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Procrastination: The New National Pastime

Many Americans procrastinate when it comes to filing taxes on time. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

We’ve all done it right? The ancient art of putting things off until some undefined date, or time, in the future. Didn’t start studying until the night before the test. I should mow the lawn, but one more day won’t hurt. I really should return that phone call, but I know they are going to be mad at me. I really should ask her out. I really should break up with her.

When Does Procrastination Become Serious?

The most serious consequence of procrastination is health care. Putting off going to the doctor when you know you should. Putting off the dental appointment. These types of procrastination can lead to poor health, disease and in extreme cases even death.

Suppose you procrastinate on paying your taxes — what will happen to you? In the short run you can be fined penalties and interest. In more serious cases you could do jail time.

Put off paying bills and your credit report suffers, costing you higher insurance and loan rates down the road.

When Does Procrastination Become Stupid?

Stupid might be a little harsh. Shortsighted might be a more accurate description. “The boss wants to see you when you’ve got a minute.” Are you going to rush right in and see what the boss wants? Some of us would but others have to engage in a role-playing scenario first. “Why would the boss want to see me?” “What did I do?” “Maybe I can fake sick and sneak out before he sees me.”

We always imagine the worst, rather than assuming the best. We never think, “I bet I’m getting that raise or promotion.” “Probably wants to thank me for the Jones account.” More than likely you’ll be asked to come in over the weekend or run some errand.

When Does Procrastination Become a Positive?

Believe it or not, there are some positives about being a procrastinator. While the procrastinator procrastinates and does other things, the subconscious mind works on the problem in the background. By the time the procrastinator finally has to sit down and tackle the problem, the mind may already have a plan ready to go. This is why we wake up in the middle of the night with great ideas. When the brain gets it; it spits it out.

So look over the materials, peruse the figures, and then go goof off. You’ve set your mind on a collision course with the answers you need. Don’t distract it by worrying about the problem. Move on to other things to procrastinate about.

Some Final Thoughts

In my opinion the world’s worst procrastinators are Congress. No tax cuts vote until the clock is ready to expire. Debt ceiling vote — we’ll get around to that when we are a dollar away from shutting Washington down. Save Medicare— will do, just as soon as it’s bankrupt. Until then we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Got to work on baseball steroids and helmet-to-helmet contact in professional football. Tax reform — oh yeah, we’ve got that number one on an upcoming agenda.

Well, I can’t put it off any longer. Guess I have to post this. What’s your biggest procrastination? What do you put off that you shouldn’t?

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