What is procrastination?

 

Procrastination is very common, with the common-sense thinking that those that procrastinate are lazy. However, it is the aim of this series of blogs on procrastination to combat this common misunderstanding and provide a clearer understanding of why people procrastinate. James Clear, a self-professed leader in life coaching and the psychology of habits, describes procrastination as ‘the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks (…) it is the force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do’ (Clear, 2018). It is this ‘force’ that is of particular interest.

Research into procrastination has been growing rapidly since the 1990s, which was of a correlational nature, looking into both personality traits (Schouwenburg & Lay, 1995) and the type of task (Pychyl et al, 2000; Scher & Ferrari, 2000). Meta-analysis conducted by both Van Eerde (2003) and Steel (2007) have showed that levels of procrastination vary with the Big Five personality trait of Conscientiousness (e.g. Schouwenburg & Lay, 1995; Costa et al. 1991). This research has correlated with the common-sense thoughts that procrastinators lack self-discipline and are impulsive. Yet none of this research has investigated into why people procrastinate, focussing more on whom. More importantly, when one considers that 95% of collegiate students procrastinate (Ellis & Knaus, 1977), personality, as a argument for the causation for procrastination, seems redundant.

This the first of a series of blog posts on the topic of procrastination. This particular blog will set out the common conceptions of procrastination, creating a foundation for the discussion of research surrounding this social phenomenon. Areas of future discussion will be:

  1. ‘Procrastination: The relationship between the Present and Future selves’;
  2. ‘Procrastination: the avoidance of distress’;
  3. ‘Procrastination and well-being’;
  4. ‘The rise in social media and its effect on Procrastination’;
  5. ‘Procrastination: options for intervention’.

 

The next blog post will investigate into the procrastination being the product of dissonance between our present and future selves. In doing so, the thought that procrastination is actually within our human nature will be discussed.

 

by Archie Hammond

References

Clear, J. (2018). Procrastination: A Brief Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating. [online] James Clear. Available at: https://jamesclear.com/procrastination [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].

Costa, P. T. J., McCrae, R. R., & Dye, D. A. (1991). Facet scales for agreeableness and conscientiousness: A revi- sion of the NEO Personality Inventory. Personality and Individual Differences, 12, 887–898.

Ellis, A., & Knaus, W. J. (1977). Overcoming procrastination. New York: Institute for Rational Living

Pychyl, T. A., Lee, J. M., Thibodeau, R., & Blunt, A. (2000). Five days of emotion: An experience sampling study of undergraduate student procrastination. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15, 239–254.

Scher, S. J., & Ferrari, J. R. (2000). The recall of completed and noncompleted tasks through daily logs to measure procrastination. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15, 255–265.

Schouwenburg, H. C., & Lay, C. H. (1995). Trait procrastination and the Big Five factors of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 18, 481–490.

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