Allow me to reintroduce myself: My name is Bett, and I am a serial procrastinator. (This is the part where you all say in unison, “Hey, Bett.”)
I am embarrassed to confess that I start tasks then take lengthy unnecessary breaks before completing them. It has become a terrible habit. I procrastinate mundane and not-so-mundane tasks.
Months ago, I promised my mum-in-law a new duvet and a set of bed sheets. (This is what daughters-in-law do. Ahem.)
I got her the bed sheets then stalled because the duvet needs to be made-to-order in some dull store on Biashara Street.
I prefer these ones because they are stuffed with high-quality felt, not cotton. Mum-in-law deserves the best.
I procrastinate my morning runs, never mind that I got a sexy running watch from Amazon to monitor my stats. The excuses at 5am are spectacularly endless.
I have also been meaning to master photography: how to shoot with the manual lenses on my Olympus camera.
MISSED WORK TRIP
I wanted Ankara dresses tailored. I dropped the fabric at my fundi, Otile, back in March.
I took so long to get measured and send designs that I eventually lost all urgency. Otile sits with his sewing machine in Kibera – the thought of taking the trip gives me a migraine.
Then there are the not-so-mundane tasks. My passport expired a year ago. I procrastinated reapplying for a new one, and later missed a work trip to Cape Town.
The client said they wanted “someone with a ready passport.” that is, someone who takes themselves seriously.
I run a couple of side hustles and I am the head of finance. One of my duties is to invoice our clients. Invoicing is such boring work, goodness.
I first have to draft the invoice in our template then key in quantities and unit cost and sum them up; then check the invoice for accuracy and completeness then send it to the client.
There never seems to be a good time to prepare invoices. Mornings are prime writing time; Thursdays are great for big screen movies; Saturdays for Toi Market. What day and time is best for invoicing?
I am also the bookkeeper for my chama. I have not prepared – or circulated – monthly accounts in donkey years. My excuse: no one bothers to open them anyway.
The thing about procrastinating money tasks is that it directly relates to a financial loss – you can quantify this loss in time, shillings and cents.
Case in point: Last I procrastinated invoicing the clients for one of my biasharas we had so much money tied up in un-invoiced deliveries that our bank balance went into the negative.
(This is when the chickens came home to roost. They jolted me to develop a fun functional system for invoicing. More on that another day.)
By not sending my chama’s books monthly, I am slowing down our synergy.
One of the members may examine the books and it sparks an investment idea. The cost of the procrastination is the cost of the income from executing that idea.
You have been meaning to sign up to a Sacco to save Sh5,000 monthly. You tell yourself you will do it next month, when you have ‘money to spare’ or ‘time to dash into their offices in tao’.
Deferring means you will be Sh5,000 short of savings and its equivalent in annual dividends. Multiply that for every month you dilly-dally.
You need a new job but you push forward circulating your CV to prospective employers – you are feeling lazy to update your referees or remove that useless section about your hobbies.
You are denying yourself a bigger salary, new skills in a new work environment, and new colleagues who give too much attention to ‘Birthday Babies Month'. You are denying yourself cake.
ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
Procrastinating to sign up for a retirement policy means pulling money away from the hands of your retired 55-year-old self. You are stealing from yourself and from the elderly. Shame.
What else may you have mark-timed on that will ultimately take a toll on your income and time investment? Creating a monthly budget, signing up for a course in personal finance, starting a chama with your girls, nipping into the bank to research mortgages, going out of town to view plots for sale, and calling the insurance salesman back.
The rainy season is upon us and my parents-in-law are spending the nights freezing. If you will excuse me, I need to go order that duvet.
Ms Kinyatti is a certified accountant with ACCA and a former financial auditor.