Is Procrastination Costing You Career Opportunities?


Procrastination is an act of putting off tasks to the very last minute or past their deadlines. Psychologists suggest procrastination is a complex interplay of psychological factors. Fundamentally, it is choosing short-term pleasure over long-term gain.  


Although some people argued that procrastination may be harmless, or even having the benefits of boosting creativity, when it becomes a habit, it can have severe repercussions particularly in a professional setting.


Why people procrastinate?

On the surface, people knowingly delay actions for various reasons. They would say they don’t have the right skill sets to finish the tasks, confused about what is required of them, feeling overwhelmed not knowing where to start, or simply getting distracted. Psychologists found that the root causes of procrastination are often low self-confidence, anxiety, a lack of structure, and being entangled in negative thought patterns.


Why procrastinating is bad for your career?

Procrastination may relieve pressure for a moment, but it could cost your professional life dearly.


  1. Missed deadlines

For a professional worker, failing to meet deadlines can erode trust, credibility and hence becoming a barrier for your career progression.

  1. Reduced quality of work

The creation of quality work often involves an iteration process that requires the input of your team members. Procrastination, however, can deplete the time and space necessary for this iterative refinement.

  1. Increased Stress and Anxiety

Researchers found that habitual procrastinators often face higher level of stress, which may lead to insomnia, compromised immune system and gastrointestinal disturbance.

  1. Missed career opportunities

Since most job openings are time sensitive, prompt action needs to be taken when opportunities come by. Career decisions are always difficult to make as it drags you out of your comfort zone. An easy way out is to put it off, or what people call ‘sleeping on it’, as long as you won’t regret it later!


How to overcome procrastination for career success


  1. Address the root cause of procrastination

We are driven by different motivators. Search your soul to identify the underlying reasons for your procrastination and find a solution for that. If you find yourself procrastinating because the task is boring, see if you can add some fun doing it. If you are not confident in accomplishing it, seek help from your colleagues or pick up the required skills online.   

  1. Breaking tasks into manageable steps

Drawing out the roadmap to accomplish the tasks and breaking them down into manageable small steps can make them less daunting. It’s easier to focus on completing one step at a time. 

  1. Share your goals and deadlines

Make yourself accountable for your inaction. Sharing your goals and deadlines with a trusted colleague, friend, or mentor can be a powerful motivator. It also creates a strong support network you will need to keep you making progress.

  1. Rewarding actions

Our brain needs a flush of dopamine from time to time to keep us going. Celebrate every small accomplishment that you made will help your brain associate the reward with completed tasks.

  1. Creating immediate consequences for procrastination

Introducing personal deadlines ahead of actual deadlines, and make repercussions of delay tangible, e.g. not getting the new computer game you want if you missed the deadline. 

  1. Automating decision making

When looking for new jobs, people who procrastinate tend to overthink as they sift through the endless job listings. Developing a set of predefined rules can streamline your decision-making process. List out all the criteria for your next job and apply to all the jobs that meet the criteria.


Habitual procrastination is doing more harm than good for your career progression. With the help of these tips, you can have confidence in yourself closing the gap between intention and action. Wishing you the best of luck taking actions and no regrets!



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