For most people, tomorrow is another day full of possibilities, potential, and new things to do - the people who get things done. You also have people that always promise to get things done the next day, but never actually achieve anything - the procrastinators. Being a procrastinator is a very real thing, and if you find yourself peering out of the window when you should be looking at your computer screen, the chances are that you’re one of them.
Throughout history, there have been many procrastinators that managed to make a name for themselves. They might be famous, but that didn’t stop them from getting distracted at work.
10. Dalai Lama
One of the most recognised men in the world, the Dalai Lama is in high demand, particularly within Tibet. Given his status, it’s strange to think that he could be anything but punctual; however, at one point in his life, he was well known for his inability to get things moving. Despite being the voice of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama has not always been quite so motivated to get to work, and in his student days, it was reported that he was quite the slacker. He has even come out himself to say that only when things got really hard would he begin to put the work into his studies, leaving everything until the last minute. But, he has since learned his lesson and used his experience to motivate others. Phew.
9. Bill Clinton
Despite being one of the most famous politicians in the world, Bill Clinton apparently had a hard time getting anything done. The former president was famous for his inability to follow a project through and, with the distractions of his female staff, it’s clear to see where his attention really lay. Being the president didn’t seem to be enough of a pull for Clinton to get going in the morning, which led to Time magazine publishing an article on his apparent laziness in 1994, while he was in power. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his Vice President Al Gore came out to proclaim that he was “punctually challenged”. Maybe it’s a good thing that his term eventually came to an end.
8. Victor Hugo
Writers get more than a bad rep about procrastinating and in some cases it seems like the more famous you become, the harder it gets to stay on task. French writer Victor Hugo was apparently plagued by bouts of procrastination, preferring to do any and everything rather than focusing on his work. But, When things got really bad, Hugo had a foolproof method to get things going again. Reportedly, he would get his servant to strip him of his clothes and underwear and leave him naked in his study until he resumed work. Only then would he be allowed to work in comfort again.
7. Franz Kafka
Given the nature of his writings, it’s little wonder that Kafka had a hard time focusing on his job. Entering into his weird narrative world is hard enough for the best of us, and sometimes, it’s a real challenge even to understand what’s going on. The Czech writer put his inability to write down to his day job, but when he was given a new position with fewer hours, things didn’t seem to change much.
It turned out that the majority of the writer’s day was spent napping, undoubtedly collecting strange material from his dreams. He would begin to write at 11 in the evening, after having had a full day devoted to other activities. Perhaps he was the cause of his own issues after all.
6. Saint Augustine
One of the most famous saints, Saint Augustine has had lyrics penned about him by none other than Bob Dylan and Sting. Despite this, Augustine was apparently dreadful at getting anything done and could relapse into bouts of distraction at the drop of a hat. Although he was pronounced a saint late in life, he struggled to maintain his pious status all of the time and often relapsed into sin. His preference for the opposite sex often led him astray and over the years he forgot his holy path on more than one occasion. Eventually, of course, he found his way, but it did take him a little longer than most.
5. Frank Lloyd Wright
One of the greatest architects of all time, Frank Lloyd Wright achieved an enormous amount to be proud of during his life, but it turns out that he might not always have been quite so focused. He once found himself in a particularly tight spot after having being commissioned to work on a new design for Edgar Kauffman. Despite his protestations that he had begun work, Lloyd Wright had not actually drawn a thing and mere hours before the meeting he had nothing to show for himself. Under pressure on the morning, he drew up some quick plans for a new build which turned into the magnificent Fallingwater, one of the most famous houses in the world.
4. Leonardo Da Vinci
Over the course of his life, Leonardo Da Vinci completed some of the most famous works of art ever to have been created, and despite his prolific output, it turns out that he was not very focused. His much lauded Mona Lisa took 16 years to complete, and the even bigger Virgin of the Rocks was only ready after 13 years. Da Vinci was so renowned for his procrastination that his benefactor had to threaten him with bankruptcy to inspire him to finish a commissioned work. Even now, many of the pieces that we know and love remain unfinished, all thanks to Da Vinci’s inability to focus.
3. Truman Capote
One of the finest literary minds of all time, Truman Capote, is still lauded as one of the best writers in the world. But, at the height of his career, he was plagued by bouts of procrastination and often found it difficult even to begin working. Capote always had his masterpiece, Answered Prayers, in mind but after missing deadlines for years and thinking of other things, he failed to make it manifest. Despite having a cheque worth $1million dangled in front of his nose, he never managed to see the project through to the end. While four chapters were finally published in Esquire magazine, Capote died before he could really make a go of it, leaving many people lost and disappointed.
2. Margaret Atwood
Despite having one of a hefty bibliography, Margaret Atwood is said to suffer from serious bouts of procrastination. Over the course of her 50-year career, she has had 14 novels, 9 short stories and 16 poetry books published, amongst many other articles and shorter works. But, according to Atwood, her success is down to something incredibly simple. In the morning, she procrastinates for a few hours, and by the time she sits down to work at 3pm, she is finally able to focus. Clearly it’s working for her.
1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
One of the most beloved poets of all time, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was also one of the least motivated writers out there. Despite receiving tremendous feedback for his work, the poet found it incredibly hard to focus on his writing and instead spent his time doing other things. Over the course of his career, Taylor Coleridge often failed to produce anything lengthy for his publishers, preferring to work in fragments. The majority of his writings were presented as nonsensical scraps. In fact, his most loved work, Kubla Khan, was never even finished and the piece that we all know and love is incomplete.
When you’re working, procrastination is one of the worst things that you can be plagued with and yet, many of us still suffer without an end in sight. While these famous people might have found it hard to focus, it didn’t stop them from making a success of themselves. Often, the best ideas are the hardest to come by and if we didn’t procrastinate, perhaps we would never even realise our true potential!
Do you suffer from procrastination? Do you think it is a good or a bad thing? Let us know what you think…