For some reason,  over the past few weeks I have been managing to put things off!   Time sensitive things….not the usual getting the laundry done a day late or such.

It lead me to think a little bit about procrastination and why We do it.

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.  ~William James

Indeed!  In this past 2-3 weeks I had the need to make plane reservations, make reservations for my Sweet Puppy to go to boarding for the holiday, pay one bill via telephone, and complete a poster for work.

None of that was insurmountable.  In fact, most of it was quite easy.   The poster being the most challenging because I had to digest some information into poster sized bits and then actually create it.  So, why was all of that suddenly so difficult that it took em several weeks to accomplish?

I delved into the subject just a little.  it appears that chronic procrastinators make up about 15-20% of the general population.  This surprised me as I would have though it to be more.  The article that cites 15-20% also states that procrastinators tend to have issue with impulse control, and tend to be of the “live for today” type of personality.  I found that interesting as I am not an impulsive person.  I actually am the opposite of impulsive.  I will ponder a purchase of something large for quite a while, and have practiced the belief that if one can not afford something, there is no reason to purchase it on credit.  I don’t smoke, or overeat.  I’m a guilty of running overmuch…hmm.

Here is how many of us see Procrastination.  You can see the original  over here , check out the Hyperbole and Half blog, it’s entertaining.

So, looking at that, perhaps I am not one of those chronic procrastinators.  maybe I am just an Occasional one.

In looking around some more, I found this article by to fit the bill more appropriately.

It lists 5 reasons why people put things off.

* We have not really committed to the task.

* Fear of the task itself

* The task itself is of Low Priority to you

* We don’t know enough to actually complete the task.

*We just plain don’t want to do it!!!

These reasons seem to be more along the line of an occasional procrastinator.


For example, with the bill that I needed to pay, it was overdue because of an issue with my electronic password.  I had tried a few times to get the password fixed, but finally got fed up and asked for a paper bill, which I will get next month.  This month’s bill though still had to be paid.  I was not afraid of making the call, and I do know how to use a telephone.  I just simply did not want to spend all that time on hold again just to give them some money.  Of course, it hung on my mind so much that I eventually forced myself to get it done.  Not surprisingly, after this, I felt much better.

In boarding the Dog…I put it off for two reasons; firstly I could not decide exactly when I wanted to take him and secondly, once I decided I started to worry that there was not a spot for him in the kennel.  Now…it would seem that calling would allow me to know.  But, I knew the minute I found there was no kennel spot I would have to start looking for a new Kennel.  That would have been a hassle.  Of course, calling in earlier November would have reduced this problem greatly.  As it turned out, there was a spot, and we are all set.  Another huge relief.

In making the poster for work. I will admit it was not a high priority for me.  I did the research and knew what I wanted the poster to say.  At that point I sort of stopped.  I was not sure my Manager really wanted it, or if I was just doing busy work.  Once she asked me about it again, I got it done in 3 days.   It has been found in another study

 when procrastinators do cram to finish the work, they work at a dizzying pace. “They work almost 11 times the average rate. Real procrastinators, just before the deadline, are mercurial,”

So, it was pretty easy to get done.  I was not thrilled with it as it was not extremely beautiful.  I do realize now though that I lack some tools to make things beautiful- most notable being a printer in my home.

  So the upshot of all of this stuff being taken care of in a 3 days period, after me thinking about it for about 3-4 weeks…is that I slept exceedingly well last night.

I really should learn to take care of this stuff as it comes, rather than holding on to it.

There are many helpful tips regarding procrastination.  Here are some of the biggies that are mentioned time and time again.

* break down a large task into smaller concrete steps.

* If faced with multiple things, start with the hardest/easiest first (depends on what type of person you are I suppose!)  I’m a “worst first” type!

* Create a To-do list that is physical and cross off the tasks as you do them

* Create accountability for each task…give yourself someone to answer to other than yourself.

It seems that not all of these techniques work all of the time.   But there is one that seems to trump them all, and it is the basic….


when I finally get to the point, where I just sit down and get it done, nothing feels better!

