The negative effects of procrastination can range from simply missing a deadline on an important task to something more long-term, such as a missed opportunity that kills a dream. Some of us might be lucky enough to identify our tendency to procrastinate in time and still do something about it.
For others, it can have long-lasting effects that resonate throughout their lives.
The reason we procrastinate varies from person to person and is not always obvious. Sometimes, it is a hidden fear that we don’t want to acknowledge, or it could even be as simple as not wanting to do something because it just doesn’t motivate us.
Whatever the reason may be, if you know you are a procrastinator, you should be careful, as it has far more damaging effects than you may realize. You can find out if you’re a chronic procrastinator with this free assessment: Are You a Chronic Procrastinator?
Here are the 8 most common effects of procrastination that can destroy not only your productivity, but your life.
1. Losing Precious Time
How much time have you wasted procrastinating?
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.
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.
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. Not Meeting 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.
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; 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.
And if you need a bit of help in reaching your goal, The Dreamers’ Guide To Taking Actions And Reaching Your Goals is what you need. It’s a free guide that will help you tackle your procrastination behavior and craft an actionable plan to start to reach your goal. Grab your free guide here.
4. Ruining a Career
The way you work directly affects your results, how much you achieve, and how well you perform, so the effects of procrastination can end up being detrimental to your career.
Procrastination may prevent you from meeting deadlines or achieving your monthly targets. What consequence will this eventually have on your career?
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. Lower 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 eats away your confidence, slowly but surely.
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, as this makes you force yourself into something when you are not ready.
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, like pressure to finally make a decision because time is running out.
Emotions heavily influence the decisions we make, and procrastination increases negative emotions, which can push us into making decisions that don’t serve us in the long run.
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.
7. Damage to Your Reputation
When you keep saying you will do something and you don’t, your reputation gets tarnished, as 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 could be worried that you will simply procrastinate, leaving them to clean up the mess.
Even if you already have a reputation of 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 Health
Among the effects of procrastination are mental health problems like stress and anxiety, and these in turn are linked to health issues. If your procrastination leads to feelings of depression, this will start to affect other areas of your life.
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, and all of this can lead to poor health outcomes.
Another way that procrastination can affect your health in the short term is when you continually put off check-ups and postpone appointments or things you need to do, such as exercise. The problem only gets worse and the consequences more dire.
The effects of procrastination may not seem all that bad at first, but over time, those effects can build, leading to stress, anxiety, broken dreams, and low self-esteem. Instead of letting procrastination take hold, take the time to develop time management techniques to help you deal with it when it appears.