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Procrastination is the Thief of Time

Updated 2 months ago.

It's Friday afternoon, the clock is ticking, and your fingers are jumping from one key to the other. You're working furiously, your five o'clock deadline is nearing, and the weekend is just around the corner.

But you've still got so much to do and less than an hour to finish. You silently curse yourself for not starting sooner. So, what happened? How did you end up running out of time?

Well, there were hours you spent scrolling through social media, your multiple coffee breaks, re-reading emails, and completing tasks that you could've started later.

Procrastination haunts all of us. We're all guilty of procrastinating and saying, 'I'll do it later,' or 'I'll start in a while.' But the negative impacts of procrastinating can steal dreams, cause missed opportunities, and even destroy lives.

Some people are lucky enough to pinpoint their tendency to procrastinate and how much it holds them back. Let’s discuss how procrastination can wreck your dreams and how you can combat it.

The Origins of the Procrastination is the Thief of Time

Often, Charles Dickens gets the credit for coining the term 'procrastination is the thief of time.' However, the truth is that Dickens popularized the proverb by putting it into the mouth of Mr. Micawber.

In 1850, Mr. Micawber said, 'My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.'

While Mr. Micawber became a widely quoted character for pronouncing the proverb' procrastination is the thief of time,' he was hardly original. In reality, the phrase is an adage created by English writer Edward Young.

Young wrote a 10,000-line poem known as 'The Complaint' or 'Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality or simply 'Night-Thoughts.' In this extensive poem, the poet muses over death over the courses of nine' nights,' i.e., nine sections.

Young's use of the proverb 'procrastination is the thief of time' goes beyond caution against putting things off. Instead, the poet suggests that time wasted procrastinating one thing is time wasted doing nothing of any consequence.

It goes to say that if we delay filling our taxes by arranging our spices alphabetically, the fact remains that we should have done something of far more importance.

How Does the Proverb Describe 'Procrastination'?

Edward Young describes a procrastinator as someone who procrastinates in doing things at the right time and finds themselves in situations where they had little time to complete the task.

Typically, people procrastinate because:
• The task is long and complicated.
• The activity is tedious and not important.
• They prefer doing their pleasurable activities.
• They have a careless attitude and believe that nothing wrong will happen if they miss their deadline.
• They are over-confident and think that they have enough time/competency to complete the task.
• They do it as a result of peer pressure and fear mockery or ridicule if they hand in work early.
• They do it due to pure laziness.

Why is Procrastination the Thief of Time?

'Procrastination,' deferring a task or putting something off, is the 'thief of time' because you waste time by delaying tasks.

This hypothesis potentially embraces two meanings: you are wasting time when you could have accomplished what you need to achieve. And that all procrastination is time-wasting.

Let's discuss the top common examples of procrastination:
• Someone who spends several days thinking about starting an essential assignment, thus they have to rush to finish work in a hasty and stressful manner.
• A person who wastes months before approaching the person they're romantically interested in, thus missing their chance to enter a relationship with them.
• Someone who wastes years before starting a project they're passionate about, thus struggling with guilt and shame.
• A student who wastes the whole year not studying.

According to an insightful study, up to 95% of all people procrastinate to some degree. And with approximately 25% of adults considering procrastination as a defining personality trait, it's no wonder it can be a thief of time that causes various other issues.

Another study encompassing over 22,000 employees found that workers in different jobs have different procrastinating habits:
● High Procrastination Jobs- Legal secretaries, library assistants, food servers, sales representatives, and customer service administrators tend to procrastinate the most
● Moderate Procrastination Jobs- Photographers, lawyers, general operation managers, and creative writers often procrastinate
● Low Procrastination Jobs- Chief executives, loan officers, librarians, and economists procrastinate the least

Why is Procrastination Bad? Let’s take a Closer Look at the Downsides.

Procrastination can lead to you missing out on incredible opportunities due to temporary enjoyment. In general, procrastination affects some sectors of your life, such as:
• Employment and financial issues
• Interpersonal issues
• Reduced wellbeing
• Worsening of mental and physical health
• Delay in getting help
• Increased future procrastination
• Academic issues

Now let's discuss the negative side-effects of procrastination. It can cause:

Loss of Time
Procrastination makes you realize that you've lost valuable time you could've spent chasing your dreams and achieving your goals.

What about Lost Opportunities?
Every person I know regretted not taking advantage of an opportunity when it was relevant. In most cases, the underlying cause is procrastination.

And the harsh truth is that most opportunities only come by once.

Putting Off What Needs to be Done Likely Results in a Poor Product
Some people believe that procrastinating motivates them to perform the best. Although it is true for some people, it isn't always the outcome.

Completing your essential project at the last minute will probably cause poorer results.

What about You Adding Tasks to Other People's Workload
No one enjoys getting extra work dumped on them due to another employee's failures. It results in resentment, adds to an employee's workload, and even causes feelings of anxiety.

Let's discuss some ways you can stop procrastinating:
1. Make your environment clutter-free and remove distractions to increase your productivity.
2. Arrange some immediate reward you'll receive when you manage to start work.
3. Identify the steps you can take to get started.
4. Figure out what's causing you to procrastinate, think through the causes, and work to resolve them.
5. Keep a prioritized to-do list to avoid forgetting important tasks.
6. Tackle the most challenging task during peak productivity hours.

The Bottom Line

Procrastination can lead to various academic, employment, financial, and interpersonal issues. Not just this, but procrastination can cause decreased wellbeing, worsen mental health, and make it difficult for you to get appropriate help.

Avoid procrastinating and be proactive.

For more help on reducing procrastination, so you can create your ideal business and ideal life, reach out to me today and schedule your complimentary consultation.

Aim for what you want each and every day!
Anne Bachrach
The Accountability Coach™
The Results Accelerator™

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Author of Excuses Don’t Count; Results Rule, Live Life with No Regrets, No Excuses, and the Work Life Balance Emergency Kit, The Roadmap To Success with Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard, and more.