Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination (2023)

Believe it or not, the Internet did not give rise to procrastination. People have struggled with habitual hesitation going back to ancient civilizations. The Greek poet Hesiod, writing around 800 B.C., cautioned not to “put your work off till tomorrow and the day after.” The Roman consul Cicero called procrastination “hateful” in the conduct of affairs. (He was looking at you, Marcus Antonius.) And those are just examples from recorded history. For all we know, the dinosaurs saw the meteorite coming and went back to their game of Angry Pterodactyls.

What’s become quite clear since the days of Cicero is that procrastination isn’t just hateful, it’s downright harmful. In research settings, people who procrastinate have higher levels of stress and lower well-being. In the real world, undesired delay is often associated with inadequate retirement savings and missed medical visits. Considering the season, it would be remiss not to mention past surveys by H&R Block, which found that people cost themselves hundreds of dollars by rushing to prepare income taxes near the April 15 deadline.

In the past 20 years, the peculiar behavior of procrastination has received a burst of empirical interest. With apologies to Hesiod, psychological researchers now recognize that there’s far more to it than simply putting something off until tomorrow. True procrastination is a complicated failure of self-regulation: experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we’ll suffer as a result. A poor concept of time may exacerbate the problem, but an inability to manage emotions seems to be its very foundation.

“What I’ve found is that while everybody may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator,” says APS Fellow Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University. He is a pioneer of modern research on the subject, and his work has found that as many as 20 percent of people may be chronic procrastinators.

“It really has nothing to do with time-management,” he says. “As I tell people, to tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

Suffering More, Performing Worse

A major misperception about procrastination is that it’s an innocuous habit at worst, and maybe even a helpful one at best. Sympathizers of procrastination often say it doesn’t matter when a task gets done, so long as it’s eventually finished. Some even believe they work best under pressure. Stanford philosopher John Perry, author of the book The Art of Procrastination, has argued that people can dawdle to their advantage by restructuring their to-do lists so that they’re always accomplishing something of value. Psychological scientists have a serious problem with this view. They argue that it conflates beneficial, proactive behaviors like pondering (which attempts to solve a problem) or prioritizing (which organizes a series of problems) with the detrimental, self-defeating habit of genuine procrastination. If progress on a task can take many forms, procrastination is the absence of progress.

“If I have a dozen things to do, obviously #10, #11, and #12 have to wait,” says Ferrari. “The real procrastinator has those 12 things, maybe does one or two of them, then rewrites the list, then shuffles it around, then makes an extra copy of it. That’s procrastinating. That’s different.”

(Video) [Learn@Home] Why Wait? The Science Behind Procrastination

One of the first studies to document the pernicious nature of procrastination was published in Psychological Science back in 1997. APS Fellow Dianne Tice and APS William James Fellow Roy Baumeister, then at Case Western Reserve University, rated college students on an established scale of procrastination, then tracked their academic performance, stress, and general health throughout the semester. Initially there seemed to be a benefit to procrastination, as these students had lower levels of stress compared to others, presumably as a result of putting off their work to pursue more pleasurable activities. In the end, however, the costs of procrastination far outweighed the temporary benefits. Procrastinators earned lower grades than other students and reported higher cumulative amounts of stress and illness. True procrastinators didn’t just finish their work later —the quality of it suffered, as did their own well-being.

“Thus, despite its apologists and its short-term benefits, procrastination cannot be regarded as either adaptive or innocuous,” concluded Tice and Baumeister (now both at Florida State University). “Procrastinators end up suffering more and performing worse than other people.”

A little later, Tice and Ferrari teamed up to do a study that put the ill effects of procrastination into context. They brought students into a lab and told them at the end of the session they’d be engaging in a math puzzle. Some were told the task was a meaningful test of their cognitive abilities, while others were told that it was designed to be meaningless and fun. Before doing the puzzle, the students had an interim period during which they could prepare for the task or mess around with games like Tetris. As it happened, chronic procrastinators only delayed practice on the puzzle when it was described as a cognitive evaluation. When it was described as fun, they behaved no differently from non-procrastinators. In an issue of the Journal of Research in Personality from 2000, Tice and Ferrari concluded that procrastination is really a self-defeating behavior —with procrastinators trying to undermine their own best efforts.

