Procrastination Quotes: What People Have Been Saying About Procrastination Throughout History

In this article, you will find a comprehensive collection of hand-picked quotes about procrastination. These quotes come from a large range of sources, including everything from ancient Greek philosophers to contemporary authors, judges, psychologists, scientists, comedians, and more.

Some of these quotes will make you laugh, some of them will make you think, and some of them, hopefully, will inspire you, and give you the motivation that you need in order to stop procrastinating.

Before we start looking at the quotes, keep in mind that if you want to learn more about procrastination (and especially if you’re procrastinating right now by reading this article, instead of doing work that you should be doing), you should consider taking a look at one of the following articles:

 

Procrastination quotes

“Never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.”

Charles Dickens

 

“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”

Bill Watterson

 

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”

Napoleon Hill

 

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”

Hunter S. Thompson

 

“We shall never have more time. We have, and have always had, all the time there is. No object is served in waiting until next week or even until tomorrow. Keep going day in and day out. Concentrate on something useful. Having decided to achieve a task, achieve it at all costs.”

Arnold Bennett

 

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.”

Jean de La Bruyère

 

“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.”

William James

 

“Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.”

— Sandra Day O’Connor

 

“Don’t wait for extraordinary circumstance to do good; try to use ordinary situations.”

— Charles Richter

 

“Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing so futile.”

— Bertrand Russell

 

“The greatest thief this world has ever produced is procrastination, and he is still at large.”

— Henry Wheeler Shaw

 

“Think of all the years passed by in which you said to yourself ‘I’ll do it tomorrow,’ and how the gods have again and again granted you periods of grace of which you have not availed yourself. It is time to realize that you are a member of the Universe, that you are born of Nature itself, and to know that a limit has been set to your time. Use every moment wisely, to perceive your inner refulgence, or ’twill be gone and nevermore within your reach.”

— Marcus Aurelius

 

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.”

— Mason Cooley

 

“I’ve been looking over the list of spring chores I made up last fall, and darned if they aren’t fall chores, after all.”

— Robert Brault

 

“In delay there lies no plenty.”

— William Shakespeare

 

 “The follies which a man regrets most, in his life, are those which he didn’t commit when he had the opportunity.”

Helen Rowland

 

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”

Peter Drucker

 

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

David Allen

 

“Procrastination is the kidnapper of souls and the recruiting-officer of hell.”

Edward Irving

 

“He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.”

Horace

 

“True it is: all men procrastinate and are sorry for it. I think, however, that even the most active find as much to be sorry for as the laziest; for those who do more also see more that might have been done, and see it more clearly.”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

 

“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.”

C. Northcote Parkinson

 

“There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.”

Joe Ryan

 

 “Don’t wait for someone to take you under their wing. Find a good wing and climb up underneath it.”

Frank C. Bucaro

 

“No task is a long one but the task on which one dare not start. It becomes a nightmare.”

Charles Baudelaire

 

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand—and melting like a snowflake.”

Francis Bacon

 

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today.”

Wayne Dyer

 

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot fun until you get the bill.”

Christopher Parker

 

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

C. Northcote Parkinson

 

“Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost legendary. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

 

“I’m going to stop putting things off, starting tomorrow!”

Sam Levenson

 

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

 

 “The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.”

Norman Vincent Peale

 

“You may delay, but time will not.”

Benjamin Franklin

 

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

Karen Lamb

 

“We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them.”

Seneca

 

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Douglas Adams

 

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

Ivan Turgenev

 

“Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.”

Robert Benchley

 

“Things dreaded require double time to accomplish them.”

James Lendall Basford

 

 “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”

Hilary Mantel

 

“Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both.”

John Andrew Holms

 

“In putting off what one has to do, one runs the risk of never being able to do it.”

Charles Baudelaire

 

“Procrastination gives you something to look forward to.”

Joan Konner

 

“Whilst we deliberate how to begin a thing, it grows too late to begin it.”

Quintillain

 

“There are so many things that we wish we had done yesterday, so few that we feel like doing today.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Source unknown

 

“There is nothing so fatal to character as half finished tasks.”

David Lloyd George

 

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

George S. Patton

 

“Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.”

Ellen DeGeneres

 

“Procrastination is my sin.
It brings me naught but sorrow.
I know that I should stop it.
In fact, I will – tomorrow!”

Gloria Pitzer

 

“Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement.”

Henry Miller

 

“The time to begin most things is ten years ago.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

“Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”

Michael Landon Jr.

 

“A perfect method for adding drama to life is to wait until the deadline looms large.”

Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

 

“Space we can recover, time never.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

 

“Indecisiveness and procrastination are the chosen ways of life for most people. They follow the course of least resistance, which is to do nothing. This provides a security blanket of never being wrong, never making mistakes, never being disappointed and never failing. But they will also never succeed.”

David Peoples

 

“He who hesitates is last.”

