How much is your procrastination costing you?

By Ted Behr, M. Ed., CPCC, ACC

Have you ever considered all the costs of procrastination, not merely the mental anguish or hand-wringing? When you are especially stuck getting started on some important task, try this exercise:  write the following headings on a piece of paper – mental, monetary, psychic, professional, social.   Leave room between headings to write your answers.

Now consider the mental costs.  You probably know this all too well.  It might involve sleepless nights, anxiety, headaches, or psychological battles with yourself.  Not fun!

“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” – Theodore Rubin

Second, what is the actual monetary cost of not getting started on this task? The answer may range from nothing to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, particularly if your career or business opportunity is at stake. And what if it’s all your money?

Third, the psychic cost may be even greater.   What is the cost of regarding yourself is unproductive, lazy or undisciplined?   It might cause you to avoid other types of challenges because you fear that you will mess them up by procrastinating.  You may even allow feelings of worthlessness to affect your relationships.

On the professional level, if you are known as someone who drops the ball or, worse, never even picks it up, peers and associates may not want to work with you.  Professionally speaking, the costs can be devastating.  Perhaps your proclivity to procrastinate has cost you raises and promotions.

From a social standpoint, procrastinating can keep you from meeting new friends, a significant other, and who knows what else. You may miss out on social opportunities or finding your 15 minutes of fame because of your inability to take action. Even more, procrastinating will in all likelihood prevent you from enjoying the time you have for social activities because you keep fretting about the tasks you’ve been putting off.

Sometimes when you add up the total cost of not getting started, it can be startling. Procrastination comes with a price tag, often a big one. The stark realization of its costs may be enough to light a fire under your backside.

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