I presented a scientific paper about a year ago. In my head, I did pretty Ok amid the response from the audience but the examiners thought otherwise. Although they commended my delivery, they critiqued the information. I was disappointed at first but after meeting with them privately, areas of the presentation that were flawed and needed to be worked on became magnified/clearer to me. 

Just as I had thought, we often deceive ourselves into thinking we have an insight into how the public feels about us/our work but this information is often tainted and false. This is because we prefer to surround ourselves with friends/family or sycophants who may envy or praise our every move thereby creating a distance between us and the real information out there (the public).

For example, our politicians/leaders/public office holders distance themselves from the people they represent, lecturers distance themselves from the students they teach, employers/superiors distance themselves from the employees/subordinates thereby creating a huge communication gap and thence false feedback from the public. Distancing yourself from the public can be tragic because feedback is so crucial to success. By bridging this gap, we encourage direct interaction with the public and allow them to voice their criticisms and feedback.

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It is impossible to please everyone or control what other people will say, whether they’ll approve or share their opinions but the strength of interacting with the public does not come from the quantity but the quality of your feedback. If you have little or no access to the public, then how do you learn from your mistakes? How do you improve? How do you know you are ignorant? How do you know what the people want?

Criticisms and critiques are never easy to receive/accept but they give you an idea how people see you. Pay attention to your feedback, the most important information in the world, and transform it into an opportunity for personal growth, emotional development, time efficiency, improved relationships, and self-confidence.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

Finding Balance Fun and Focus

Ecclesiates 3:1 – To all things there is an appointed time, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Striking a balance between fun and focus can be a herculean task. Sometimes we prioritize work/school and focus solely on results/grades/achievements, forgetting the real world out there for us to explore and have fun. On the contrary, some give little attention to school/work because they believe their social life trumps every aspect of their lives.

Problems arise when one neglects other important areas of his/her life. You may lose friends and family if you preoccupy yourself with school/work but may also be taken less seriously if you largely focus on fun. These areas, if not balanced, will negatively influence your success and happiness. Balance between focus and fun is key to a happy successful life.

At a very young age, I was made to understand that a child educated only at school is an uneducated child. The advice I received still echo in my head – “As you pass through the school; try and allow the school to pass through you.”

Fun, including personal relationships, is essential to one’s general health, wellbeing and optimal functioning. The health of your focus/fun balance depends on the quality of your relationships.

If you have been opportune to be part of a Sports team, you’d notice every coach sets aside days for his team to socialise and bond together. In Ecclesiastes 9:7, King Solomon implored Christians to have a little fun, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Teachers also advice their students to take some time off and have fun to refresh their minds, lower their stress levels and renew their focus.

Emotions have a huge effect on an individual’s health – whether physical, mental or social health. Emotional wellbeing can affect your academic, professional and personal success.

It is important to set goals and be passionate about them but we need to balance all kinds of things in our lives. Before you can be the real you, you ought to have a balanced life. Finding a balance in everything that you do allows you to live a balanced life and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your views on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

Mental Health: A Need For Awareness

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Mental health problems are on meteoric rise across the globe. I read an interesting article which identified mental health disorders as the fifth leading cause of death and disease worldwide. Interestingly, Nigeria, along with China, North Korea and Japan were the four countries mentioned to have low burden of death and disease from mental disorders.

This could be due to the fact that the average Nigerian mind races to madness (psychosis) probably inflicted on a person by haters from his or her village, when mental health is mentioned. Many fail to realise that alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, sleep issues, emotions such as anxiety and depression, levels of stress, self-harming and suicide are all linked to mental health.

As a result, very few Nigerians pay attention to their mental health. Judging with what is happening right now, one can predict that mental health issues of Nigerians, especially the youths will skyrocket in the next five to ten years. And this should be seen as a major public health concern.

Before you start critiquing this; I am yet to research on this so I have no raw data to back my claims hence this is just an opinion, observation or assertion.

Nigerian youths are faced with numerous problems in our country today. From joblessness (unemployment) through relationship/marriage problems to alcohol and drug abuse etc. And these can do serious damage to one’s mental health.

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First, parents put a lot of pressure on their kids to study and become a doctor, engineer or lawyer. Many may lack the abilities and capabilities required to reach the educational goals set by the parents and in the end, become stressed, anxious and depressed or may resort to drug abuse/alcoholism to take the pain away.

