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Last Updated on September 1, 2021

80 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

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80 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

To start you off with combating procrastination, here are 30 procrastination quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

A Few Home Truths

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

― Mark Twain

“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

― Leonardo da Vinci

“Someday is not a day of the week.”

― Janet Dailey

“Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”

― Israelmore Ayivor

“The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

“Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”

― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret

“Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”

― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor

“Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”

― Matshona Dhliwayo

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

― Abraham Lincoln

“A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”

― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere

“By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”

― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes

“If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”

― José N. Harris

“In delay there lies no plenty.”

― William Shakespeare

Some Practical Advice

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”

― Hilary Mantel

“Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”

― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”

― Pablo Picasso

“It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”

― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema

“Do first what you don’t want to do most.”

― Clifford Cohen

“How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”

― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination

“How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”

― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating

“Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”

― James Jones

“Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.”

― Michael Landon

“If you procrastinate when faced with a big difficult problem… break the problem into parts, and handle one part at a time.”

― Robert Collier

“Chances are there are some things that trigger your tendencies to procrastinate. It is important you identify these things. And if possible, get rid of them.”

― John Morgan, 100% Active and Productive

“Whatever you want to achieve, you have to keep on working on it continuously, setting and achieving targets. There should be no procrastination for whatever reason.”

― Chitesh Bhat, Everybody is Genius

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”

― Napoleon Bonaparte

Some Tough Love

“Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”

― Paulo Coelho, Aleph

“If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”

― George Bernard Shaw

“If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”

― José N. Harris

“What is deferred is not avoided.”

― Thomas More

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“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”

― Chuck Close

“If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”

― Roy Bennett

“Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”

― Sanjo Jendayi

“You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”

― Debasish Mridha

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

― Abraham Lincoln

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”

― Damon Zahariades

“If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything.”

― Bible

“The assumption of time is one of humanity’s greatest follies. We tell ourselves that there’s always tomorrow, when we can no more predict tomorrow than we can the weather. Procrastination is the thief of dreams.”

― Richard Paul Evans

“How soon not now, becomes never.”

― Martin Luther

“The problem with tomorrow is that I have never seen a tomorrow. Tomorrow does not exist. Tomorrow only exist in the mind of dreamers and losers.”

― Robert Kiyosaki

When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

“Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”

― Denis Waitley

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

― Karen Lamb

“If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”

― Lee Iacocca

“If you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll never get anything done.”

― Norman Vincent Peale

“What may be done at any time will be done at no time.”

― Scottish Proverb

“You, as a person who wants to be successful, need to make ‘I’m doing it now’ a part of your daily vocabulary. Not, ‘I’ll do it after this email,’ or ‘I’ll do it tonight’.”

― Jacob Reimer, Entrepreneurship

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

A Little Bit of Humor

“Warning: dates on this calendar are closer than they appear.”

― Unknown

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.”

― Christopher Parker

“When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.”

― H. Jackson Brown

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”

― Spanish Proverb

“The worst form of procrastination is reading a procrastination quote, feeling the guilt, and not doing anything about it.”

― Unknown

“How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time”.

― Fred Brooks

“Begin while others are procrastinating. Work while others are wishing”.

― William Arthur Ward

“Neither a wise nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

― Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Procrastination is illogical from every viewpoint. It is like the man who wanted to cross the stream, so he sat on the bank to wait for all the water to run by.”

― Vernon Howard

“The time to begin most things is ten years ago.”

― Mignon McLaughlin

“Great matter-days remain on the day stone balance, affecting your life on the day the occur and every day thereafter. So the earlier they happen, the better; waiting means potentially sacrificing years or even decades of benefit.”

― Ron Lizzi

Wake up calls

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

― Alexander Graham Bell

“Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends.”

― William Shakespeare

“He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg.”

― Chinese Proverb

“Yesterday is a cancelled check; Tomorrow is a promissory note; Today is the only cash you have, so spend it wisely.”

― Kim Lyons

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“Stop killing and wasting time. Get something done today.”

― Sunday Adelaja

“On ACTION: “Stop talking;start DO-ing.”

― Nanci McGraw

“Procrastinating does nothing more than add to your do list. Do it, be done with it!”

― Catherine Pulsifer

“Doubt increases with inaction. Clarity reveals itself in momentum. Growth comes from progress. For all these reasons, BEGIN.”