“The chronic procrastinator, the person who does this as a lifestyle, would rather have other people think that they lack effort than lacking ability,” says Ferrari. “It’s a maladaptive lifestyle.”

A Gap Between Intention and Action

There’s no single type of procrastinator, but several general impressions have emerged over years of research. Chronic procrastinators have perpetual problems finishing tasks, while situational ones delay based on the task itself. A perfect storm of procrastination occurs when an unpleasant task meets a person who’s high in impulsivity and low in self-discipline. (The behavior is strongly linked with the Big Five personality trait of conscientiousness.) Most delayers betray a tendency for self-defeat, but they can arrive at this point from either a negative state (fear of failure, for instance, or perfectionism) or a positive one (the joy of temptation). All told, these qualities have led researchers to call procrastination the “quintessential” breakdown of self-control.

“I think the basic notion of procrastination as self-regulation failure is pretty clear,” says Timothy Pychyl of Carleton University, in Canada. “You know what you ought to do and you’re not able to bring yourself to do it. It’s that gap between intention and action.”

Social scientists debate whether the existence of this gap can be better explained by the inability to manage time or the inability to regulate moods and emotions. Generally speaking, economists tend to favor the former theory. Many espouse a formula for procrastination put forth in a paper published by the business scholar Piers Steel, a professor at the University of Calgary, in a 2007 issue of Psychological Bulletin. The idea is that procrastinators calculate the fluctuating utility of certain activities: pleasurable ones have more value early on, and tough tasks become more important as a deadline approaches.

(Video) Self Worth Theory: The Key to Understanding & Overcoming Procrastination | Nic Voge | TEDxPrincetonU

Psychologists like Ferrari and Pychyl, on the other hand, see flaws in such a strictly temporal view of procrastination. For one thing, if delay were really as rational as this utility equation suggests, there would be no need to call the behavior procrastination — on the contrary,time-management would fit better. Beyond that, studies have found that procrastinators carry accompanying feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety with their decision to delay. This emotional element suggests there’s much more to the story than time-management alone. Pychyl noticed the role of mood and emotions on procrastination with his very first work on the subject, back in the mid-1990s, and solidified that concept with a study published in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality in 2000. His research team gave 45 students a pager and tracked them for five days leading up to a school deadline. Eight times a day, when beeped, the test participants reported their level of procrastination as well as their emotional state. As the preparatory tasks became more difficult and stressful, the students put them off for more pleasant activities. When they did so, however, they reported high levels of guilt —a sign that beneath the veneer of relief there was a lingering dread about the work set aside. The result made Pychyl realize that procrastinators recognize the temporal harm in what they’re doing, but can’t overcome the emotional urge toward a diversion.

A subsequent study, led by Tice, reinforced the dominant role played by mood in procrastination. In a 2001 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Tice and colleagues reported that students didn’t procrastinate before an intelligence test when primed to believe their mood was fixed. In contrast, when they thought their mood could change (and particularly when they were in a bad mood), they delayed practice until about the final minute. The findings suggested that self-control only succumbs to temptation when present emotions can be improved as a result.

“Emotional regulation, to me, is the real story around procrastination, because to the extent that I can deal with my emotions, I can stay on task,” says Pychyl. “When you say task-aversiveness, that’s another word for lack of enjoyment. Those are feeling states —those aren’t states of which [task] has more utility.”

Frustrating the Future Self

In general, people learn from their mistakes and reassess their approach to certain problems. For chronic procrastinators, that feedback loop seems continually out of service. The damage suffered as a result of delay doesn’t teach them to start earlier the next time around. An explanation for this behavioral paradox seems to lie in the emotional component of procrastination. Ironically, the very quest to relieve stress in the moment might prevent procrastinators from figuring out how to relieve it in the long run.

