Procrastination Is The Thief Of Time
Procrastination is the enemy of success. The Latin origin of the word procrastination is pro (forward) plus crastinus (belonging to tomorrow)? However, procrastination is much more than postponing something; It is an automatic problem habit of putting off an important and timely activity until another time. Procrastination is the thief of time; In a nutshell, you procrastinate when you put off things that you should be focusing on right now, usually in favor of doing something more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.
According to psychologist Professor Clarry Lay, a prominent writer on procrastination, procrastination occurs when there’s “a temporal gap between intended behavior and enacted behavior.” That is, procrastination is occurring when there’s a significant time period between when people intend to do a job, and when they actually do it. Procrastination is self-perpetuating as procrastinators will often focus on emotional coping strategies, putting off dealing with the source of their delays.
Procrastination Is The Thief Of Time: Why Do So Many People Procrastinate?
Without a doubt, procrastinating is a prevalent scenario that many of us have experienced at one time or another. So why does it happen? Why do I waste so much time doing nothing? Why do we procrastinate? Why do I waste so much time on unproductive, frivolous activities when I know there’s work to be done? Why can’t many of us resist the urge to procrastinate? What separates those of us who do from those who diligently complete all their work early or in a timely fashion?
Many will conclude that they just have “no willpower.” And yet, in those final moments right before the deadline, the “willpower” we call up to do it is nothing short of incredible. At those times, we may feel that we would be capable of anything if only we could harness that motivation.
But no one would wish onto themselves the constant, feverish pressure of continuously completing a task under this type of hard deadline. And those whose jobs put them in these kinds of conditions most often greatly resent it. There can, of course, be many negative physical and psychological side-effects as well. It is, however, possible to have the best of both worlds: to be productive and proactive without the stress and strain that comes with having to meet a deadline. And it has little to do with willpower and a lot to do with motivation.
Procrastination interferes with a person’s productivity. Different people procrastinate for various reasons and in different ways. Some postpone decisions with no guarantee for success; others find creative ways to delay and put off unpleasant tasks. Persistent forms of procrastination are severe problems for people. Most especially those who tie their self-worth to their performance and whose procrastination may also contribute to stress-related health problems.
For most people, procrastination is NOT about being lazy, irrespective of what they say. In fact, when we procrastinate, we often work intensely for long stretches just before our deadlines. Working long and hard is the opposite of being lazy, so that can’t be why we do it. So, why do we procrastinate and, more importantly, what can we do about it? As suggested above, some say they procrastinate because they are lazy. Others claim they “do better” when procrastinating and “work best” under pressure. Procrastination is not solely a matter of poor time management skills, either, but instead can be traced to underlying and more complex psychological reasons.
In reality, procrastination is often a self-protection strategy. For example, if you procrastinate, you will always have the excuse of “not having enough” time if you fail, so your sense of your ability is never threatened. For the most part, our reasons for delaying and avoiding are rooted in our deep fear and anxiety about doing poorly, doing too well, losing control, looking stupid, and having one’s sense of self or self-concept challenged. We avoid doing work to prevent our abilities from being judged. And, if we happen to succeed, we feel that much “smarter.” So, what can we do to overcome our tendencies to procrastinate?
John Grohol, a psychologist, and founder of Psych Central says that there are three main reasons people procrastinate:
⦁ A person overestimates the amount of time left to perform a task and underestimates the amount of time required to complete it.
⦁ A person overestimates the amount of motivation they’ll have in the future (often believing they will be more motivated to do the task in the future).
⦁ A person believes that they need to be in the right mood to be successful in completing the task and that, if they’re not in the right mood, they won’t be very successful at the task.
- And he goes even further to say that the main roots of people procrastinating is because they are perfectionists, are fearful of not completing the task successfully, or are simply too disorganized with their time and resources.
What Does The Bible Say About Time Management?
1 Ecclesiastes 11:3-4 (MSG)
When the clouds are full of water, it rains. When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls. Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work. Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.
2 James 4:13-15 MSG
And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”
3 James 4:17 (TPT)
So if you know of an opportunity to do the right thing today, yet you refrain from doing it, you’re guilty of sin.
