What Is Procrastination Costing You?

By Annie Mueller on 17 November 2011 (Updated 22 November 2011) 0 comments
Photo: Martinan

If time is money, then wasting time means losing money. What is your procrastination costing you?

Lost Opportunity

When great opportunities arrive, are you quick to act on them and walk through that open door? Almost all opportunities come with a time limit; if you put off doing the things you need to do to take advantage of the opportunities you're given, you'll lose them.

Lost Ability

Many abilities come with a time limit. Athletes know that their careers are a race against the clock. The rest of us often don't realize this truth fully. We think our abilities are inherent, when they are largely dependent on our youth or current life situation. We assume certain freedoms and abilities that aren't guaranteed. Circumstances change, life happens, obligations pile up; things you might take for granted now, such as good health, free time, personal space, reliable transportation, and more can disappear.

Lost Time

Do we even need to talk about the fact that you're wasting time when you procrastinate? Procrastinating may take on an active form; you may be doing something, but it's not the thing that you need to do. Most likely, it's not the thing that will make you money or build your business.

Lost Money

Here's the part you all really care about most: the money.

Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours (a must-read book of time wisdom) and the forthcoming book All the Money in the World discusses time and money, and how procrastination affects both.

"Time and money are inversely related variables. You can spend time to save money or spend money to save time. The problem with procrastination is that it often tips you—unconsciously—into the latter bucket because you run out of time, and hence spend big bucks when you didn't have to. Think rush fees on shipping, late fees on bills, overtime payment for employees when better time management would have saved you that cash.

A Few Examples to Ponder

Time and money are essential resources in business. Procrastination wastes both of them. Here are a few of the more common ways:

  • tax penalties due to late tax payments;
  • tax penalties and fees due inaccurate records because you procrastinated on invoices, receipts, record-keeping, hiring an accountant, and so on;
  • high interest on loans or inventory financing because you haven't yet applied for that low interest loan or talked to your banker or distributor about lower rates;
  • lost grant money because you were late applying so someone else got it;
  • fees imposed due to breaking city codes and environmental regulations which you knew about, but failed to act upon soon enough;
  • lost sales because you were late to follow-up and your competitor wasn't;
  • lost customers who left because they got tired of late deliveries, unreturned phone calls, unresolved issues, etc;
  • lost profits from the products you never shipped.

As I've said before, execution is the most valuable asset in your small business. Procrastination is the antithesis of execution. It isn't just a bad habit or a personality quirk. It's a malevolent, passive way of taking your business straight to the bottom. Love your business? Want to succeed? Quit procrastinating.

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