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The Number-One Myth About Procrastination

“We are so much busier today than in the past."

Key points

  • Procrastination is not the same as poor time management.
  • Instead of disparaging our ancestors, we can learn from their productivity.

For almost two years I have been blogging here on PT about procrastination. These posts follow nearly 40 years of scholarly research on the topic, examining the causes and consequences of chronic procrastination. After four scholarly books and a popular book {Ferrari, 2010} later, plus more than 100 scholarly publications and countless presentations both professional and public, I continue to hear this myth: “You don’t understand, our lives are busier today. We have too much to do and procrastination must happen.”

Do not believe this.

First and foremost, procrastination is not poor time management. If you engage in procrastination across areas of your life, then this is a maladaptive lifestyle that has become a habit accepted by others. Chronic procrastination is an active avoidance strategy and teaching you to budget and arrange your time schedule will not work. Remember the expression, “You cannot control the winds, but you can adjust your sails.” We cannot control what life gives us, but we can control how we handle the winds and storms of life.

Look, there are only 168 hours in a week—7 days x 24 hours. No more, no less. We cannot manage time, we manage ourselves within that time frame. And remember, 168 hours was established in the 1500s by Pope Gregory, who based his calendar on Julius Caesar, who modeled the Egyptians. In other words, those 168 hours have been with us for centuries. Do not use limited time as an excuse.

Finally, think what you are saying when you suggest that our lives are busier today than in the past. What an insult to our ancestors who might have been farmers and had to get up, feed the animals, cook the meals, wash the dishes and floors, mend the fence, pump the well, repair the roof, and sew and wash the clothes—and they got it all done. True, we are busy today. But we're differently busy, not busier. Stop the excuses.

Life is short. Enjoy it, follow your responsibilities, and “get 'er dun," as they say.

Life with science.


Ferrari, J.R. (2010). Still procrastinating? The no regrets guide to getting it done. New York, John Wiley & Sons.

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