Thief of Time


Procrastinate now and panic laterEdward Young captured the essence of procrastination when he said, “Procrastination is the thief of time.”

Procrastination always pays off in the now but not in the future when you have work piled up to your eyeballs. After the holidays, it is not uncommon for people to end up with work piled up to their eyeballs, thinking that there needs to be more hours in the day. Procrastination not only affects life at home or work, it is also associated with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, self-disgust, stress and depression. It is common to try to disguise procrastination by being very busy doing things that may be useful or interesting, but don’t contribute to the achievement of the main goal.
Knowing that recent studies have found people who procrastinate assignments or projects to have higher levels of stress and lower well-being, it practice of procrastination seems self-defeating. So, why do we all do it to some degree or another?
We can end up here for many reasons, the most common reasons include: highly complex tasks, not scheduling enough time for tasks, avoidance of the unpleasant, fear of work not being good enough, perfectionistic expectations, distractions or difficulty concentrating, or one of the most common reasons, feeling overwhelmed. Take a self-assessment and discover your procrastination style here. So now what?
Awareness is the first step then determine if you gain anything from procrastinating. Accepting there is no magic wand, think about the story you tell yourself. The words we use have feelings attached which affect how we experience the anticipation and experience of the task. There are several unhelpful thinking styles, a common distorted thought process characteristic of procrastination is to magnify how difficult or unpleasant a task will be or minimize potential progress or gratification from completing the task. Another defining feature of procrastination are escape behaviors. The popularity of games like Angry Birds, Farmville, and Candy Crush are an example of how common it is to escape to something fun. Checking email constantly is another way to avoid a task. A key question to ask yourself is, “What did you end up doing instead of what you planned to do?”
Thankfully there are evidence-based tools to help us stay efficient and on our toes! Take a look at some of these tools and see if a couple would be helpful for you:

  • If you find your To-Do list overwhelming, Action Programs take To-Do lists to the next level. They help you break down projects into mini-steps and keep track of multiple projects.
  • If you are more of a visual person, the Wheel of Productivity may help you see how you are spending your time.
  • If you haven’t assessed your lifetime goals (career, financial, family, physical, public service, mindset) lately, the Golden Rules of Goal Setting could help hone or re-affirm your work, personal, and life goals in ways that help you achieve them.
  • If you have felt like there aren’t enough hours in the day the article Effective Scheduling and the downloadable Planner Worksheet provide tools to look at scheduling your time in a different way.
  • Interruptions make getting work done difficult. If you are interested in a way to manage your interruptions, the Managing Interruptions article and downloadable Interrupters Log may be helpful
If you get really efficient and have extra time on your hands (hahaha) then cleaning up your computer files might be on your list. Or, it could be something you’ve been putting off … If you are tired of the trial and error approach, Managing Electronic Files is a quick, helpful read.
Last but not least, be sure to reward yourself for a job well done. Take some “me time,” take a bath, sit and watch a game with your favorite snack, have lunch with a friend, or whatever it is that makes you feel rewarded.

The information presented through the linked articles is for informational purposes only.  IGRC do not endorse any products represented in the articles.  The “Procrastinate now and panic later” image was obtained from