Just about everyone puts off completing tasks, responsibilities, and objectives at some point or another. Maybe it’s part of our human nature, maybe it’s because we enjoy the drama that comes with a hovering deadline or penalty. Procrastination, the action of delaying or postponing something, is part of our daily lives. Whether it’s not writing that essay until the very last minute, paying a bill the day it’s due rather than long before, or shopping for a holiday the day of that holiday, procrastination happens – and just about everyone is guilty of it in some way or another.
But how often do we ask ourselves WHY we procrastinate so much? It is true that life in the Western world in the 21st century is busier than ever, with constant stimulation (mostly due to technology) and a never-ending list of responsibilities that increase as time goes on. What is the reason we put off doing important things – whether in our careers, in our homes or in our daily lives? And is it a bad thing to procrastinate? At what point does it become a problem?
People procrastinate for a number of reasons. One is a lack of resources. A task may be put off until a later date if there is a lack of money, tools, time, etc. needed to complete said task. Most times, procrastination is due to a lack of money, as things like bills, payments and financial obligations most always involve money.
People also procrastinate because they have more important things to do, perhaps because they have bigger problems to solve. They don’t set out to intentionally put off completing something; they do it because time is of the essence and they have other things, more important and pressing objectives, facing them. A student may put off working on a writing assignment if they need to study for an exam or prepare for an important presentation. A parent may procrastinate on fixing something in the house because they need to spend that money on feeding their children or paying the mortgage or rent. It calls for an adult decision on a pressing matter, and it often invites justified procrastination.
Other times, people procrastinate out of dread, as well. They choose not to do something because they don’t want to do it, or because the process or perhaps the effect of doing it is not so pleasurable or something they want to do. And it’s easier to put off doing it until it’s absolutely necessary to do – like yard work, taxes, repairing a home and doing laundry.
In conclusion, procrastination is part of life – different people for different reasons do it. Quite often, it has its perks and its drawbacks: procrastinating may be helpful for an individual’s comfort and pleasure, but in the long-term, it can have negative consequences – such as financial penalties – and can prevent one’s success. For example, it may be fine to procrastinate on home projects, but never a good thing to procrastinate with work-related obligations and responsibilities. So the individual must have the foresight to know what is pressing and what can be pushed aside for time being. The successful individual may be seen as a person who doesn’t procrastinate, someone who does what they are supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it regardless of if they want to do it or not. This is how the success guru, writer, and speaker Brian Tracy describes self-discipline as a path to success. Chuck Palahniuk, a novelist of several books including the popular Fight Club, feels people sort of like procrastinating on things in their lives. He seems to believe we need it and openly invite the drama. He says, “People don't want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas, their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.” Maybe people are programmed to procrastinate. Being attracted to conflict, people most likely – perhaps subconsciously – put off things because we are always in desperate need of a distraction from the ultimate destination: our own death.