Stop procrastinating
When the work is piling up but you just can’t face it, figure out why

It’s just before midnight on Tax Day – April 15 – and you’re running breathlessly to the post office, hastily scribbled tax return in hand.

Is this a sign of pecuniary prowess? Or is it a testimony to your tendency to put things off – and off and off and off?

Put your money on procrastination – avoidance of a task that needs to be accomplished – which, some researchers say, has become an epidemic.

No one knows why for sure, but many blame modern life – jobs, kids, school, sometimes a second or even a third job. Who has the time to clean out that drawer, change the oil or see the dentist?

“There is no doubt we all procrastinate,” says Timothy Pychyl, director of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. According to Pychyl’s research, 70 percent of North Americans may have a problem with procrastination.

“It’s an incredibly high number,” he says. “That’s why so many people say, ‘What’s the problem?’ But what matters is the extent to which procrastination has a negative effect on our lives.”

Procrastinators report feelings of guilt, inadequacy and depression. One study found chronic procrastinators have higher levels of drinking, smoking, insomnia, stomach problems, colds and flu.

Then there are procrastinators who put off medical treatment. They can end up dead.

So, if procrastination can make you sick – or worse – why not, as Nike has trumpeted for years, “Just do it”?