― Brendon Burchard

“Don’t procrastinate, life is way too short. Do things as they come to you, live your life like a high-speed sport.”

― Julie Hebert, How To Live To One Hundred

“The real difference between those who want to write and those that do, is that those that do get up every day and do it.”

― Leonard Wolf

Motivate Yourself

“It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the masterwork. Now, I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.”

― Paul Coehlo

“Following-through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”

― Gene Hayden

“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.”

― Denis Waitley

“Waiting is a trap. There will always be reasons to wait. The truth is, there are only two things in life, reasons and results, and reasons simply don’t count.”

― Robert Anthony

“The forces of procrastination, self-doubt, worry, cultural expectations, even family and friends, can hold your life in place, like Gravity.”

― Matt Gersper

“You must not procrastinate. Rather, you should make preparations so that even if you did die tonight, you would have no regrets. If you develop an appreciation for the uncertainty and imminence of death, your sense of the importance of using your time wisely will get stronger and stronger.”

― Dalai Lama

“During a very busy life I have often been asked, “How did you manage to do it all?” The answer is very simple. It is because I did everything promptly.”

― Richard Tangye

“If I had to sum up in a word what makes a good manager, I’d say decisiveness. You can use the fanciest computers to gather the numbers, but in the end you have to set a timetable and act.”

― Lee Iacocca

“Procrastination and excuses are sour spices that spoil the sweet taste of an effective work. They must hence, not be prompted under desire, partly because they are strictly time-stripping and also because they have no known essence.”

― Israelmore Ayivor

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.”

― Wayne Gretzky

Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

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It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

More Tips About Beating Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Tam Henderson

A productive copywriter for busy marketing directors who don't have the time or appetite for writing.

80 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

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Published on January 14, 2022

How to Break the Perfectionism-Procrastination Loop

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How to Break the Perfectionism-Procrastination Loop

You’re probably full of the usual impetus to make changes in your life as the new year lies before us. At the time of writing, we’re at the dawn of a new year. Bellies full and rife with lethargy, we’re all likely sat around (in the West at any rate) contemplating our moves for the next 12 months.

This is, of course, prompted by our arm-chair assessment of the year just gone. Did we achieve the goals we set out for ourselves this time last year as we nurse our splitting sides and slip into yet another food coma?

No! Of course we didn’t, and I’m not speaking from a hyperbolic or purely anecdotal point of view. According to a 2016 study, of the 41% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, by the end of the year, only 9% feel they are successful in keeping them.[1]

Is it because of procrastination or perfectionism?

Is Perfectionism And Procrastination Holding You Back From Achieving Goals?

The failing rate of New Year’s resolutions is 91%! A big part of that is how we set our goals. What these studies often cite as a predominant reason for failure is the setting of unrealistic goals. But I think this speaks to something else, namely that we’re not properly connecting to or aligning with our goals — this is where perfectionism and procrastination come in.

Perfectionism is just fear manifesting itself as a mental block. Not fear of failure and/or social ostracisation, so much as fear of change. Our subconscious is set up to favor the status quo. All it knows is that your choices, up until now, have resulted in your survival. Change is just rocking the boat and risking an unknowable outcome (or so it thinks).

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This is what’s at the root cause of your perfectionism and procrastination. You might claim to be a perfectionist, but what does that really mean? Do you mean that you won’t stop working on something until it is, in your opinion, perfect? Or do you mean that you don’t embark upon an endeavor until you can guarantee that the outcome will be perfect?

If you fall into the latter camp, you might consider that this perfectionism-procrastination loop is just an excuse—a manifestation of your deeply rooted subconscious fear of change.

Put it this way:

I think you could substitute the word “unrealistic” for the word “vague,” and you’d have a more accurate assessment of the problem. People often say that they want to make more money, lose more weight, eat more healthy food, etc., but they don’t define what that actually means. Setting out with such an ill-defined destination means that you can’t set an accurate course towards it, and without that, you’re just wandering around in the wilderness.

Think about a time when you’ve performed a task so mundane that it barely registered in your mind. It could be doing the grocery shopping or the laundry. Something that you do, not necessarily every day, but with regularity and (crucially) purpose. If you don’t go to the food store, you won’t have food. If you don’t have food, you can’t eat. If you don’t eat, you die. That’s a pretty clear purpose.

