The 7 Stages of Procrastination « Pun Intended
Written by Bamboo Forest


Photo by mandj98

The Procrastination Demon bites us all from time to time. It is simply human nature. While we would all benefit from overcoming this productive killer, I am not here to tell you how. I am only here to tell you all about the seven stages of procrastination and their progressions.

Here we go!


1. Training

How can you accomplish anything without the proper preparation?

Proper procrastination begins with N.E.T.S., or napping, eating, to-do-listing and showering. Sure you slept 10 solid hours last night, but wouldn’t one more hour make all the difference? You may not be hungry, but you are certain that half-eaten bag of Sour Cream and Onion chips is brain food. You also want to write a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish to finish your task. This will ensure that you complete everything in the most efficient way possible. And of course, you can’t start working if you haven’t yet cleansed yourself. So, you reward yourself with a hot, 3-hour shower.

The training stage is also known as “The Optimistic Period.” It is characterized by the strong belief that once training is complete you will work swiftly and efficiently to complete your task. Enjoy the final moments of this stage, because a cloud of dread is about to form above your head.

Song Recommendation: “Rocky Theme Song” from Rocky


2. Dread

At this point you realize there is no more training you can do to continue avoiding your project. A feeling of dread completely consumes you. This stage is characterized by silent periods of depression and nostalgia. You miserably sit in the fetal position daydreaming about happier times. When you aren’t thinking about how much you are dreading working on your task, you are fantasizing about how amazing your life will be once it’s all done. Once this gets old, you just sit there thinking about all the other things you would rather be doing.

Song Recommendation: Mad World” by Gary Jules


3. Anger

After a long, devastating hour of feeling sorry for yourself, your dread turns into anger. You feel as though everyone is out having fun while you are being tortured by the Procrastination Demon. You are downright livid and you want everyone and their pet hamster to know it. Although most people don’t care, you feel inclined to tell the world every little detail of your sorrow. Forget the fact that Vladimir’s grandmother, Oksana, a recent Russian immigrant, doesn’t speak a word of English, you’re sure she’ll hang on to every word about your struggle.

This stage is often triggered by an invitation to do something fun like watch a Charles in Charge marathon with your closest friends.

Song Recommendation: “Imperial March” from Star Wars


4. Getting Your Priorities Out of Order

Even though you have so far accomplished next to nothing, you feel the need to take a break. You need an escape from all that escalating pressure, and you are willing to do just about anything to put off thinking about the task at hand. Unfortunately for you, the thought of the project is destined to linger in the back of your mind.

During this stage, you immediately log onto Facebook or Myspace. You feel it is of the utmost importance that you find out if Ziggy and Myrtle’s on again, off again relationship is currently on or off. And, you just have to know if Oswaldo finally posted those pictures of his summer volunteering in Tanzania.

After you have carefully studied every detail of your every acquaintance, you move along to finally responding to that lovely e-mail your great aunt had sent you four months prior. Other activities include eating, watching TV and listening to your favorite Spice Girls album.

Although you are “entertained” by these activities, nothing you do is actually fun.

Song Recommendation: “99 Red Balloons” by Nena


5. Time Shift

I am not talking about time travel here. No siree. Time shifting is far more powerful and much more evil. What I speak of is when you tell yourself you will start working in exactly 10 minutes. When that magic time arrives, you just aren’t quite ready to get to work. You negotiate with your conscience for an additional 10 minutes… only this time you are certain you will definitely work hardcore when the time comes.

This phenomenon is known to go on and on for several hours and often overlaps with stages 1-4.

Song Recommendation: “Clocks” by Coldplay


6. The Ugly Realization

This is the hardest part to swallow. At this stage, you come to the realization that you have done everything but what you originally set out to accomplish, and you feel worse than a pig at the Big Pig Slaughter.

This period is a time of reflection and truth. A period in which you begin to see everything clearly. You think about how you wasted eight hours of your life. Not only did you get nothing done but you didn’t even have any fun. You realize that you always do this and claim you will never procrastinate again because you have “finally learned your lesson.” You actually believe this statement and conveniently forget making it next week when you have a new project to complete.

This stage is filled with sadness as you think of that Charles in Charge marathon you missed and the sleep you will not be getting tonight.