“I think the mood regulation piece is a huge part of procrastination,” says Fuschia Sirois of Bishop’s University, in Canada. “If you’re focused just on trying to get yourself to feel good now, there’s a lot you can miss out on in terms of learning how to correct behavior and avoiding similar problems in the future.”

A few years ago, Sirois recruited about 80 students and assessed them for procrastination. The participants then read descriptions of stressful events, with some of the anxiety caused by unnecessary delay. In one scenario, a person returned from a sunny vacation to notice a suspicious mole, but put off going to the doctor for a long time, creating a worrisome situation.

Afterward, Sirois asked the test participants what they thought about the scenario. She found that procrastinators tended to say things like, “At least I went to the doctor before it really got worse.” This response, known as a downward counterfactual, reflects a desire to improve mood in the short term. At the same time, the procrastinators rarely made statements like, “If only I had gone to the doctor sooner.” That type of response, known as an upward counterfactual, embraces the tension of the moment in an attempt to learn something for the future. Simply put, procrastinators focused on how to make themselves feel better at the expense of drawing insight from what made them feel bad.

(Video) Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | TED

Recently, Sirois and Pychyl tried to unify the emotional side of procrastination with the temporal side that isn’t so satisfying on its own. In the February issue of Social and Personality Psychology Compass, they propose a two-part theory on procrastination that braids short-term, mood-related improvements with long-term, time-related damage. The idea is that procrastinators comfort themselves in the present with the false belief that they’ll be more emotionally equipped to handle a task in the future.

“The future self becomes the beast of burden for procrastination,” says Sirois. “We’re trying to regulate our current mood and thinking our future self will be in a better state. They’ll be better able to handle feelings of insecurity or frustration with the task. That somehow we’ll develop these miraculous coping skills to deal with these emotions that we just can’t deal with right now.”

The Neuropsychology of Procrastination

Recently the behavioral research into procrastination has ventured beyond cognition, emotion, and personality, into the realm of neuropsychology. The frontal systems of the brain are known to be involved in a number of processes that overlap with self-regulation. These behaviors —problem-solving, planning, self-control, and the like —fall under the domain of executive functioning. Oddly enough, no one had ever examined a connection between this part of the brain and procrastination, says Laura Rabin of Brooklyn College.

“Given the role of executive functioning in the initiation and completion of complex behaviors, it was surprising to me that previous research had not systematically examined the relationship between aspects of executive functioning and academic procrastination — a behavior I see regularly in students but have yet to fully understand, and by extension help remediate,” says Rabin.

To address this gap in the literature, Rabin and colleagues gathered a sample of 212 students and assessed them first for procrastination, then on the nine clinical subscales of executive functioning: impulsivity, self-monitoring, planning and organization, activity shifting, task initiation, task monitoring, emotional control, working memory, and general orderliness. The researchers expected to find a link between procrastination and a few of the subscales (namely, the first four in the list above). As it happened, procrastinators showed significant associations with all nine, Rabin’s team reported in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

Rabin stresses the limitations of the work. For one thing, the findings were correlative, meaning it’s not quite clear those elements of executive functioning caused procrastination directly. The assessments also relied on self-reports; in the future, functional imaging might be used to confirm or expand the brain’s delay centers in real time. Still, says Rabin, the study suggests that procrastination might be an “expression of subtle executive dysfunction” in people who are otherwise neuropsychologically healthy.

“This has direct implications for how we understand the behavior and possibly intervene,” she says.

