Procrastination: What Makes it Good and Bad and How Can You Stop It?

Can procrastination be considered as somehow helpful for you? Does it have any advantages? Let’s find out inside this article.

Procrastination has a negative reputation as behavior that reduces productivity and prevents people from reaching their full potential.

Some people resist procrastinating because they think it would lower their productivity and stress.

“I never procrastinate because if I do, even for a little bit, I would never do the job,” one individual said. It makes it difficult to prioritize and can be frustrating, but I feel in command.”

Related: How To Adapt To Remote Working Using Affirmations

She did, however, mention that never procrastinating on anything sometimes lead to her completing unneeded labor.

So, is procrastination all bad, or may it have some advantages? And what causes some people to postpone in the first place?

In this post, we’ll discuss procrastination’s causes, its effects on health and productivity, and when it can be useful.

Why do we Procrastinate?

Some people link procrastination with poor time management, inability to organize and prioritize work, and late or missed deadlines.

According to one study, procrastination is associated with psychological fragility. Other research has found that those who put off chores till the last minute may have worse self-esteem than their peers.

Fuschia Sirois, Ph.D., of Sheffield University in the UK, found that procrastinators have higher stress and poorer self-compassion.

Sirois says “serial” procrastinators are locked in a vicious loop where incomplete jobs haunt them, paralyzing them and preventing them from completing current work.

This concept is supported by a study published in 2017. Some types of procrastination are linked to neuroticism, a personality trait marked by anxiety, concern, or aggravation.

Psychological Science reported last year that procrastinators have larger amygdalae than non-procrastinators.

The amygdala regulates emotions, especially anxiety and terror. The scientists explain in their research that “[r]egarding action control, this could suggest that individuals with a larger amygdala volume have learned from past mistakes and more thoroughly examine future actions and their potential consequences.”

“This, in turn,” they write, “may lead to increased anxiety and reluctance, as seen in persons with low [decision-related action orientation] scores.”

Procrastination’s Effect on Health

Another study, conducted by Sirois and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D. of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, suggests that people may use procrastination as a “short fixTrusted Source” for poor moods caused by stress tied to a specific activity.

“I tend to procrastinate if there is a task that I don’t want to perform, perhaps because it is unpleasant, stressful, or uninteresting,” one respondent told MNT.

“It means that I frequently put off chores that would benefit me to accomplish right away, which can sometimes result in additional stress in the long run,” he noted.

This person’s self-evaluation is correct, according to Sirois and Pychyl.

Procrastination, as a short-term remedy, ignores the long-term consequences of leaving tasks incomplete until the last minute. As stated by the authors in their paper:

“[In procrastination] the burden for completing the task [is] shifted to some future self that will have to pay the price for the inaction. We believe that tomorrow will be different. We believe that we will be different tomorrow; but in doing so, we prioritize our current mood over the consequences of our inaction for our future self.”

Researchers Roy Baumeister and Dianne Tice argue in a seminal 1997 study that procrastination is a type of “self-defeating behavior because it evidently leads to stress, disease, and poor performance.”

When compared to non-procrastinators, Baumeister and Tice discovered that procrastinators may experience lower levels of stress when they procrastinate.

The researchers also cite past research demonstrating that procrastinating is associated with poorer mental health and decreased task performance.

Now that we know the basic things about procrastination, let’s now discuss why it is harmful or bad.

Why is Procrastination Harmful?

Procrastination is a precursor to poor performance. When people procrastinate instead of focusing on doing their best, they experience stress and anxiety. Remember when you’re under pressure and you start panicking about the things you could have done but didn’t? That, after all, is the evil of procrastination.

Your responsibilities pile up, and the longer you avoid work, the more difficult it will be to manage everything. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the outcome, but procrastination frequently leads to increased fear. Furthermore, procrastination is a self-defeating behavior that results from impulsiveness. The presence of procrastination invariably and implicitly implies a lack of progress.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Benjamin Franklin

Does Procrastination Have Benefits?

