I was a terrible procrastinator during my school years. When studying
those subjects for which I felt little love or confidence in my ability to
master, I justified putting off studying until the last possible minute. At
the time, I didn’t realize the implications of this procrastination. I was a
mediocre student in those subjects I avoided studying, which dragged down
my otherwise strong GPA, which made getting into some of my choice
As a result, I did not meet and befriend Bill Gates at Harvard. Accordingly,
the two of us did not form a partnership to develop a computer
operating system far superior to anything ever introduced. We did not
start Microsoft, and I did not become one of the richest men in the world.
This prevented me from establishing the O’Leary Charitable Trust with a
billion-dollar donation, which would have funded a cure for AIDS, and
saved millions of lives, for which I would have been awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize. And all because I put off studying algebra!
Okay, that example might be a bit of a stretch. But although I am certainly
not complaining about how things turned out, my early procrastination
did create limitations to overcome later in life. In retrospect, I wish
that I had applied a little extra effort to certain academic pursuits that
would have opened up new worlds to me. Perhaps I still would have chosen
the path I did, but I always like to have every possible option open to me.
Occasionally, monitoring your own “procrastinating habits” is a valuable
exercise. If putting things off a little is a valid form of relaxation for
you, and there is no longer-term price to pay, then it should probably not
be of concern. However, if your procrastination is causing you trouble in
your life now, it will probably only get worse, and it should be addressed.
Given the fact that time is limited for all of us, we all have to choose the
most efficient use of our time, but I am often confronted with relatives,
employees, and friends who allow their own procrastination to rule their
Of course, some would say procrastination is simply a more charitable
term for laziness, which is sometimes the case, but many of the procrastinators
I know are not necessarily lazy individuals. In fact, putting off the
inevitable often just creates more work for them, which they end up doing
anyway. And sometimes, the roots of your procrastination need to be examined,
as they might reveal some other issue that needs to be addressed.