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Procrastination Is a Failure to Love

I am, for the most part, an organized person. I actually wrote a whole book on productivity in which I laid out the system I used (and still use) to remain organized and, hopefully, effective in what I do. I have begun my days in roughly the same way for many years now, and have found that quick, daily “coram deo” a valuable way of ensuring I’m using my life in the most effective way.

In many ways, this entire system of productivity grew out of my lifelong battle with procrastination. Year after year I struggled to prioritize what was urgent and important over what was easy or fun. I would put off until tomorrow what I ought to do today. Then I would put it off again and again until I was suddenly forced to address it in a state of panic at the last minute. Not surprisingly, this did not often lead to high-quality work.

In the past few weeks I’ve begun to spy procrastination at work in my life once again. It approached quietly, perhaps taking the opportunity to slink in alongside the ongoing nerve issues that have kept me from my usual systems and patterns of work. Or maybe it snuck in with all the travel I’ve been doing and the disruption and fatigue that comes with it. But one way or another I’ve been finding myself putting off until the future what I know I should do today. I’ve been deferring tasks, pushing deadlines, allowing projects to stretch on and on.

This led me to some introspection and then a helpful realization: Procrastination is a failure to love—a failure to love others. And this is exactly what makes procrastination such an ugly and offensive sin. It is inherently self-centered. It is a form of self-love.

All I know and believe about productivity is premised on this: Productivity is effectively using my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Being productive is not first about increasing my status or wealth or reputation, but about doing good to others which in turn brings glory to God. He is glorified in those actions I take to benefit others; he is not glorified in my selfishness or my failure to love. If I am committing my life to those things that matter most, procrastination is a missed opportunity to love. It is a disruption to other people rather than an encouragement. It promotes my ease at their expense.

I was glad to see this, glad to see that procrastination is that ugly. Now, on those hard days when I face a list of many tasks, or on those days when I know I have to accomplish my least-favorite tasks, I challenge myself to simply love. To do is to love, to procrastinate is to fail to love. (See also 4 Tips for Dealing with Procrastination).

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