Procrastinators Never Have An Easy Day

Andrew Cox

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Pity the poor procrastinators. They never have an easy day. They can't - with so many things hanging over their heads - and most of them are the most important things, or the things they fear the most, or things that are seen as having to be done perfectly.

So procrastinators have to stay really busy doing other things to convince themselves that they're too busy to do the things they don't want to do, but that need to be done; or that they want to do so well that they can never measure up to their own standards.

And so, at the end of each day, they collapse in exhaustion, once again convinced that a lot got done - a good day. And for some time, there is a good feeling about all the “thin" things that were accomplished. Meanwhile, the bear in the room just keeps getting bigger - and badder - and more difficult to address - and more challenging to do right. And then it's too late - but it's never too late – is it? Isn't there always tomorrow?

What happened?

One of the things that happened was so much time was spent on the process and challenges and possible pitfalls that the goal got lost. Preparation and process became more important than anything else. And then, after all that effort, it wasn't good enough - it had to be perfect. So much time was spent on it - whatever it is - that producing anything less than the best was unacceptable.

Maybe there were questions of being able - or worthy - or both. And so it was kept at arm's length, and touched - and poked - and started, but there was never real commitment - there was always something more pressing to do - and those pressing things always got in the way of answering the question of ability or worthiness. What a relief! To still be able to feel both worthy and able without having to challenge those two “worms. ”

Maybe the time frame was set with the due date as the focus - rather than focusing on what could be done today. And as the due date kept getting nearer, and panic set in, and work started, it was too late, and the due date was missed, or the procrastinator gave up - quit. And yet, at the beginning, there seemed to be plenty of time.

Maybe the request to do something was seen as an imposition and as unreasonable. But rather than confront the unreasonable demand, the decision was made, most often subconsciously, to delay, and show whoever made the demand that it couldn't be done in their time frame. The lack of accomplishment, or of failing to meet the expectations of others becomes the response to the demand. It's called passive aggressive behavior.

A pretty bleak picture of what procrastination - putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done, or at the least started, today, can cost. High stress, guilt, regret, reinforcement of not being able or worthy, quitting and a host of other negative emotions and behaviors surround procrastinators. It's too bad - since most are hard workers, and smart, and able and worthy - and busier than most other people. It's just that their own self talk and their own behavior makes it almost impossible for them to have an easy day - a day without the negative emotions mentioned.

Is there hope? Of course there is - a behavior can be changed and so can a habit of thought. But since I want that subject to be written perfectly, I want to give it a lot of thought, and make sure I'm both worthy and able to write it. Look for it tomorrow - that's the day most procrastinator's live for.

Andy Cox is President of Cox Consulting Group LLC. The focus of his work is on helping organizations and their people increase their success in the hiring, developing and enhancing the performance of leaders and emerging leaders. Cox Consulting Group LLC was started in 1995, and has worked with a wide range of organizations, managers and leaders - helping them define success, achieve success and make the ability to change a competitive advantage. He can be reached at


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