The High Cost of Putting Things Off


Each year the pattern is the same for the Binc Scholarship Program. A large number of scholarship applicants begin the process but the number of finished applications lags well behind until the last week. Then in a flurry of activity, the applications are submitted. At the close of the application period there are a fair number of students who have begun, but never submitted their applications. While there are some who decide that the scholarship is not a good fit for them, we imagine others just never returned to complete the process. By procrastinating they are potentially giving up thousands of dollars.

In his article for the Motivation Grid, James Frankton offers up the following reasons that we procrastinate and some simple cures to overcome the urge to do so.

A Fear of Failure

If you fear the consequences of failing, then a logical extension of this is a disinclination to take action. This is because you are guaranteed not to fail if you don’t attempt something (although the argument can easily be made that not attempting is the same as failing in the first place – which is an important point to consider). Procrastination is comforting when you fear failure. It serves as a protection mechanism, shielding you from the possibility of real failure – as opposed to the more subjective failure that accompanies not attempting something in the first place.

Cure: Understand and accept that failure is not fatal. Most mistakes can be fixed, and you will get a second chance to right any wrongs. Furthermore, train yourself to understand that failure to take action and give something a go is actually worse than being unsuccessful in its execution. If you try and fail, you at least have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. If you never tried in the first place, then you’ve got nothing to show at all.

Excessive Perfectionism

Another common cause of procrastination is excessive perfectionism. If you are a self-confessed perfectionist, then you might find it difficult to take action unless you know you can do a job with which you will be totally satisfied. Because of an ingrained perfectionist mindset, you will worry about being able to reach an end-state that will be to your liking. Basically, you know that you won’t be able to do as well as you want … so it’s easier to do nothing at all. This excessive perfectionism causes procrastination by encouraging you to put off attempting a task until you think you can do it perfectly.

Cure: Aim to do your best, and be happy with the output. Accept that there is no such thing as a perfect job (especially if someone else will be critiquing your work – their idea of perfection will differ from yours).

Low Energy Levels

Another frequent reason for procrastination is experiencing low energy levels. If you are lacking energy, then it stands to reason that you will not feel like doing much at all. Whether you get insufficient sleep to “recharge your batteries”, or your diet causes you to feel sluggish and tired, lifestyle factors can play a huge factor in how inclined you are to get up off the couch and take action.

Cure: Work on developing a healthier lifestyle. There is a wealth of useful information online about making positive lifestyle choices – and you’ve probably already got a fairly decent idea already of what changes you could make.

A Lack of Focus

A lack of focus in life is another frequent cause of procrastination. You probably have a lack of focus if you frequently feel directionless, or that you do not really have a purpose in life. If you do not have any goals set, then it is almost certain that you will be lacking in focus – as you have no target to work towards. This lack of focus causes procrastination by preventing you from homing-in on an “end point”. Instead, you will wind up expending all your energy in the here and now, with nothing to guide you towards productivity.

Cure: Set yourself some inspirational-yet-attainable goals. It’s important to set the bar high enough to encourage you to take action, but not so high that you are likely to fail (which isn’t good for your motivation and drive). A good goal encourages you to take action, because you do not want to disappoint yourself by failing to achieve what you set out to do.

Read the whole blog here.

Visit James Frankton’s Why Am I Lazy? blog.

Make Up Your Mind to Start Now

Get a good night’s rest, have yourself a healthy breakfast, gather all your necessary documents and tackle the Binc application. As James points out, if you don’t try, you will never succeed.


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