Motivation Articles

Confessions of a Reformed Procrastinator

Break the Energy-Sapping Cycle

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This article has been a long time coming. In fact, it’s probably several years overdue. Why? Because… I’m a closet procrastinator.

I’ve been too aware for too long that I’ve suffered this affliction. In college, 73% of my studying (I checked) was done between the hours of 11pm and 4am the night before exams, fueled by Cheetos and Mountain Dew. My car always stayed dirty, my fridge was always cluttered, and the malls always stayed open an extra hour for me on Christmas Eve. I once didn’t eat breakfast because making toast seemed like work. True story.

Over the years, I’ve learned to cope with this burden and even overcome it in many significant ways. I can’t tell you what a HUGE difference just a few simple goal-setting techniques have made. Being accountable to something written on paper compels me to act. It may be true that thinking before you act is a virtue. But too much thinking leads to very little action. And action is everything when it comes to reaching meaningful goals and leading a meaningful life.

But I learned a valuable lesson the other day that may help me even more. I learned that I’m still procrastinating in a lot of small, unseen ways that can add up to frustrating days.

Here’s what happened: On the way to work, I stopped at the intersection at the end of our street. On that corner is a mailbox, and I had three letters in the car to mail. Being late for work, though, my first thought – as it has been for years – was "I’m in a hurry, I’ll just mail them at lunchtime." But instead of driving on, I stopped my procrastinating self. I realized that I was actually prepared to take 5-10 minutes out of my lunch hour, get back in my car, slog through traffic, and run to the post office – just for the sake of not having to do it right now. Such is the irrational nature of a procrastinator.

I scolded myself for being so stupid, got out of the car, dropped the mail, and was on my way. Cost: 10 seconds. Payoff: No more brain space wasted on mail, and a traffic-free lunch. Lesson learned.

I know there are a lot of closet procrastinators like me out there, people who have goals or things to do (big or small), but put off acting on them for one reason or another.
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About The Author

Mike Kramer Mike Kramer
As a writer and artist, Mike has witnessed countless motivational stories and techniques. See all of Mike's articles.

Member Comments

  • BETHANYLEAH
    This article helps, I am such a procrastinator, especially when it comes to my weight loss. I will buy a heap of healthy produce and whole foods only to have them sour in the fridge since it takes time to wash, prep and prepare. I love to cook, but I never eat breakfast because it seems like it is too time consuming. - 6/9/2014 12:05:34 PM
  • That's me so often, then the put-off jobs take even longer to complete, or I end up wondering after the fact, 'Why did I delay so long?' - 4/5/2014 12:11:12 PM
  • TESSASVA
    Hi, Mike,
    I am profiting from this article. Also, I enjoy your entertaining writing style. What impressed me the most is how you can save time and money by not procrastinating. If you had not dropped the letters off when you did, you would have lost money also (i.e., on gas).

    I figure I can save about $500 a month by moving out of where I am now living. So what is stopping me?? Clutter! I can't show this place to the realtor until a lot of the clutter is gone. And getting rid of it requires decision-making on my part, which is the heart of my procrastination ailment. I avoid making decisions about how to dispose of things or where to sell them.

    Anyway, when I think about saving $500 a month, that is a big motivator for me in overcoming this bad habit.

    Thanks again for the article and I'll keep looking for others of yours (after I have disposed of a few boxfuls, of course). - 3/10/2014 6:56:02 PM
  • Very good points here.. I can see myself and see where I can improve.
    - 3/10/2014 4:05:54 PM
  • There is no closet in my procrastination. Why do not what you can wait to do later? :) For me, part of it is being self-conscience. If I need to make a cold call somewhere, I will delay because I am concerned that I will sound flustered or unprofessional. I'm also a bit lazy, and will try to take the quick way of doing things. I'm working on getting around this by always cleaning up completely after meals, and always putting away groceries and items after buying (or washing) them. - 2/24/2014 10:02:05 AM
  • The post office example rang true to me -- it's funny when you think about the time wasted procrastinating when getting something done on time takes so much less effort! Like washing dishes -- if you do it right away you don't end up with dried on crusty bits that take forever to scrub. interesting metaphor for losing weight there -- gotta scrub it off! :) - 2/21/2014 10:32:12 AM
  • Very timely. I think about this often. Thanks for bringing attention to this. - 2/13/2014 8:29:56 PM
  • Great article. My anxiety causes me to freeze up and procrastinate. Anything that I have to do that "puts me out there and vulnerable" Causes really unnecessary delays. Working thru it diligently and sure thought the timing on this article was great. Thanks for writing!
    - 2/13/2014 4:27:54 PM
  • QUANSC2
    Wonderful article! I have found that in my professional life, I am an action oriented person. In my personal life, I am a procrastinator. I really needed to hear what this author is saying. - 2/13/2014 8:26:23 AM
  • NMEE07
    Who says you have to wait for 1/1 to start working on your procrastination issue.

    No excuses - I will not wait, I will not wait - right now it is..... - 12/30/2013 11:10:08 AM
  • Fabulous article....you got me up and doing something I was putting off. It felt great! Adding this to my daily motivation "Right now – before you read the next paragraph – go do something you put off earlier today…There, doesn’t that feel better? Remember and cherish that feeling." REMEMBER AND CHERISH THAT FEELING. Say that 10 times. - 10/22/2013 8:23:34 PM
  • I was never the kind of procrastinator that stays up to the wee hours of the morning finishing an assignment, but I definitely did not like that overbearing pressure of working on the day before an assignment is due.

    I completely agree with the "when in doubt, act". I find that I only procrastinate when I can talk myself out of doing the work. However, I find that if I skip over the assignment, my brain will remind me again and again until it's finally done. If I just act the first time my brain reminds me I would be able to relax a lot quicker. - 9/11/2013 10:47:17 AM
  • Great article. You was surely talking to me. - 7/12/2013 7:14:08 PM
  • I know that I am a procrastinator, but I've come to realize that it's part if my personality, and rather than overcome it, I've found ways to cope with it. Procrastinating can actually cause me to be quite productive, just not with what I started out needing to do. Lol! In the end, I always meet deadlines, and as a perfectionist, things are always done well. Trying not to procrastinate usually leads me creating massive plans to accomplish it, which is really just another form of procrastinating. - 6/10/2013 11:43:24 AM
  • I call myself a recovering procrastinator. I am very proud of the many advance-planning and being-on-time skills I've developed as an adult. Not only has that removed many hassles from my life, good habits strengthen relationships with friends, family and coworkers because it demonstrates respect for others' time and plans.

    Am still fighting my old tendencies, however. Recently, two $10 parking tickets morphed into $80 in fines because I "forgot" to pay them on time. Procrastination costs real money. - 5/28/2013 10:44:39 AM

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