WHY DO WE PROCRASTINATE—AND WHAT
CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
“Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow. “
—SIR GERALD F. VAUGHAN, CONSERVATIVE MP
I put this chapter off until very late in the book (“ahem”), but let's get to the heart of the matter: procrastination.
Why do we find it so easy to mismanage time? Why do we avoid taking the steps that would help us achieve the goals we set for ourselves?
We use the word procrastination to describe this behavior, but the term's misleading. We don't procrastinate because we're some strange animal known as a procrastinator. We procrastinate for reasons. If we don't figure out why we're procrastinating, it's going to be very hard for us to overcome it.
Let's first establish what procrastination is and what it is not. The tasks that make up your to-do list normally have different amounts of importance or value attached to them. If you're putting off doing tasks that are essentially pretty worthless, that's not procrastination—that's just good sense. If a job isn't worth doing in the first place, don't do it well and don't do it badly—just don't do it.
That leaves us with important tasks. Some of the important tasks we get to pretty quickly, usually because there's time pressure or the possibility of instant reward. But the tasks that will make your life dramatically better five