Reasons not to procrastinate

There are lots of rational reasons to do things later. Mainly, they have to do with priorities. However, for those of us who have made a habit of doing things later whether it is rational or not, it can be helpful to remind ourselves of the reasons that it is irrational. Here are a few of them:

  1. They might be out of stock. If you wait until the last minute to put in an order for a prescription, the pharmacy might be out of stock. If so, you might wind up missing doses.
  2. You don’t want to have to do this twice (or three times, or four times, …). When you procrastinate in the middle of a task, you often wind up having to redo it from scratch. For example, if you wash and dry a load of clothes but don’t fold and hang it, it will get so wrinkled you will at least have to put it back in the dryer if not wash it all over again. If you stop in the middle of sorting it, the kids will stomp all over it, pieces will fall on the floor, and pretty soon you will not know what is clean and what is dirty. Then you will have to do it all over again. Similarly, if you leave a load of clean dishes in the dishwasher for a few days, they will start to smell, and you will have to re-wash them.
  3. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. This is true in a simple quantitative sense and in a more complex qualitative sense. In the quantitative sense, if work accumulates over time, then the longer you wait to do it, the more you have to do. For example, if you dirty one wash load of clothes in a week, then after two weeks, you will have two loads to do.
  4. The more frequently you do it, the better you do it. With certain tasks, especially cleaning tasks, it is impossible to do a great job in one fell swoop. If you are mopping your kitchen floor, there is that one patch along the sideboard under the cabinet that you are bound to miss. If you are washing your car, there is that one spot in the louvers of the air vent that you don’t notice you haven’t wiped. If you are cleaning your toilet, there is that one… well, it’s best not to go there. If you do these jobs more frequently, though, you tend to even out the spots you miss. The result is a better (cleaner) job. This is more than merely saying that, if you clean more often, your stuff will be cleaner. Because that’s obvious. If grime accumulates at rate x per week, say, then cleaning weekly would ideally remove x grime. It doesn’t, though. It removes x-n grime, where n is some loss due to inevitable inefficiencies in the cleaning process. To get around this, you need to clean more than once per week. If you are cleaning less than once per week, you are losing ground.
  5. Fees. The later you are in paying a bill, the more fees will rack up. Billers tack on all kinds of fees and other charges – late fee, service charge, processing fee, and so on – under the best circumstances. Being late paying just gives them an excuse to add even more fees.
  6. Interest. Everybody charges interest now. As soon as you are late with a payment, the interest starts racking up. Even your dentist and your psychotherapist will charge you interest on late payments.

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