Mae West

 

“Neither a wise nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.”

Wayne Dyer

 

“Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.”

George Claude Lorimer

 

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Stephen King

 

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”

Rita Mae Brown

 

“Procrastination usually results in sorrowful regret. Today’s duties put off tomorrow give us a double burden to bear; the best way is to do them in their proper time.”

Ida Scott Taylor

 

“’Someday’ is not a day of the week.”

Source unknown

 

“Waiting is a trap. There will always be reasons to wait. The truth is, there are only two things in life, reasons and results, and reasons simply don’t count.”

Robert Anthony

 

“Think of many things; do one.”

Portuguese proverb

 

“Don’t fool yourself that important things can be put off till tomorrow; they can be put off forever, or not at all.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

“The habit of always putting off an experience until you can afford it, or until the time is right, or until you know how to do it is one of the greatest burglars of joy. Be deliberate, but once you’ve made up your mind – jump in.”

Charles R. Swindoll

 

“Often greater risk is involved in postponement than in making a wrong decision.”

Harry A. Hopf

 

“The next day is never so good as the day before.”

— Publilius Syrus

 

 “There is sometimes only a very fine line between deliberation and procrastination.”

Paul A. Walker

 

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

 

“When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.”

Source unknown

 

“I’d be more frightened by not using whatever abilities I’d been given. I’d be more frightened by procrastination and laziness.”

Denzel Washington

 

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”

Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo

 

“…the best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.”

Dale Carnegie

 

“There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back.”

Tom DeMarco

 

“Don’t wait for your ship to come in, and feel angry and cheated when it doesn’t. Get going with something small.”

Irene Kassorla

 

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Walt Disney

 

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

Pablo Picasso

 

“In the conduct of almost every affair slowness and procrastination are hateful.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

 

“The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started.”

Dawson Trotman

 

“If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.”

Thomas de Quincey

 

“You know you are getting old when it takes too much effort to procrastinate.”

Source unknown

 

“It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in.”

Earl of Chesterfield

 

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”

Lee Iacocca

 

“We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating.”

Marina Keegan

 

“It’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

 

“Lingering labors come to naught.”

Robert Southwell

 

“The fact that I procrastinate and still get the job done is the reason I still procrastinate.”

— Source unknown (popularized on Twitter by Engr. A, @a4anthony_)

 

“A task left undone remains undone in two places — at the actual location of the task, and inside your head. Incomplete tasks in your head consume the energy of your attention as they gnaw at your conscience.”

Brahma Kumaris

 

“If I had to sum up in a word what makes a good manager, I’d say decisiveness. You can use the fanciest computers to gather the numbers, but in the end you have to set a timetable and act.”

Lee Lacocca

 

“If you have goals and procrastination you have nothing. If you have goals and you take action, you will have anything you want.”

Thomas J. Vilord

 

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started.”

David Allen

 

“How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.”

Fred Brooks

 

“The best way to get something done is to begin.”

— Source unknown

 

“While we are postponing, life speeds by.”

— Seneca

 

“Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment.”

Nassim N. Taleb

 

“If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”

Susan Del Gatto

 

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

Seneca

 

“It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth—and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up—that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

 

“Following through is the only thing that separates dreamers from people that accomplish great things.”

Gene Hayden

 

“My own behavior baffles me. For I find myself doing what I really loathe to do, but not doing what I really want to do.”

—  Saint Paul (Romans 7:15)

 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

—  Source unknown

 

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. “

Alexander Graham Bell

 

“Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

— M. Scott Peck

 

“If you procrastinate when faced with a big difficult problem… break the problem into parts, and handle one part at a time.”

Robert Collier

 

“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”

Dale Carnegie

 

“Procrastination is a way for us to be satisfied with second-rate results; we can always tell ourselves we’d have done a better job if only we’d had more time. If you’re good at rationalizing, you can keep yourself feeling rather satisfied this way, but it’s a cheap happy. You’re whittling your expectations of yourself down lower and lower.”

Richard O’Connor

 

“Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow.”

Attributed to Gerald Vaughan

 

“The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.”

Rita Emmett

 

“Often just by taking action, by doing something about the situation can relieve the stress and help correct the situation.”

Catherine Pulsifer

 

“He who awaits much can expect little.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Source unknown

 

“The opportunity often slips away while we deliberate on it.”

Publilius Syrus

 

“It was my fear of failure that first kept me from attempting the master work. Now, I’m beginning what I could have started ten years ago. But I’m happy at least that I didn’t wait twenty years.”

Paulo Coelho

 

“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.”

Martin Luther

 

“What may be done at any time will be done at no time.”

Scottish Proverb

 

“My mother always told me I wouldn’t amount to anything because I procrastinate. I said, ‘just wait.’”

