Procrastination and Time Management

Procrastination and Time Management

Why is it that we tend to think more about how we use and spend our money than we do our time?

“Spend” is the same verb used for both time and money, but these are two very different things. Unlike money, you can’t earn time. You can’t put time aside and save it for another day. What time and money do have in common is we can waste it easily. Procrastination in time is like a bad habit or indulgence that we waste our money on and as a manager, managing a procrastinator can be quite challenging.

I’ve personally struggle with procrastination throughout my life. Recently I managed to give a name to this issue and what makes it interesting is that I’ve discover I fall into the category of being a productive procrastinator.

You might be thinking: What is a productive procrastination?

It’s when you postpone important and urgent tasks and you focus on all the rest, examples could be: cleaning all the house instead of calling the dentist, create a do-to list and complete all the non-important tasks instead of sending one email, leave to do the expenses and clean all the desktop from old files.

If you try to explain this with the Eisenhower matrix it’s like you are completing task that are important but not urgent and you are leaving behind some important and urgent ones because these are triggering some negative emotions.

Let me be clear, procrastination is not about laziness or not recognizing the fact that some tasks are more important and urgent than others. Procrastination is about delaying or postponing something because we either don’t believe we are capable or because this action creates negative feeling such as anxiety and fear.

Instead of diving in and tackling your to-do list head-on, you find yourself drawn to trivial, to avoid confronting important ones. You don’t approach it casually; instead, you feel overwhelmed by anxiety and a sense of impending doom. Deep down you know that eventually, you will have to face it and ultimately complete it.

Let me elaborate, a procrastinator is completely aware of the urgency of completing task X, other things come into play:

  • Perfectionism: you get paralysed by the impossible high standards that you set for yourself
  • Fear of failure: it’s a new task or a risky project and you feel that there is a high risk of disappointing people or not meeting expectations
  • Lack of motivation: tasks that you can find tedious or unenjoyable
  • Overwhelming: there is so much to do in so little time. Instead of chunking down, you let the anxiety and stress to take over
  • Distraction: from the window cleaner to the coffee break to losing yourself in the black hole that is Google anything else but completing the task

Sometimes there is just one reason that gets you stuck, other times there are a combinations of them.

The procrastinator is now stuck in limbo like in Dante’s Divine Comedy they are not down in the hell but neither are they in paradise. They are just in the MIDDLE. When they are in limbo they use all of their energy deflecting from the task, while also planning to leave enough time to complete the task at the last minute.

For example: you have a task, you understand that it’s urgent and important, yet still you find yourself: scrolling Instagram, preparing a snack, cleaning the house, doing trivial tasks, taking a nap, creating the ‘ultimate’ to-do list or doing pointless research on Google.

You know you are postponing so the guilt, the fear, the panic starts to kick in, but they are not enough to motivate you to begin.

So you wait.

And you wait.

Before you know it the deadline comes up and as it from magic you start to work on the task

Is it pleasant?

No, it’s terrible.

Another set of thought are coming into play and the question that keeps going around in your mind is: why did I do this to myself? Followed by the promise of self-improvement and you start to repeat as a mantra: ‘next time I will start on time and I will not let myself down!’

Breaking this circle of procrastination can be difficult if the person is not willing to work on themselves the first step is recognising what the triggers are and what are the reasons behind the procrastination in the first place.


Managing a procrastinator can be frustrating: because they do their work but are seldom ready ahead of time. There is always a lot of anxiety around deadlines. They don’t want to be pushed and they try to reschedule the deadlines wherever possible. So how can you manage them as leader?

You fire them? Not really an option, especially when procrastinators are good at their job. You give them more time? No need, they will waste more time and you will be in the exact same predicament.

So, what can you do?

  • Try to understand the reason/s why somebody is procrastinating.
  • Give them structure and accountability.
  • Try to remove distractions.
  • Use their strength and give them projects they are passionate about. If this is not possible explain them why you chose them for that particular job and why do you believe they will be able to complete successfully.
  • Keep the deadline short and sharp to limit the opportunity to procrastinate, this also taps in the short term motivation


Procrastination can seem marginal or insignificant, at the end of the day comes down how someone organise their time, doesn’t it?

Research conducted in 2023 revealed that a significant number of individuals struggle with procrastination. Approximately 20% of people admitted to procrastinating daily, while 22% reported doing so frequently. The estimated annual cost of procrastination in the workplace was found to be substantial. For an individual earning a yearly salary of $40,000, the cost of procrastination was estimated to be around $15,000 per year. This means that approximately 37.7% of their working hours were affected by procrastination.


The cost of procrastination carries a lot of negative consequences that are not only financial such as missed opportunities, high level of stress and anxiety and general decline of well-being.

Additionally, procrastination can impede teamwork and collaboration, reduce productivity and create rushed solutions. Individuals who consistently procrastinate may find themselves lacking a sense of fulfilment and engagement with their work, leading to disengagement and decreased job satisfaction. It is crucial to recognize these consequences and take proactive steps to overcome procrastination.  As mention above the first step is to understand the reason why you or the person in your team is procrastinate and then find the right tool that can help you or the team manage time effectively

Do you want to know more about managing procrastination and your time effectively check our face-to-face course EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGEMENT course or our online course on EFFECTIVE TEAM LEADERSHIP. Alternatively to discuss bespoke training make specifically for your team  you can contact us at