Procrastination, how does ours affect others?

Now he knows how to procrastinate

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Affecting people around us

How does Procrastination affect those we live with, work with, and interact with on a daily basis? We don’t really think about how our behavior affects others because we can’t see their point of view. For instance, if you walk into a grocery store and push a carriage out of your way with a quick shove, it’s no big deal, right? But maybe that carriage was the only thing a woman could use to maneuver around the store and you pushed it beyond her reach. Or maybe you step up to a counter and reach over a young boy that is standing there trying to reach something high. You take the very last chocolate milk on the shelf not even paying attention to the fact that the boy had been trying to reach it for nearly twenty minutes. When we take the time to see things around us, we can actually see how our behavior affects others.

Procrastination is no exception to that rule. When we procrastinate, we believe that it is no big deal and no one will be affected by it. After all, we will get to it, eventually, so what’s the big deal. So what if it takes a day or two, it’ll get done! So what if someone is waiting for it, they’ll get it, sometime. So what if I promised it two days ago, I got busy, but it’ll get done, maybe tomorrow, I don’t have anything planned for then, at least not yet. Do any of these excuses sound familiar to you?

Try thinking of life as a big corporate business—now your boss tells you he needs you to take out the trash before it overflows. You tell him that you’ll get to it in a minute. Three days later, the trash is still waiting to be taken out, because you put it off for so long you forgot, and it has overflowed to the point that it has covered the area around the desks of three of your fellow workers. They must now try to work in a dirty, smelly, potentially disease ridden environment. Is that what you meant to do?

Okay, this one is a bit exagerated, but it does get the point across. Procrastination can affect more than just you! It can affect everyone around you as well!

Not realistic enough?

Then try thinking of life as a day care center filled with needy children who must be kept safe by you, their temporary guardian. You change the diaper of one of the children and toss the diaper to the side thinking you’ll pick it up later because right now you have your hands full with the children. One of the children finds the diaper and opens it. They get sick from the contents and have to go to the hospital, but you were going to throw it away eventually, right? Now there is a sick child, a possible law suit (who are we kidding, the law suit is probable), and a good chance your day care center will close down. Now want to hear the worst part? You could go to jail. See how important it is to NOT procrastinate?

You don't need to answer, but you might want to at least think about how you might answer.

Have you ever procrastinated on something to the point that it negatively affected someone else?

  • I would never do such a thing!
  • Well, maybe, once. But I've matured since then.
  • Yeah, so? It's their fault for trusting me.
  • Time heals all wounds, they'll get over it.
  • Maybe they shouldn't have stood so close to me and then I would have sought help from someone else.
  • What's the big deal. It got done didn't?
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Your car dies on the way to work.....

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Still not how it works you say?

I'm just exagerating to try to make a point, right? Okay, let’s focus on real life and see how it works there. Let’s say you live alone in your own apartment. You do what you want when you want and you don’t see why you have to keep any kind of standards if no one else is there. You don't know why you must follow everyone else's rules every where you go, either. It's your life, after all, not theirs! Okay, let's see how that goes:

  • · Your dirty dishes draw bugs that multiplied and spread into the other apartments so your neighbors complained to the landlord and he told you to clean up or else.
  • · Your unclean laundry fills the air with an unappealing odor that neighbors can smell through the closed door and walls, again your neighbors have begun to complain to the landlord and he has told you that he is getting tired of the complaints.
  • · Your landlord grows even more angry because you keep telling him you’ll pay the rent tomorrow when you have a chance to go to the bank, but there is always a reason why you couldn’t make it to the bank so you’ll do it tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes.
  • · Your boss gets angry because he keeps getting complaints that you have body odor because you haven’t cleaned your suits. You just keep wearing them because they don’t have any spots on them so they must be clean. The boss won’t let you enter his office for any reason, but does tell you in front of the whole office to 'clean up' your act.
  • · Your electric gets turned off because you keep putting off paying the bill until tomorrow.
  • · Your car dies on the way to work because you kept putting off putting gas in it and it ran out. I guess tomorrow never came for the gas tank.
  • · Your co-workers are fed up with having to do your work as well as their own because you always wait until the last minute and then need help to get it done in time. They complained and can now refuse to help you, uh oh.
  • · You sit in front of a dead TV because you put off paying the cable bill for so long it was discontinued and you are being sued for the back charges.
  • · No one lends you money for emergency situations anymore because you keep putting off paying them back until everyone ‘forgets’.
  • · Your girlfriend/boyfriend breaks up with you because you keep putting off calling them.
  • · Your car is repssessed because you keep putting off sending the payments in and you’re now six months behind. At least you don't have to remember to put gas in anymore.
  • · There’s no food in your apartment because you ate everything and put off going shopping until tomorrow, which apparently never came.
  • · There’s no money in your checking account because you put off depositing your check and it got lost in the apartment that you don’t clean.
  • · No one will lend you things at work like the time your stapler broke and no one would let you use theirs because they said you usually don’t bring it back, ever.
  • · Your furniture is reposed by the finance company because you put off making the payments until tomorrow, hmmmmm.
  • · Your mother and father won’t speak to you anymore because you put off sending them birthday and Christmas cards and it’s been 5 years since they heard from you at all. Right after they loaned you that $5,000 to put a down payment on the car that got repossessed.