(Video) The Science of Procrastination - And How To Manage It

Possible Interventions

As the basic understanding of procrastination advances, many researchers hope to see a payoff in better interventions. Rabin’s work on executive functioning suggests a number of remedies for unwanted delay. Procrastinators might chop up tasks into smaller pieces so they can work through a more manageable series of assignments. Counseling might help them recognize that they’re compromising long-term aims for quick bursts of pleasure. The idea of setting personal deadlines harmonizes with previous work done by behavioral researchers Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch on “precommitment.” In a 2002 issue of Psychological Science, Ariely and Wertenbroch reported that procrastinators were willing to set meaningful deadlines for themselves, and that the deadlines did in fact improve their ability to complete a task. These self-imposed deadlines aren’t as effective as external ones, but they’re better than nothing.

The emotional aspects of procrastination pose a tougher problem. Direct strategies to counter temptation include blocking access to desirable distraction, but to a large extent that effort requires the type of self-regulation procrastinators lack in the first place. Sirois believes the best way to eliminate the need for short-term mood fixes is to find something positive or worthwhile about the task itself. “You’ve got to dig a little deeper and find some personal meaning in that task,” she says. “That’s what our data is suggesting.”

Ferrari, who offers a number of interventions in his 2010 book Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, would like to see a general cultural shift from punishing lateness to rewarding the early bird. He’s proposed, among other things, that the federal government incentivize early tax filing by giving people a small break if they file by, say, February or March 15. He also suggests we stop enabling procrastination in our personal relationships.

“Let the dishes pile up, let the fridge go empty, let the car stall out,” says Ferrari. “Don’t bail them out.” (Recent work suggests he’s onto something. In a 2011 paper in Psychological Science, Gráinne Fitzsimons and Eli Finkel report that people who think their relationship partner will help them with a task are more likely to procrastinate on it.)

But while the tough love approach might work for couples, the best personal remedy for procrastination might actually be self-forgiveness. A couple years ago, Pychyl joined two Carleton University colleagues and surveyed 119 students on procrastination before their midterm exams. The research team, led by Michael Wohl, reported in a 2010 issue of Personality and Individual Differences that students who forgave themselves after procrastinating on the first exam were less likely to delay studying for the second one.

Pychyl says he likes to close talks and chapters with that hopeful prospect of forgiveness. He sees the study as a reminder that procrastination is really a self-inflicted wound that gradually chips away at the most valuable resource in the world: time.

“It’s an existentially relevant problem, because it’s not getting on with life itself,” he says. “You only get a certain number of years. What are you doing?”

(Video) Why Do We Procrastinate?


What is the scientific reason for procrastination? ›

Science explains procrastination as the fight sparked between two parts of the brain when it's faced with an unpleasant activity or assignment: It's a battle of the limbic system (the unconscious zone that includes the pleasure center) and the prefrontal cortex (a much more recently evolved part of the brain that's ...

What do scientists say about procrastination? ›

True procrastination is a complicated failure of self-regulation: experts define it as the voluntary delay of some important task that we intend to do, despite knowing that we'll suffer as a result. A poor concept of time may exacerbate the problem, but an inability to manage emotions seems to be its very foundation.

How do you beat procrastination backed by science? ›

How to Stop Procrastinating (According to Science)
  1. Break Down Tasks, Give Yourself Rewards. Breaking big tasks into smaller ones helps the broader task feel less overwhelming. ...
  2. Set Deadlines (Internal and External) ...
  3. Make it Fun. ...
  4. Improve Other Factors That Influence Procrastination. ...
  5. Stop Beating Yourself Up.
2 May 2019

Why do we procrastinate and wait until the last minute? ›

Other suggested causes include a strict upbringing, in which putting things off till the last minute becomes a form of rebellion, inherited personality traits, and a fear of failure or even success. Do something too soon and too well and you risk getting saddled with more work and responsibility.

Is procrastination a form of control? ›

Wanting to Control Everything

Unfortunately, you can't put things off forever. By procrastinating, you hold the most control over whatever task you're working on. However, this also means, obviously, that that particular task isn't being done.