Procrastination is a universal problem. Most of us know what we need to do; we just put it off. The problem with procrastination is that it becomes a way of life. The Bible says a lot about procrastination. What are the things that you know God wants you to do, but you keep procrastinating, and they never get done? If you want to see your life change, you need to hand over all your worries, pain, and heartache, casting all your cares on God, for He cares for you.
“Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will–tomorrow” – Gloria Pitzer
Procrastination Is The Thief Of Time: What Causes It?
1 James 1:5-8 (TPT)
And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom, and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace. Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next.
Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition? You need to pray in faith, asking God for wisdom. Trust God to guide you and clear your mind of any form of doubts or negative thinking.
2 Proverbs 29: 25 (TPT)
Fear and intimidation is a trap that holds you back. But when you place your confidence in the Lord, you will be seated in the high place. Fear of failure paralyzes us and keeps us from accomplishing the great things God has called us to do.
3 Romans 15:7(TPT)
You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One has fully accepted you and received you as his partner.
Christ accepts you as is, flaws and all. He doesn’t require your perfection, because he is the only one who can be completely without sin. His acceptance of you can help you accept others with their flaws as well.
4 Ecclesiastes 11: 4 (MSG)
When the clouds are full of water, it rains. When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls. Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work. Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life. Waiting for things to be perfect is just going to hold you back and stop you from fulfilling your purpose.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines procrastination: “To put off usually habitually the doing of something that should be done.” While some procrastinate more than others, few of us (if we are honest) can say we never procrastinate. We put off doing things for many reasons—especially getting words in our head written. It’s no wonder God seems to call many people to do similar things. He knows how few will actually finish what they start.
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me,” I read in Psalm 139:1. I cannot hide my problem of procrastinating from him, but I can go to him for help to overcome it. The first step to victory comes by facing the reasons why I procrastinate. Sometimes, to be honest, it’s laziness. Writing is hard work! It’s easier to talk about it than to do it. But since I know writing is the work God has called me to do, I need to do it.
Procrastination is an enemy of time. Sometimes I procrastinate because I’m overextended. I have difficulty saying no. All too often, my time and energy are drained as I allow my priorities to get out of order. And then there’s the “tyranny of the urgent.” I’m ruled by my never-ending to-do list filled with things that seem to demand my attention but have no eternal significance.
Other times, I procrastinate because of a problem with my will. I know what God has called me to do, but I choose to do what I want. The biggest reason people procrastinate is fear of failure. Facing the reasons I procrastinate doesn’t make me feel good, but it is a prerequisite to the second step to victory—confession. My good intentions are not enough but they do not get me off the hook.
Jesus told a parable about a man with two sons (Matt. 21:28-32). He asked both of them to go and work in the vineyard. The first son said he wouldn’t, but later, he changed his mind and did what his father asked. The second son said he would, but he didn’t. Did he deliberately break his word or simply procrastinate?
When God calls something to my attention, it’s not what I say I will do that count—it’s what I actually do. “Knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is a sin” (James 4:17). It is only as I confess this sin and realize my worthlessness before the Lord that he lifts me up, encourages, and helps me (James 4:8-10). While some opportunities may be gone forever, God does not leave me in the land of regrets. He redeems the time I’ve lost and gives me another chance (Prov. 28:13).
Procrastination is a thief of time, continually robbing me of those wonderfully rewarding words, “Job well done!” Of course, others are continuously denied of receiving my work on time. Procrastination has stolen my confidence, integrity, and my peace. Now, the cry of my heart is, “Lord, please show me how to prevent this destructive decay of delay. Oh, Master, teach me how to faithfully manage my time!”
Luke 12:42-43 (MSG)
The Master said, “Let me ask you: Who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff to feed them well and on time? He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he’s doing his job.
Many people assume that procrastinators are always lazy; however, laziness is just one of the causes of procrastination. If you are lazy, you are negligent in handling your responsibilities because of your not choosing to do what you need to do. On the other hand, you may be highly productive and in no way lazy but still procrastinate by simply failing to start a task on time. One procrastinator desires to work and yet delays- the other lacks the willingness to work and then refuses.
Proverbs 21:25 (MSG)
Lazy people finally die of hunger because they won’t get up and go to work.
