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Photo Credits:-

Procrastination Dog
(congerdesign, Pixabay)

Procrastinate Clock 1
(TheDigitalArtist, Pixabay)

Procrastinate Clock 2
(TheDigitalArtist, Pixabay)

Later or Now?
(geralt, Pixabay)
  • [Procrastination:] 'The act of postponing, delaying or putting off, especially habitually or intentionally.' (Wiktionary, accessed 20 May 2020)
  • Questions to self: Time to confront my problems? Time to be less a perfectionist, more a realist?
  • Similar emotions: Indecision, Doubt.
  • Opposite emotions: .
Procrastination Boxer Dog
  • Bach Flower Remedies: Clematis [from daydream to practical action], Larch [when lack confidence or fear failure], Hornbeam [unexplained fatigue or weariness], Scleranthus [indecisive].
  • California Flower Essences: Blackberry [helps organise decisive action and willpower], Cayenne [catalyst, brings fiery energy], Tansy [where a chaotic past created the coping mechanism of procrastination].

Procrastination is making the choice to avoid doing something, even though we know this will cost us in the long run. It is different from intentionally delaying doing something, and it is not a problem of time management, but a failure to control our emotions. When we procrastinate, we are trying to improve our mood by avoiding doing something that feels unpleasant to us. A bit like getting drunk or comfort eating, it is a coping strategy to feel better by distracting ourselves with short-term pleasure and forgetting about a problem. (Adapted from BBCposted 4 January 2017, accessed 26 August 2018)

Procrastination is more common among people who are impulsive, prone to perfectionism, burdened by other people's expectations of them, and scared of failure. It affects younger people in particular, because we get better at controlling our emotions as our brain develops. (Adapted from BBCposted 4 January 2017, accessed 26 August 2018)

Chronic procrastination can have an impact on people’s health, wellbeing and career, resulting in stress, anxiety and shame. Sufferers have been found to have less job security and more limited career progression. It can cause insomnia and headaches and bring on heart-related health problems. (The Guardian, posted and accessed 4 August 2022)

Against a purple-pink background of words like 'delay', 'stress', 'busy', 'pressure', we see a metal clock face. The clock face is blurry and appears to droop.

Procrastination has never been a good thing despite some researchers arguing the benefits of “positive procrastination”. Sirois [Prof Fuschia Sirois] said: “Embedded in the definition of procrastination is that you unnecessarily and voluntarily delay an important intended task despite knowing that the consequences are harmful. How can that be positive?”
At its core is an irrational and emotional act, Sirois said. “Procrastination is a form of emotion regulation where sufferers avoid a task that might spark negative emotions, by disengaging with it or putting it off.”
Sirois said harsh judgment was not the solution and procrastinators needed to know they were not lazy – and they did not just need to work on their organisation or time management.
Procrastination, she said, is due to “not being able to manage our emotions internally. So we manage them externally. We take that task that is unpleasant or boring, or frustrating or stressful … and by putting it aside we get an immediate feeling of relief.
“But we’ve done it temporarily and we’ve done it externally so it is going to come back to haunt us.”...
“Procrastination is not a trivial issue,” said Sirois. “It can have substantial negative impacts on a person’s life. But it doesn’t have to be that way, there are ways to address it and there is hope for those caught in a pattern of chronic procrastination.
(The Guardian, posted and accessed 4 August 2022)

Procrastination often has nothing to do with time management. It’s about poor mood management. It means the person can’t regulate difficult emotions about a particular task, so they put it off. They may be anxious, fear failure or feel frustrated. Or they might focus on the outcome and how that is going to affect their future, which only adds more pressure. Or sometimes, people are just maxed out – they have too much going on with work and family. In all those scenarios, people are tempted to opt for the quick and easy fix – to delay working on the thing. That gives immediate relief.
(Fuschia Sirois, professor of social and health psychology at Durham University, quoted in The Guardian, posted and accessed 12 October 2023)

Against a purple-pink background of words like 'delay', 'stress', 'busy', 'pressure', we see a metal clock face. The clock face is clear and appears to emanate a positive light.

On a beautiful mountain pass, there is a fork on the stone road. Both paths seem similar. A large sign is between them. On it, an arrow to the left indicates 'Later', and an arrow to the right means 'Now'.

This is part of a series on Emotion

Also see:-


Emotion Index

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Page last updated: 12 October 2023.