Almost everyone procrastinates on important issues, whether it’s starting an exercise programme, clearing away clutter, or doing homework. However, when the delaying tactics have to do with money, then procrastination can bring tremendous personal and monetary cost.
Rita Emmett, in her book The Procrastinator’s Handbook – Mastering the Art of Doing It Now, notes that “procrastination can take a surprisingly high toll on your life, causing stress, illness and low self-esteem.” In addition to these negative effects, Emmett continues, this time-wasting habit “keeps you from attaining your goals and fulfilling your dreams.”
How many of us are living lives of quiet despair, feeling frustrated at not being able to buy our dream house or car; feeling guilty for not having money to pay for our children’s college fees; feeling panicked at the realization that we’ll never be able to stop working as we never saved enough money? For many of us, our distress is not due to the lack of ability or money, but due to the failure to organize our time and efforts to complete the necessary tasks to achieve our goals.
Why do we practice this self-destructive habit anyway? How can we have extremely important things to do, yet agonizingly continue to ignore them?
One reason for persistent procrastination is that you may be dreading the process that may be involved in accomplishing the task. Your accountant needs all your business records to file your tax returns on time, yet you ignore the pile of bills stuffed in the desk drawer, because you hate to think of the work that will be involved.
“The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself,” Emmett reveals. Many jobs that we live in fear of tackling can actually be completed quickly once we get started. Organising your bills can be a breeze if you immediately place receipts into files with different headings.
Another frequent excuse for delay is that you don’t have the time to get the job done. You never have time to balance your cheque book or reconcile your bank statements, so you don’t know how much money is in the account, and live in fear of writing a bounced cheque. The reality is that balancing a cheque book takes seconds if you update it after each purchase.
Emmett explains that you must first realize that the job probably won’t take as long as you think. Then she recommends breaking down longer jobs by devoting one uninterrupted hour at specific times until the task is completed. After starting, Emmett insists that you will no longer be daunted by the project and that the momentum may keep you going until it is all done.
“One of the most important lessons in conquering procrastination is that what you dread most isn’t spending time and energy on the whole job, but simply getting started,” declares Emmett.
There are other tasks that get delayed because you think you’ll have plenty of time to do them – later. You’re in your twenties and would like to own a home one day, but you procrastinate on starting a savings plan because you think should live it up a little first. Big mistake! Time is your greatest asset when you’re trying to achieve financial goals.
If you start saving J$5,000 per month when you’re twenty years old, and receive a net interest rate of six per cent per annum, you will have over J$800,000 in time for your thirtieth birthday. Delay your savings plan until you’re twenty-five, and you’ll only have about J$350,000 when you’re thirty.
Resist the temptation to procrastinate on savings by being very clear about your financial goals and the reason why they are important to you. Write down what you would like to achieve and set deadlines for accomplishing them. With the help of a financial advisor decide on an action plan and start saving immediately and consistently with automatic deductions.
There are many other reasons why you may put off important financial tasks – you might be fearful, lazy, or too disorganized to get going. As a recovering procrastinator myself, I encourage you to find a system that will help you to conquer this debilitating habit, so that you can take charge of your financial destiny.
“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” – Victor Kiam
Copyright © 2008 Cherryl Hanson Simpson.