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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Procrastination refers to the counterproductive deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.[1] There are three criteria for a behavior to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying.[2]

Procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt and crisis, severe loss of personal productivity, as well as societal disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments. These feelings combined may promote further procrastination. While it is regarded as normal for people to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder.



The word itself comes from the Latin word procrastinatus: pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow). The term's first known appearance was in Edward Hall's The Union of the Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and York, first published sometime before 1548.[3] The sermon reflected procrastination's connection at the time to task avoidance or delay, volition or will, and sin.

Causes of procrastination



The psychological causes of procrastination vary greatly, but generally surround issues of anxiety, low sense of self-worth, and a self-defeating mentality[4]. Procrastinators are also thought to have a lower-than-normal level of conscientiousness, more based on the "dreams and wishes" of perfection or achievement in contrast to a realistic appreciation of their obligations and potential.[5]


Research on the physiological roots of procrastination mostly surrounds the role of the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for executive brain functions such as planning, impulse control, attention, and acts as a filter by decreasing distracting stimuli from other brain regions. Damage or low activation in this area can reduce an individual's ability to filter out distracting stimuli, ultimately resulting in poorer organization, a loss of attention and increased procrastination. This is similar to the prefrontal lobe's role in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), where underactivation is common.[5]

Procrastination and mental health

Procrastination can be a persistent and debilitating disorder in some people, causing significant psychological disability and dysfunction. These individuals may actually be suffering from an underlying mental health problem such as depression or ADHD.

While procrastination is a behavioral condition, these underlying mental health disorders can be treated with medication and/or therapy. Therapy can be a useful tool in helping an individual learn new behaviors, overcome fears and anxieties, and achieve an improved quality of life. Thus it is important for people who chronically struggle with debilitating procrastination to see a trained therapist or psychiatrist to see if an underlying mental health issue may be present.

People who exhibit procrastination and decreased impulse control appear to be prone to internet addiction.[6]


Traditionally, procrastination has been associated with perfectionism, a tendency to negatively evaluate outcomes and one's own performance, intense fear and avoidance of evaluation of one's abilities by others, heightened social self-consciousness and anxiety, recurrent low mood, and "workaholism". According to Robert B. Slaney [7] adaptive perfectionists (when perfectionism is egosyntonic) were less likely to procrastinate than non-perfectionists, while maladaptive perfectionists (people who saw their perfectionism as a problem; i.e., when perfectionism is egodystonic) had high levels of procrastination (and also of anxiety).[8]

Academic procrastination

While academic procrastination is not a special type of procrastination, procrastination is thought to be particularly prevalent in the academic setting, where students are required to meet deadlines for assignments and tests in an environment full of events and activities which compete for the students' time and attention. More specifically, a 1992 study showed that "52% of surveyed students indicated having a moderate to high need for help concerning procrastination".[9] It is estimated that 80%-95% of college students engage in procrastination, approximately 75% consider themselves procrastinators.[10]

One source of procrastination is underestimating the time required to analyze research. Many students devote weeks to gathering research for a term paper, but are unable to finish writing it because they have to review many contradictory opinions before they can offer their own perspective on the subject. Despite knowing how to consult resources, they struggle to perform their own analysis.[11]

"Student syndrome" refers to the phenomenon where a student will only begin to fully apply themselves to a task immediately before a deadline. This negates the usefulness of any buffers built into individual task duration estimates. Students have also difficulties when self-imposing deadlines.[12] The principle is also addressed in Agile Software Development.

Types of procrastinators

The relaxed type

The relaxed type of procrastinators view their responsibilities negatively and avoid them by directing energy into other tasks. It is common, for example, for relaxed type procrastinating children to abandon schoolwork but not their social lives. Students often see projects as a whole rather than breaking them into smaller parts. This type of procrastination is a form of denial or cover-up; therefore, typically no help is being sought. Furthermore, they are also unable to defer gratification. The procrastinator avoids situations that would cause displeasure, indulging instead in more enjoyable activities. In Freudian terms, such procrastinators refuse to renounce the pleasure principle, instead sacrificing the reality principle. They may not appear to be worried about work and deadlines, but this is simply an evasion of the work that needs to be completed.[13]

The tense-afraid type

The tense-afraid type of procrastinators usually feel overwhelmed with pressure, unrealistic about time, uncertain about goals, and many other negative feelings. They may feel a sense of malaise. Feeling that they lack the ability or focus to successfully complete their work, they tell themselves that they need to unwind and relax, that it's better to take it easy for the afternoon, for example, and start afresh in the morning. They usually have grandiose plans that aren't realistic. Their 'relaxing' is often temporary and ineffective, and leads to even more stress as time runs out, deadlines approach and the person feels increasingly guilty and apprehensive. This behavior becomes a cycle of failure and delay, as plans and goals are put off, pencilled into the following day or week in the diary again and again. It can also have a debilitating effect on their personal lives and relationships. Since they are uncertain about their goals, they often feel awkward with people who appear confident and goal-oriented, which can lead to depression. Tense-afraid procrastinators often withdraw from social life, avoiding contact even with close friends.[13]

The Six Styles

According to It's About Time by Dr. Linda Sapadin there are six types of procrastination that a person can be solely or a combination of. The styles are The Perfectionist, The Crisis-Maker, The Dreamer, The Defier, The Worrier and The Overdoer. Each title is self explanatory though each has a unique way of overcoming each type.[14]

