Updated: Oct 10, 2021
An Issue of Emotional Management, Not Time
Since finding the garden cache beneath the rundown shed, my days have been restless; spent bent over the row crops, weeding and digging under the blazing sun. The trip to the well has become second nature as the hard work leaves me exhausted day by day; but, as I find myself at the genesis of this garden, I think back to my struggle with getting started. A couple of months ago, I was introduced to the idea that procrastination is more closely related to our emotions than to our time management skills. As I kneel over a stubborn weed and brace myself to pull, I can see how my emotional management has led me this far.
Understanding how the brain processes emotions strengthens this relationship by illuminating the involuntary emotional responses we face daily. The article, “The Anatomy of Emotions” by Deborah Halber examines the brain structures linked to emotion: the amygdala, the insular cortex, and the midbrain. As it explains, the amygdala controls our motivation and emotional behavior, the insula connects conscious action to internal states, and the midbrain in the brainstem focuses on pain perception, defensive and reproductive functions, and anxiety. By understanding how the brain categorizes emotions, we may understand how it may miscategorize them, making it harder to manage how we respond to them. Further, this encourages us to look beyond our initial feelings to reroute the trajectory of our actions and reactions, giving us a chance to step back and be objective about our self-management.
I struggle with procrastination everyday; one symptom of my mental health that hugely burdens me is an inability to get out of bed in the morning. I am guilty of abusing my snooze button and rolling over for an extra couple of hours of sleep when I wake up. By beginning my daily routine with procrastination, with the desire to delay and avoid the hardships I anxiously await, I allow my emotions to manage me. One thing that I have learned while researching this topic, though, is that procrastination is natural. Proving that it is more closely linked to emotional management than to time management shows that procrastination is an innate, human response to the stress of the tasks at hand. My first days in the garden were spent in the shed, making excuses as to why I was not ready to start this project; but, having found the joy in healing the garden, in this journey towards emotional intelligence, the stress of it all faded away and my procrastination went with it.
A 2020 study, “The Emotion Regulation Difficulties and Academic Procrastination”, investigates the relationship between emotional, self-management, and procrastination in a group of 250 students who have completed the Tuckman Procrastination Scale (TPS) and the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). They found that “15 to 20% of adults procrastinate,” while 50% of students experience chronic or frequent procrastination”; even more, they reported that “procrastinators struggle with self-regulation because they struggle with emotional regulation”. This study helps back up the former claims of the relationship between emotional management and procrastination with data while emphasizing the importance of self-management found in our everyday life.
With a 64 in self-management skills, I can relate to struggling with emotional management. Although I feel I know myself and have taken the time I need to listen to my emotions and emotional responses, I don’t always take the steps I know will make things better. Whether it be because I am too distressed to try to solve my problems or feeling too emotionally overwhelmed to address my issues, the bottom line is, I am not the best at taking care of myself; but it is never too late to start. Addressing the pitfalls in your emotional management and self-management skills is the first step to acknowledging where you lack so that you may grow. Here is what my coworkers have to say about their perception of my self-management skills. Their words have been revised, as needed, for clarity:
“[Nubia’s] social awareness score also surprised me, as I knew that she’s very understanding and intuitive in relation to her peers’ thoughts and feelings . . . I know she is also aware that she could do more to communicate effectively. She’s actually already begun to grow in this skill!”
“We all have areas in which we can grow, but I think Nubia has cultivated their garden with care and emotional insight. They have sowed their seeds, picked any weeds and are nurturing themselves toward the path to success.”
With an emphasis on human emotion, memory, and reliving experience, Nubia is a Chicago-based short, fiction writer. As a working-class, black woman their life experiences within hegemonic academia have informed their writing, pushing their interests towards the representation of the Other while capturing the varying perspectives of those deemed unworthy of empathy. Follow her on instagram @nubiapharah