Risk of Procrastination

Published on 2023-6-14

“Let’s delay project X to next week” is a common answer while planning tasks that we find boring, confusing or intimidating. The thought goes something like this. I’d much rather do this thing than project X and I know that both need to be done, so I’d rather delay spending my time on project X. Is this a bad thing? The phenomenon of delaying unnecessarily is what we call procrastination, and well it depends.

First we need to address the elephant in the room. When we procrastinate it is not because we are lazy. Being lazy means we are willingly not doing the efforts required. Procrastination just means we are delaying a task for reasons often internal in nature. And where being lazy is something we probably want to address, procrastination is somewhat of a mixed bag. It’s a risk to procrastinate, but why do we do it?

Procrastination is often out of fear for the unknown. Unknown being the response we will get after doing the work, us not actually knowing how to do the task (yet), or fear because we quite literally fear the time duration required or the boredom of the task ahead. Procrastination more often happens when we need to do something we fear for whatever reason, like tax reports (ie: fear of outcome), important school papers (difficulty of task head) or something like repairing a shed in the backyard (time duration and/or difficulty).

Delaying a task knowingly isn’t always bad. Sometimes we simply want to align our schedule with our priorities ahead. For example it makes perfect sense to delay a new project because we need to finish an old one first. However there are some risks here. Mainly delaying could also lead to worse time management, increased stress, anxiety, fatigue or decisions being made for us. For example we wouldn’t want to delay responding to a job offer for too long, if that could lead to the employer getting frustrating and hiring someone else.

Knowing when you are procrastinating can go a long way in handling it more consciously. When you spot yourself delaying tasks ask yourself if there’s a good reason to delay and if doing so won’t have any unwanted consequences. If the answer is no, try to go ahead and start project X. Even if you can’t finish it in one sitting, starting the task will get us on the move and those fears that want you to procrastinate just might vanish into thin air. You did it! You overcame procrastination.

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