According to the dictionary, procrastination is defined as “to put off intentionally and habitually, or to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done”.
If we break that definition down, we see that there is personal and deliberate knowingness in our delaying the doing of something that should get done and that delaying can become a pattern, or habit, over time. For purposes of this forum, the “should” get done is presumed to be something you want, could, need or should get done, and is not the “should” of false obligation (as in, don’t should on yourself!).
In other words, we intentionally negate action on something we should get done that would ostensibly improve the quality of our lives in some way. When we are not enjoying an optimal quality of life, our life force energy is not being fed. Even more, when we internalize the delay as being a negative reflection of who we are, our life energy is literally being taken from us (or, more clearly, we are just giving it away indiscriminately!).
One key warning signal that procrastination is stealing your life force energy is that your “to do” list never gets done. There is a difference between healthy stress and something that is hanging over your head waiting for attention. It takes your mental energy to not look at it, and the thing itself will grow in proportion until it gets handled. It’s like never-ending homework. And avoidance strategies may include staying really busy, being in overwhelm, focusing on everybody else, creating drama and handling distractions vs. being productive – all of which are sabotage in the most insidious ways. (Insidious because they are disguised as being really productive, or kind, or engaged with lots of activities – they are socially acceptable but not truly productive for you.)
Another warning signal that indicates procrastination is stealing your energy is that the sense that you can’t get ahead. Procrastination keeps you stuck in the past by keeping the “it” you are delaying front and foremost in your mind as something that you should get done. After all, who would you be if you were moving forward easily and measurably instead of living from your past?
The most damaging warning signal is when your self-esteem drops as a result of not handling “it”. There is a sense that you never measure up because you aren’t handling “it”. There are a number of reasons why you might not be handling “it” that are completely unrelated to your self-esteem, but your self-esteem doesn’t know that. All your inner being knows is that you aren’t getting it done and, if your programming runs like most people’s, it must be because you aren’t good enough somehow to get it done.
When procrastination is a big enough factor in your life to be robbing you of your quality of life, it is time to do something – NOW.