(TPT) Taking the easy way out is the habit of a lazy man, and it will be his downfall.
WHY Procrastination Is The Thief Of Time?
Do you tend to procrastinate? Procrastination keeps you from starting, working on, or finishing essential tasks. But why do you procrastinate? By looking at the reasons you put things off, you will make valuable discoveries about yourself that can help you end procrastination.
Dr. Burns in The Feeling Good Handbook (1989) gives 10 Reasons Why People Procrastinate:
- Putting the cart before the horse. Most procrastinators believe that you must feel motivated in order to begin a task. If you wait until you feel motivated or “in the mood,” you may never start the task, especially if it is boring or unpleasant. Action comes first before motivation.
- The mastery model. Do not assume that successful people easily achieve their goals. Most people endure frustration, self-doubt and overcome obstacles to achieve their personal goals. If you think that it should be easy without setbacks and struggles, you could conclude that something is wrong and give up.
- The fear of failure. Procrastinators might believe that trying hard and failing is worse than not trying. They can rationalize it by saying, “I really did not try, so I truly did not fail.” Or, “I could have done better if I had had more time.” Procrastination is a way to protect them from the possibility of perceived “real failure”. For some people, their self-esteem is based on the success of their accomplishments.
Or, for others, family expectations and standards set by parents may be so high that no one could actually live up to them. Their fear may be so great that they would rather do nothing than risk failure. Consider that the problem is actually the unrealistic standards that have been set, not the failure to meet them.
- Perfectionism. Trying to do things perfectly can put pressure on people and cause them to feel so stressed that they procrastinate. Instead of doing nothing at all, try to relax and just do your best. If you at least get started on the task, you can always go back later to work on improving the quality.
- Lack of rewards. Procrastinators tend to put themselves down and not give themselves credit for what they do. Feeling rewarded for your efforts is a great motivator.
- “Should statements.” Procrastination is often associated with an obligation – feeling pulled between what you “should do” and what you want to do. Saying that you should or ought to do something could make the task seem unimportant or not urgent.
- Passive aggressiveness. Procrastination can be a tool for passive aggressiveness – not expressing negative feelings openly and directly. Your true feelings may come out indirectly through procrastinating on things that others will find frustrating. Example: Chronically showing up late for group projects because you are annoyed with your project leader.
- Unassertiveness. Be assertive and don’t agree to do things that you don’t really want to do, and don’t give in to unreasonable demands from others. Otherwise, you may get overcommitted and procrastinate.
- Coercion sensitivity. Procrastination may be a form of rebelling against people making unreasonable demands or coercing you into doing a task. Delaying tactics can be a rebellion against imposed schedules, standards, and expectations. This strategy hurts you more than whatever or whomever you are rebelling or resisting (i.e., getting a bad grade, loss of self-respect, etc.).
- The lack of desire. This is probably the most common cause of procrastination. You procrastinate simply because you don’t want to do the task. This could be because of a lack of interest. There are times in life when you will have to do things that you don’t like or want to do. If your natural interests are not stimulated, one solution to procrastinating might be to “just do it .”This will give you more “guilt-free” time to do those things that are more interesting to you.
Understanding why you procrastinate can help you put the problem into a different perspective. Perhaps your reasons are good ones. Maybe the task is not a high priority. Or, you realize that your family and friends are encouraging you to pursue a goal that you are not committed to or isn’t quite right for you. Once you have analyzed the situation, you may discover that you never want to do the task you’ve been putting off. However, if the analysis shows that it is to your benefit to get started on the task, develop a plan.
TIPS TO OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION
- Identify the reasons why you are procrastinating on completing a task.
- Seek help to overcome self-defeating problems such as fear and anxiety or perfectionism.
- Identify your own goals, values, and priorities.
- Ask yourself if your goals are realistic? Are your actions consistent with your goals, values, etc.?
- Develop a plan for completing goals/projects. Outline the smaller steps needed to complete the project or reach your goal.
- Discipline yourself to use time wisely. Set priorities. Give yourself deadlines for completing tasks.
- Reward yourself after completing a task. The bigger the accomplishment, the bigger the reward should be.
Burns, D. D. (1989). The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: Plume.