“There is no motivator like the last minute.” Procrastination was called “a malady of modern times” back in 1992 and researches proved that the more industrialised and technologically advanced a society becomes, the more it has grapple with procrastination as a problematic notion.
A real contradictory phenomenon of the modern life – in hectic times when the world seems to never sleep and when progress is impossible without multitasking skills, it appears that the habit of procrastination is actually increasing.
The Internet age is blamed to make the dangers of procrastination more acute, named the mean reason for our time wastage, but also the source for its cure – with plenty of self-help anti-procrastination tips and tricks.
In the Ancient Egyptian language there were two verbs corresponding to procrastinate, one referred to the useful avoidance of unpleasant efforts, and the other to the harmful habits of laziness in completing important tasks.
The word procrastination in the English language came via French as a borrowing from the Latin procrastinare, combining the common adverb “pro” implying forward motion with “crastinus”. The promise of “another day” is the key to the word’s origin and meaning of moving something forward from one day until the next, belonging to tomorrow. And as we know, tomorrow is that magical place where 99% of our potential is stored.
When procrastination entered the English language, it suggested the classical inaction at critical moments. With the first written record coming from Edward Hall’s The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre and Yorke: “By procrastination of duties and prolonging of time .”
Obviously, at that times, procrastination was viewed as a positive habit by some, as John Banister, writes in 1578, in The history of man : “The necessary, and healthful procrastination of life”, followed by William Lithgow’s travel book, 1632: “That benefit of the procrastination of my Life.”
Procrastination took on a religious meaning as well, referring to the act of postponing repentance and regular confession of sins which may lead to damnation. But soon the Christian dogma was changed by the commercial pursuits and the habit of procrastination was viewed as, most of all, threatening one’s financial well-being. Richard Knolles The generall historie of the Turkes, 1603: · “Most wealthy businesses.,and such as could suffer no procrastination or delay.”
In 1742, in times of the new capitalist era, Edward Young wrote that “Procrastination is the Thief of Time, Year after year it steals, till all are fled. “
A few years later, Philip Stanhope, the Earl of Chesterfield, went with the bold saying: “No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
Ben Franklin is credited with a similar saying which was mockingly transformed by Mark Twain into the famous quote, an inspiring motto for all procrastinators: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
There is a separate term to define procrastination which goes for longer than a day, when we put off important tasks for a longer period of time, then we do not procrastinate, but perendinate.