This long word literally means putting “forward” to “tomorrow”; for it is derived from the Latin word, eras, “tomorrow”, and prefix pro, “before” or “forward.”
Of course it is sometimes necessary and wise to postpone a decision or an action, where hasty conclusions would be foolish; but “procrastination” always means putting things off tomorrow which ought to be done today.
It is the fault of dilatoriness and laziness, that leads us to shirk the doing of present duties and inclines us to defer them to some future time.
Thus the fault of procrastination is just the opposite of the virtue of punctuality. A punctual man takes care to do what has to be done exactly at the right time; the dilatory man never does anything at the right time, but always wants to put it off till tomorrow, or next week, or next year.
Procrastination, if it is not firmly checked, soon grows into bad habit, which at last makes the punctual performance of daily duties impossible. It may be due to sheer laziness, and disinclination to work when work seems inconvenient; or it may be due to the illusion that there will be plenty of time in the future to do all we have to do.
This is an illusion, because when we think thus we forget that, even if we shall have more time to-morrow, we shall have more to do then—not only to-morrow’s legitimate work, but today’s work which we have neglected, as well.
Every day we put off the work we ought to do, we are piling up an accumulation of work for “to-morrow,” and we shall at last find that the arrears of undone work are too big to overtake. So, in the end, “lazy folks take most pains.”
“Procrastination,” it is said, “is the thief of time.” We have only a limited amount of time at our disposal; and every hour we waste in idleness, is “stolen” by that thief, procrastination, from our stock. Time wasted is time lost.
The lazy man says, “Never do to-day what you can put off till to-morrow.” But the wise and busy man takes as his motto the old proverb, “Never put off till to-morrow what you can do today.”
And the man who systematically clears off the work that belongs to each day as it comes, not only avoids the mental burden of unperformed duties, but is also the only man who knows true leisure.
For at the end of the day, he can spend what time remains in recreation and enjoyment with a clear conscience, knowing he is well ahead with his work.
So we should take as our motto, “Do it now!”