As you head out the door to the supermarket though, that precipitous chain of catastrophic events isn’t weighing on your mind. It’s just a case of making sure that you get everything on the shopping list. There is no doubt in your mind that you’ll make it back with what you need, though. You’ve already mentally and energetically connected, albeit subconsciously, to the outcome of “bringing home the bacon” (or meat-free bacon substitute, if you’re vegan).

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You’ve already achieved your goal mentally. Now, it’s just a case of physically going through the motions. You probably don’t even have to think that much about what you’re doing as you go round the store!

How to Break the Perfectionism-Procrastination Loop

1. Recognize the Loop

The first thing you can do to break this perfectionism-procrastination loop is to recognize it. Bring your awareness to what is really going on and consider what lies behind your claims of perfectionism. Be honest but gentle with yourself. Try, if you can, not to bring judgment into the equation.

Judgment and overly harsh self-criticism can be just as debilitating as your subconscious fear of change, so try not to introduce it in the first place. Consider yourself, as best you can, an impartial observer. You’re just there in the first instance to witness what’s going on.

2. Set Intentions Properly

Armed with that knowledge, you will find that your approach to your goals starts to shift naturally anyway, but you also need to learn how to set intentions properly. If you are one of the aforementioned New Years’ resolution setters who winds up making claims of perfectionism while not taking any action, you ought really to ask yourself:

“If I’m such a perfectionist, why do I keep setting such vague goals?”

Would a perfectionist set out to make “more money” this year and leave it at that?! Would somebody so obsessed with perfection in all things, looking to reach their ideal weight and body shape, really set a goal of simply “lose more weight”?

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You might think, genuinely, that the possibility of not hitting your target dead-on is a reason not to even start. But what are you aiming at in the first place?

Let’s back up the truck for a second, and assess what we mean by procrastination. Procrastination, as defined by researchers, is:[2]

“a form of self-regulation failure characterized by the irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences.”

So far, we’ve spoken about procrastination as if it is simply “never doing something,” which it is, over time. But really, it’s the delaying of something for no reason. When it comes to achieving goals, procrastination in and of itself isn’t what keeps you from achieving them. It’s procrastination over time. As the Spanish would say, it’s “mañana” thinking.

If you put something off till tomorrow because you just don’t want to do it today, that might still be procrastinatory behavior. But if you then actually do it tomorrow, what’s the harm? It’s the consistent putting off of something based on irrationally (or subconsciously) held beliefs that, over time, means that you never get there. This might seem blindingly obvious, but it’s important to lock down exactly what we mean before seeking to make changes.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, hopefully, it shifts your thinking on what procrastination is enough so that you can accurately assess whether or not your procrastination is hindering your progress. It should help you not to sit in judgment of your procrastination, too.

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3. Try Reaching Out for Help and Mentorship

You can’t expand in a vacuum. You need others to support your journey and provide you with objective feedback. How else are you going to realistically assess whether or not your outcome is perfect anyway?

Find others who have walked the path before you, and reach out to them. Unless they’re huge names with layers of people around them, you’ll probably find that they are willing to help. Even if they are hard to reach, check out interviews with them or look for guidance that they’ve put out publicly in the past.

Part of the problem you’ve been facing is that you can only see what the perfect outcome should look like as filtered through you. By understanding what the wider community (and market) consider to be an ideal outcome for something, you’ll get a much clearer, realistic idea of what you need to be aiming for. From there, you can identify what you’re lacking and therefore, what gaps you need to plug.

Get used to defining your terms better. Think about the language you’re using, both when you talk to others and with your internal monologue. What are you telling yourself?

Is the Narrative You’re Running On True?

Perfectionism is a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable after all.[3] What does that have to do with an irrational delay of tasks despite potentially negative consequences? From a literal point of view, perfectionism should provoke a desire to continue to take action long past the point of an acceptable outcome, not irrationally abstain from taking any!

So, check yourself the next time you utter the words “I’m just a perfectionist” as a pretext for why you haven’t done something, whether it’s to yourself or somebody else. You don’t really mean that, but that’s okay! You’re just afraid to change, as we all are predisposed to be.

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Don’t beat yourself up. See it for what it is, and start to shift the stories (belief systems) that you’re running on.

Featured photo credit: Nubelson Fernandes via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Discover Happy Habits: New Year’s Resolution Statistics (2021 Updated)
[2] SpringerLink: Procrastination and Task Avoidance
[3] Merriam-Webster: perfectionism

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