The Curse of Your Procrastination

There are an abundance of articles on procrastination – ways to avoid it, reasons why it exists, etc. I wasn’t able to find many resources on how procrastination negatively impacts other people. When it comes to procrastination, It’s really not all about you! Your procrastination is impacting everyone you work and/or interact with.Procrastination Chart

As a project manager, this comes up quite a bit. The project manager diligently breaks down the work, assigns the baseline schedule and owns overall responsibility of making sure the work gets done. We rely on the project team to fulfill their responsibilities and ensure the work gets completed. If a single project team member procrastinates on any single task, it will have a trickle down effect on all other tasks that need to be completed. Procrastination by definition is the avoidance of doing tasks that need to be done. This does not include the scenarios where work goes more slowly as a result of a problem or new information. This is truly the work that a resource puts off because he/she just doesn’t want to do it.

While project managers know that this is a common enough occurrence, I think it’s human nature to assume your procrastination isn’t hurting anyone other than yourself. But in reality, it will impact anyone directly linked to you. A couple of days ago I got into an argument with my daughter for this exact topic. Her high school requires that each student fulfill 15 hours of community service during the course of the school year. While 15 hours over 10 months doesn’t seem that cumbersome, my daughter plays ice hockey September-March. She is on the ice 6 days a week and has to fit homework and other responsibilities on top of that.

Now that we are winding down hockey season, I asked her to conduct some research and  identify opportunities she could do over spring break. She promptly told me she “had it covered’ and would fulfill the hours, but when I pushed her for more details, she had nothing to offer. She assumed that I was pushing her because I didn’t trust her. That really had nothing to do with it. In prior years, we had to scramble to get everything done in time, rushing around in the last minute. Given my other projects and responsibilities, I need her to plan more effectively. I got quite frustrated with her as there is no real effort to do the research (the school provides a list of pre-approved organizations and activities). In this case, her procrastination doesn’t just have the potential for disrupting her grade, it will most likely disrupt my schedule as we have to cram 15 hours over the next month (and she doesn’t drive yet).

As you push off until later the thing you need to do today, please consider the impact you will have on those around to you.