Procrastination: The Thief Of Time

" Perfectionism is procrastination masquerading as quality control " - Steven Barnes, Fictional writer. In primary school, before I turned 13, I loved using the phrase 'procrastination is the thief of time' whenever I made references to being late because I didn't accomplish something on time or when I had to do something within a given time frame without putting it off. I didn't really mean what I was saying. I was writing essays and the most profound vocabulary got you the highest marks and that is what I was after. So don't you judge 12-year-old me. In hind-sight however, this earlier version of me had an idea. How many times have we put off doing something saying we will do it when we get time or when we are feeling better or when the conditions are right? Do we end up doing said things eventually. We put off so many things including our own lives, oblivious to the fact that time is running out constantly. We are not getting any younger you know. Let's throw in the concept of perfectionism. Everyone has their own definition of perfect. Your partner is the most perfect being ever. You got perfect scores on a test. The creator of the universe, be it God, Allah or whomever you believe in, is the benchmark for perfection. But, are humans really perfect? Neigh, are our processes really perfect? At your organization, you may have a fool-proof plan on how to do your projects, how you hire employees and how you run your days at the office. Let us use project implementation for this conversation. So, you have a project for a client. The documentation is in-accordance to compliance regulations, the financial details are superb, the technical aspect of your technologies is immaculate. However, on your letterhead, the shade of green varies slightly from your company logo. Now for most people, this is easily overlooked. However, your neuroticism entered the group chat and that is the only thing you can think of. "Our company logo is Chartreuse not citrine green", you say. However, these aren't common color names. Most would go with common names like lime green, but you have to go overboard and make a mountain out of a mole hill. So you decide that every page of every document has to be redone until you get the right shade of green. Until then, no document exits the premises. Unbeknownst to you, the deadline of submission of the documents is within an hour. However, until the logo is perfect, you would rather play Russian roulette than risk an appalling logo seeing the light of day. Not only have you wasted resources and people's time re-doing documents whose only blemish could be relegated to the back of the reader's mind, but also created a situation that has drained a team's willingness to tolerate and/or work with you, all in the name of quality control. To bring it all home, let's attribute it to our lives. How many personal projects, goals and ambitions have you put off, claiming you are waiting for the perfect conditions? Sure, there are times when the stars align, but that is a one-in-a-million chance. You know you need to get your health in order. Stop eating junk, hit the gym and go on a diet. Yet you claim you will start in the middle of the year when people have given up on the gym so that all the equipment is yours. Maybe the systems in your office need an update or a backup, but you keep telling yourself that pulling down the systems will cause irreparable damage to clients. However what do you think will cause more damage: Data that can never be recovered if lost or 20 minute downtimes? You pick your poison. We have all been in positions where we postpone doing what is necessary citing absentia of the perfect conditions. I reality, we are just afraid of the aftermath of our decisions. Eventually, we will have to do the necessary. The sooner the better not to mention. Nothing is perfect. In fact, no one is perfect. No process is 100% fool-proof. There will always be loopholes in every system. However, the best we can do is streamline things as time goes by. Sure, not everything may go according to plan in the beginning but there will always be room for improvement. The conditions may never be right. The stars may never align and the universe may work against you. But I would sleep better knowing I took a chance on life, may have taken a few blows, but I am in a better space than I was when I started. Would you say the same?

Jessie

jesse.wainaina@3qs.co.ke

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