People procrastinate applying for jobs and people procrastinate progressing in their jobs. We all procrastinate differently, and we have all put off something that we needed to do. But how many times have you put off the same task and in how many areas of your life do you procrastinate?
So why is procrastination bad and how does procrastination affect our lives? If you think that it’s just as simple as postponing things, you’re not entirely wrong. But procrastination affects us deeply. In fact, it can affect many aspects of our lives aside from simply not getting things done.
Extreme procrastination has serious and inevitable consequences and it can ruin lives. Just like stress, the effects are not so obvious, until it’s too late and awareness is often not enough impetus to break the vicious cycle.
Why Is Procrastination Bad and How Does It Affect Us?
What most people don’t realize is that procrastination doesn’t only affect our life, productivity, and happiness but our mental and physical health too. Some of the least obvious and most damaging effects of procrastination are the following:
1. Creating Limiting Beliefs
When you put something off and continue to do so, you start to create and then reinforce limiting beliefs about yourself and what is possible in life. These beliefs eventually become your identity and you start to procrastinate more and more.
When you start to lose faith in yourself and what you can do, you don’t tap into the potential that you have, and you start to go into a downward spiral in life. You will see yourself as a failure more and more, continue to doubt yourself, and only create more of what you don’t want.
Learning to manage your emotions effectively is key to managing procrastination and being able to stay clear of adopting limiting beliefs about yourself that undermine your success and overall happiness in life.
2. Blowing Opportunities
How many opportunities have you wasted because you didn’t take advantage of them when they were there? This is when the effects of procrastination make you really want to kick yourself.
What you don’t realize is that the opportunity could have been life-changing, but you missed out on it. Most opportunities only come around once; you are never guaranteed a second chance. Not so obvious missed opportunities could be procrastinating with a presentation or pitch, leaving it to the last minute, and not giving it your all.
Opportunities are the world’s way of giving you more, so do yourself a favor and grab them with both hands as soon as they present themselves.
3. Sabotaging Your Goals
Procrastination seems to come on with full force when we entertain the thought of goals, of wanting to achieve or change something. You might have a strong desire to change, but you just can’t seem to take the first step forward. Maybe you set yourself a goal but you take no action.
This is normally confusing and perplexing. You might find yourself thinking, “why is it so hard to go for something that I want so badly?”
Only you can answer that and you’ll have to explore a little deeper into the resistance.
We set goals because we have a deep desire to better our lives in some way. If you don’t do this because of procrastination, you reduce the possibility to better your life.
Uncover the root cause behind your procrastination if it’s preventing you from achieving your goals, or you may never attain them.
4. Ruining Your Career
The way you work directly affects your results on how much you achieve, and how well you perform. So the effects of procrastination can end up being detrimental to your career if you’re constantly procrastinating.
Procrastination may prevent you from meeting deadlines or achieving your monthly targets.
- What consequence will this eventually have on your career?
- Is this the work ethic you want to follow?
- Will this affect your clients, colleagues, boss, company, or business?
You might miss out on promotions or even be at risk of losing your job. You can try to hide it for a while, but don’t doubt that long-term procrastination at work will almost certainly ruin your career.
5. Lowering Your Self-Esteem
This is one of the vicious circles you might find yourself in. We tend to procrastinate because low self-esteem makes us feel that we won’t be able to get a task or project done the right way. Unfortunately, procrastinating only increases feelings of low self-esteem, making us doubt ourselves even more.
One study involving 426 college students found that “academic procrastination was negatively predicted by self-esteem and self-control”. 
When we have low self-esteem, we hold ourselves back, feel unworthy of success, and begin to self-sabotage. Procrastination slowly eats away your confidence but it can be inevitable if you don’t do something about it.
If this resonates with you, focus on building your self-esteem instead of holding on to the illusion that you should be able to do something better. This only forces you to engage in something you are not ready to do anyway.
