Procrastination Quotes: Funny, Inspiring, and Helpful Quotes about Procrastination

In this article, you will find a comprehensive collection of quotes about procrastination. These quotes come from a variety of sources, including everything from ancient Greek philosophers to contemporary authors, psychologists, 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.

Note that you might not agree with every quote here, and that’s okay. If you find yourself disagreeing with something, take a step back, and make sure that there’s truly nothing useful you feel you can take from it. If that’s the case, simply move on to the next quote, until you find something that resonates with you.

In addition, 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 also consider reading the articles which explain why people procrastinate and how to stop procrastinating.

 

Funny procrastination quotes

The quotes in this section are primarily meant to point out the amusing and humorous aspects of procrastination, generally in a witty or sarcastic manner. Some of them, however, also contain valuable advice or point out important truths about procrastination.

 

“Procrastination gives you something to look forward to.”

Attributed to Joan Konner

 

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

Source unknown

 

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

Attributed to Douglas Adams

 

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

Attributed to Robert Benchley

 

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

Attributed to Vincent T. Foss

 

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

Attributed to Judy Tenuta

 

“Procrastination taught me how to do 30 minutes of work in 8 hours and 8 hours of work in 30 minutes.”

Source unknown

 

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

— Susan Orlean, in “Named” (a 2010 article in The New Yorker)

 

“Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute.”

Source unknown

 

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

Source unknown

 

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

Attributed to Gloria Pitzer

 

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

Attributed to Don Herold

 

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

The Stock-Sanford corollary to Parkinson’s law

 

“Due tomorrow? Do tomorrow.”

Source unknown

 

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

Attributed to Rita Mae Brown

 

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

Attributed to Jimmy Lyons

 

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

Source unknown

 

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

Fred Brooks in “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering” (Ch. 14)

 

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

— Source unknown

 

“… I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.”

Jerome K. Jerome in “Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

 

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

Attributed to Terri Guillemets

 

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

Source unknown

 

“Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow.”

Attributed to Gerald Vaughan

 

“Procrastinator? No. I save all my homework until the last minute because then I’ll be older, and therefore wiser.”

Source unknown

 

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

Attributed to Donald Gardner

 

“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.”

Attributed to Robert Brault

 

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

Attributed to Christopher Parker

 

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

Attributed to Sam Levenson

 

“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. Once begin upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop.”

Thomas de Quincey in “On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts

 

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

Attributed to Joe Ryan

 

Quotes about the dangers of procrastination

The quotes in this section take an anti-procrastination stance, and illustrate why it’s bad by describing the various issues that it can lead to.

 

“… a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance…”

Hunter S. Thompson in “A man has to BE something“, from the “Letters of Note” collection

 

“He who awaits much can expect little.”

Attributed to Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

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

Attributed to Olin Miller

 

“Do not put your work off till to-morrow and the day after; for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn, nor one who puts off his work: industry makes work go well, but a man who puts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin.”

Hesiod, in “Works and Days” (starting on line 410), written circa 700 BCE

 

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

Attributed to Eva Young

 

“… it is undesirable to postpone the apprentice­ship of the bar till old age: for the fear of appearing in public grows daily and the magnitude of the task on which we must venture continually increases and we waste time deliberating when we should begin, till we find it is too late to begin at all.” [A generalizable part of this quote is sometimes shared with the following formulation: “Whilst we deliberate how to begin a thing, it grows too late to begin it.”]

Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintilianus), in “Institutes of Oratory” (Book XII, Ch. 6, Verse 3), written circa 95 CE

 

“Delay breeds dangers; nothing so perilous as procrastination.”

John Lyly, in “Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit” (1579)

 

“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 in “Creating Balance in a World of Stress: Six Key Habits to Avoid in Order to Reduce Stress” (2009)

 

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

Rita Emmett, describing what she calls “Emmett’s law”, in “The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now” (2000)

 

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

Attributed to David Allen

 

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

Source unknown

 

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

Jack Kornfield in “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book” (1994)

 

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

David Lloyd George in “The Great Crusade: Extracts from Speeches Delivered During the War” (1918)

 

“This [procrastination] is one of the most common causes of failure. ‘Old Man Procrastination’ stands within the shadow of every human being, waiting his opportunity to spoil one’ s chances of success. Most of us go through life as failures, because we are waiting for the ‘time to be right’ to start doing something worthwhile.”

Napoleon Hill, in “Think and Grow Rich

 

“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.”

