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Don’t Borrow Time

Do you procrastinate? I do. We all do. Procrastinating is especially common for academics when it comes to working on their long term writing projects. It's probably the main reason that people contact Academic Ladder about dissertation coaching or tenure coaching.

If you procrastinate, it’s like living on credit, way above your means. You can buy and buy, but eventually you’ll have to pay up, with interest. And it won’t be any easier to pay it later, if you’re living above your means.

The same is true of time. When you procrastinate, you’re borrowing time from the future. You’ll still have to do the dreaded chore eventually, when you’re less fresh, less able and more miserable. That misery is the interest payment for having borrowed time.

If, on the other hand, you live within your means, you don’t assume that tomorrow will have 25 hours, or that there is a magical hour in the day that is more pain-free on Tuesday, and you’ll wait until then to do your dreaded work. You will use a reasonable amount of time for your work today, and not borrow fun time from tomorrow.

The great thing about living within your means when it comes to time is that you don’t have those horrible days when the interest comes due, and you have to write for hours on end in order to finish on time.


  1. Anonymous2:00 AM

    A very interesting way to look at the problem of procrastination.

  2. Anonymous10:22 AM

    I love this analogy. I loathe credit card debt (and how credit card companies try to further exploit people), and maybe I can take this aversion into deterring procrastination!

  3. Thanks, a1 and a2.

    It's a funny thing about analogies and metaphors like this; it helps you see inconsistencies in your own behavior. I should think about this when it comes to exercise. You can't keep putting it off and putting it off, run one marathon every 4 months and then lose all the weight.


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