Other researchers, however, believe that procrastination has certain advantages.

Angela Hsin Chun Chu and Jin Nam Choi think there are several sorts of procrastination.

Choi and Chu mention earlier research that argued that “not all delays contribute to negative effects” in their study, which was published in The Journal of Social Psychology. They stated that “delays caused by time spent planning and acquiring essential preparation information can be helpful.”

As a result, they distinguish two sorts of procrastinators:

  • Passive procrastinators do not want to postpone completing a task, but do so because they are unable to “make decisions fast and […] act on them promptly.”
  • Active procrastinators deliberately postpone task completion because they prefer to work under pressure because it helps them to “feel challenged and motivated.”

Choi and Chu argue that “active procrastinators” have a comparable psychological profile to non-procrastinators and that postponing may help them.

Active procrastinators may organize their efforts, but they don’t follow a timetable, according to the study.

Such procrastinators give themselves the freedom to deal with changes and new demands as they arise, allowing them to complete many competing tasks on the go. The researchers observe:

“If something unexpected comes up, [active procrastinators] will switch gears and engage in new tasks that they perceive as more urgent. In other words, active procrastinators may have more flexibly structured time and are more sensitive to changing demands in their environment.”

Good for Creativity?

Adam Grant, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, says those who “put off” doing a problem for a long come up with more innovative ideas than those who start straight away.

In Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World, Grant advances this case. His TED lecture is below.

Grant explains in his TED talk that procrastination is a productivity fault but a creativity virtue. Existing studies suggest a link between creativity and procrastination.

Grant explains that modest procrastination may lead to innovation since our preoccupation with a task does not evaporate. Our pending work “runs in the background,” giving us time to create inventive solutions.

One 2017 study discovered a relationship between creative ideation and procrastination. “Active procrastinators” may be more creative, according to 853 Chinese undergraduates.

Related: Affirmations to Overcome Procrastination

Boredom may increase creativity. Procrastinators may be more prone to ennui than their colleagues, according to older UF research.

Boredom has negative connotations, yet studies suggest it can enhance creativity. When bored, our minds wander, “training” our imaginations, say the researchers.

“Directed” procrastination may not be harmful and help us to evaluate the issue more imaginatively.

Some of us need the pressure of a deadline to stay alert. Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes said, “You can’t turn on creativity like a faucet.” You need “last-minute panic”

10 Good and 10 Bad Things About Procrastination

Everybody procrastinates. Some are good. I used to be like that, but I’ve changed my ways and been successful. Still, I sometimes want to put off important tasks. Because I found the research on procrastination so interesting, I wanted to share it. Here are some pros and downsides of procrastinating.

10 Reasons Why Procrastination Can Be Good For You

You look at the time: 4:30 p.m. Your workday is almost over, but your to-do list is far from complete. You stare at it in horror as you realize there are items on it that have been there for weeks but have been de-prioritized time and time again. You heave a sigh. Once again, procrastination has gotten the best of you.

Is that correct?

We are all aware that procrastination may become an enemy if it prevents us from doing what we desire. However, this is not always the case. Procrastination can boost your productivity and happiness. This is why:

Active procrastination makes you get more things done.

Sure, you might not get the task you’re putting off completed. However, if you are an active procrastinator, the rest of your to-do list is likely to get cleared shortly. Once you’ve finished the rest of your to-do list, you’re left with the one item you were putting off, and you must begin. (Sitting on the couch doing nothing is passive procrastination; get up and do something!)

Procrastination causes unnecessary chores to disappear.

After putting off a chore for a while, you might look at it and wonder why it’s even on your to-do list. This allows you to reconsider whether it is still necessary to accomplish it. If you’ve been putting things off for a while, it’s possible that it’s no longer vital or relevant to you.

Procrastination illuminates what is most essential to you.

You’re less likely to put off doing activities you enjoy or that are important to you. Purpose and enthusiasm can help you overcome procrastination—or show you that you’re working on the wrong subject.

Prioritization may be the offshoot of procrastination.

