“Someday is not a day of the week”

Have you ever . . . ?

Have you ever started out to work on something you’re not looking forward to, like your taxes and found yourself flipping through and organizing a stack of papers that you’ve been meaning to get to for ages?

Do you never, sometimes or often put off…

  • Responding to an email or phone message
  • Creating that presentation for a very important meeting in three weeks
  • Sorting that pile of stuff that has accumulated in the corner
  • Setting up an appointment
  • Getting started on an important task or project
  • Updating your resume
  • Getting to the task at hand by getting lost in social media
  • Starting that diet or going to the gym
  • Paying bills on time or in advance
  • Doing something because you think there is still plenty of time…until there isn’t

You’re not alone!

If you recognize yourself in any of these statements, you’re not alone. According to a Psychology Today article, In a 1991 published study (Ferrari, 1991a) “20 percent of adult women and men self-identify as “chronic procrastinators,” meaning they purposely delay tasks at home, school, work, in relationships, appointments. This style is their lifestyle”

The worst part is how we feel when we’re procrastinating. We’re often very aware that we’re procrastinating and as a result may begin to feel anxious or fearful. Sounds crazy right? We know we’re procrastinating, we then feel yucky about it and yet, we continue to procrastinate!

Worst of all, if you consider the ramifications of procrastinating, they are seldom positive.

My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.
-Charles Dickens

The Cost

Let’s review the examples above and look at only one potential cost of each by NOT :

  • Responding to an email or phone message
    • Potential Cost – damaging a relationship
  • Creating that presentation for a very important meeting in three weeks
    • Potential Cost – not being as prepared or polished as you could have been which could result in a lost career opportunity
  • Sorting that pile of stuff that has accumulated in the corner
    • Potential Cost – something more important is likely not being done
  • Setting up an appointment
    • Potential Cost – longer wait time or lost opportunity
  • Getting started on an important task or project
    • Potential Cost – stress of then completing it in a short time frame
  • Updating your resume
    • Potential Cost – lost career opportunities
  • Getting to the task at hand by getting lost in social media
    • Potential Cost – time you’ve lost and will never get back
  • Starting that diet or going to the gym
    • Potential Cost – continuing feeling of guilt or regret
  • Paying bills on time or in advance
    • Potential Cost – this one is very obvious!
  • Doing something because you think there is still plenty of time…until there isn’t
    • Potential Cost – again, not doing your best work, not showing up as a professional, losing an opportunity, etc. etc. etc.

A Viscious Cycle

As you can see, the costs are intangible and tangible but they take a toll, either on your finances, relationships, reputation or stress level. So why do we let this vicious cycle repeat itself?

Our brains evolved to zero in on “clear and present danger” via the well-known fight-or-flight response to a threat. But in the absence of an immediate physical threat to our lives, our brains are easily distracted. That’s why when you sit down to do your taxes, your attention wanders with every passing noise, thought, or physical sensation.

Someday is not a day of the week.

-Janet Dailey

Do You Think that You’re a Procrastinator?

Do you think you’re a procrastinator? The Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California has a pdf version of a self-assessment based on 20 questions each on a 3-point scale: not me, somewhat like me, or like me. You can go to it by clicking here.

What costs of procrastination have  you observed in yourself or others?

Have you overcome procrastination? If so, how?




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