Words of Wellness: Procrastination

Procrastination is one of the most stressful maladaptive strategies in life. Yes, we need to stay on top of our readings and assignments, work, friends, families, laundry and lives, but sometimes it all just can’t get done. If we “all or nothing” ourselves into dysfunction, we procrastinate on everything with the “why bother” sensibility, which is both depression itself and depressing in its outcome.  Less extreme and better is procrastinating only on the dreaded thing, the thing that is too big, or that we don’t understand, or that is boring or uncomfortable to think about and do. At least the other stuff stays current and is ok.

Some practical advice? Break the big things down to smaller less painful things. Get the clarifications and help you need to get started. Start with something other than the first line of a paper. Be kind to yourself about being afraid you won’t do it well — after all, you are here to learn how.

The world’s greatest have weighed in on procrastination – here are some of their offerings:

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.
– Eva Young

The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.
– Rita Emmett

Putting off an easy thing makes it hard.  Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.
– George Claude Lorimer

No task is a long one but the task on which one dare not start.  It becomes a nightmare.
– Charles Baudelaire

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
– Seneca

Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back.
– Charles Kingsley

Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.
– Victor Kiam

He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.
– Horace

When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.
– Author Unknown

Begin while others are procrastinating.  Work while others are wishing.
– William Arthur Ward

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
– Anne Frank

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Procrastination has been called a thief – the thief of time.  I wish it were no worse than a thief. It is a murderer; and that which it kills is not time merely, but the immortal soul.
– William Nevins

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.
– HH the Dalai Lama

When you say, “Wait a moment,” you are bound by your karma; when you say, “Yes, I will,” you are free.
– Shunryu Suzuki

How soon “not now” becomes “never.”
– Martin Luther

I’ve spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.
– Rabindranath Tagore

One of these days is none of these days.
– Henri Tubach

Someday is not a day of the week.
– Author unknown

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.
– Spanish proverb

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
– Don Marquis

Procrastination if like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.
– Christopher Parker

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
– Abraham Lincoln

Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.
– James A. Michener

Anger is the only thing to put off til tomorrow.
– Slovakian proverb

Everything in human character goes to wreck, under the reign of procrastination, while prompt action gives to all things a corresponding and proportional life and energy.
– William A. Alcott

Well-arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind.
– Sir Isaac Pitman

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver

Thanks to Linda Graham, MFT, for this great list of quotes.