Does procrastination have positive effects? ›

Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in nonlinear ways, and to make unexpected leaps. Figure out ways to prevent yourself from completing creative projects before you've had the time to think about them in depth.

Why can't I stop procrastinating? ›

For some people, procrastination is more than a bad habit; it's a sign of a serious underlying health issue. For example, ADHD , OCD , anxiety, and depression are associated with procrastination. Also, research suggests that procrastination can be a cause of serious stress and illness.

Is procrastination a psychological issue? ›

Although procrastination is not considered a mental health condition in and of itself, it is connected to mental health challenges. Several studies have linked procrastination to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

What happens to your brain when you procrastinate? ›

It found that the brains of procrastinators have a larger amygdala, which is part of the limbic system known for fight or flight. “What's happening is what we call the 'amygdala hijack,'” says Pychyl. “The procrastinators are reacting emotionally, and the emotion-focused coping response is to escape.

What part of brain is responsible for procrastination? ›

Procrastination boils down to a battle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. The limbic system is a set of brain structures containing the pleasure center, while the prefrontal cortex controls planning and decision making.

How do I stop procrastinating once and for all? ›

Here are five tips you can implement to finally stop procrastinating once and for all.
  1. Find a motivator outside of deadlines. Of course, there are tons of problems with accepting procrastination as your normal work approach. ...
  2. Enlist a partner. ...
  3. Work in intervals. ...
  4. Set smaller milestones. ...
  5. Implement a “rollover” to-do list.
23 Dec 2016

Why do I wait until the last minute to study? ›

The number one reason why people always study last minute is because they procrastinate it due to the fact they know it's going to be hard work. Procrastination usually stems from having negative feelings towards a task and in this case the negative feeling is that it is going to be hard work.

What is it called when you wait until the last minute to do something? ›

Procrastination is when you have time to do something, but you deliberately wait until the last minute to do it. While writing a piece “in praise” of procrastination can be contentious, it's hard to deny that procrastination does have its upsides.

How do I stop waiting until the last minute? ›

Break down tasks: If you find you constantly procrastinate, then this may be because the task ahead of you just seems too huge to comprehend. This is common, but it can be tackled easily. Break down that large task into its smaller components. Focus on completing each smaller task, one after the other.

What is at the heart of procrastination? ›

It is widely believed that at the heart of a procrastination problem lies a lack of time-management or planning skills. However, several psychological studies beg to differ and procrastination has been linked to habits of self-sabotage through a lack of self-regulation.

What is the opposite of procrastination? ›

Procrastination is the thief of time. However, the opposite of procrastination can also be a serious problem — a tendency we call “pre-crastination.” Pre-crastination is the inclination to complete tasks quickly just for the sake of getting things done sooner rather than later.

Who procrastinate the most? ›

As hypothesized and consistent with previous studies, procrastination was highest in the youngest cohort (14–29 years). We have not found a consistent sex effect, however, only in the youngest (and most strongly procrastinating group) from 14–29 years, men procrastinated more than women.

Who will benefit from procrastination? ›

According to Grant, moderate procrastination can help give your brain time to mull over a task or problem, and create space for greater creativity and innovative ideas. This, he believes, is the primary work zone of innovators and original thinkers.

How do you turn procrastination into strength? ›

5 tricks to turn procrastination into productivity
  1. 1) Divide the task in smaller problems and analyze it. ...
  2. 2) Prioritize things to do. ...
  3. 3) Be kind to yourself and pay attention to the future you: ...
  4. 4) Avoid interruptions. ...
  5. 5) Taste your small success.
16 May 2016

How is procrastination a strength? ›

Here are the five benefits of procrastination that are just too good to do without:
  1. It Gives Us An Energy Boost. ...
  2. Waiting Until The Last Minute Forces Us To Focus. ...
  3. Lack Of Time Makes Us Work Faster. ...
  4. Procrastinating Makes Other Things Seem Easier. ...
  5. It Forces You To Lower Your Expectations.
12 May 2015

What are the three steps to help you stop procrastinating? ›

Three Ways to Stop Procrastination
  1. Set deadlines. Create a schedule with clear due dates for each task. ...
  2. Ask for help. Ask a trusted colleague to review your work. ...
  3. Change your mind-set. Stop thinking of yourself as a procrastinator.
19 Oct 2012

What are the dangers of procrastination? ›

Procrastination is associated with a variety of dangers and negative effects, including worse academic performance, worse financial status, increased interpersonal relationship issues, reduced wellbeing, and worse mental and physical health.