How do you procrastinate?  Is it one thing each time (like the bills?), or does it hit you seasonally?  What are your best tips for Getting things done?

9 thoughts on “Procrastination

  1. If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute! 🙂 I hear ya, though. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and do it. Sometimes, though, it can actually pay to wait to complete a task because things can change that either 1. change the task or 2. eliminate the need to do the task. Guess it is all about balance and balancing time.

  2. I’m a perfectionist, which why I procrastinate. I’m so worried I’m going to screw up, that I leave it all to the last minute…and then I really screw up, lol. Actually that was my downfall in college: I was so scared of getting a bad grade or having to face the professor with my paper, I wouldn’t write it until the night before. Of course, it was rife with errors and typos—this was when we had to use typewriters to produce papers, and White-Out to get rid of our mistakes. No “delete” button for us!

    Now I just sit down and do it. I promise myself a treat when I’m done: a bowl of popcorn and a movie, a glass of wine, or a long soak in the tub. It also helps a lot if you get together with a bunch of people and make a pledge to finish a task over a weekend. That’s what a group of us are doing the weekend after this. Feel free to join if you’d like!

  3. I love that William James quote. It is so true! The last few years I have developed a bad habit of procrastination and I am trying to break it. It is tough. I manage to get stuff done, but it is all so stressful and I just manage to cover the basics. I usually do the easiest things first, but I think if I switched around and tried the harder things first, I would feel less stress.

    I’ve also found running to be motivating. Somehow, days I run I am much more likely to be on top of things. 🙂

  4. When I was a young teenager I had an autograph book which I got basically everyone I knew to write in – coming from the middle of nowhere town “everyone” consisted of my relatives and my teachers mostly. My grandfather wrote something which I’ve never forgotten “It’s not the things you’ve done, but the things left undone, that give you the bitter heartache at the setting of the sun”.

    I try not to procrastinate on things because it tends to stress me out. But I do find that sometimes things get so out of hand that I can’t even prioritize what needs to be done because I’m panicking – then I recognize what “real” stress is 🙂

  5. I am a habitual procrastinator. Every two weeks I procrastinate paying bills, if I procrastinate long enough then I end up paying late fees and have to pay all of the bills at one time….which is another way to freak me out. (How in the world can there be enough money in the bank account to cover all of these bills??? Doesn’t matter that the money is there because I haven’t paid the bills…) I procrastinate cleaning house, cooking supper, getting ready to go out (If I’m going with someone—if I’m going alone I get out of the house on time the majority of the time.) One of the biggest areas is getting birthday cards/presents in the mail in time for the celebrator to receive it on their day.

    Part of my problem is finishing a project. I can get the whole project done and completed with only the clean up left to do—and I just don’t clean up and put things away. I finish, I sit down because I ‘deserve’ a rest for having finished the project and then the ‘stuff for the project’ just sits there collecting dust and such.

    Another issue I have is getting bogged down in the little details. Take for instance cleaning/organizing/decluttering the closet. I want to pick something up ONCE and deal with it ONE time. Unfortunately this can lead me to being busy but not getting anything done. I pick up something, decide it belongs in another room, carry it to the other room and try to put it away…the ‘away’ spot has something else in it so I have to pick that something up and put it away before I can put the first object away…and thus a viscous cycle starts. Taking care of my master closet took me about a year…and I finally got it done because I took everything out of it and started with a basically empty closet…it still took me three days to get it done. But, it is done and I can now walk into my closet and find things I need without having to pick up and move various ‘things’ in search of that one ‘thing’ that I need.

    heh, I’ll shut-up now. 🙂

  6. ramblebee says:

    This is great!
    Procrastination, ahh… Was one of my great friends. Until I deactivate facebook. We cut ties.
    Then I reactivated. And am in trouble again 😛

    I also love that poster at the end! I saw a really nice version of this in a shop in the city just two days ago, and I REALLY wanted to buy it, but it was shut! 🙂

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