Attributed to Martin Luther

 

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

Attributed to Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

 

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

Source unknown

 

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

Attributed to Wayne Gretzky

 

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

Attributed to Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

 

“… you shall find that delay breeds danger, & that procrastination in perils is but the mother of mishap.”

Robert Greene in “Gwydonius; The Card of Fancy” (1584)

 

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’ There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect.”

— Martin Luther King, in “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” (a 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York City)

 

“…if we’ve to wait until everything, absolutely everything, is ready, we shall never make a beginning.” [Sometimes also quoted as: “If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”]

Ivan Turgenev, in “Virgin Soil” (1877 novel)

 

“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.”

Source unknown, often attributed to Victor Kiam, who popularized the saying (circa 1986)

 

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

Attributed to Wayne Dyer

 

“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, in “Practical Thoughts” (1835)

 

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

Attributed to Harry A. Hopf

 

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

Charles Baudelaire in “Intimate Journals” (a collection of his work, written during the early to mid 1800s)

 

“Avoid delays: procrastination always does harm.” [This is a popular translation of the original Latin phrase—”Tolle moras. Semper nocuit differre paratis.”, which can also be translated in other ways, such as “Make haste, delay is ever fatal to those who are prepared.”]

Lucan (Marcus Annaeus Lucanus), in “Phrasalia” (Book I, Line 281), written circa 61 CE

 

“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.”

Attributed to Ida Scott Taylor

 

“In delay there lies no plenty.”

William Shakespeare, in his play “Twelfth Night” (Act II, Scene III), written circa 1601

 

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

Attributed to George Claude Lorimer

 

“…hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of to-day’s task, and you will not need to depend so much upon to-morrow’s. While we are postponing, life speeds by.”

— Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger), in “Letters from a Stoic” (Letter 1, Verse 2), written circa 65 CE

 

“Procrastination is the seed of self-destruction.”

Attributed to Matthew Burton

 

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

Attributed to Rabindranath Tagore

 

“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 in “Selling to the Top” (1993)

 

“Linger’d labours come to nought.”

Robert Southwell, in “Loss in Delay” (a poem written during his life, circa 1561–1595)

 

“There is nothing like striking while the iron is hot; for delay breeds danger. It is best grinding at the mill before the water is past.” [The following quote is often also attributed to this author: “Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it.”]

Miguel De Cervantes, in his novel “Don Quixote“, published in the early 1600s (the specific phrasing listed here appears in Chapter XCIV of the work, in a translation available on Project Gutenberg)

 

“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.”

Attributed to Brahma Kumaris by David Allen in “Getting Things Done

 

“Procrastination has robbed us of too many opportunities.”

Sarah Ban Breathnach, in “Simple Abundance” (2011)

 

“The opportunity often slips away while we deliberate on it.” [Sometimes quoted as: “While we stop to think, we often miss our opportunity.”]

Attributed to Publilius Syrus (who lived circa in the first century BCE), in “The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, a Roman Slave” (Maxim 185, as translated by Darius Lyman, 1856)

 

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

— Attributed to Bertrand Russell

 

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

Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister, in “Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

 

“You may delay, but time will not.”

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who published it in “Poor Richard’s Almanack” (Item 665), published in the middle of the 1700s

 

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

Helen Rowland, in “A Guide to Men” (1922)

 

“Procrastination is the kidnapper of souls and the recruiting-officer of hell.” [Originally phrased as: “This ‘procrastination, it is the thief of time;’ this postponement of repentance, is the kidnapper of souls, and the recruiting-officer of hell.”]

Edward Irving, in “For the Oracles of God, Four Orations: for Judgment to Come, an Argument in Nine Parts” (1824)

 

“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.”

C. Northcote Parkinson, in “The Law of Delay” (1970)

 

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

Charles Baudelaire, in “My Heart Laid Bare” 

 

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

Attributed to Mason Cooley

 

Quotes about how to stop procrastinating

The quotes in this section are meant to provide you with helpful advice and tips on overcoming procrastination.

 

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

Attributed to Charles Richter

 

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

William James, in “The Letters of William James” (Volume 1)

 

“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.”

Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt

 

“One of the best escapes from the prison of procrastination is to take even the smallest step toward your goal.”

