The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger

Procrastination: The Sedentary Lifestyle of Time Management


I remember it clearly. It was 1986 and I was in college. I was listening to the local rock station on the radio with my headphones on, so I didn’t disturb my roommate who was studying in his bedroom. Suddenly, mid-song the DJ interrupts to say, “We have just received word that the Space Shuttle Challenger has blown up.” I turned off the radio and turned on the TV and watched, horrified as the news unfolded.

In the coming months, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would receive a lot of criticism (justifiably so). NASA managers procrastinated in addressing concerns raised by engineers about the shuttle’s O-ring seals and their potential failure in cold temperatures. This ultimately led to the tragic explosion of the Challenger shuttle shortly after liftoff, killing all seven crew members on board.

Words like lazy, apathetic, indifferent, slow, and unconcerned were used to describe the environment at NASA at that time. The agency had settled into an almost inactive and complacent approach to processes and safeguards. They procrastinated on making changes to try and keep the program on schedule to deadly results.

Symptoms of procrastination can align and compare with a sedentary lifestyle, one where there is a lack of activity causing harmful results. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 25% of the population in the United States show a prevalence of physical inactivity. Of those who have taken the Time Management Analysis, 77% of respondents agree that they procrastinate. What makes sedentariness and procrastination similar? Let’s see how failing to act (even if you are anxious) aligns inactivity with procrastination.

A picture of the book "The Time-Optimized Life" with a QR code to download the first chapter.

Decreased Flexibility

A sedentary lifestyle will tighten the muscles and joints from lack of regular stretching and movement. Procrastination causes inflexibility, particularly when you decide to delay an important project or activity. The rest of your schedule can become very unbendable.

NASA became apathetic to updating any current procedures and would not listen to concerns about existing measures.

The solution: map out how you are going to use your time and formally block out periods of work tied to the important project or task.

Fatigue/Low Energy Levels

Sedentary habits can leave you feeling drained and sluggish. Procrastination can lead to weariness because you begin to stress and worry over not getting the item done that you continue to delay.

The environment at NASA lost its vigor and vitality, therefore mistakes increased.

The solution: break the challenge down to smaller to-do’s that will enable you to make some progress. You’ll find that you can recharge your energy levels and make it easier to accomplish your goal.

Muscle Weakness

Sedentary living causes muscles to weaken and atrophy over time from disuse. Procrastination withers one of the most important organs in your body – the brain. The more you push off an important action, the weaker your desire and drive to complete it.

NASA’s safety procedures became too laxed and weakened their focus.

The solution: define what ultimate success looks like for you. Then define the steps you need to take to achieve that success. Be specific and pointed on those steps. The more you do not define the pathway, the more apt you will be to weaken or atrophy on the project.

Pain

Prolonged sitting and lack of core strength strains the back muscles and can create pain. Procrastination can also cause physical and emotional pain in both work and professional life.

NASA’s inability to focus on their core strength (innovative engineering) and becoming too bureaucratic created the pain of a failed mission and loss of life.

The solution: Get to the heart of why are delaying. Sometimes, the reason is not what it seems. Doing a little more preparation might be the way to make sure you will execute correctly to control the outcome.

The Shuttle Orbiter Discovery landing.

Knowing When to Move On

The last space shuttle flight was on July 11, 2021.  The program was not without its continued problems. Colombia broke apart on reentry in 2003. Space flight is risky, and the shuttle was incredibly complex. While I wish there was an alternative to the program, the space shuttles did amazing work and accomplished incredible tasks.  

Procrastination can push you into inaction, causing you to stay in place. However, at some point, you must move on. First, complete what is causing you to delay, and then you have an open horizon to pursue your other interests, projects, or tasks.


The Procrastination Time Analysis Report

Test out your level of Procrastination. Take the Procrastination Time Analysis (PTA) for free!


David Buck is the author of the book “The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a certified professional retirement coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. To learn more, contact him at dave@kmstime.com or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.

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