Song Recommendation: Dust in the Wind” by Kansas


7. Acceptance

The sooner you accept that old-fashioned hard work is the only path to finishing your task, the better.

Eventually you stop finding ways to procrastinate and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Your heart begins to beat at a quicker pace than usual and you feel abnormally alert. You suddenly feel fully committed to doing what you need to do. Magic overtakes you, and you begin working hardcore. Nothing short of a meteorite landing on your workspace will distract you from completing the task at hand.

The moment you finally complete your task is glorious to say the least. You scan your workspace and see a war zone. Scraps of food lie idly. Papers are scattered throughout. Unidentifiable spillage is within sight.

As you look into the mirror, you see messy, unkempt hair and circles under your eyes. You feel good, though. Procrastination may have gotten the best of you, but you get the last word. You are victorious.

Song Recommendation: “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

27 Responses to “The 7 Stages of Procrastination”
  1. My brother, Flying LlamaFish knows all too well the depths of procrastination. Unfortunately.

    Yyidi too, who co-authored this, must know a thing or two about procrastination.

    I’ve had my share of dancing with it, myself.

  2. Hi Flying LlamaFish and Yydi

    I paid attention this time Bamboo, and noticed who the author(s) is. :)

    This is a great post, and often so true. We learn how procrastination can be such a waste of time, not to mention, unhealthy. It’s when the realization that we wasted a day (or more), that we get motivated to do what we originally set out to do.

    Here Comes the Sun is a great song for celebration.

    BTW: Are you still on the Bloomin Onion/Mountain Dew diet?

  3. Scott McIntyre says:

    A very interesting look at procrastination, and very nicely tied into the tunes.

    The Rocky theme is a great motivational song. If Sylvester Stallone can get fired up by it, then anyone can!

    We miss many opportunities by putting things off and not just getting down to the job in hand. It’s something I’m working hard to counteract by actually applying the theory stuff into my daily life.

    Of course, it’s not always easy but, at least, it’s something to aim for.

    I think I’ll get a blast of 80s pop and be nostalgic with Nena’s “99 Red Balloons”!

  4. Hard work is the only real way to finish the task at hand and defeat procrastination.

  5. Marelisa says:

    This was funny, and unfortunately we all fall prey to the procrastination demon once in awhile. The worse part is when you’ve realized you’ve wasted eight hours and weren’t even having any fun :-)

  6. patti says:

    The time frame of hours spent dwelling on what you need to do- and don’t want to do-and are not doing- is NOT enjoyable! The same amount of time spent after a more timely completion of your project- assignment- or whatever- are joyous beyond words. Procrastination robs you of valuable -high quality time in your life. The simple act of reversing the investment of time (wasting time on dwelling on what you should do and aren’t)- as opposed to reveling in the time you have freed up by doing it right away-is totally worth the effort. But- we are all guilty to some extent( human nature)?-to reiterate what your savvy readers have said- time procrastinating IS NOT FUN- time after doing what you should do right away-IS FUN- It should be that simple! Loved your song choices- and loved the humor- and loved the way you made us feel- We are not alone!

  7. re: Proper procrastination begins with N.E.T.S., or napping, eating, to-do-listing and showering. Okay, this was a total laugh out loud statement. Have you been secretly studying me?

  8. This is priceless!! Love it. Still laughing….

  9. Kerul says:

    What a fun blog post!

    But don’t think all procrastination is created equal.

    It can sometimes be good to procrastinate – it can lead to less struggle, delay (counter-intuitive, but true), and more optimal functioning.

    There’s a new book out titled Productive Procrastination, and it describes how to do it, how to tell productive from destructive procrastination, and how to end the destruction kind. It’s available on Amazon.com. Learn more about the book at http://www.Procrastivity.com

  10. Al at 7P says:

    “Here comes the sun…” an awesome way to end the task :) .

  11. Rachel D says:

    I know a few people who could really use this advice. :)

  12. Kevin says:

    Haha that is SO TRUE! You sure did your research there, I wonder how long you procrastinated this post.

    “You also want to write a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish to finish your task. This will ensure that you complete everything in the most efficient way possible.”
    - I did that about 5 times today, haha

  13. “Haha that is SO TRUE! You sure did your research there, I wonder how long you procrastinated this post.”

