The curse that is procrastination, both in life and in business


How many times have you found yourself saying oh this project report has to be submitted tomorrow evening, I can do it later tonight – right now I am going to see a movie. Or the guests will not be here till evening, I can clean the house up after lunch, right now I am going for a swim and then for a beer with friends. These are acts of putting off what needs to be done now. Or procrastinating.

Procrastination has been defined as the action of delaying or postponing something that needs immediate attention. It means you put off doing it now because you don’t want to do it, because you feel lazy or because it is unpleasant or boring or you are scared of failing and also because you can do something else now that you think is fun.

Does not make sense in the long run

Procrastination is not a good habit – while it may bring instant gratification from an alternate activity, it just does not make sense in the long run. We need to sit ourselves down and get out of the habit before time runs out.

We are all procrastinators in some way or the other. But some are less so. These “non-procrastinators” are rational in their thinking, they can see the big picture and they are aware of future consequences. They know what needs to be done and when; so they work out the correct time and process and meet their deadlines without panic.

Live more in the present

Procrastinators, on the other hand, don’t think ahead. They live more in the present and are always out for fun – so they take the easy way out and indulge themselves with activities they enjoy. This continues till suddenly they realize that deadlines are on their heads and panic and anxiety set in. They feel guilty about the time they have wasted, rational thought takes over finally and somehow they manage to finish their tasks in the allotted time. But because they have not given it their best efforts or sufficient time, the work is far below standard, far worse than they are capable of. In such situations the procrastination is contained or restricted because there are deadlines to be met.

Get out of the procrastination mindset

In situations where there are no deadlines, the procrastinator is in a far worse situation because there is no time by which they have to complete the job – this could be meeting family or starting a new business or taking up exercising or running. These are open-ended plans of things to be done. Since there is no deadline, there is no panic and the procrastinator continues on his merry fun-filled days till he realizes much too late that there is no way to start chasing his dreams much less fulfil them. He feels frustrated, regretful and angry but the boat has already sailed from his dock and he is still on the shore, with nowhere to go.

Get out of the procrastination mindset – set goals, break up bigger goals into smaller doable ones. Stick to time schedules, be accountable to yourself and to others, make and fulfil commitments. Take time off to play and enjoy life – work, work and more work is not good for anyone. Add laughter and happy times but be clear about where you are headed and do things when they need to be done.