6. Making Poor Decisions
Poor decision-making is one of the worst effects of procrastination. When you procrastinate, you make decisions based on criteria that most likely wouldn’t be there if you didn’t procrastinate. Things like:
- Being pressured to finally make a decision because time is running out
- Deciding which you should do first between a personal or a work problem
- Focusing on opportunities that may arise or getting back to the work you procrastinated
Emotions heavily influence the decisions we make, and procrastination increases negative emotions. This pushes us into making decisions that don’t serve us in the long run. You will make decisions based on fear and this is never a place to decide on.
Instead of rushing through decisions while procrastinating, write out all the possibilities and find a calm moment to analyze the pros and cons of each. You may have procrastinated already and there is not much you can do, but you can make a difference in how you will make decisions thereafter.
7. Damaging Your Reputation
When you keep saying you will do something and you don’t, your reputation gets tarnished. Nobody wants empty promises.
Besides damaging your own reputation, you are damaging your self-esteem and self-confidence. You will find that it gets easier to procrastinate each time because you are not surprising yourself anymore.
People could stop depending on you and hold back on offering you opportunities because they’re worried that you will simply procrastinate, leaving them to clean up the mess.
Even if you already have a reputation for being a procrastinator, you can turn it around. Next time someone asks you for something, use all of the tools at your disposal to get it done on time. Each time you fulfill a request, your reputation will begin to build back up, which will lead to more opportunities and better relationships with those around you.
8. Risking Your Mental Health
If you procrastinate too much with something, it will most likely start to stress you out and cause anxiety, especially when other people or things are involved. If you are often stressed or you get easily overwhelmed and anxious, this leads to poor health outcomes.
Procrastination also leads to feelings of depression and this starts to affect other areas of your life. The more depressed you feel, the harder it becomes to take action. Not only that you are depressed, but it is getting worse.
You are not only putting something off when you procrastinate, but you are also choosing to be more stressed, and overwhelmed. Get to the root cause of your procrastination and work on the core issues, don’t risk your mental health unknowingly.
9. Risking Your Physical Health
When you put off going to the gym or simply taking care of yourself, basically putting off being healthy, you are negatively impacting your health too. Simple things like having a good night’s sleep or eating at the right time create a long-lasting impact on your overall health.
Evidence now shows the damages of extreme procrastination on our health, from insomnia to headaches to cardiovascular diseases.
Another way that procrastination can affect your health in the short-term is when you continually put off check-ups, postpone appointments or avoid exercise. The problem only gets worse and the consequences more severe.
You can have many goals in life, but when you don’t have your health, there’s not much to go to.
10. Losing Precious Time
It might seem obvious but we are mostly unaware of the total amount of time lost and wasted and we would be shocked. You only have one life and every time you put off your dreams and goals or delay tasks, you are wasting precious time you will never get back.
The worst thing about procrastinating is the moment you realize that you are two, five, or ten years older and nothing has changed.
This is a terrible feeling because you can’t turn back the hands of time. You just have to live with the helpless feeling of regret. There is nothing worse than feeling frustrated at yourself, knowing the situation could have been so different if only you had taken that first step.
11. Ruining Relationships
The damaging effects procrastination has on relationships are nothing to be brushed off lightly. Often the “procrastinator” is unaware of the growing frustration and disappointment the other person has. What’s worse is when they do realize it, it can be too late.
Maybe you often cancel plans with family members or friends because you have procrastinated with something that now is a non-negotiable to get done. Maybe your partner starts to lose confidence and trust in you because you can never follow through with your promises and words.
Doing this a few times will definitely start to ruin any relationship and sometimes the damage is irreversible.
The effects of procrastination build up over time and can lead to stress, anxiety, broken dreams, and low self-esteem. Instead of letting procrastination take hold of your life, take the time to develop time management and emotional techniques to help you deal with it when it appears.
|||^||Research Gate: Relationship Between Academic Procrastination and Self-Control: The Mediational Role of Self-Esteem|
|||^||Decision Innovation: Overcoming procrastination – finding the missing decision|
|||^||Harvard Business Review: Reputation and Its Risks|
|||^||NIH: Procrastination, Distress and Life Satisfaction across the Age Range – A German Representative Community Study|