How do you beat the emotional battle of procrastination? ›

Self-awareness is essential to win the emotional battle in your head. Start by facing the enemy rather than by being harsh on yourself — stress fuels procrastination. Ask yourself: “Why am I avoiding doing something? Why do I hate this task?”

What is the 2 minute rule? ›

It was first established by David Allen in his book, Getting Things Done. The two-minute rule aims to banish procrastination and help people accomplish small tasks. Here's what the rule says: if you can do an action in two minutes or less, tackle it at the moment — and don't delay.

What kind of therapy helps with procrastination? ›

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Procrastination is a brief and highly effective treatment for eliminating procrastination and getting on track to achieve one's goals. CBT is a new form of therapy that is clinically-proven, and backed by hundreds of scientific studies.

What are the 4 types of procrastinators? ›

They say that there are four main types of avoidance archetypes, or procrastinators: the performer, the self-deprecator, the overbooker, and the novelty seeker. Figuring out which group you're in can help you break out of your procrastination patterns — and maybe even turn in something early.

Is procrastination a learned behavior? ›

Procrastination is a learned behavior and therefore can be unlearned.

How does procrastination affect your mental health? ›

We procrastinate when we know what to do, but put off doing it until later. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and guilt. It can also leave us feeling unproductive, lazy, and ineffectual. In others words, it can affect the way we feel about ourselves.

Is procrastination a fear? ›

At its root, procrastination is almost always based on some kind of fear. And figuring out how to beat that fear is the key to unprocrastination, in the long run. Quick fixes are fine, but if the fears remain unabated, they will continue to act on you, causing you to want to procrastinate despite your best intentions.

What happens the longer you procrastinate? ›

Moreover, other studies have found that procrastinators report higher levels of guilt and anxiety when they choose to procrastinate in the first place. And if you keep it up, researchers have found that chronic procrastination is linked to: low self-confidence, Low energy, And depression.

What does it mean to wait until the last minute? ›

A last-minute action is one that is done at the latest time possible. He will probably wait until the last minute.

Why do I like waiting until the last minute? ›

This is the procrastination habit. It's a bad habit, a self-defeating habit. The second reason some people offer up for their chronic last-minute efforts is that they like the arousal. Just as often as I hear, “I'll feel more like doing it tomorrow,” I also hear “I work better under pressure.

Why do some people leave everything to the last minute? ›

Some people who acquire the habit of leaving everything until the last minute are addicted to adrenaline. They believe they function better when they're working with deadlines. Also, they end up feeling a great sense of satisfaction when they overcome these risks.

Why do we delay things? ›

We may delay and avoid because we don't feel we have the competence to do a task or make a decision. We feel that others will look down on us or we will upset them if we do poorly on a task. We want others to value us so we procrastinate because we don't believe we're "good enough" to achieve without losing face.

What kind of person is a procrastinator? ›

A procrastinator is someone who repeatedly and unnecessarily postpones decisions or actions. For example, if a person repeatedly delays working on assignments until right before their deadline for no reason, even though they know that it would be better for them to start earlier, that person is a procrastinator.

What kind of behavior is procrastination? ›

Hence, procrastination can be seen as irrational behavior—delaying some intended course of action, realizing that it is disadvantageous (Klingsieck, 2013). Behavioral delay in procrastination is observed in at least two ways.

