Dear Barb—Killing Time

Dear Barb:

Hi, hope you are doing well.  I am a man in my forties, and I occasionally read your column.  My question is about procrastination.  I am a big-time procrastinator.  I can’t seem to get anything done, even though I have full intention of completing the task at hand.  I work in a fast-paced demanding environment and have no problem getting my work done, it’s just in my personal life that I fall short.  My apartment is a complete mess, to the point where I can’t invite people over.  My refrigerator has expired food from 2019 which I fully intend to clean it out, but I never do.  I planned to begin working out at the beginning of the year, so I bought a gym membership, but I have only gone to the gym a handful of times.  I am the same way with my relationships.  I know I need to do certain things to improve them, but I don’t do anything.  I haven’t seen my mother for two years and every week I tell myself this will be the week to go see her, but I always find an excuse not to go.  I just can’t seem to get my life together.  Do you have any suggestions that may help me organize myself? Thanks, Ben. 

Hi Ben:

Good to hear from you.  According to a 2010 estimate, 20% of US adults are procrastinators and that number is on the rise.  Therefore, you have lots of company.  Procrastination is when a person finds excuses not to do something until the very last minute or even past the deadline.  There are six types of procrastinators: Dreamer, Worrier, Defier, Over-doer, Perfectionist, and Crisis-maker.  Each type has its own unique behaviours.  All types of procrastination include a level of fear and perfectionism.  The definition of perfectionism is refusing to accept any standard short of perfection.  Procrastination can result in many negatives including low self-esteem, increased stress, poor impulse control, and an increase in anxiety and depression.  Avoiding doing something does not make it go away, or cause you to think about it less, you continue to agonize about the things you haven’t completed.  Also, studies have shown that people who procrastinate experience weakened immune systems therefore often suffer more colds and flu, and other illnesses.  There are things you can do to overcome this debilitating condition.  For example, reduce large tasks into smaller ones.  Work through each task, then proceed to the next.  Allow enough time to complete the task.  Most importantly set accurate goals and strategies to complete the tasks at hand.  The following site will provide more detailed ways to achieve and overcome procrastination  (14 Ways You Can Overcome Procrastination ( I believe reading and practicing these suggestions will help you become a more productive person in your daily life.  Thank you for your email, Ben.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.