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The Price of Procrastination

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Danielle Hoston: Oops... I did it again. I procrastinated and am paying for it big-time.

husband and wife paying bills
Last Friday, my newly paid-off car shimmied as I was making a left turn and mysteriously turned off. Thankfully, it restarted and I was somehow able take it in to the dealership. Besides the standard delayed maintenance costs that I expected, I learned that some minor problems with my car have multiplied into larger ones. While I've worked hard to pay off my car, I will be paying the equivalent of nearly four car payments to fix all of its current problems. In addition to the actual cost increase, I had to cancel a very important meeting and lost valuable time at work on Friday. And it's not over... I will likely have to pay for my rental car for a week and will miss more work time.

A therapist once told me that procrastinators are in the top 10% on the intelligence scale. I loved that. What I didn't know is that psychologists also believe that procrastinators have lower self-esteem and a lack of confidence about completing the delayed task. In fact, procrastination is one of the highest forms of self-sabotage. It's true. I have no confidence whatsoever in my ability to even slightly comprehend what a mechanic is recommending to me. I have no idea what it should really cost and at the end of the visit, I feel taken advantage of and avoid my next visit like the plague. There is a long list of unpleasantries that we would all choose to avoid: pap smears, dental examinations, tax returns, an hour of cardio, closet reorganization, paying parking tickets, and negotiating with lenders to name a few.

So how do we avoid turning these short term pains into bigger and longer term pains?

1. Be realistic. Don't overwhelm yourself with so many things to do that you don't get anything done.

2. Create a daily task list. Weekly, monthly, and annual goals are helpful in the big picture but only work if they are regularly revisited and broken down into smaller goals. A daily task list should be an achievable breakdown of these larger scale goals.

3. Don't turn on the TV
or open your browser/email/or whatever else you'd rather be doing UNTIL you have completed these tasks.

4. Think about the cost!! The cost of whatever you are delaying remains the same whether or not you pay it now or later. If you wait, it will likely compound in price and cost you more than just money.

If we really think about it, we can all think of how procrastination can have horrific effects on our health, well-being, and finances. I've seen people lose their net worth in foreclosures by procrastinating. I've also seen a loved one's health deteriorate by avoiding necessary medical treatments. Today, I've learned my lesson and will be spending the next two hours organizing the closets of me and my daughter. Wish me luck...

What do you procrastinate from doing? How do you resolve it?

next: Help Joel Madden Save Kids' Lives
22 comments so far | Post a comment now
Rebecca March 23, 2009, 2:38 PM

Love this post! I wonder if you know where the studies might be that state what the psychologists reported to you. Thanks for sharing!

Danielle March 23, 2009, 4:46 PM

Hi Rebecca!
Which studies?? The studies about procrastination and lower self-esteem?

Muthithar March 24, 2009, 12:17 AM

Because I’m so busy with my job during the week, I tend to procrasinate on taking care of my personal business, like doctor appointments, car maintenance, bills, etc. I agree that it is a form of self-sabotage. I’m coming to the realization that I need to make it a priority to put myself first. I would probably produce better at work and would avoid stressing myself out.

Anonymous March 24, 2009, 12:20 PM

I was going to comment, but I’ll put it off til later…,

Jerwayne March 24, 2009, 1:46 PM

Sounds like this article was written by me. I had to take a lot of steps to get past my procrastination. I used to procrastinate on bills, working out, finishing work projects (which kills me in my position). I began to realize in the end that it just leads to unneeded and avoidable stress. By taking care of business immediately it actually leaves a lot more time for relaxation without that extra anxiety weighing over me.

But as I’m posting this I’m still procrastinating on writing up employee reviews so I still have some work to do on procrastinating.

JD March 24, 2009, 5:14 PM

This is the single biggest issue in my life….I’ve ALWAYS procrastinated. Being stressed and rushing to get something done is the worst feeling. My best friend gave me a “How To Conquer Procrastination” pamphlet my freshman year in college…yeah 10 years later and I still haven’t read it! Well…I’ll get around to it one day lol

Ken March 24, 2009, 5:18 PM

Great suggestions …….. now I am going to click the “Love and Sex” tab to see what thats about. My tasks can wait……………rofl

tan March 24, 2009, 5:38 PM

i typically procrastinate on things tied to the house, spring cleaning, the closet, rearranging items in pantry etc. i will procrastinate and then arrive to a point where i can’t take it anymore, then it is all or nothing! need not tell you that isn’t the best stance either. it can be just as consuming.

i wish i could say i had a barefaced solution to simplify my life. i don’t have one. however this article has charged me with doing better, starting w/ the checklist. note to self, take paid vehicle in for servicing 1,700 miles over!

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