Best Lesson: How to beat procrastination with tips from a master procrastinator

By junior reporter Alpha Ngai

This junior reporter learned how to break down big tasks in manageable chunks while working on a community project

By junior reporter Alpha Ngai |

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After changing his work habits, Alpha was able to make the “Sing With Your Hearts” event a success.

I humbly crown myself “The King of Procrastination”. My parents often joke that I am the “ambassador of”, which is often all too true. I do put off doing things a lot – by which I mean that I do it every second of every minute of every day. I try to be organised by making a schedule, but when I try to start working, my mind nags at me to do something fun instead, like watching YouTube or playing video games. Amazingly, I’ve always somehow been able to procrastinate for ages and still manage to finish my assignments and projects on time. Everything was fine … until a recent event changed that.

Last October, I decided to organise an event called “Sing With Your Hearts” to promote the use of sign language and gain more support for Hong Kong’s deaf community. The date was set for April 14, 2019, and the event would feature performances from various organisations, including a sign language choir that I had recruited.

I made a plan of all the important things I needed to do, including making the project proposal, writing letters to sponsors, and other logistic arrangements.

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However, whenever I sat in front of my computer and started working, the procrastination king that lives inside my brain would say, “Hey, relax! Let’s play a game”. Once my mind began wandering to thoughts of gaming, it never looked back. Before I knew it, it was already the middle of November. And yet, my mind still told me not to worry. My years of experience in procrastinating had taught me that I could simply work longer and faster later down the line to get everything done. In the blink of an eye, another week passed. The work simply refused to get done.

Alarm bells didn’t begin to ring until one day when I was helping the sign language choir practise their performance. One of the parents came up to me and said, “My seven-year-old daughter is excited to learn the sign language song and perform. She practises all the time at home. ”

I then realised how much the project meant to the children, the parents, and the community. If I failed an exam, it would only impact me, but if I failed in this project, I would disappoint the people who had trusted me.

Alpha helps the choir practise their sign language.
Photo: Alpha Ngai

So I finally made the effort to change my work habits. I made a brand new schedule, printed out two copies onto A3 paper and stuck one right next to my desk, and the other onto the bathroom door. I sent out my proposals to the sponsors within two days. I kept calling them until I had secured the venue in Mong Kok. I explained to various groups about the purpose of the project.

With a positive attitude, sincerity, and a lot of perseverance, I managed to get eight groups to perform sign language songs, using different musical instruments, dance or drama. The process ended up being a great example of the cooperation of deaf and non-deaf groups working together.

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I broke my tasks into smaller tasks to help me move forward step by step. When I saw the big smiles from the audience, performers, parents, and children, I knew I’d done the right thing by overcoming my procrastinating ways.

The procrastination king still works very hard in my brain. I still want to relax and enjoy life, but I know what my priorities are now.

If you are a procrastinator too, try to break down your tasks. The key is to remind yourself of your long-term goals. We can all become the fullest version of ourselves and make the world a kinder and better place, and finally step down from the procrastinator’s throne.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge