The Cost Of Procrastination
“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” — Wayne Gretzky
Do you ever find yourself avoiding certain tasks until it’s too late? I admit it’s hard to evaluate yourself, so it might be wise to enquire about feedback from someone you trust. It’s important we are honest with ourselves because it will give us an insight into whether delaying tasks is actually sabotaging our success.
So, why is procrastination a problem after all? It is a hindrance that undermines our success and productivity because it can lead to missed deadlines, increased stress, and decreased quality of work. In other words, when we put off tasks, we may feel guilty or anxious about not completing them, which leads to procrastinating even more. We may then feel overwhelmed and unmotivated, which ultimately hinders our success. In addition, procrastination can lead to missed opportunities because when we delay essential tasks, we fail to meet deadlines and miss out on taking advantage of opportunities that come up. This can cause a loss in income, missed promotions, and other negative outcomes that impede our success.
So, what are the costs associated with procrastination? Invariably, there are short-term and long-term costs related to procrastinating. First, in the short-term, we may experience stress and anxiety because we know we must attend to a task and the longer we procrastinate, the more stressed and anxious we become. Second, procrastination leads to reduced productivity because we lose momentum in the task at hand. If you’ve read my earlier articles, I am a strong advocate for discipline and momentum, believing if we have momentum on our side, we can accomplish any task. Therefore, the long-term costs associated with procrastination are missed opportunities, damage to our reputation and career setbacks. That is, when we procrastinate, we miss out on important opportunities because we are not acting swiftly to seize opportunities and move forward with them. This may damage our reputation by creating a perception of flakiness or incompetence, which can lead to a stalling of one’s career and a cycle of persistent stress and anxiety.
Examining The Sources Of Procrastination
“The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started.” — Dawson Trotman
The question remains: why do people put off tasks until the last minute? What is at the heart of procrastination? Could there be another factor at play? I believe there are several reasons people procrastinate, but namely, it is a fear of failure. Many people believe by procrastinating, they put on hold their chances of failing, which may affect their self-esteem. Second, a lack of motivation is why people procrastinate. I believe this to be associated with less than powerful intrinsic motivation to pursue their goal or a lack of desire toward the task at hand. People will avoid the task they don’t want to do and feel a sense of relief for not having to take part in something they don’t find enjoyable.
Other reasons people procrastinate may be attributed to being overwhelmed by the task at hand. I can relate to this from personal experience when I wrote my first book. I was overwhelmed by having to write 80,000 words over a three-month period. Therefore, it took a lot of discipline and good habits to sit and write 1,000 words per day, whether or not I felt like it. Does this resonate with you so far? Can you identify why you procrastinate on goals or projects? What strategies do you use to push yourself beyond the urge to procrastinate? What steps do you take to stay motivated and focused on the project?
Ways To Overcome Procrastination
“Procrastination makes easy things hard and hard things harder.” — Mason Cooley
So, how can we overcome procrastination after all? How we can stay motivated and not succumb to the perils of stalling? First, we ought to acknowledge why we are procrastinating. It takes a lot of self-awareness to recognise we are delaying a task for whatever reason. Therefore, we ought to be mindful of the ways procrastination shows up in our life. Second, we can break down the task into smaller parts so we are not overwhelmed. For instance, when writing my book of 80,000 words, I broke it down by writing 1,000 words per day until the book was completed. Following this schedule, I finished the book in just over three months. Other ways to overcome procrastination involve setting achievable goals and deadlines. I understand the difficulty of putting this into practice, particularly when we are given tasks to complete by our employer. But if we can negotiate with them to complete the project by a certain deadline, we avoid the temptation to procrastinate later down the line. It requires compromising with others and knowing ourselves so we don’t fall victim to the vice of procrastination.
Other ways to overcome procrastination involve eliminating distractions as much as possible. Returning to my earlier point about habits and discipline. We must invoke these virtues and remain consistent and purposeful to complete our goal or task. We need to follow through with our goals and take responsibility for our actions. It goes back to having a compelling reason to achieve the goal. If we can connect with those primary emotions and underlying reasons for pursuing our goal, we are likely to overcome the chances of procrastinating and achieve our goal. Are you satisfied with this understanding up till now? Do you feel confident that you don’t have to let procrastination dictate your life? You can use it to be disciplined and help you gain sufficient momentum to complete your tasks.
The hidden cost of procrastination is not only clear in the short term but ultimately affects us in the long term. My experience of coaching clients shows that rebounding from a lack of motivation, or lack of momentum due to procrastination, is like trying to push a boulder uphill. It is difficult and hence why I have emphasised the importance of keeping momentum, discipline and sound habits on your side to achieve optimal performance and productivity. Knowing this, I invite you to write in your journal or diary, ways in which you can overcome procrastination based on the points in this article. What immediate actions can you take to avoid procrastination? Is it due to the fear of failure, a lack of motivation, being overwhelmed by certain tasks or distractions? Try to get clear on the primary cause of your procrastination. After all, procrastination can be a hidden enemy of success if we are unclear on why we are pursuing a task or goal, as it can easily derail our progress.