Procrastination can help you start prioritizing if you’ve been putting things off. This is useful for getting rid of unnecessary tasks, things you may have started that aren’t worth your time right now.

Procrastination allows you to be more creative.

It’s normal to procrastinate when you have a large, essential assignment ahead of you since it’s intimidating. When you settle down to do it, you’ll have more ideas.

Related: 21 Reality Shifting Methods for Moving into Your Desired Reality

Procrastination allows you to make more informed decisions.

Sometimes you put off making a decision because you’re not sure which option is best for you. Your reasoning mind and your intuition are contradicting each other, and you’re not sure which to listen to—or who’s saying what! That’s when procrastination comes in handy, as you postpone doing something that might not be suitable for you. It buys you time to consider all of your options and their advantages and disadvantages. You’re ready to make a decision when the deadline arrives since you’ve done your homework.

Active procrastination offers health benefits.

Chu and Choi discovered in 2005 that active procrastinators were not paralyzed by worry. They also had lower stress levels, fewer avoidant tendencies, and higher self-efficacy.

Better apologies result from procrastination.

If you’ve done something wrong and owe someone an apology, allow them (and yourself) some time to cool off. This lets you craft a meaningful apology that shows your regret and learnings while explaining the mistake. It gives the other person time to reflect on how this has affected them so they can communicate properly and quietly.

Procrastination is normal.

Instead of agonizing over the fact that your procrastination is a bad habit, accept the fact that it is normal. You shouldn’t have a problem if it doesn’t get out of hand or become chronic.

Procrastination allows your mind to process.

Even if you’re not conscious of what’s on your to-do list, your subconscious is. This could result in an innovative or creative solution to the problem, task, project, errand, or chore you’ve been putting off.

10 Bad Things about Procrastination

The list of what’s not so great about procrastination includes some well-known (and probably quite familiar) observations, each of which holds some truth.

Procrastination can lead to poor academic performance.

While this may seem obvious, a Case Western Reserve University study found that college students who procrastinated had higher levels of stress, more episodes of illness, and lower grades by the end of the semester.

Procrastination-related stress may be associated with a lack of self-compassion.

Sirois’ research, published in Self & Identity, suggested that lower levels of self-compassion could explain some of the stress levels experienced by procrastinators and that targeted interventions to promote self-compassion could be beneficial for those individuals.

Procrastination promotes negative feelings.

Pychyl et al. investigated the phenomenon of negative feelings associated with student procrastination in Personality & Individual Differences. The first instance of procrastination before an exam resulted in a negative effect, but self-forgiveness tended to reduce procrastination and the negative effect on a subsequent exam.

Procrastination may have a genetic component.

Is your genetic makeup destined to make you a procrastinator? Several studies have been conducted to investigate the origins of procrastination, or whether genetics is a factor. Gustavson et al study’s published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science found support for their hypothesis that procrastination is a byproduct of impulsivity. Not only is procrastination heritable, but both share a great deal of genetic variation, with goal management being an important aspect of this shared variability. Even if you have a proclivity to procrastinate, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it.

Procrastination is destructive behavior.

While the debate over the benefits and drawbacks of procrastination continues, some scientists believe that procrastination conflates positive behaviors such as pondering and prioritizing. Furthermore, procrastination for a variety of seemingly good reasons leads to the self-defeating habit of genuine procrastination, which is the lack of progress.

Putting off what needs to be done will almost certainly result in a poor product.

Some people believe that procrastinating motivates them to do their best work under pressure. While this may be true for a small number of people, it is not the norm. Crashing to finish that all-important project, school paper, or business presentation at the last minute is unlikely to result in your best work. Contrary self-talk is merely an excuse.

Procrastination allows you to get things done, but they are the wrong things.

Pushing the important task to the bottom of the list and focusing on several easy and quick-to-do ones that you can do at any time gives you the false sense that you’re getting a lot done. Granted, this example of procrastination allows you to complete tasks, but they are the wrong tasks – or are out of priority.

When you procrastinate, you increase the workload of others.

