[Photo: Sander Smeekes/Unsplash]

What is Procrastination & What is it Costing You?

We all have the tendency to procrastinate but are you aware of what it’s costing you? Find out what procrastination is and how It can be the difference between being wealthy or poor, loved or unloved, seen positively or negatively, and more.


You may or may not be aware that you are an Olympic figure procrastinator. Now, that might be a bit harsh to say but, to be honest with ourselves, we need to acknowledge it and own it. I’m going to bet that right now, it’s possible you’re about to procrastinate about reading the rest of this article. Am I right? Look, I procrastinate too. And, I used to be really good at. But, you know what? It never did me any good. So, you’re a busy person and I understand there are about a million other things out there waiting to distract you so let’s get on with it. In the next few minutes (provided you’re still here) to truly grasp the magnitude of what you’re missing out on by procrastinating, let’s first start with an understanding of what is procrastination.

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is the tendency not to act on something we know we should

Depending on where you look, there are various schools of thought defining procrastination across academic disciplines, and professional practices. From Tim Urban’s: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator TED Talk to, Dan Ariely’s video explanation to, John Kelly’s animated illustration. In essence, among these exists a common thread about what procrastination really is. Amid various definitions and explanations, this universal thread eloquently suggests that; procrastination is the tendency not to act on something we know we should. Of which, the tendency not to act is strongly influenced by mood. How we feel at that moment in time about a particular thing that we know we should be doing.

Figuratively speaking, the force of procrastination is that silent voice within each of us that’s incredibly effective at preventing us from obtaining the achievements that matter. We’re all guilty of it sometime or another. But, do you ever think of the real cost of your procrastination? Whether you know it or not, procrastinating can lead to seriously risky business.

It may not be evident at the time but, there can be a lot on the line. By allowing yourself to procrastinate you run the risk of missing out. Missing out on money, love, work, building a positive reputation, and time to name only a few. Not to mention, perhaps, the wildest opportunities that may come only once in a lifetime.

What is procrastination costing you?

Everything you do has an effect. Everything you fail to do also has an effect — often an unwanted one

At the time, we may not know it but, when we let the force of procrastination get the better of us we risk losing out. Things that we need, value, and cherish. Things like losing those you love, losing your job, losing your positive reputation, integrity, and losing that precious resource we all take for granted — time. Let’s examine each of these further.

1. Money

Procrastination can have a cost in very real terms. You fail to have your car serviced or, fail to investigate that funny noise coming from the engine. Before you know it the car breaks down. As a result, you’re left with an expensive repair, the difficulty, and inconvenience of being without your car and possibly the added expenses of arranging a hire car. All because you never quite “got around” to having the car serviced and maintained in the first place.

2. Love

Popular movies and tales are based on the concept of someone missing out on a shot at love because they procrastinated. Since the earliest days of fiction it has been a recurring plot idea — and still, it happens in real life today. Perhaps, recently, you’ve been procrastinating over making a commitment to someone or asking them out on a date. Do you really want to lose them to someone else? Would you live to regret it? Don’t let procrastination get the better of you. It may just be your shot at love.

3. Work

Whether you are employed or self-employed, you will have deadlines to meet and tasks to complete to keep customers, clients, and bosses happy (even if you’re your own boss!). Procrastinating at work can have a major effect on the relationships with your colleagues. In the future, your procrastinating habits could lead you to be passed over for promotion.

Possibly worse, you might end up being micromanaged by your boss because you can’t be trusted to get on and do your work. The cost can be even higher if you are self-employed. Clients and customers are not easy to obtain and very easy to lose. Deliver late just once and you may well find yourself crossed off their preferred contact list.

4. Reputation and Integrity

How many times have you promised friends, relatives, and colleagues that you will do something for them but didn’t follow through and instead let them down? You procrastinated over the task then, failed to deliver. Those that like or love you may be forgiving once, twice, or maybe even three times. But, at some point, your reputation will be shot.

Continue being this way and soon enough you’ll earn yourself the reputation of being the one that they never ask to do anything. Only because you don’t follow through. You’ve heard the conversations, surely? “Oh, there’s no point in asking [insert name here], because he/she never [insert procrastination weakness here].

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only 5 minutes to destroy it

Once lost, a reputation is a hard thing to win back. Warren Buffet was talking serious sense when he said: “it said it takes 20 years to build a reputation and only 5 minutes to destroy it.” Think about it. Are you willing to give up the reputation you’ve earned only to allow procrastination get the better of you? Be honest. You only have yourself to lie to. If you think you’ve branded yourself with a bad reputation, maybe it’s time to start building a new one.

5. Time

Do you put any monetary value on your time? No? Then, now might be an excellent opportunity to reconsider that. Think about your hourly rate at work and apply that rate to every hour of your day. Are you giving yourself (and others) good-to-great value for money? Can you indeed truly, confidently, and proudly say that the activities with which you have filled the last hour were worth your hourly rate? Would you pay someone else at the same rate for the same level of effort?

Now you know

The next time procrastination tempts you (or if you find yourself already in the midst of doing it) just stop. Take a moment and consider the implications. Assess the real costs of procrastinating and see if that doesn’t spur you into action.