When Procrastination Turns Your Entire Life Into a Nightmare!


Procrastination is: ‘The act or habit of putting off or delaying something requiring immediate attention’

We all put things off that we don’t like doing. The problem is that the longer we put things off, the harder and/or more stressful they become when we finally have to get around to facing things.

I’m going to share two real situations I heard about this week; both situations ended up in seriously dire straits for the parties involved, and neither of them need to have become so tragic if the people involved had handled their various situations in a timely manner.

The first situation involved two parties purchasing a house together – the parents; their daughter and their son-in-law. A few years into their living together the son-in-law’s business went belly up – he was offered a great job in the UK; took it and left the parents to sell the house. The house was on the market a LONG time during which the parents kept up their part of paying the mortgage. Came the day they got a call from the bank to say they were foreclosing on the mortgage because the son-in-law hadn’t paid HIS part of the repayments for almost a year!

The second situation involves the owner of a business who categorically refused to do 1:1’s with his direct reports. In his case he finally decided that the performance of one of his team was so poor, that the employee simply had to go.  The problem was, he had done NO 1:1’s ever; had never established what good performance actually was (he assumed the person knew); hadn’t documented any conversations with the person because technically he had never HAD any conversations -  he had basically just let the poor performance continue for several years until the situation became untenable.



In the first case two families stand to lose not only their substantial investment but the parents stand to lose a roof over their heads because everything they have is tied up in the property; and in the second case, the owner faces a very costly legal battle which he WILL lose because he hasn’t dealt with the person’s performance in a procedurally correct manner.  

So why have these two parties avoided taking action when clearly they needed to?

I recently read 6 reasons that people procrastinate:

  1. They don’t know HOW to do what they are faced with doing
  2. The ‘stuff’ is boring so they can’t be bothered doing it
  3. They don’t ‘feel’ like doing it
  4. They fear ‘failure’ at doing it badly (or is it that they ‘feel’ like a failure?)  
  5. They fear that if they do it and do it well they may have to do it even better next time (fear of success)
  6. An ‘attitude’ problem i.e. ‘You can’t make me do it – I have my ‘rights’

In the case of the owner, I would suggest points 1 and 4 come into play. He isn’t quite sure HOW to have a poor performance discussion, and fears doing it badly. But NOT doing it isn’t a solution.

In the case of the son-in-law I don’t think any of the 6 fit – so I’d like to add a 7th reason:

If I ignore it long enough it will go away (no it won’t)

It certainly seems that the biggest reason we ALL procrastinate is when the thing we have to do is unpleasant.

So if right now you are putting off something you KNOW you need to tackle (telling your kids that they will get no more pocket money until they do their chores around the house), then here are 5 tips (extracted from this article sharing 10 tips) for tackling the things you’ve been avoiding:

1. Start easy (the son in law could have spoken to the bank and explained his situation and offered to make smaller regular payments until his situation improved)

2. Start anywhere (the owner could have had someone work with the poor performer to show him what ‘good’ performance looked like)

3. Beware of your own sad excuses: 

‘I’m not in the mood”

‘I work best under pressure’

“I’ll do it tomorrow’

‘I’ve still got stacks of time’

‘I’m not feeling well’

‘I’m waiting for the right moment’

4. Up the value of the goal – if I do this then ..... (pain or pleasure – work out which works best for you). If you lean towards pleasure reward yourself with something small for completing the task – if it is pain you fear, then think about the cost of NOT dealing with whatever it is you are avoiding

5. Procrastination personality – apparently the bad news is that you can’t change your personality - the good news is that you can change your environment.  

I’d also like to add here – GET A COACH – someone who keeps you accountable! And I just have to leave you with a few quotes:

”The trouble is that you think you have time.” Jack Kornfield

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." William James

"Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday." Napoleon Hill

So there it is – think about the things you are currently procrastinating on – deal with them – do not let yourself get into the situations of the two examples I’ve used. 


Ann Andrews CSP

MD The Corporate Toolbox

MD Big Thinking Business


Ann Andrews CSP specialises in working with high performing teams and showing managers how to deal with poor performance.

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