Anxiety. Unease. Worry.
And a pinch of aggravation just to round it all out.
No, I’m not talking about the next federal tax deadline.
Or am I?
For millions of Americans every year (including all of us Connecticut folks), the tax filing deadline points to a much bigger issue. An issue so pervasive that it’s the subject of internet memes, stand-up comedy routines, and entire self-help books.
I’m talking about procrastination.
If you’re tempted to save this article to maybe read it later, consider this one of the side effects of procrastination: In 2018, over 8.9 million people paid penalties to the IRS because they didn’t prioritize filing their taxes.
Today, we’re going to delve into the side effects of procrastination, and how you can overcome it.
Consider the Side Effects of Procrastination, Connecticut Friends
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” -William Ernest Henley
Procrastination is a scourge that can have serious repercussions on your life. In fact, a 2008 study found that 40% of people have experienced some sort of financial loss due to procrastination. (Can anyone Connecticut friends relate?) Understanding why you procrastinate and how it adversely impacts your life can help you avoid those negative outcomes.
Why do we procrastinate?
This will obviously vary from person to person, but there are some general reasons that many people put things off:
– Fear of facing something we don’t want to acknowledge. Like facing becoming an empty nester when your last child leaves for college. There’s clearly the joy of seeing your children launch into adulthood, but suddenly, you have to acknowledge moving into the next phase of your own life, and so you procrastinate cleaning out their vacant bedrooms or downsizing your space.
– Not having to deal with any fallout if something goes wrong. This provides a sense of control over the outcome, compared to losing that control once we actually engage in a task. For example, somebody might put off getting their tax return prepared because they’re scared of what the balance due is going to be, and they don’t have the funds available to pay that tax bill right away.
– Good ol’ perfectionism. If you’re the type of person that needs everything to be just perfect in every way, then procrastination helps you to avoid disappointment when things wind up not being so perfect.
– Worried about failing at something new. If you never try, then there can be no failure.
Whatever the reason, there can be more than a few negative side effects of procrastination — something many can agree with.
This is probably the most obvious of the side effects of procrastination. Time is precious, and when it’s lost, it can’t ever be regained.
Think about how you waste time when you procrastinate. How many hours have you lost in the past year or decade putting off doing important things? It can be a bit sickening to consider. Not only is productive time lost, but there’s also the psychological impact to deal with, as most of us tend to get stressed and frustrated about letting time slip through our fingers.
So, before avoiding those important tasks in favor of your favorite leisure activity (Netflix binges are tempting), turn it into a “reward” for finishing the important task you’re putting off instead. In other words, change the way you see necessary tasks, using the leisure activity as the dangling carrot to motivate you to get things done.
While putting off the laundry for a week may not cause you to miss out on a life-changing opportunity, the fact of the matter is that one of the side effects of procrastination is that it does cause you to miss out on things. This is especially true in work-life balance situations. For example, that TPS report you put off writing until Friday afternoon may mean you miss out on your kid’s soccer game because you’re still at work.
Procrastination robs you of flexibility in both your schedule and your finances. In effect, you are giving up control of your life when you procrastinate because you become subject to the tyranny of the clock and the demands of others on your time.
Putting off that decision about a new job opportunity may mean the job is no longer available by the time you make up your mind. Or habitual procrastination gets noticed by the boss, and you might lose out on an opportunity for promotion. Or your best friend approaches you with an amazing business opportunity, but you miss the time window to join in because you put off talking to your spouse about it out of fear of what they’d say.
What’s your dream in life? What steps have you taken toward making it reality?
A lot of people have a “someday/maybe list.” Those things they’ll do when the time is right, the stars are aligned, they win the lottery, or the kids are grown. There’s a change they want to make in the world, or a business they want to start, a career change to embark on, or any of a number of other things, but they just never start. This is just another one of the unfortunate side effects of procrastination — and a costly one!
Not all goals and dreams are practical, of course. But if they are, start taking the steps toward achieving them. Don’t let 20 years go by, and then look back and regret that you never took action.
Another of the (big) side effects of procrastination is losing money.
Putting off that call to your mortgage broker can mean paying higher mortgage payments for the life of your home loan.
Failing to make that 60-second call to Human Resources could mean missing out on the 50% company match into your 401k.
Delaying that call to your Connecticut tax professional could mean paying penalties to the IRS (ahem…).
The financial consequences of procrastination are many and varied, due to restricted time windows, changing marketing conditions, legal requirements, and more.
What about the financial consequences of procrastination in regard to tax matters? Do just about anything late with regards to the IRS, and you will most certainly take a financial hit in the form of penalties, accumulated interest, lost tax credits, etc….
Learn to recognize the things that you procrastinate the most about, and put together a plan to address that procrastination. You will undoubtedly find that life becomes more fulfilling and that more opportunities pop up along the way. And you’ll probably have more money in your pocket too.
To getting things done,
Emelia Mensa CPA