Judy Tenuta

 

“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

Leonardo da Vinci

 

“Perhaps the most valuable result of an education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”

Thomas Huxley

 

“Procrastination has been called a thief,–the thief of time. I wish it were no worse than a thief. It is a murderer; and that which it kills is not time merely, but the immortal soul.”

William Nevins

 

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Marthe Troly-Curtin

 

“I do my work at the same time each day – the last minute.”

Source unknown

 

“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.”

Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

 

“Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.”

— M. Scott Peck

 

“My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ’til a more convenient season.”

Mary Todd Lincoln

 

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

Source unknown

 

“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.”

Victor Kiam

 

 “Do nothing by halves which can be done by quarters.”

F. R. Scott

 

“Conditions are never just right. People who delay action until all factors are favorable are the kind who do nothing.”

William Feather

 

“He who puts off nothing till tomorrow has done a great deal.”

Baltasar Gracián

 

“Procrastination is the seed of self-destruction.”

Matthew Burton

 

“Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.”

Source unknown

 

“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.”

Denis Waitley

 

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

Jerome K. Jerome

 

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Jim Rohn

 

“If I am not for myself, who is for me? When I am for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”

Rabbi Hillel

 

“The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.”

Source unknown

 

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin

 

“Doing, doing
getting done…
Ha, maybe later,
now’s for fun.”

Terri Guillemets

 

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”

— Source unknown

 

“Procrastination. Because every problem deserves a chance to solve itself.”

Neil Thomas Stacey

 

“Time wasted is existence; used is life.”

Attributed to Edward Young

 

“Your competition isn’t other people. Your competition is your procrastination. Your ego. The unhealthy food you’re consuming, the knowledge you neglect. The negative behavior you’re nurturing & your lack of creativity. Compete against that.”

Source unknown (popularized on Twitter by Jade Jackson WSBT, @JadeJacksonWSBT)

 

“Don’t procrastinate. Putting off an unpleasant task until tomorrow simply gives you more time for your imagination to make a mountain out a possible molehill. More time for anxiety to sap your self-confidence. Do it now, brother, do it now.”

Science Digest

 

“To procrastinate seems inherent in man, for if you do to-day that you may enjoy to-morrow it is but deferring the enjoyment; so that to be idle or industrious, vicious or virtuous, is but with a view of procrastinating the one or the other.”

Benjamin Haydon

 

“Stop talking. Start walking.”

L. M. Heroux

 

“Nothing so perilous as procrastination.”

John Lyly

 

“I think of myself as something of a connoisseur of procrastination, creative and dogged in my approach to not getting things done.”

Susan Orlean

 

“The more time you have to do things, the less you are able to get done.”

Joyce Rachelle

 

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”

Greg S. Reid

 

“Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing!”

— Donald Gardner

 

“We must be diligent today. To wait until tomorrow is too late. Death comes unexpectedly. How can we bargain with it?”

Gautama Buddha

 

“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing late.”

Frederick Oliver

 

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”

Andrew Jackson

 

“Begin while others are procrastinating. Work while others are wishing.”

William Arthur Ward

 

“Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.”

Source unknown

 

“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.”

Eva Young

 

“Doing just a little bit during the time we have available puts you that much further ahead than if you took no action at all.”

Byron Pulsifer

 

“A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”

Mark Twain

 

“Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”

Michael Landon

 

“Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow!”

Don Herold

 

“Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.”

James A. Michener

 

“The trouble is that you think you have time.”

Jack Kornfield

 

“No more excuses or procrastination! Stop allowing your days to be stolen by busy nothingness and take calculated steps towards your goals.”

Steve Maraboli

 

“Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it.”

Miguel De Cervantes

 

“Avoid delays: procrastination always does harm.”

Lucan (Marcus Annaeus Lucanus)

 

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.”

Rabindranath Tagore

 

“One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow.”

Vincent T. Foss

 

“One of these days is none of these days.”

Source unknown

 

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”

Napoleon Hill

 

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

Source unknown

 

 “Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man.”

Jimmy Lyons

 

“If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.”

— The Stock-Sanford corollary to Parkinson’s law

 

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.”

Olin Miller

 

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”

Source unknown

 

“We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate.”

Erica Jong

 

“Yesterday is a cancelled cheque. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is the only cash you have, so spend it wisely.”

Kim Lyons

 

“You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.

Jerry West

 

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”

William James

 

“This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.”

General Omar Bradley

 

“Believe me, ‘I shall live’ is not the saying of a wise man. Tomorrow’s life is too late: live today.”

Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis)

 

“Procrastination has robbed us of too many opportunities.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach

 

Closing words

“He who begun has half done. Dare to be wise; begin.”

Horace

As you can see from reading all of these quotes, procrastination is nothing new, and many smart and talented people have been struggling with it for millennia now.

This means that if you have a procrastination problem, there’s no need to struggle with it by yourself and try to reinvent the wheel while looking for a solution. Instead, you should look at what decades of research on the topic have already uncovered, and read the guide on how to stop procrastinating.