Procrastination is the thief of time.

We all know that procrastination is the thief of time. It's a very old adage, after all.
We all know that time once lost is lost forever.
We all know that opportunities are often lost forever, due to procrastination.
We all know that we postpone things for later and never come around to it unless the force of circumstances brings us to it.
We all know that by procrastinating, we're unconsciously re-scheduling things with its attendant consequences.
We all know that not procrastinating requires self-discipline.
We all know that people who do not procrastinate go forward in life, faster than those who do.
In short, we know all that gyan about the ill effects of procrastinating!
But yet an overwhelming majority of us suffer from procrastinating - in some areas at least at the very minimum. Often these affect us personally in ways we're not conscious of.


The simple answer is that we love the payoff more than the costs!
 I've searched a bit to see if there are any articles on this core reason for procrastination found so commonly in human beings. And found none! Maybe there are, but I couldn't find any reasonably specific article on the reason behind procrastinating.

So, instead of procrastinating till I find a specific article, I decided I'll start this blog with my own understanding of the power that drives procrastination!

The first and probably only reason worth considering is that by procrastinating, we get powerful and huge payoffs (benefits).

These payoffs feed the nearly hardwired character defects everyone has. The trick is to identify accurately which defect of character the procrastination feeds!

This requires one to first identify the chronic defects of character. There can be a lot of them that appear at first sight. Procrastination is not a defect of character but an outcome or cover up for a chronic defect of character.

By cover up I mean, its whats visible outwardly while the real character defect hides from view, even from ourselves.

Let me take an example to illustrate what I mean.

Let's say John is at the core, a coward. One who'll try and avoid unpleasantness or outright confrontation.

His boss asks him to do a task he intensely dislikes. Like cleaning the washroom every day. And he doesn't say NO. He mumbles his acceptance of this rotating task as his turn had come.

A week later, his boss confronts him with the fact he hasn't cleaned the washroom even once that week.

Now John is in a dilemma. He's facing a confrontation with the boss that's far more dangerous than his dislike of cleaning washrooms.

Guess what the overwhelming majority of John-like people would do? Figure out how to trot out lame excuses and avoid this even-bigger unpleasant situation. 

"Yesterday the water ran out when I went to clean."
"The mop was broken"
"I had a tight deadline to meet this week"
etc etc etc .... You get the idea.

John put off cleaning the washroom on day 1 and never got around to it thinking no one will notice. Till the boss did!

For John, procrastination (putting things off) was the natural and unconscious reaction to his inability to tell the boss NO because of ________ (fill in the blanks).
That was his Cowardliness that triggered Procrastination.
Procrastination was/is a coverup for his Cowardliness.
I know I have taken a rather simple example so that it is publicly consumable. But those who suffer from procrastination will do well to introspect and locate what chronic defect of character is being fed by procrastination - if they want relief from this thief of time.

In my long years of working with people I have found this to be true: Procrastination is a Cover Up for a more insidious defect of character. And that it is typically triggered intensely when there's no larger threat visible on the horizon. And when such a larger threat arises, procrastination only helps dig a bigger hole at the end of the day.
The solution is less about the costs of Procrastination and more about the payoff we get from putting things off till and if we're forced to do it. Explaining it away (like saying I am lazy) is just that: an excuse.
When the payoff for procrastinating is perceived as more than the cost, procrastination will persist and grow even stronger.

Twitter: @jsvasan


Gopal said…
Chinna said…
Clearly explained with practical experiences in day to day life.
RR said…
Thanks for sharing this important reminder.
Unknown said…
Amazingly explained. Very true. I am also looking at the cost involved along with the pay off.
JS said…
Please assist me in sharing it far and wide with your circles. It 'may" help others too!
Unknown said…
Nice thank you for sharing 👌👍
Unknown said…
Most Relevant Blog for me
Unknown said…
Superb sir thank you for remaining last two years before I am also in the coward I pay lott of cost thank you very much sir
Unknown said…
Sir thank you..yet to find my undercover doc that push me to procrastinate.
JS said…
As ‘unknown ‘ I don’t even know who’s talking 😂

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