One of the best ways to help keep you on track is to make a list. List everything you have to do and keep it in a spot that you can't miss. Then, make lots of signs about your list and put them all over your office and/or apartment to remind you of your list and where it is located. If that doesn't work, write it backwards on your forehead so that you see it when you brush your teeth in the morning. Try putting the list on the horn of your steering wheel or the screen of your computer. Find your spot and then use it!

And the results are:

Now, you sit in an empty, smelly, cold, dark apartment with no food, no company, no phone, no TV and an eviction notice from your landlord. No one will sit with you at work. No one will join you for lunch. No one will give you a ride to meetings. No one will help you with your work anymore. No one will lend you anything. No one will help you in any way, shape, or form. And you sit feeling sorry for yourself because you don’t understand why you are being so misunderstood and so mistreated. In the meantime, you are very hungry and can’t even get something to eat because you didn’t wash any pans or dishes. You don’t have any electricity or gas with which to cook. You don’t have any food because you lost your check somewhere in the mess you call your apartment. Hmmmmm, quite the difficult situation, wouldn’t you say?

Not only have you begun to turn everyone around you against you, but you have even turned yourself against you. Is this the way you want to live for the rest of your life? I don’t think so, although I could be wrong. Procrastinating will get you nothing but trouble; but it will also alienate those around you including loved ones. If used sneakily enough, it might make you look good to the boss and help you climb the ladder for a bit, but that will also catch up to you sooner or later.

Do we all procrastinate?

Yes, occasionally, like when we have a large report to get out and don't really want to start it. We might get a coffee, talk with a few friends, and then knuckle down. But be very careful not to mix procrastination with a well-earned break or chatting while waiting for information. Procrastination is more like taking the 'well-earned' break and turning it into an all day trip to the beach. Then, just for fun, blaming a co-worker for giving you the wrong directions to a warehouse downtown.

There are times, however, when procrastination is a bit of a requirement. For instance, you have a very difficult decision to make. Either one will cause a rift of some kind, but the decision must be made. Many of us will put the decision off until the very last minute and then let fate take a hand. Was that a bad way to handle the situation? Maybe, maybe not, but in many cases the decision-maker might feel like just a bit of the pressure was removed from their shoulders and placed in the arms of fate.

They sat "Time Heals All Wounds". Does it? I rather think that it does not in the case of procrastination. Rather, it digs a much deeper hole that festers and does not heal. Is there a way out? Maybe. Try looking around you once in a while and remembering that those people who used to be family, friends, and co-workers are now strangers to you. They do not trust you, and with good reason. The only way out of this glass dome is to break the pattern of Procrastination.

© 2011 Cheryl Simonds

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Comments 4 comments

Amors Potpourri profile image

Amors Potpourri 4 years ago from Victoria, BC, Canada

Thanks for this reminder, I will also share it with my son.


cherylone profile image

cherylone 4 years ago from Connecticut Author

Your welcome Amors Potpourri, hope it helps.....


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I read a book once called 'The Road Less Travelled' and the author always advised against procrastinating about getting jobs done and out of the way because in life (so he says...) you have to delay gratification in order to really feel at peace about things. Interesting but I can't make my mind up about whether I agree with him! I'm too lazy!


cherylone profile image

cherylone 4 years ago from Connecticut Author

*Giggle*, Thanks for joining me and reading my hub, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I 'hope your laziness ends soon' LOL :)

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