Then, if one scales through these hurdles and graduates, one enthusiastically applies for numerous jobs as many believe their job defines them and earns them respect. If unsuccessful after a long search, one may lose confidence and self-esteem.

Unemployment can take a huge toll on a fresh graduate’s pysche. The stages of unemployment are initial shock, depression and finally adjustment. Depression may cause them to isolate themselves from friends and family.

Next, the never-ending pressure on a young Nigerian lady, from family and society, to marry and have a family. Although many claim unfazed, being single may increase the risk of developing mental health problems in adulthood.

Nevertheless, ending a relationship/marriage through separation, divorce or death may also cause an increased risk of mental health disorders. Relationships are hard-work and often drains one’s emotional energy. People may be happier whilst married or in relationship but the effects on mental health once separated by death or divorce may be far worse than being single.

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It is never easy when a relationship/marriage ends. The breakup can trigger negative emotions, such as sadness, hate, disappointment and depression, which one may never recover from. The more break-ups one has, the more his/her mental health  progressively deteriorates.

Emergence of social media hasn’t helped either; it has increased comparison, cyber-bullying, restlessness, glamorization of sex, drugs and alcohol use and crowd mentality amongst the youths to appear cool. People put more pressure on themselves when they see achievements of others thereby elevating their stress levels, anxiety and depression. If they feel they are falling behind, they may make matters worse by turning to drugs or alcohol.

Mental health issues can prevent one from living his/her dream, starting a family or becoming useful to his nation. And this should be treated as a serious health scare. Mental health awareness should be made to safeguard emotional wellbeing of Nigerian youths.

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Good Health is Underated

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“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind clear and strong” – Budha

As we go through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often lose focus on what’s really important – we tend to forget just how important good health is to leading a successful life.

Health, they say, is real wealth but
not many individuals make out time in their busy schedules and lifestyles to care for themselves. We are so engrossed in our ambitions and aspirations, without realising all these are meaningless in the absence of a healthy lifestyle. However, health is dynamic; our health levels change in tandem with our changing lifestyles.

Good health is a priceless asset to oneself, his family and nation at large – it is a heritage to be passed on due to the importance of heredity in this respect. Consequently, it is a burden not just to oneself but to one’s family and one’s nation to maintain good health.

I found it alarmingly disturbing that something as important as health of the citizenry was played down by erstwhile President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his successor, Muhummadu Buhari during the Presidential elections campaign. Whilst focusing mainly on infrastructure, economy and anti-corruption; both paid no heed to the words of
Will Durant, who said “The health of nations is more important than the wealth of nations.”

A decline in health levels of the citizenry will affect almost everything – including economic growth/development via total factor productivity. An ailing citizenry lack zest for daily pursuits hence retarding the pace of functional activity and economic development. This provides an insight why  underdevelopment persists in our country despite the massive turnover of Nigerian graduates year in, year out.

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Health is central to one’s whole personality and optimal state of well being. When discussed, people have varying definitions of health but most focus on the conditions of their bodies – physical aspect of health. Although physical health is important to overall health, our social, emotional/mental and spiritual health are just as important as physical health. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Health refers to a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Good health is pivot to human happiness – a state of the mind – through well-functioning mind and emotions. Everybody lusts after happiness and desperately relishes the pursuit of this holy grail.

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Attaining/maintaining good health is not a single-action but continuous process. People practise good health in diverse ways ranging from food, exercise, rest, cleanliness to social interactions. I am not a dietician so I can’t offer you expert advice on what to eat to maintain good health but I do know this..exercise and sleep really help.

Adequate sleep and exercise are extremely important to staying healthy both in body and mind. Arianna Huntington, the owner of Huntington Post, described sleep, in her book Thrive, as “the most underrated health habit”. Sleep can stimulate imagination/innovation, enhance one’s memory and attention, ease stress and depression, and boost one’s performance/grades but lack of sleep has a huge effect on mental health, hormonal imbalance and susceptibility to heart disease and diabetes.

Furthermore, exercise, for the body and mind, is highly recommeneded to be done as often as possible. Whilst the recommendation of physical exercise is common with various workout manuals and videos out there, mental exercise is often neglected but is vital as well. One can also exercise his/her mind by learning new things everyday, reading a book, doing cross word puzzles/scrabble/sudoku, calculating sums in your head etc.

The importance of practising good health is evident in every aspect of one’s life, including your relationships. Without good health, we fall short of the joys and pleasures of life – our aspirations and ambitions. Always remember: everybody dies but not everyone lives. Start living today.

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