Jemima Ughen


Like many people, you are probably settling back to work after the much needed holidays. (Hopefully, you actually took a break.) So here you are, with all your resolutions and new energy. 2020 is that year, right? Where we hit all the goals and achieve everything on our vision board. The only problem is our tendency to procrastinate. That book you want to write, that song you want to produce, have you started giving excuses? Maybe you are already turning January goals to March because you think you have time.

Personally, as far as goals go, I like to work with deadlines. With deadlines, you can plan your time and manage your tasks properly. And you get to avoid pushing your results towards an imagined future date. The thing about procrastination is that it rears its ugly head at the most important phase of a project. The execution stage. I remember Uni days studying a course that was 100% coursework. It was basically executing brief after brief and project and after project, both in teams and alone. I was very good at laying the foundation, doing the groundwork and strategizing, even down to planning a work schedule. But when it came to the actual execution, I lagged behind.

Back then, Instagram wasn’t even a thing (yes this shows my age, lol.) Still, I found other ways to procrastinate. And it cost me. I met my deadlines at the last minute and the work was good but sub-standard. I knew it and my lecturers knew it. And the thing with procrastination is, it pushes you into a cycle. Dealing with the disappointment of my lecturers and my disappointment in my sub-standard work led me to beat myself up. And beating yourself up does the complete opposite of motivating you to do better. So you find yourself in a cycle of defeat.

Now, I am anything but lazy. I have since come to realize that procrastination and laziness are not the same things. When you’re lazy you can’t be bothered to do anything, whether you actually enjoy it or not. And I discovered that I was well able to do other things, that I enjoyed, that came easy to me. But if you don’t do the hard stuff, how will you grow?

So I’m all grown up now, well not really but I’m wiser now and I’ve learned that in the real world you can lose much more than the faith of your lecturers. You can lose jobs, clients, money and great opportunities if you procrastinate. I helped myself by acknowledging my bad behaviour and learning my triggers. As an adult, especially if you have a lot on your plate, you tend to do the things that come easy to you first, because your brain likes that. I had to reverse that and do the hard things first. You know, get them out the way then onto the easier things. If I’m overwhelmed by a project or task, I break it down and take it bit by bit, step by step because yes, the big picture can look so overwhelming that you shrink back from it till it’s too late. I also learned to understand my body. My brain is much sharper in the morning, this wasn’t always a case though, there was a time I was nocturnal and my brain was much sharper at night, but let’s say I’ve evolved. So I know to do the tasks that are harder for me, early in the morning when my brain is ‘woke’.

I’ve learned real life doesn’t always forgive you for procrastination and even if you think you got away with it, something else ultimately gets affected. So am I procrastination free? No. But am I taking deliberate steps to do better? Yes. Because we need to do better this 2020.

Written by Jemima Ughen from Lady’s Room blog