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Don’t worry I will do it later! No problem, we have time! Tomorrow will be another day! These are all examples of success-killer statements, which unfortunately are used almost daily by top executives, managers, and workers. We start as little children then as students and the consequences gradually build as we reach the workforce.

The habit of doing nothing, as most habits, starts to develop when we are young children, when our parents do everything for us from cleaning-up our room or helping us with our important school project. Sometimes there were no consequences for our inaction, other times we were grounded for a couple of hours, or other more drastic measures. However, one thing is certain, as adults the “pay-off” for our inaction will come sooner or later and can be huge.

Habits are formed through a process that involves evaluating a given situation, deciding what action to take, and then reassessing the action to find whether or not it yields to a desirable result. Sometimes a person will consciously develop a bad habit. For instance, an individual decides on a certain course of action that yields an undesired result and then tries other options, and each one proves unsatisfactory. He then chooses to form his habit based on the lesser negative consequence.

One of the most precious things we have in our lives is time, and having bad habits managing our time could bring huge consequences for our personal or professional life. Time is not given to us. Time is only available to us. How much, and how we use it is up to us. Time has to dimensions: hours and energy. By wasting one, we waste the other; however, by using one wisely, we enhance the other’s value.

Procrastination is the worst enemy of time. Every time we put off doing something for later, we are actually postponing our success and opening the door to failure. The procrastinator is often remarkably optimistic about his ability to complete a task on a tight deadline; this is usually accompanied by expressions of reassurance that everything is under control (Therefore, there is no need to start). At this point, considerable effort is directed towards completing the task, and work progresses. This sudden spurt of energy is the source of the erroneous feeling that "I only work well under pressure." Actually, at this point you are making progress only because you haven't any choice. Your back is against the wall and there are no alternatives. Progress is being made, but you have lost your freedom.

Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong direction. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this goes contrary to the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is a way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being.

These are some of the characteristics of a procrastinator:

· Low Self-Confidence - The procrastinator may struggle with feelings of low self-confidence and low self-esteem.

· I’m too Busy - Procrastination may be used to call attention to how busy he is. "Obviously I cannot do such and such because my affairs are so complicated and so demanding. That is why I am late, etc." The procrastinator may even spend considerable time justifying his reasons, time that could be spent doing the work.

· Pride - Procrastination may be used as an expression of pride: "Don't think you can push me around. I will do it when I'm good and ready."

· Manipulation - Procrastination may be used to control or manipulate the behavior of others. "They cannot start if I am not there." Let's face it: deliberate delay drives others crazy.

· A Frustrated Victim - The procrastinator often feels like a victim: he cannot understand his behavior or why he cannot get work done like others. The whole thing is a frustrating mystery. The reasons for his behavior are hidden from him.

Procrastination, as other habits requires hard work to overcome, and sometimes our mind creates our own obstacles to justify our actions. The following are some examples of things we often tell ourselves:

  1. Mañana - "I'll do it tomorrow."

  2. Contingent mañana - "I'll do it tomorrow, if ..."

  3. Grasshopperism - "I need to have some well-earned fun first." (In Esop's fable, the grasshopper fiddled and played all summer while the ants stored up winter supplies. When winter came, the grasshopper suffered.)

  4. Escapism - "I've got to get out for a while to clear my mind."

  5. Impulsiveness - "My problem will be solved if I change my major, or attend a different college, or "

  6. Music and reading - "I'll relax a while and then get started." To the rescue - "The flight will be late as usual and the meeting will be postponed!"

Taking Action:

Contrary to common misconception people can improve attitudes, which are actually habits of thought. We are in charge of our life and we are the only ones who will receive the rewards of success. If the habit of doing nothing is creating obstacles in our journey to success, we can start creating “good” time management habits and open the window to new techniques to support our behavioral change.

As with anything worth having, a change in attitude will take hard work. Removing a bad habit of thought is not simply erasing something from our minds. We have to replace it with something over and over until that habit of thought turns into behavior that causes results. As you start seeing results you will gain confidence that will reinforce the new behavior.


If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Ingenium Development at (305) 562-1928 or send email to

Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Leadership published by Trusted Advisors Network, Reading, PA.

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