We all have to admit it, more often than we’d like, we procrastinate over the things we should be doing. Who’d rather go through their household bills when there’s the world of social media to spend just “just another few minutes” watching funny videos of cats.
It was this observation for modern finance firm RateSetter that sparked the idea of a deeper look into procrastination. The UK’s biggest peer-to-peer lender asked over 2,000 people across Britain how they spend their time procrastinating and what they wish they could achieve instead. The results are certainly eye-opening, particularly the exorbitant cost to business!
Delaying or putting off tasks appears to have become a national pastime. The average person in Britain spends a staggering 218 minutes procrastinating per day. Put another way, that’s 3 hours and 38 minutes a day, or a worrying 55 days per year!
Most of us can only dream of having enough time to learn a language, train for a race, write a book or start a business, but all of those dreams could be a reality if we cast out our inner demons and cut back on our procrastination. But what exactly are we spending our time on instead?
Avoidance tactics are rife in our daily lives, with the rise of technology making this ever easier to accomplish. Watching TV comes out top for time wasting, absorbing 1 hour per day in procrastination time alone. So, if you’ve ever found yourself glued to the closing credits of a show before peeling yourself off the sofa, then you’re obviously not alone.
Online procrastination is the next culprit, with the likes of online shopping, video watching and dating stealing an average of 33 minutes per day. This is closely followed by life-logging on various social media platforms which absorbs an average of 25 minutes per day.
Our procrastination habits don’t stop there. ‘A tidy home is a tidy mind’ is the mantra of choice for many Brits, who spend 25 minutes per day procrastinating by cleaning and tidying up. Dusting off the cobwebs appears to be essential before we actually get on with the job in hand. Feeling fresh and looking good presents yet another opportunity for avoiding your to-do list. Procrastinating by personal grooming is a common timewaster, with the great British public spending approximately 19 minutes every day playing to their vanity.
Feeling peckish as you read this? You’re not alone. The average person in Britain spends 11 minutes per day prioritising their desire for snacks above all other tasks. And of course, every task should be accompanied by a soothing hot drink. Making and going for tea or coffee accounts for an average 13 minutes per day in procrastination time.
So just when it looks like we’re clean, refreshed, nourished and ready to get on with the task in hand, we then spend another 17 minutes delaying what we’re meant to be doing by researching and planning. And of course there’s the other procrastinating techniques people have that our research just wasn’t able to capture, which apparently accounts for a further 15 minutes per day.
All of this time spent procrastinating means there is less time to complete the tasks we should really be focusing on. At the end of the day when we get caught out, with a job unfinished, we often fall back on an excuse.
RateSetter’s survey found that six in ten people (63%) said they had made up an excuse for why they had failed to complete a task. It seems that when put on the spot we’d rather cover up our own procrastination than come clean and be honest!
The economic impact is hard to conceal. The staggering figure of a £76 billion cost of procrastination to British business dwarfs the £23bn cost of sick leave and £27bn cost of cybercrime.
With ONS figures suggesting an average life expectancy of 81 in Britain, it is worrying to realise that we spend over nine of those adult years procrastinating. We know what we should, or want, to do, but there seem to be inner demons at play that act as barriers to action. A little procrastination surely won’t harm anyone, but imagine what could be achieved if we parked our procrastination and made today pay?
RateSetter are challenging people on Twitter to show or tell each other how they beat procrastination using the hashtag #MakeTodayPay.
Take a look for yourself, and if you have any tips for success get involved using the hashtag.
RateSetter is the largest peer to peer lender in the UK, see how you could avoid the cost of delay with P2P lending.
Our research produced some surprising results. We have broken down our research into a neat infographic.