“A year from now, you will wish you started today.”
— Karen Lamb
Procrastination —essentially, it’s harmless but collectively, it’s dangerous. On many days, procrastination feels satisfying. But, as we grow older, it’s becoming a prison we can barely get out of.
I was taking my second course back then, a degree in education. We were bombarded with paperwork, reports, and daily doses of anxiety—typical for thriving education students.
I admit that I do procrastinate and start everything at the last minute. I call it time-saving. Requirements were piling up but I pride myself on my speed. I never missed a requirement. Things were doing great even with my procrastinating attitude, however, something happened and it felt pretty terrible.
We had a collaborative activity in one of our professional education subjects. I was assigned to lead the group.
Just like what I usually do, we started working on the activity a little behind schedule. Needless to say, my groupmates were procrastinators, too. So no one complained about it. I didn’t put much pressure on them, however, I made sure everything is completed on the night before the submission.
I entrusted my guy groupmate with the printouts. It was an easy task — printing the file, then submitting it to our professor — yet he failed to do so.
He hadn’t read the scope of requirements, so he printed and submitted an incomplete group work. In the middle of the class, we were called out by the professor and my name was unfortunately first on the list.
I was mad. Never was I shamed like that. From the corner of my eye, I saw a classmate smirking at the situation. I wanted to clench my fist but I wouldn’t make my anger too obvious to everyone.
What my embarrassing day taught me.
My professor’s words still ring in my ears. It’s the shock when someone calls your name a little sternly and you know it isn’t good news.
“What’s this piece of crap?” And she yelled my name while scanning our incomplete papers. How stupid is he to forget the most important sheets?
My classmate earnestly apologized but in my mind, I’ve cursed him a hundred times. Nevertheless, I told him it was okay (though it really wasn’t). I was blaming him for humiliating not only me but the entire group.
I kept on replaying the scenario — still not willing to move on. However, one thought struck me. That partly, it was also my fault.
I was busy blaming others that I didn’t see the flaw in myself. As a leader, if we worked early on, we could’ve double-checked our submission. I could’ve known my classmate had no idea at all what he was doing. If I wasn’t so confident, everything could’ve been smoothed out.
The Faces of Procrastination
The above story was one of the many procrastinations I did in my life. It’s cool, but not until you’re trying to reach a goal. It’s harmless, but not until we’re discussing personal growth.
I loved delays — canceled trips, extended deadlines — more than all the surprises I received in my life. However, as I contemplate the severity of my procrastination, I realized it hasn’t been very fruitful. And never it will be, just like what happened in my story.
Procrastination has various shapes and faces. I listed its most common faces that I think many can relate to. Which one’s true to you?
1. The motivation-seeker
“Time you enjoy wasting is time not wasted.”
That was once my motto. As soon as I get home, I’ll either grab my phone or lie on the bed and wait until night arrives.
We put aside all our tasks requirements, it doesn’t end piling up anyway. We’ll start working on it when motivation kicks in — which usually doesn’t happen.
2. The procrastinating event organizer
Don’t tell me you never did it? I did it a bunch of times during my high school and college days.
I was the idealistic type — the person who gets excited the most but rarely appears at the event. Not to mention, I also suggested the venue and time.
3. The plain lazy ones
Laziness to me is intentionally shutting my mind down to avoid productivity.
My co-worker was asking for a picture of me for an organizational chart, but I know I’d send it in three days. It’s the worst kind of procrastination, but here I am doing it (I haven’t sent that picture yet).
4. The easily distracted
I’m guilty. Procrastination knows when and where to hit us.
Do you remember times when you are eager to finish your tasks but you can’t resist your dog’s charm? The next thing you know, you’re playing around with your pet.
I was also planning to write this article for 2 nights now. It just happened that the notifications from my social media accounts don’t stop popping. Wait a minute, there’s another.
But now that procrastination lives in my system, I’m dreading it to the core.
As I grew to be a working woman, I started wishing I was a different person. I get inspired by people who act relentlessly and actualize amazing projects. In my case, it’s turning difficult.
Procrastination never helps especially to people with idealistic minds — me. It’s a cruel combination to be both a visionary and a procrastinator.
I always look for motivation to start what I planned for myself, but my mind is wandering, even asking why doesn’t the motivation ever arrive?
What causes severe procrastination?
Believe me when I say I’m trying to get rid of it. But, procrastination has entrenched to a deeper level within me.
As I contemplate the course of my life, I thought of a few reasons why I keep on procrastinating even after desiring to wave it off.
1. Interest hopping
The annoying attitude of getting easily distracted leads me nowhere.