    Kevin… He procrastinated a long time!

  14. How long did it take you to write this one? Lol. The crazy thing is, you TOTALLY captured ALL of the emotions in the exact order their experienced. I don’t know how you did it!

    The “Acceptance” phase is usually the shortest lived phase…when you get there, and it’s usually minutes before the deadline of a project, you experience such clarity you never knew you had. I’ve tried psyching myself out before to get to this phase quicker…but it just doesn’t work. It’s like you HAVE to go through each of the steps in that v-e-r-y s-a-m-e o-r-d-e-r.

    LOL. Ok, maybe not “always”…I’ve learned to concentrate but i can’t say I’ve never been here before…

  15. Tess says:

    Sheesh, get out of my head! What are you doing, monitoring my behaviour from that little computer screen? Ok, OK, I’m getting back to work right now.

  16. Bill K. says:

    I like to procrastinate on the really big things — more thrilling (re: terrifying) that way. You know you’re in trouble when you hear the siren’s song of the Charles in Charge marathon. That’s funny.

  17. Flying LlamaFish says:

    Barbara: Thank you! I am still on the Bloomin Onion and Mountain Dew diet. I will stick it out till the 90 days are over for sure.

    Scott: Most of the great accomplishments of the past 30 years would never have been if it weren’t for the Rocky Theme. There are studies. Enjoy the 80s pop!

    Philip: That is true, but it often takes us a while to get there.

    Marelisa: Thank you. I agree, that is the worst part.

  18. Flying LlamaFish says:

    Patti: Thank you. You speak the truth!

    Urban Panther: I have been secretly studying you for months.

    Janice: Thank you very mucho.

    Kerul: Thanks. I agree with you. Sometimes when I wait to do something at the last minute I work more efficiently. Working under pressure can be a good thing.

  19. Flying LlamaFish says:

    Al: Indeed!

    Rachel: As do I. Mainly myself.

    Kevin: I procrastinated this post for a long time, I must admit.

    Ricardo: It took me a while. I went through all 7 stages on the journey toward completion. I agree with you… it is very, very difficult to quickly get to the Acceptance stage.

    Tess: I see all!

    Bill: Sometimes the time constraints of doing something at the last minute provide us with the necessary pressure to do our best.

  20. Oh my…reading your post has caused my brain to sloooowww down. I feel like falling asleep and it is only 10pm, a wee bit early for my bedtime.

    I enjoy the song recommendations that goes along with each stage. It’s a nice touch! Thanks!

    Evelyn

  21. Jesse Hines says:

    Flying LlamaFish,

    Two things:

    One, I hate procrastination, but it often feels so good. I still hate it though. It causes all sorts of problems.

    Two, I love the diet. Keep it up. I want to hear all about it. I just hope you live to tell the tale. It sounds really rough.

    How’s it going so far? Your observations thus?

  22. Too funny and also too true. I have improved heaps with regard to procrastination, but still get stuck on some steps because I am “buying time”. Old habits die hard. Once I get going properly though I am unstoppable.

  23. Evelyn: You are welcome!

    Jesse Hines: The diet is going pretty well. My stomach currently hurts a bit, but I think it’s because last night’s Mountain Dew tasted a bit watered down. I will write a post about the progress of the diet in the not so distant future… I promise!

    Leanne: Indeed, some habits do die hard.

  24. Irene says:

    16 years ago I gave my husband a tee shirt for Xmas reading “PROCRASTOMASTER”. My 1 year old son recieved a tee shirt reading “Procrastomaster In Training”. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    To date the elder’s procrastination has only increased and hate to say that junior seems to be following in the same direction. Wish it wasnt’ so.

  25. Shara says:

    Its an awesome article and I found each and every point to be true. I was thinking I am the only one to feel so but now I realize its an universal truth …wow…. :-)

  26. This describes me exactly. I am trying to change this but it is very hard, especially when I procrastinate in changing.

  27. Mary C. says:

    This is a great article! I’ve currently got my priorities out of order. It is so much more fun to play Ranch Rush 2 than to clean the bathroom!

Leave a Reply