Do you understand procrastination and the problems it causes?

Procrastinating can take just as much energy doing nothing than to do something.



Procrastination is a ‘killer disease’

A procrastinator often reminds me of a person who knows fifty ways to start and run a business but never does.

Often the procrastinators mask a double life. They pretend, or worse still kid themselves,  that they are in no way a procrastinator. They talk about their big workloads, ability to work under pressure and their need to work nights and weekends in order to stay on top of their workload.

Of course, if they didn’t procrastinate they would be able to get their work done in a fraction of the time. These people can, for a short while at least, appear to be highly effective workers.

However, work is about producing outcomes, and eventually, it becomes apparent that they are consistently failing to meet their objectives. These procrastinators become very noticeable at this point as they scramble to employ their arsenal of excuses and provide a litany of reasons as to why it is somebody else’s fault that they did not get the important work done in a timely manner.


Are you a procrastinator

  • Procrastination is self-doubt and self-punishment.
  • Procrastination is escapism, self-made.
  • Most of all procrastination is a habit, a very bad habit.
  • Putting things off can be incredibly seductive.
  • If the task is important, do it now and avoid the guilt and grief.
  • Human beings do things to satisfy their basic needs ‑ physical and psychological.
  • It’s common sense to satisfy physical needs ‑ why not psychological needs?
  • We often play havoc and get confused about psychological needs.
  • We invite disaster by procrastinating.
  • Procrastinators are self-critical, almost masochistic.
  • Not everything in life makes sense on the surface.
  • Procrastination is one common result of conflicting needs.
  • Procrastination is like an ‘unruly committee’: unanimous votes are rare.
  • Procrastinators are boring. The more they procrastinate, the more boring they become.
  • They have nothing new or exciting to talk about.
  • Watch out for the procrastinators in your business, you need them to be effective.


Causes of procrastination

There are many causes of procrastination other than severe health or business problems. It is not always your fault, so do not be too hard on yourself.  Procrastination refers to the act of replacing more urgent actions with tasks less urgent or doing something from which you derive enjoyment and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, irrespective of their importance.

  • Family and relationship problems.
  • Financial problems.
  • No goals, no plans, no direction.
  • Fear of failure, fear of the unknown.
  • Excessive stress caused by bullying, threats and adverse trends.
  • Surrounding yourself with negativity and negative people.
  • Pre-occupation with something.
  • Work overload, too many customer complaints.
  • You are required to do what you don’t like doing.
  • Too much clutter and ‘mind traffic’ in your life.
  • No social life, nothing to look forward to.
  • Tired or worn out, mentally and physically exhausted.
  • Out of control, you just cannot get on top of things.
  • Excessive noise.
  • Poor rewards; everyone needs some incentive.
  • Lack of fitness, physical and mental.
  • Tasks are too complex
  • There are no deadlines for the work you
  • No job satisfaction.
  • Life is boring.
  • You are in a rut; a grave without ends.

Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”  The following is an extract from the book “Parkinson’s Law or the Pursuit of Progress” by C. Northcote Parkinson.

“General recognition of this fact is shown in the proverbial phrase, ‘It is the busiest man who has time to spare’. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatch of a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half an hour in search of the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar box in the next street.  The total effort that would occupy a busy person for three minutes all told, may in this fashion, leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety and toil”.


“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing”. Eva Young


Recognising a procrastinator

We all procrastinate at some time or another, so how do you recognise a procrastinator?  Here are some things to look for?

  • They keep putting things off, it becomes a habit.
  • They avoid difficult tasks.
  • They avoid tasks they don’t like.
  • They are always in dreamland, they don’t have a plan.
  • They have stale relationships.
  • They avoid social contact, even on the telephone.
  • They are not on top of their job, they are always seen to be behind.
  • They never follow through, too much planning not enough
  • They are always tired, or sick.
  • They are always complaining about someone or something.
  • They are always blaming someone else.
  • They never have any time.
  • They are always making judgmental comments.
  • They start putting on weight.
  • They always have excuses for poor performances.
  • They smoke.
  • They avoid confrontation with excessive agreeability.
  • They tend to be doing the same old job, in the same old way.
  • They have always got a worried or guilty look on their face.
  • They are always starting something but never follow through.
  • They are always complaining about the company.
  • Having a holiday is their only answer, to relieve the pressure.

The language surrounding procrastinators can be subtle, often masquerading as a plan of action, and if unrecognised, can provide you with a rationale for inaction, sometimes to the point of paralysis.

Engage an advisor to harness this language to find a positive pathway to the outcomes you are looking for. Someone who can create awareness of the challenges of procrastination behaviour and the language that is maintaining it.

Many of the methods for defeating procrastination are difficult if you don’t recognise when you are procrastinating. Being able to identify procrastination, including with yourself, seems to me like an extremely important skill for you to acquire.


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Personal Experience

Many procrastinators self-talk goes something like this, “I’m hopeless. I’ve got no self-control. I’ll never succeed at anything. “I’m lazy. I’m undisciplined. I’m a failure”. If you listen carefully you will hear people uttering these phrases. Usually, people who are not achieving the results they want. The more you say these things the more you reinforce your existing situation and the struggles that go with it.

This, of course, is very damaging and not at all helpful as they are labelling themselves in a very negative and often permanent way and doing it with something which is temporary and can be easily rectified.




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