The cost of procrastination

Procrastination is the action of avoiding delaying or postponing something that needs to be accomplished. It is a habitual and intentional delay of starting or completing a task despite negative consequences.

So many of us are masters of it in at least some area (or areas) of our lives. Why and what is cost of it? It is an age-old problem. The ancient Greeks called it Akrasia. As long as people have been alive, we have done this.

The cost of procrastination 

  1. One of the biggest costs of procrastination is that it erodes confidence. We feel confident when we know we can rely on ourselves in any situation. When we have a habit of procrastination, we cannot.
  2. The more we procrastinate the more likely we are to procrastinate. When we repeatedly do anything in life, pathways form in the brain. They yogis called them samskaras (mental impressions) and modern science calls them neuropathways in our brain. The more we do an action, the stronger and wider the pathway becomes. And the harder it is to do a different action in that situation.
  3. Procrastination demotivates us and reduces our effectiveness and efficiency. The line if you want something done ask a busy person holds true.
  4. Procrastination blocks us  from achieving our dreams and realising our potential. Doing things that are within our comfort zone are relatively easy to do but we often avoid doing things that push us outside. The fulfilment of your dreams always involves moving outside of your comfort zone and doing things that bring up fear.

Why do we do this?
We procrastinate because in our mind, we value present comfort over future happiness and satisfaction. During our productive moments when there is nothing blocking us from engaging with life we feel satisfied. Here are some ways that can help you feel like that more or all of the time.

How to stop procrastination NOW!

  1. The Nike slogan of ‘Just do it’ gives the best answer to procrastination. As the former US President, Theodore Roosevelt said: ‘In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing’.  When we do nothing we learn nothing and we make it even more likely that we will do nothing next time in the same or a similar situation. When you take action, you make that the natural response too.
  2. Do the things you love with the things you put-off. If you don’t like ironing but love watching the news, do the ironing when watching the news. If you put off doing your emails and love coffee, only have the coffee during or after sending your emails. This works. Try it and see.
  3. Create a supportive environment and life. If you waste time on a particular app, take it off your phone and computer.
  4. Make the consequences of not doing the action more immediate. If you are reluctant to exercise, join a team. The consequences of bad health in 5 years, may not inspire you into action but 10 other people waiting for you at 7 pm today will.
  5. Break the action into smaller steps. If you want to write a book, plan how many words you will do in each 15-minute interval and for how many hours each day. This makes the rewards more immediate as we all love the feeling of achieving targets.

There will always be a reason to not do something. This month, ‘just do it’ and enjoy the experience and results.  

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