Procrastiflation: Procrastination + Inflation

The longer a task goes un-completed, the harder it is to do it.

If you say you’re going to call John Doe on Monday, and you don’t, and you continue to procrastinate on Tuesday, and then Wednesday, it becomes harder and harder with each passing day to ever complete the task.

Another common example is going to the gym. If you want to go to the gym every day, and you miss a day, and then miss another day, and so forth, it becomes harder and harder to get back into the routine.

Problem: A phrase does not exist to describe this phenomenon. Putting names to widely-understood effects makes communication easier. The Streisand Effect, for example, is a good shorthand for the phenomenon of when trying to censor or remove information backfires and causes the information to be widely publicized.

Solution: I email a few friends for help on coming up with a name. Stan James writes:

The key concepts seem to be procrastination (the cause) and inflation (of difficulty). As a portmanteau, I propose “procrastiflation.” As in, “I haven’t written a blog post in weeks, and now the procrastiflationary costs are becoming insurmountable.”

Bottom Line: Procrastiflation is when procrastination of a task over time compounds the difficulty of ever completing it.

10 Responses to Procrastiflation: Procrastination + Inflation

  1. Krishna says:

    Why do people procrastinate? It feels good, damn good now when they’re busy putting off, until it becomes a real pain staring back at them. So in the end, they were only screwing themselves, right?

    Hang on. What is the closest word that describes the predicament?

    Masturbation !!!

  2. Charlie O'Keefe says:

    I like it. This is a useful term.

    I think you could further divide procrastiflationary costs into real costs and perceived costs.

    For example, if you don’t call somebody for a week, the subject is no longer fresh in either of your minds, and you both may have moved on to unrelated things. There might be shame involved when you do have that first awkward conversation, depending on the subject. If you don’t go to the gym, you get out of shape and exercise becomes measurably more painful and difficult. These are real costs.

    If you go for a while without writing a blog post, presumably you could sit down and write something at any time. You just haven’t ingrained it as a habit in the sense of “it takes X days of doing Y before Y becomes a habit”. This seems like more of a perceived cost.

  3. The Writer says:

    I like it, but my thinking is I’d like to see “habit” or “routine” in there in some way. You can’t get back into the habit of going to the gym and you can’t break the habit of not going.

    “routine procrastinflation”?

  4. Nathan says:

    Add an “n” and people will find it much easier to say. “ProcrastiNflation”

  5. DaveJ says:

    This only happens with things you don’t actually have to do. The things you have to do eventually become emergencies and then you focus on them.

  6. gregory says:

    Don’t like it.

    It’s too long, and you have to specifically remember where one words ends and the other begins. Also the example is really bad, no one talks like that. I realise this may be tongue-in-cheek, but I make this point to set up my next:

    Why not name this effect after it’s very founder? You can immortalize ‘Casnocha’ into the minds of millions!

    I think everyone on this blog can remember the ‘Casnocha Effect’.

    :D

    You can hate me later.

  7. Jack Vinson says:

    Interseting twist on the combination of Student’s Syndrome (delay until the last possible minute) AND Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time).

    I like the comment from DaveJ that the Casnocha Effect is particular to tasks that are not required.

    [For instance, I need to make an appointment with the dentist…]

  8. Stan James says:

    As a side note: I checked Google to see if anyone had used the word ‘procrastiflation’ before, and now within hours of this post it is already there.
    link to google.com

    Future lexicographers will sure have an easier time tracing the origin of words (whether they catch on or not)!

  9. Ben Casnocha says:

    Agreed that habits or routines have to do with this as well and it’d be nice to integrate it into the term….

  10. abbelani says:

    Was reading through your blog after watching the webcast you just did with Ramit Sethi and came across this article. I love the fact that you thought this phenomenon was important enough to require naming.

    @daveJ I think you could argue that in cases where you need to do something it has a negative procrastiflationary interest rate, becoming easier to do over time. A procrastinatory deflation, which only reinforces the need for a basic understanding of procrastiflation!

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