Consequence of Procrastination

Drips of Energy“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”

― William James

Quote of the Day.

What are the first things that pop into mind when you consider the consequences of procrastination?  Missed deadlines?  Last minute scrambling?  Late nights cramming for tests?

Today’s quote relates to one aspect of procrastination that you have probably never considered:  FATIGUE.  William James tells us that nothing is so fatiguing as an uncompleted task.  Hard to believe?  Let’s explore this a bit.

When we procrastinate, we have an unfinished task that continually jumps onto the stage of our conscious thought – every time we look at our todo list, every time we see a specific co-worker, or every time we head off to class.  This forces us to muster an excuse and shuffle it back into the wings of our unconscious memory – requiring a small amount of mental and emotional energy, but repeatedly, on and on, until we one day complete the task.  It is a slow drip that eventually drains our limited reserve of energy.

Now imagine that scenario multiplied.  When procrastination gets out of hand, we are left with a planner full of undone tasks.  No longer a singular drip-drop of energy, we instead experience an open spigot draining our energy reserves daily.  Increasingly fatigued, we soon are unable to keep up – whether procrastinating or not – until we break down or fall apart.  (Today’s quote by Mr. James is beginning to sound more valid at this point, isn’t it?)

This is NOT where we want to end up.

“Our energy reserves are drained not only by the tasks we do, but by the tasks we leave undone.”

What is today’s take-away?  Our energy reserves are drained not only by the tasks we do, but by the tasks we leave undone.  Procrastination adds to this unnecessary energy drain and can snowball into a major problem if we do not address it early.  If you find yourself procrastinating, take steps to decrease or circumvent that tendency.  Do some research online or ask others for help!

One Tip to Avoid Procrastination:

One suggestion common to the world of “getting things done” literature is to schedule a consistent block of time daily for projects and tasks you might otherwise procrastinate on.  My suggestion?  Allocate an hour for this specific work immediately at the beginning of your workday – prior to checking e-mail, returning other calls, or chatting with colleagues.  For most of us that would be from 8:00 am – 9:00 am.

The key here is not the scheduling – the key is using consistency to develop a habit.  If you schedule the time and stick with it, you will soon get into a habit of consistently working through your necessary tasks on a daily basis – eliminating your current habit of procrastination.


About William James:   William James (1842 – 1910) was a physician, philosopher, psychologist and author who offered the first course on psychology in the United States.  His masterpiece was a 1200 page book entitled The Principles Of Psychology.

Image Credit:  Flickr user LaoWai Kevin

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