Countless ideas easily pique our interest. One day, we want to be a writer. On another day, we plan about future businesses — but none were ever realized.
If it happens once, it’s tolerable. But if it happens multiple times in a week, it leaves us paralyzed. We can’t seem to focus on one.
Indecisiveness kills time and opportunities. The chances to learn new skills are wasted due to ridiculous interest hopping. As of now, none of my long-term plans has ever reached completion.
2. Fear of failing
Yesterday, my heart’s on fire. I promised to do the best I can no matter what. Today, I’m contemplating why do my plans even matter? I eventually back out like a whining puppy.
The fear of criticisms is real. Often, we let people dictate who we are. We’re afraid that we can’t live to the expectations of society.
But the truth is, fear of failure means fear of learning. We never truly learn if we’re afraid to experience mistakes.
3. Inability to take on obstacles
No one easily reaches success. There are rough roads, highs, and lows, that we need to endure.
Unfortunately, most people stop at the very first sign of obstacles. They haven’t moved from the starting point, yet they have already given up.
When challenges occur, most people rethink their purpose. Does my purpose weigh that much to consider taking on these difficulties?
Unfortunately, some excuses weigh more than the cause. Instead of taking steps forward, they busy themselves making up reasons why they can’t. It keeps people on procrastinating the most important — reaching their own dreams and goals.
How do we overcome procrastination in life?
We’re in the age where we can decide for ourselves. We make or break our own success. While living a life with severe procrastination around the corner, how far can we go in life?
Here’s some advice to overcome procrastination and help everyone win at life. I am also a work-in-progress and I may not be the best person to tell you this.
Nevertheless, I try to cope with the severe procrastination and slowly make improvements like running my own web pages and writing on Medium. I am following a few and simple guidelines.
1. Set deadlines.
Deadlines are underrated. It’s always dreaded but its purpose has always been to help.
Deadlines provide us a time frame. This constraint allows us to budget the time for different phases and stages of our plans.
The pressure from deadlines is the best weapon against procrastination. Have a tiny bit of pressure while working. Always set a sensible deadline.
I’ve always said this to my students whenever they’re asking for unreasonable extensions.
“If I give you two months, you’ll finish it in two months. If I give you two weeks, you’ll finish it in two weeks.”
In this case, I’m cutting off the extra days to keep them from procrastinating.
Also, without deadlines and anyone pressuring you, would you ever start working on your own? Would you have the initiative? If you said yes, lucky you.
2. Shrug off opinions.
The best way to overcome procrastination is to start. However, as you make a move, the world can be quite noisy as they give opinions about what you do.
One thing that paralyzes us is the fear of failure and criticisms.
I once tried to deactivate all my social media accounts for a week. Within that time, I felt like the most productive person — free from the imprisonment of the internet.
When I came back, the very first posts sent me a coursing feeling through my veins — unfamiliar chills with a touch of sadness. I am not exaggerating. It felt like a sudden burst of anxiety.
In social media, the world looked like everyone’s in a competition of flaunting how good their lives are. It urges us to dive in.
But sometimes, we just have to look away from the crowd. Ignore the negative and focus on what we can do to improve ourselves.
Do what you want without others telling you to do so. Have the courage to start, regardless of what people may tell you.
Procrastination shrinks as the fiery desire and passion ensue. Don’t let them change your mind. Don’t let the crowd define you.
3. Honor a downtime.
Deadlines are great. Pressure is a necessity. But, don’t forget to take care of yourself. It’s necessary to avoid burnout especially if you’re like me — someone who’s not used to the constantly bustling environment.
Before, I was working as a content writer for different clients. A client asked me to write a well-crafted 2000 to 3000-word article daily for one month.
I agreed because the pay was great, but I grew devastated and hated every inch of what I do. I experienced a total burnout and dropped out. Never did I imagine that writing can be that traumatizing.
So, honor a downtime. Whatever you do, you deserve to rest. But keep it at a minimum. Remember how prolonged procrastination ruins everything. Rest, but you have to keep coming back on track.
Procrastination may have been beneficial depending on the way you perceive it — a time to rest, overthink, and play around.
However, too much playing around makes Jack a dull boy. We all have a goal to reach and it can’t happen by lying around and conducting some wishful thinking.
Procrastination is a dark small chamber where growth is restricted. It leads us to the exact opposite of what we dreamed about.
For whatever reason you are delaying the progress, stop. Excuses are unacceptable.
There’s nothing to be afraid of. Come out of the shell. Get your ass to work even if it means working beyond the 9–5 schedule and having sleepless nights.
Don’t procrastinate on your life.