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Why we do it and what can be done to overcome it.

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I think we're all pretty much guilty of some form of procrastination during our lives. I know I am. The word itself comes from the Latin word "procrastinatus": pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow). We try to put something off as long as possible, hoping that it will go away, but it rarely ever does. We avoid it because procrastination means to do something considered painful to us, be it a hard decision or a difficult task. We often use the lame excuse that we don't have time to do something, but the reality is we plain and simply don't want to do it. I don't think anyone actually procrastinates over something they really want to do. So we should look upon procrastination as a sign of how a person really feels about something.

This got me thinking about how many decisions we make during the day. We make all kinds of trivial decisions, such as what clothes we will wear, what to eat, etc., but how many significant decisions do we really make? Probably not as many as we think. Financial decisions are often painfully difficult, such as where we should invest money, the purchase of a new house or automobile, insurance, etc., but we don't make as many of these decisions as we should. We also infrequently think about career and health related decisions. Probably the two areas we most frequently make decisions about is related to our jobs and maintaining our homes. In terms of our jobs, it seems the bigger the assignment, the harder it is to make decisions regarding it and we often seek advice, particularly if our jobs depend on it. The same is true at home as well; the bigger the task, the more likely we are to seek advice. For example, there is a big difference between replacing carpeting in a room, and replacing a roof. This implies there is a comfort factor involved with making a decision. In other words, do we know all of the variables and are we convinced this is the proper course of action to take? If we do not, we tend to procrastinate. Replacing a roof is a much more complicated problem than simply replacing a carpet, thereby requiring more studying and advice.

Perhaps the best way to overcome procrastination is to simply prioritize your objectives and assignments, determine not only what you would like to do but what would be most beneficial to you, and get up off your ass and do it. Avoid defeatist attitudes, and try to think positive. You might just find that the problem you have been procrastinating over is not as difficult as you thought it was. Understand this though, it will not go away on its own and the old axiom, "Not to decide, is to decide," will inevitably kick in (and usually not in your favor).

"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in." - Andrew Jackson

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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