— Denis Waitley, in “Empires of the Mind: Lessons To Lead And Succeed In A Knowledge-Based World” (1995 book)

 

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

Attributed to Jerry West

 

“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

 

“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 (in a 2007 article)

 

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

Source unknown

 

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

Attributed to M. Scott Peck

 

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

Attributed to Andrew Jackson

 

“A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.” [Also quoted as: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”]

Attributed to George S. Patton by Charles M. Province, in “The Unknown Patton” (1983)

 

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

Source unknown

 

“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.”

Attributed to Greg S. Reid

 

“If you wait for things to be perfect, you walk away with nothing. Just jump in and get started.”

Attributed to Jennifer Ritchie Payette

 

“By thinking of procrastination as the result of a human tendency to live too much in the moment, we can devise better strategies for overcoming it. If the problem is weighing present versus future costs and benefits, we need to find a way to either bring future benefits closer to the present or to magnify the costs of delayed action.”

Ray Fisman, in “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, a 2008 article in Slate Magazine

 

“Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the gods gave you, and you didn’t use them. At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.”

— Marcus Aurelius, in “Meditations” (Book II, Passage 4), written circa 180 CE

 

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

 

“Think of many things; do one.”

Source unknown, attribtued to a Portuguese proverb

 

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

Attributed to Robert Collier

 

“…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.”

Attributed to Dale Carnegie, who attributes it (in “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living“) to William Osier

 

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

Attributed to Mark Twain

 

“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 (Volume 25, 1949)

 

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

Attributed to Irene Kassorla

 

 “Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it as you go.”

Paul Arden, in “Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite” (2006)

 

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

Catherine Pulsifer (attributed to her on her own website and elsewhere)

 

“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, in “The Complete Neurotic’s Notebook” (1981)

 

“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, in “The Road Less Traveled

 

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

Attributed to Frank C. Bucaro

 

“The most dangerous way we sabotage ourselves is by waiting for the perfect moment to begin. Nothing works perfectly the first time, or the first fifty times. Everything has a learning curve. The beginning is just that—a beginning. Surrender your desire to do it flawlessly on the first try. It’s not possible. Learn to learn. Learn to fail. Learn to learn from failing. And begin today. Begin now. Stop waiting.”

Vironika Tugaleva (attributed to her on her own website and elsewhere)

 

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

Alexander Graham Bell, in “How they succeeded: Life stories of successful men told by themselves” (1901 Volume, Chapter II—”Bell Telephone Talk”)

 

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

Attributed to Jim Rohn

 

Inspiring and motivating procrastination quotes

The quotes in this section are meant to motivate you to take action in the fight against your procrastination.

 

“My advice is, never do to-morrow what you can to-day. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him.”

Charles Dickens, in his 1850 novel “David Copperfield” (this is part of the advice given by the character of Mr. Micawber to the character of David Copperfield)

 

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

Attributed to Gene Hayden (author of “The Follow-Through Factor: Getting from Doubt to Done

 

“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.”

Attributed to Michael Landon

 

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

Source unknown

 

“Believe me, wise men don’t say ‘I shall live to do that’. Tomorrow’s life is too late: live today.”

Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis), in “Epigrams” (Book 1, Poem 15—”To Julius”), published circa 100 CE

 

 “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.”

Attributed to Norman Vincent Peale

 

“Do not wait. The time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” [Sometimes abbreviated as: “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”]

Napoleon Hill, in “Think and Grow Rich

 

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

Attributed to Kim Lyons

 

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

Attributed to Gautama Buddha

 

“Stop talking. Start walking.”

Attributed to L. M. Heroux

 

“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

 

“…Decide while others are delaying.
Prepare while others are daydreaming.
Begin while others are procrastinating.
Work while others are wishing…”
William Arthur Ward, in his poem “While Others Are”

 

“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, in his novel “The Alchemist

 

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

Steve Maraboli, author of “Unapologetically You

 

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

Source unknown

 

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

James Baldwin, in “As Much Truth As One Can Bear” (a 1962 essay in The New York Times Book Review)

 

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

Mignon McLaughlin, in “The Complete Neurotic’s Notebook” (1981)

 

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

— 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, in a 2019 Tweet

 

“’Someday’ is not a day of the week.”

Source unknown

 

“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.”

Attributed to Omar Bradley

 

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

Attributed to Michael Landon in “Michael Landon: The Career And Artistry Of A Television Genius

 

“Yet the greatest waste of life lies in postponement: it robs us of each day in turn, and snatches away the present by promising the future. The greatest impediment to living is expectancy, which relies on tomor- row and wastes today. You map out what is in fortune’s hand but let slip what’s in your own hand. What are you aiming at? What’s your goal? All that’s to come lies in uncertainty: live right now.”

Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger), in “On the Shortness of Life” (Ch. 9), written circa 49 CE

 

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

Attributed to Karen Lamb

 

“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, in “The Drifters: A Novel” (1971)

 

“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.”

Attributed to Robert Anthony

 

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

Mignon McLaughlin, in “The Complete Neurotic’s Notebook” (1981)

 

“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, in a speech quoted by Time magazine (“Foreign Policy: Ike“, under “National Affairs”, published on 6-October, 1952)

 

“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.”

Attributed to Charles R. Swindoll

 

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

Source unknown

 

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” [Also translated as: “How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world.”

Anne Frank, in “Tales from the Secret Annex

 

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

Attributed to Stephen King

 

“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 (attributed to a popular 2018 tweet by Jade Jackson)

 

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

Rabbi Hillel, in “Pirkei Avot” (or “Ethics of the Fathers”, 1:14)

 

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

— Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger), in “Letters from a Stoic” (Letter 104, Verse 26), written circa 65 CE

 

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

Attributed to Publilius Syrus (who lived circa in the first century BCE), in “The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, a Roman Slave” (Maxim 815, as translated by Darius Lyman, 1856)

 

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

Attributed to Sandra Day O’Connor

 

“We shall never have more time. We have, and have always had, all the time there is.” [This is sometimes also followed by: “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, in “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day

 

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

David Allen, in “Getting Things Done

 

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

Attributed to Baltasar Gracián

 

“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.”

Attributed to Francis Bacon

 

“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, in “1001 Motivational Quotes for Success” (the quote is attributed to Vilord in the book)

 

“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.”

Attributed to Lee Iacocca

 

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

Attributed to Pablo Picasso

 

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

Attributed to Walt Disney

 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Source unknown, attributed to a Chinese proverb

 

Quotes about procrastination itself

The quotes in this section provide insights into procrastination as a phenomenon.

 

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

Attributed to Napoleon Hill

 

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

Attributed to Joyce Rachelle

 

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

— Attributed to Josh Billings (the pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw)

 

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

Attributed to Paul Allen Walker

 

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

Attributed to Dawson Trotman

 

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

Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo

 

“For as in the conduct of almost every affair slowness and procrastination are hateful, so above all things does this war require promptness of action.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero, in “Orations” (“The fourteen orations against Marcus Antonius”, Speech 6, Chapter 3, Verse 7, the Charles Duke Yonge translation), written circa 63 BCE

 

“Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination.”

— Source unknown

 

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

Attributed to John Andrew Holms

 

“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, in “Benjamin Robert Haydon: Correspondence and Table-talk” (Volume 2), published 1876

 

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

Mary Todd Lincoln, in “Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters”

 

“Things dreaded require double time to accomplish them.”

James Lendall Basford, in “Sparks from the Philosopher’s Stone” (an 1882 book)

 

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

Source unknown, attribtued to a Scottish proverb

 

“The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing, a mental contortion that surely accounts for the great psychic toll the habit takes on people. This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy.”

— James Surowiecki, in “Later: What does procrastination tell us about ourselves?” (a 2010 article in The New Yorker)

 

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

J. R. R. Tolkien, in his novel “The Fellowship of the Ring” from The Lord of the Rings (as spoken by the character of Sam to Frodo)

 

Quotes about procrastinators

The quotes in this section provide various insights into the people who procrastinate.

 

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” [The full quote is followed by: “as they waste it in dressing themselves, in eating and sleeping, in foolish conversations, in making up their minds what to do, and, generally, in doing nothing at all, they want some more for their business or for their pleasures, whilst those who make the best use of it have some to spare.”]

Jean de La Bruyère, in “The Characters of Jean de La Bruyère” (Chapter XII—Of Opinions, Verse 101)

 

“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, in “The Reflections of Lichtenberg

 

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

Source unknown (popularized in a 2018 tweet by Anthony Akro)

 

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

Erica Jong, in “Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life” (2006)

 

“For true procrastinators, nothing gets done without a deadline. As we say in journalism: The deadline is your friend. And when that deadline looms too near to procrastinate any longer, you need to take care of business. Crank it out, baby.”

Seth Stevenson, in “Letter to a Young Procrastinator” (a 2008 article in Slate Magazine)

 

“Procrastination is one way of being passive aggressive, but it’s even more self destructive than usual because you’re being passive aggressive with yourself. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself and deliberately leave a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, the present you is just leaving a stink bomb for the future you. You’re going to be mad at yourself in the future because of your inaction in the present; you’ll add a little to your burden of guilt and shame.