Stigma and misunderstanding

Procrastinators often have great difficulty in seeking help, or finding an understanding source of support, due to the stigma and profound misunderstanding surrounding extreme forms of procrastination. One of the symptoms, known to psychologists as task-aversiveness, is often mischaracterised as laziness, a lack of willpower or loss of ambition.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Fiore, Neil A (2006). The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt- Free Play. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 9781585425525.  p. 5
  2. ^ Schraw, G., Wadkins, T., & Olafson, L. (2007). Doing the things we do: A grounded theory of academic procrastination [Electronic version]. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol 99(1), 12-25.
  3. ^ Procrastination. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989).
  4. ^ * Burka, Yuen (1983, 2008). Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It Now. New York: Da Capo Lifelong Books. ISBN 9780738211701. 
  5. ^ a b Strub, Richard L. (September 1989), "Frontal lobe syndrome in a patient with bilateral globus pallidus lesions", Archives of Neurology 46 (9): 1024–1027 
  6. ^ Yellowlees, P.M.; Marks, S. (2007). "Problematic Internet use or Internet addiction?". Computers in Human Behavior 23 (3): 1447–1453. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2005.05.004. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  7. ^ Robert B. Slaney is a professor of counseling psychology in Penn State's College of Education
  8. ^ McGarvey. Jason A. (1996) The Almost Perfect Definition
  9. ^ R P Gallagher, S Borg, A Golin and K Kelleher (1992), Journal of College Student Development, 33(4), 301-10.
  10. ^ American Psychological Association, Steel 1
  11. ^ Burka, Jane B. Procrastination why you do it, what to do about it. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo P, 2008.
  12. ^ Ariely, Dan; Wertenbroch, Klaus (2002). "Procrastination, Deadlines, and Performance: Self-Control by Precommitment". Psychological Science 13 (3): 219–224. 
  13. ^ a b Procrastination, How to Stop Procrastinating
  14. ^ Steel, Piers (1996). "It's about Time: The 6 styles of procrastination and How to Overcome them.". Penguin Group. Retrieved August 18, 2009. 
  15. ^ Steel, Piers (January 2007). "The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure.". American Psychological Association. Psychological Bulletin. Vol 133(1). Retrieved February 5, 2009. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

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  • God has promised forgiveness to your repentance; but He has not promised to-morrow to your procrastination.
    • Augustine of Hippo, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 486.
  • Faith in to-morrow instead of Christ, is Satan's nurse for man's perdition.
    • George B. Cheever, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 486.
  • Do you want to learn holiness with terrible struggles and sore affliction and the plague of much remaining evil? Then wait before you turn to God.


  • "Procrastination is the thief of time." -- Edward Young
  • "If it weren't for the last minute, I wouldn't get anything done." -- Anon
  • "I think a lot of the basis of the open source movement comes from procrastinating students..." -- Andrew Tridgell (Article)
  • "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." -- Douglas Adams
  • "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." -- Robert Anthony
  • "We don't have anything as urgent as mañana in Ireland." -- Stuart Banks
  • "A perfect method for adding drama to life is to wait until the deadline looms large." -- Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby
  • "Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now." -- Larry Kersten
  • "Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he's supposed to be doing at the moment." -- Robert Benchley
  • "Procrastination is the art of waiting." -- Procrastination help
  • "Procrastination is like masturbation, It's fun until you realize you just screwed yourself"-- G.A.M.E. - Untouchable
  • "Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday." -- Author Unknown
  • "Procrastinate now, don't put it off." -- Ellen DeGeneres
  • "Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday." -- Don Marquis
  • "Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will--tomorrow!" -- Gloria Pitzer
  • "Procrastination will kill us all if it ever gets around to it." -- Anon
  • "Time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time." -- Bertrand Russell
  • "Procrastination is the key to flexibility" -- Anon
  • Between saying and doing many a pair of shoes is worn out. ~ Italian Proverb
  • One of these days is none of these days. ~ English
  • "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today." -- Mark Twain
  • "Procrastination is reading all the quotes on this page when you have a huge report due tomorrow." -- R.T.A.Birektt
  • "Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up." -- Joseph Ferrari
  • "Faith in to-morrow, instead of Christ, is Satan's nurse for man's perdition." -- Rev. Dr. Cheever
  • "To be always intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it; this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking and sleeping from one day and night to another, till he is starved and destroyed." -- Tillotson
  • 'By the streets of "By and By" one arrives at the house of "Never."' -- Miguel de Cervantes
  • "By one delay after another they spin out their whole lives, till there's no more future left for them." -- L'Estrange
  • "For Yesterday was once To-morrow." -- Persius
  • "Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day" -- Franklin
  • "Procrastination is the succubus of a busy man" -- A Busy Man
  • "Indulge in procrastination, and in time you will come to this, that because a thing ought to be done, therefore you can't do it." -- Charles Buxton
Look up procrastination in Wiktionary, the free dictionary


Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Overcoming Procrastination article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Overcoming Procrastination

Authors · History · Print version

This book is about the problem procrastination or "task aversion". Procrastination is a big problem in today's world. This book includes a large chapter about how to eliminate procrastination.


  1. Introduction
  2. Consequences
  3. Characteristics
  4. Causes
  5. Eliminating Procrastination
  6. Chronic Procrastination
  7. Resources

Copyright 2002-2006 Wikipedia Contributors.
Copyright 2006 Wikibooks Contributors.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Simple English

The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for:

Procrastination is the behavior of putting off actions or tasks at a later time.

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