March 25th marks International Procrastination Day, an opportunity for us, African women, to reflect on the impact of this phenomenon on our lives and find solutions to overcome it.

What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is the systematic act of delaying important tasks, creating feelings of stress and anxiety. It can affect everyone, but women in general, and African women in particular, seem to be especially vulnerable.

Factors Favoring Procrastination in African Women:

The factors are numerous and include, but are not limited to:

Mental Load: African women often carry heavy family and professional responsibilities, which can overwhelm them and lead them to postpone tasks.

Social Pressure: The weight of tradition and cultural expectations can hinder African women in their ambitions and encourage them to conform to societal expectations, blocking their desire to do more for fear of being judged.

Lack of Self-Confidence: The imposter syndrome and self-doubt fueled by a patriarchal society can prevent African women from embarking on projects and encourage them to procrastinate.

Perfectionism: The desire to do everything perfectly can paralyze African women and prevent them from taking action.
Fear of Failure: The fear of not being up to the task can lead to delaying the deadline of a task.

Lack of Motivation: The lack of interest in a task or project can undermine motivation and encourage procrastination.

Fear of Judgment: Fear of being seen as zealous or doing too much, of not being within the norm and being treated as women who are too ambitious and want to compete with men’s societal position, therefore bad for themselves and others, can also be a basis for procrastination in women.

Disparities in Access to Education and Resources: The lack of opportunities can limit aspirations and motivation.
Consequences of Procrastination:

The consequences of this evil are numerous and equally relevant:

Stress and Anxiety: Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy, harming mental and physical health.

Decreased Productivity: Delaying tasks affects efficiency and can hinder professional and personal development.

Lack of Achievement: Procrastination can prevent African women from achieving their dreams and reaching their full potential.

Procrastination: Towards a Pathology?

Procrastination can become a pathology when it becomes chronic and seriously impacts daily life. This is called procrastination disorder, which may require professional help.
It can also be a symptom of a pathology such as depression, anxiety (mentioned above), or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In this case, it is important to consult a mental health professional for diagnosis and appropriate management.

No More Putting Things Off: Tips for African Women:

Set Realistic Goals: Define clear, specific, and measurable goals (SMART) so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the flow of things to do.

Break Tasks Down into Small Steps: Divide complex tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, taking into account the time frame for completing these tasks.

Plan and Organize Your Time: Use planning tools and set priorities for your tasks. In terms of tools, you can use artificial intelligence or other existing solutions to plan effectively.

Delegate: Don’t hesitate to delegate some tasks to lighten your mental load. You don’t have ten hands, so it’s perfectly normal to prioritize certain tasks and delegate others so that you don’t rush anything.

Learn to Say No: Know how to refuse tasks that are not a priority or that overwhelm you. This does not make you incompetent or disloyal. Refusing to do certain tasks that you are not passionate about, for example, because they will take you more time and energy, does not mean that you do not want to be rich and that you are unnecessarily selective.

Celebrate Your Successes: Encourage yourself and recognize your efforts, even for small victories. This exercise will surely boost you, as all those who do it assure us.

Recharge: Procrastination can be your body’s way of telling you that it’s tired, so listen to yourself and take care of yourself by taking a break, a leave of absence, or a vacation to recharge, regenerate, and clear your mind. The world will not burn in your absence, but your world can go up in smoke if you do not take good care of your body and mind. Go out with friends or family, reconnect with nature, play sports, meditate, there are so many positive things to do and that are effective.

Get Help: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your entourage or a professional if you feel that procrastination is handicapping you. A problem shared is a problem half solved, so communicate about this evil to free yourself from it.

Procrastination: Uprooting the Weed!

As women and Africans, we have the power to uproot the weed of procrastination and seize our destiny. By becoming aware of the factors that hold us back and adopting effective strategies outlined in this article, we can overcome this challenge like the forces of nature we are and achieve our full potential for a just world for all humans!
Let’s be the agents of our own change!

Remember: You are not alone! Procrastination is a challenge we can all overcome together!

Pélagie Blewussi

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