According to research, all the statistics I’ve found say that 90 to 95% of people procrastinate. I don’t think I could find anyone who could claim they have never procrastinated.
Many people procrastinate: but what you may not know is everyone doesn’t procrastinate in the same way. I realized recently while working with clients that there are two very distinct styles of procrastination.
I put together The Action Solution specifically to help people actually make progress on what matters to them, and I’ve found that some techniques are especially effective for people who procrastinate in one way – and some techniques are especially useful for people who procrastinate in the second way.
Let’s talk about the first form, what I call short term procrastination.
“I’ll Do It Tomorrow”
“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”
– Spanish Proverb
Short term procrastination is the type of procrastination we see all the time. It’s frustrating, but having worked with many people who exercise this style of procrastination I’ve become fairly good at dealing with it.
This is where you have some task you need to do, some thing you want to work on – and you could do something about it today, right now.
However, instead of starting, short term procrastinators tell themselves “I’ll do it tomorrow.” This is procrastination one day at a time, and as bad as it is for your productivity – it’s even worse for your morale. Every day, you wake up with good intentions, hoping you’ll be able to make progress.
And every day when you put off a task yet again, you try to tell yourself you really mean it this time, you really will start tomorrow: but deep down, you know that from experience, you probably won’t.
I’ll get back to discussing short term procrastination and it’s root causes up ahead in a future article. Make sure you’re signed up via email so you can get that update.
For now though, I want to discuss this second style of procrastination. This style is far more dangerous, because on the outside people may even look productive – while in truth they are procrastinating and not spending time on what they want most in their lives.
“I’ll Do It Someday”
The second type of procrastination is long term procrastination. This is the type of procrastination that kills dreams, leads to long term regrets, and that other people will play along and help you deny you’re doing it.
Long term procrastinators have some project they want to take up, a dream they want to accomplish, but have no idea when they’ll actually be able to do it. They just know you’re too busy and can’t get to it right now – instead, plan to “get around to it someday.” This is called ‘someday syndrome’, and it is something which affects almost all of us.
Someday syndrome is insidious, because it often looks noble on the outside, because the excuse you’ll make for putting off your dreams and goals is you don’t have time, because you’re doing the things you “need to do” first.
People get tied up in day to day work, little emergencies and short term “urgent” tasks (that may not really matter to them in the long run). As as a result, they are never able to put aside enough time to write, or exercise, or taking that trip they’ve dreamed about because they’re so busy.
All those things get pushed off to “someday.” And every day, they wonder where the day went.
As you’ve read these two descriptions, short term and long term procrastination, you may have identified with one or the other. Keep that in mind, because I’m to ask you about that in a minute.
Now, lets get to some of the broad root causes of why we procrastinate.
Why We Procrastinate
Do you know the real reason we procrastinate until tomorrow or someday?
It’s because deep down, on some subconcious level, we take today for granted – and imagine that we have unlimited time left in our lives. We don’t feel the urgency we need to to take action right now.
I’m always talking about how important it is to value your time, and that’s really what it comes down to: when we procrastinate, we do so because we don’t value our time. Specifically, we don’t value today, and this moment.
We think we have all the time in the world, and we start by taking today for granted – and from there it’s a slippery slope to taking the next day for granted.
And once you begin taking one or two days for granted – you end up devaluing them, and it’s a slippery slope to taking the rest of your life for granted.
“We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with.
Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do.
We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them.“
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Question: Which Do You Identify With?
We’ll be talking about procrastination a lot in the coming weeks, because long term procrastination specifically was the basis of The Action Solution.
As we close today, I have a quick question for you:
Which form of procrastination do you most identify with (even if you frequently overcome it)?
Please answer below in this quick, one question survey:
Procrastination One Question Survey
I would love to hear your feedback, and in the next few days I’ll put together the results and let you know what they are. I’ll talk to you again soon.
If you like what you’ve seen so far, and want to make the most out of your life, take a moment to read the details about my course The Action Solution and see if it’s something you’d be interested in.
Check it out here: The Action Solution.