Overcoming Procrastination

Does procrastination impact you, your family, or your relationships?

Maybe you tell yourself that you work better under the pressure of a deadline. Or that you need to wait until you feel right in order to get started on that task.

Or I don't need to do the task now...I will just err...you know... fit it in later today sometime!

Except that sometime never comes!

If you are telling yourself these things then you have the hallmarks of a typical procrastinator.

But don't worry you have company as nearly 20% percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators.

Those 20% of people self-profess that procrastination has had resulted in:

  • not paying their bills on time, 
  • missing concert tickets because they left it to the last minute, or 
  • leaving Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve.

Let’s not even talk about visiting the dentist paying income taxes!

But being a procrastinator does not mean that you procrastinate on everything in your life (although some people may).

As a professor at university I notice that university brings procrastination out of people!

I see students leaving their crucially important assessments till the night before. In fact the research shows that 70% of students identify themselves as procrastinators.

At some time or other we all procrastinate. But there is a difference between general procrastination that most of us do and chronic procrastination.


Costs of Procrastination

There are big costs to chronic procrastination.

Health is one! The increased levels of stress hormones create wear-and-tear on your body and the sustained stress reduces your immunity.

Procrastination has an impact on relationships too.


Well, by procrastinating on taking the kids to football, or fixing that leaky tap, or mowing the lawn…it means that your partner or family member has to do it.

While the may do it once, twice, even a hundred times, it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto those who are closest to you...and over time this creates resentment.

Procrastination can have a big impact at work too!

If the chronic procrastinator drops the ball and the team either have to pick up the slack or miss the deadline - they will most likely do it. But if you are the bottleneck to your team completing that project and this happens all the time - then this can sow discontent, lower team productivity, and ultimately have you looking for other work.

But lets be clear about the procrastination problem. Procrastination is not laziness.

It is the gap between intention and action.

You were not born a procrastinator – it is something that you have learned. Thus the procrastination habit can be unlearned.

But this is not easy – and buying a schedule and timer is a little like telling somebody who is depressed to cheer up!

It is important to understand the causes of procrastination and its consequences on you, and how these prolong this habitual behaviour in YOU.

These insights then open the door to potential cures to the procrastination problem.

Sources: Ferrari, Dovosko, and Joseph (2005)

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