The Three Types of Procrastination

The Three Types of Procrastination
This post was previously published. It has been updated.

Over the years I have read dozens of articles about procrastination. People getting to the root of procrastination seem to pin it on one of two causes. I’ve seen over and over that we procrastinate on something because deep down it goes against our core beliefs or because we know it’s a waste of time.

I think there is a third type of procrastination: where we procrastinate because at some level we can’t accept the larger meaning of our actions.

Here is my example: when I was expecting my daughter, I knew I needed a will. In the state I live in, you can make your own will as long as it is notarized and witnessed. So I went out, got some software, and wrote the will. Then I got it witnessed and notarized.

Now here’s the catch. That process I just described started before my daughter was born, and was when she was in third grade. That’s a grand sum total of 8 years.

Talk about procrastination!

But the truth is, neither one of the definitions above apply. This is something I believe deeply in, and goes with my core value that I had to look after my daughter. I do not believe it is a waste of time.

The reasons I procrastinated were that I hit two sticking points that I had to work through psychologically. The first one was the realization that if should both my husband and I be killed, my daughter will not be given to the guardianship of any of our relatives. That’s a big deal — admitting that even though my husband and I were raised by a set of people, we would not given them my daughter to raise.

The second stumbling block was getting the thing signed. That took almost six months of carrying the papers back and forth to work every day. I simply didn’t want to admit that dying was a possibility, and I sought to get around that by not having a will.

Thank goodness this type of procrastination has not occurred very many times in my life. But when it has, it’s usually dealing with the big stuff, the life-and-death-and-future-well-being stuff. It’s where I can’t accept the larger meaning of my actions. And usually denial has a big role to play in that.