What is the key difference between time management and procrastination? ›

Procrastination is NOT a time management issue, it is an emotional management issue. When you separate procrastination from a perceived inability to complete a task, you will give yourself the breathing space you need to get back on track, start meeting deadlines and stop beating yourself up because of procrastination.

Why does anxiety cause procrastination? ›

Conclusion. Procrastination is closely linked to anxiety. Many people find that their anxiety flares up when faced with a large task, causing them to put off the task out of a fear that it won't be good enough or that it's simply too much for them to handle.

Do ADHD people procrastinate? ›

Procrastination is a common behavior in people with ADHD. While everyone procrastinates sometimes, evidence indicates that people with ADHD may be more likely to procrastination often or on a daily basis.

Which hormone is responsible for procrastination? ›

Old Hormones

At some point in your past, you were rewarded for procrastinating, and your brain gave you dopamine. For some people, it happened enough times that it became a habit in their brains. So ever since then, their brains have been trying to use procrastination to get more dopamine.

Is procrastination a psychological issue? ›

Although procrastination is not considered a mental health condition in and of itself, it is connected to mental health challenges. Several studies have linked procrastination to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

What are the 4 types of procrastinators? ›

They say that there are four main types of avoidance archetypes, or procrastinators: the performer, the self-deprecator, the overbooker, and the novelty seeker. Figuring out which group you're in can help you break out of your procrastination patterns — and maybe even turn in something early.

Is procrastination natural? ›

As it turns out, procrastination is natural — it's a response from our brain to protect us from mental burnout.

Why is procrastination so addictive? ›

It's what triggers addictive behaviours—and we crave more of it. And the dopamine pull is one of the main reasons we procrastinate. Our limbic system pulls us to do things that make us feel good now because that's the easiest way we can get an immediate dopamine hit.

Is procrastination nature or nurture? ›

Procrastination and laziness are based in our genetics, and you can be predisposed to both, says Sharad Paul, MD, author of The Genetics Of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health. While procrastination seems like a character flaw, it evolved for a reason.

Is procrastination genetic or environmental? ›

The same research team has now studied whether there is an association between the trait and genetics. After examining identical and fraternal twins, the authors of a previous study, which featured in Psychological Science, concluded that 46% of the tendency to procrastinate might be down to genes.

Is procrastination a learned behavior? ›

Procrastination is a learned behavior and therefore can be unlearned.

Why can't I stop procrastinating? ›

For some people, procrastination is more than a bad habit; it's a sign of a serious underlying health issue. For example, ADHD , OCD , anxiety, and depression are associated with procrastination. Also, research suggests that procrastination can be a cause of serious stress and illness.

What's the opposite of procrastination? ›

Procrastination is the thief of time. However, the opposite of procrastination can also be a serious problem — a tendency we call “pre-crastination.” Pre-crastination is the inclination to complete tasks quickly just for the sake of getting things done sooner rather than later.

What's the difference between laziness and procrastination? ›

Procrastination and laziness are two different concepts: procrastination involves delaying unnecessarily, whereas laziness involves being voluntarily unwilling to exert necessary effort.

Is everyone a procrastinator? ›


One of my favorite sayings is, "Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator." We all put tasks off, but my research has found that 20 percent of U.S. men and women are chronic procrastinators.

What is the difference between procrastination and motivation? ›

Lack of motivation is part of procrastination. You are in avoidance mode, rather than drive mode! Motivation is what drives you to achieve what needs to be done. Determining what motivates you can help you overcome procrastination.


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Author: Domingo Moore

Last Updated: 01/04/2023

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Author information

Name: Domingo Moore

Birthday: 1997-05-20

Address: 6485 Kohler Route, Antonioton, VT 77375-0299

Phone: +3213869077934

Job: Sales Analyst

Hobby: Kayaking, Roller skating, Cabaret, Rugby, Homebrewing, Creative writing, amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Domingo Moore, I am a attractive, gorgeous, funny, jolly, spotless, nice, fantastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.