The Poison of Procrastination

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

-Edmund Burke

In my training programs one of the most frequent issues people mention is procrastination. Some person in the group will jokingly say, "Let's talk about that later," we laugh, and then we dive into some possible solutions. Putting tasks off because they are hard or mundane or require uncomfortable conversations is something most of us do. What we fail to realize, however, is how poisonous that procrastination can be to our efforts to get meaningful work done. The dangers include:

  • Poisoning your trust with others. If you tell someone you are going to do something, and then don't do it, you are degrading their willingness to have confidence in your words the next time.
  • Poisoning the quality of the outcome of other tasks. That nagging feeling about the procrastinated task follows you through the day, stealing valuable mental energy that you need to fully focus on other tasks.
  • Poisoning your own self confidence. Fear and doubt grow each moment you don't work on the task, sabotaging you belief that you can accomplish other things of equal difficulty.

In a recent TV interview, a famous actor was asked how he felt about taking on such a serious role when all his other movies had been comedy roles. He said, "I was afraid-and when I caught myself thinking that I said, 'Well that's why I have to do it.'" The actor knew that failure to take on the task would have damaging possibilities for his future. Procrastination works the same way. Don't let it poison your possibilities.

For more tips on procrastination, watch (and follow) my twitter account this week.