Procrastination is a thief of precious brilliant ideas and time, an enemy of progress. It is the irrational delay of creativity against your own best interest for a short or extended period, making you more sensitive to pleasure of the moment, and creating great difficulty in concentrating on long-term tasks. The beauty of procrastination is its ubiquity. Everyone procrastinates from time to time, but not everyone is a procrastinator. It is a decision to not act; the real reasons – impulsiveness, hating the task, distraction and failing to plan. People procrastinate on important tasks by doing the unimportant ones. When tasks are left to the last moment, you can get sick, emergencies do happen, and work takes longer than thought, and as for the very bad outcomes resulting from your procrastination, imagine the worst. Delay makes bad things happen. Why not you? It is a disease that has eaten wide and deep into our moral standard which requires immediate and diligent actions. It is not our fault but, nonetheless, we still have to deal with it.
Procrastination has its personal price; it makes us miss, lose and suffer. It is capable of damaging all aspects of our life, causing grief, at school, at work, and in our private lives especially in relation to our wealth, health and happiness. No matter the measure attained, procrastinators perform worse. For instance, secondary school and universities students, about 40% of those that procrastinate have above-average grades, while 60% are below. Those of the lucky 40% recognize that though procrastination is a handicap, compensates it with other attributes like a brilliant mind. Do not fall into the trap of thinking it helps you out. Not that I should judge…. I put off study for too many tests and assignments, and tried erasing my late start by doing series of all-nighters for the examinations, a strategy that ended with me having just above-average grades. We all have similar story to share. Worse, this trend does not weaken when the stakes get raised. It is a major reason most potential PhD’s do not graduate ending up with 3 little letters after their names, ABD (All But Dissertation). Here is a specific illustration for procrastination:
You have just put off a major project, one you thought you had ample time for. Rather than getting to the task, you are doing other less important work, surfing the Internet, watching TV, chatting with friends and relatives on the social media – Procrastinating. Finally, the moment comes when you can no longer delay it and though it will be stressful, you should be able to handle it – except you just came down with a pulsating headache. Given all the extra time you had to deal with the project, you cannot use it as a justification without looking lazy and incompetent. You begin working on it, but the headache gets worse and worse, like a migraine. You are producing absolutely nothing valuable despite the excruciating pain as you try to work. As your eyes almost tear up with agony, you take some pain-killers only to find out it makes you sleepy and indeed, you do sleep. Waking up, it is already morning, and you are late for work. You rush to get there, and found that your boss has decided to gather all your colleagues in the boardroom for your presentation. The Managing Director of your company stops by and decides to listen in too. Being late, you rush to the podium and everyone awaits you to get started. As you try to explain you have accomplished nothing because of the headache, you stumble over your words and look like an utter fool. There is a long silence broken only by a few snickers, with your colleagues looking away and embarrassed to be associated with you. Afterwards, your boss discloses that she was thinking of promoting you, but now she will have to fire you instead – what you have done is inexcusable. One of the people at the meeting recorded your presentation with their mobile phone and posted it on YouTube, Face book, and other social networks, where people everywhere mock you. No one in your industry will even give you an interview and your career is ruined.
You can change the scenario to fit your situation, making it suit your specific distractions.
The impact of procrastination intensifies a little bit coming down to career success. Job hunting in a harsh economy such as we live in, is humbling – and humiliating – and tests you to the very core. As rejections and months of unemployment add up, the uncertainty which gnaws at you makes you doubt who you are. From the onset, procrastinators have trouble getting going. They delay job hunt or acquire skills that can earn them profit. When unemployed, they stay that way much longer. Once employed, most realize that work is more unforgiving than university.
Furthermore, on overall wealth, it is on a high side, affecting your bank balances, hitting your savings and spending in many ways. It does not just diminish your wealth by decreasing the time of your productivity; it also reduces benefits gained from the productivity. Wealth is not only determined by the money you make, but also by the money you save. Saving is a true path to riches. The more you safe, the more compound your interest. Saving does not just only help you, it helps the nation as a whole through your investments, thereby stimulating economic expansion. Too bad procrastinators seldom put money away for retirement or even a rainy day, playing the character of the grasshopper instead of the ant. This leads them borrowing excessively and putting off great ideas and planning. This can lead to financial ruin.
For most diseases, infections, growths and general ailments, early detection and treatment is always better, and yet people consistently delay. Given this lead, procrastinators tend to be among the least healthy people. To rub salt into the sand, not only do they only less likely pursue treatment, they indulge more in the very behaviour that create the need for treatment. They tend to do a little more smoking, excessive alcohol use, drug abuse, recklessness, fighting, amongst the likes; than a little less. They tap into procrastinators’ impulsiveness, making gratification the only thing they do not delay. If you presently partake in even half of these vices, you are not exactly a poster child for a healthy lifestyle. Odds are, your choices will catch up with you.
Finally, if procrastinators tend to be less wealthy and healthy, they are likely going to be less happy too. And they are. Partly due to stress of procrastination which gives rise to guilt. Inaction causes us the greater suffering. Not to have done, not to have tried, to have put it off. Looking back on our lives, we feel we should have gone for that degree, tried harder in class, learned some entrepreneurial skills, mustered up the courage and risked rejection for that date, made up time for that phone call or loved one. Occasionally, we are haunted by the ghost of our own lost possible selves – what we might have been: could have, should have, but did not. It reveals a lapse of character and lack of virtue.
Unfortunately for procrastination, its pervasiveness makes it an obvious target. Ever tried writing in a strip club? It is extraordinarily difficult. Why? You have motivationally polluted your mind and thoughts with distractions. Distractions are major enablers of procrastination. Taking advantage of the adage “out of sight, out of mind”, identify these distractions and its cues and cleanse them to discourage unwanted interruptions. Delete any Internet site/games hot-linked on your mobile phones/computer. Make plans and set goals, breaking them into manageable bits that occur regularly at same time and place. Create a specific finish line, schedule it soon and always keep track of your productivity. Most people choose careers that sap their motivation right from the start; let your passion be your vocation. By mastering how you spend money, work on saving more and investing it, and always, appreciate your handwork by rewarding yourself after completing a task. Above all, to diligently take the above necessary steps to move forward, you need to first admit you procrastinate and make a decision to stop it. Recognize you have the problem and make a decision to take immediate action. A little action- cure to procrastination. Let us therefore, utterly drive from us our bad habits as if they were evil men who have long tormented us.