I wear many hats (so to speak) as an author, blogger, game writer, speaker, literary agent, and man-about-town. People sometimes ask me how I get it all done. Usually I answer with something self-effacing, such as, “I’m just awesome that way.” But when pressed, I’ll attribute whatever productivity I have to careful organizing, scheduling, and—most importantly—maniacally avoiding procrastination.
Yes, I know writers are creative folk who often frolic through time and space with nary a care. They can’t be bothered with such things as clocks and calendars.
Those writers, with few exceptions, starve.
The rest of us have to pay at least some attention to detail, and I’m tellin’ ya, working writers who eschew procrastination will help themselves tremendously by avoiding at least seven consequences of procrastination:
1. Risk of failure
Waiting until the last minute to study for a test is the prime example, but there are many more. Sure, you may say, “I work best under pressure.” But there’s always the risk of dropping the ball, missing a deadline, or having to choose the lesser of two evils—which, by the way, is still an “evil.”
2. Limited choices
I’ve seen it often (I won’t mention names here, but they’re not “Bob”) that people who have procrastinated end up in a position where they can’t say yes to something new because they’re running so late on something overdue.
3. Heightened stress
I work ahead because deadlines stress me out. But when I’ve crossed off something from my to-do list a few days (or weeks) in advance, it no longer occupies space in my cluttered mind. I can relax.
4. Lesser quality
The more you have to scramble to meet a deadline, the more likely you’ll be to overlook an important detail, make a big mistake, or even just generally cut corners. Not a good look.
5. Higher costs
I booked a flight yesterday for an event that’s nearly five months away—and I’d already been tracking airfares for a couple months. Crazy, right? But obviously, if I’d waited until a month or a couple weeks before I had to make the trip, I’d have been very, very sorry. Avoiding procrastination helps to avoid overspending (including late fees and penalties) in many categories, not only airfare.
6. Increased aggravation—for others
Whether you cancel a date with your significant other because an assignment is due tomorrow, or you absolutely must bow out of chaperoning your kid’s school trip because you just pulled an all-nighter, procrastinating will affect not only you, but also the people around you.
7. Damaged reputation
Do you want to be the guy who’s “always late?” Or would you rather be the person who always delivers (as one of my earliest editors said of me) “good copy, on time?” Or, better, “early.”
I realize that these consequences are probably no surprise to any of us. In fact, I fully expect some readers of this blog to add to the above list (when you get around to it). I look forward to those in the comments. And, if readers would also comment with helpful tips or techniques for preventing procrastination, I’ll take that as permission to quote them in my next post, on the topic, “Stop Procrastinating—Right Now!”