Nobody enjoys having work dumped on them that another employee failed to complete. This breeds resentment increases the workload of the overburdened employees and sets the stage for feelings of anxiety and piled-on resentment.

Procrastinators may be paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake, as well as a loss of self-esteem.

When people procrastinate, they are not inherently lazy. Simply ask them. They’ll come up with a dozen different reasons for their inaction. At the heart of the procrastination problem, at least for some people, may be a paralyzing fear of making a mistake and thus losing self-worth.

Chronic procrastination may result in mental health problems.

Procrastination is a self-defeating behavior pattern with short-term benefits and long-term costs, including an increase in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to a longitudinal study of the costs and benefits of procrastination, performance, and stress.

So, What’s Next? How Do You Stop Procrastination if it is Bad For You?

Procrastination is something that even the most organized and punctual people fall victim to at some point. Consider the last time you found yourself watching television instead of doing your homework. Procrastination, while common, can have a negative impact on your life, including your grades. 1

So, what can students and others do to overcome procrastination and avoid the stress, anxiety, and poor performance that results from rushing through assignments?

According to the researchers, creating a schedule, carefully planning academic tasks, and improving time management skills are all effective ways to deal with procrastination.

Handle Your Fear

One factor that contributes to procrastination is fear. This can include a fear of failure, of making mistakes, or even of success.

Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a Psychology Today contributor and author of The Search for Fulfillment, believes that it is critical to challenge your faulty beliefs.

If you are afraid of success because you secretly believe you do not deserve it, it is critical to recognize that your self-handicapping may be preventing you from reaching your objectives. By addressing the fear that is preventing you from starting, you can begin to break the cycle of procrastination.

Create a List

Begin by making a to-do list of tasks that you want to complete. Put a date next to each item if there is a deadline that you must meet.

Estimate how long each task will take to complete and then double that number to avoid falling into the cognitive trap of underestimating the length of each project.

Divide Projects Into More Manageable Chunks.

When faced with a large project, you may feel daunted, intimidated, or even hopeless due to the sheer amount of work involved. Take each item on your list and break it down into a series of steps at this point.

What steps should you take if you need to write a paper for class? What do you need to do and what supplies do you need to get if you’re planning a large family event?

After you've made a list of the steps you'll need to take to complete the task, you can begin working on individual "baby steps."

Recognize the Beginnings of Procrastination

Pay attention to when thoughts of procrastination begin to creep into your mind as you begin to tackle items on your list. If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t feel like doing this right now,” or “I’ll work on it later,” you should be aware that you are about to procrastinate.

When you are tempted to procrastinate, resist the urge. Instead, force yourself to work on the task for at least a few minutes. In many cases, you may discover that it is easier to complete once you begin.

Eliminate Distractions

When you’re continuously distracted by what’s on TV or Facebook status updates from your friends, it’s hard to get any serious work done.

Set aside a time when you will turn off all distractions, such as music, television, and social networking sites, and devote all of your attention to the task at hand.

Reward Yourself

It is important to reward yourself for your efforts once you have completed a task (or even a small portion of a larger task).

Allow yourself to enjoy something fun and enjoyable, whether it’s going to a sporting event, playing a video game, watching your favorite TV show, or looking at pictures on a social sharing site.

It is difficult to break the habit of procrastination. After all, if it were easy, an estimated 80 percent to 95 percent of students would not procrastinate on a regular basis. 4 The desire to put things off can be strong, especially when there are so many fun and entertaining distractions around us.

While you may not be able to avoid procrastination entirely, becoming aware of why you procrastinate and how to overcome those tendencies can help. By putting these strategies into action, you may find it easier to put your nose to the grindstone and get started on those important tasks.


Procrastination is your intellect and instincts telling you not to do something or to ponder before acting.

If you’re a habitual procrastinator like me, embrace it. Accept it so you can get more done. So you can begin to listen to what your intuition is trying to teach you. Accept it so you may get back to doing the things that are important to you. That is how you would greet happiness in your life.