Procrastination is also 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. And we can give ourselves a thrill almost like flow, by putting things off till the last minute and then getting an adrenaline rush by snatching a small victory from the jaws of defeat. 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, in “Happy at Last: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Finding Joy” (2008)

 

“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.” [Another formulation of this is: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”]

—  Saint Paul, in Romans 7:15

 

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

Henry Miller, in “The Wisdom of the Heart” (1941 book)

 

“Every seasoned procrastinator loves to tell himself that, amid his flurry of avoidance strategies—rearranging the furniture in his office, pitching himself into a YouTube rabbit hole, surrendering to a fit of self-Googling—his brain is secretly marinating ideas and hatching plans.”

Jessica Winter, in “It’s All in My Head” (a 2008 article in Slate Magazine)

 

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

Marina Keegan, in “The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories” (2014 book)

 

“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, in “The Winner’s Edge” (1980 book)

 

“He who postpones the time for right-living resembles the rustic who’s waiting until the river’s passed by: yet it glides on, and will roll on, gliding forever.”

Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), in “The Epistles” (Book I, Epistle II), published circa 20 BCE

 

Quotes about the benefits of procrastination

The quotes in this section view procrastination in a relatively positive light, and often suggest that it may have some benefits or advantages, sometimes in a humorous manner.

 

“Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment.”

Nassim N. Taleb, in “The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms” (2010 book)

 

“Few understand that procrastination is our natural defense, letting things take care of themselves and exercise their antifragility; it results from some ecological or naturalistic wisdom, and is not always bad…”

Nassim Taleb, in “Antifragile” (2012 book)

 

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

Attributed to Neil Thomas Stacey

 

“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, in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip (21 May 1992)

 

“We’re doing all these things so we can squeeze things together so we can save time, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t have anymore time, I have less time. But let’s just say we could save up a whole chunk of time and set it aside, you know what we’d do with it? Nothing. Nothing at all. Isn’t that the point, to be able to do nothing at all? We’re not guaranteed that later-on chunk of time, all we have is here and now, and that’s why procrastination feels so right. Procrastination is not the problem, it is the solution. It is the universe’s way of saying, ‘Stop, slow down. You move too fast’… Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.”

Ellen DeGeneres, in “Here and Now” (2003 TV special)

 

Quotes about related concepts

The quotes in this section are about various concepts that are closely related to procrastination.

 

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

Attributed to William James

 

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

C. Northcote Parkinson (in a 1955 article in The Economist, where he proposed this adage, which is known as “Parkinson’s law“)

 

“Time wasted is existence; used is life.”

Attributed to Edward Young

 

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

Attributed to Frederick Oliver

 

“If I had to sum up in one word the qualities that make a good manager, I’d say that it all comes down to decisiveness. You can use the fanciest computers and you can gather all the charters and numbers, but in the end you have to bring all your information together, set up a timetable, and act.”

Lee Iacocca, in “Iacocca: An Autobiography” (1984 book)

 

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

Attributed to Dale Carnegie

 

 “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, in a 2010 interview for The Guardian

 

“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.”

Attributed to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

 

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all 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; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and, however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”

Thomas Huxley, in “Technical Education” (1877 essay)

 

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Marthe Troly-Curtin, in “Phrynette Married” (1912 novel). Often attributed erroneously to others, and especially to Bertrand Russell. 

 

“It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in. One yawns, one procrastinates, one can do it when one will, and therefore one seldom does it at all; whereas, those who have a great deal of business, must (to use a vulgar expression) buckle to it; and then they always find time enough to do it in.”

Earl of Chesterfield, in “Letters Written by the Earl of Chesterfield to His Son” (a collection of approximately thirty years of correspondence in the middle of the 1700s)

 

“Space we can recover, time never.”

Attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte

 

“He who hesitates is last.”

Attributed to Mae West

 

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Calvin Coolidge (in “Press On”, a poem attributed to him in his 1933 memorial service)

 

“… a man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

Charles Darwin, in “Life and letters of Charles Darwin” (Volume I, Chapter VI—”The Voyage”), published in 1887

 

Closing words

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

Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), in “The Epistles” (Book I, Epistle II), published circa 20 BCE

As you can see from these quotes, procrastination is nothing new, and many smart and talented people have been struggling with it for a long time.

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.