Procrastination is a complex psychological behavior that affects everyone to some degree or another. With some it can be a minor problem; with others it is a source of considerable stress and anxiety. Procrastination is only remotely related to time management, (procrastinators often know exactly what they should be doing, even if they cannot do it), which is why very detailed schedules usually are no help.

  • Low Self-Confidence - The procrastinator may struggle with feelings of low self-confidence and low self-esteem. He may insist upon a high level of performance even though he may feel inadequate or incapable of actually achieving that level.

  • I'm Too Busy - Procrastination may be used to call attention to how busy he is. “Obviously I cannot do such and such because my affairs are so complicated and so demanding. That is why I am late, etc.” The procrastinator may even spend considerable time justifying his reasons, time that could be spent doing the work.

  • Stubbornness - Procrastination may be used as an expression of stubbornness or pride: “Don't think you can push me around. I will do it when I'm good and ready.”

  • Manipulation - Procrastination may be used to control or manipulate the behavior of others. “They cannot start if I am not there.” Let's face it: deliberate delay drives others crazy.

  • Manipulation - Procrastination is often truly difficult to eradicate since the delayed behavior has become a method of coping with day-to-day pressures and experiences. Obviously if one is cured, others will put new demands and expectations upon you. It's easier to have an excuse, to delay, to put off.

  • A Frustrated Victim - The procrastinator often feels like a victim: he cannot understand his behavior or why he cannot get work done like others. The whole thing is a frustrating mystery. The reasons for his behavior are hidden from him.

Four Simple Reasons for Procrastination

  • Difficult - the task seems hard to do; we naturally tend to avoid difficult things in favor of those which seem easy to us.

  • Time-consuming - the task will take large blocks of time, and large blocks of time are unavailable until the weekend.

  • Lack of knowledge or skills - no one wants to make mistakes, so wait until you learn how before you start.

  • Fears - everyone will know how you screwed up.

The simple cure? Do everything opposite. Tell yourself: this isn't so hard, it won't take long, and I am sure that I know how to do it, or that I can learn while I'm doing it. And no one else really cares because they are all so busy with their own problems.
Four Complex Reasons for Procrastination

  • Perfectionism - unrealistically high expectations or standards. Everything must go completely right. It creates a high degree of dissatisfaction and frustration because seldom is anything accomplished that is completely acceptable the very first time.

How to resolve: Try self-reassurance that this effort or version will be good enough and praise what you have done. It is impossible to eradicate all mistakes. You have undoubtedly found all the fatal errors by now.

  • Anger/Hostility - if we are unhappy with someone, we'll often withhold our best efforts. For example, you may delay starting a demanding project as a way of “getting even.”

How to resolve: Determine that you are the one who is feeling upset and see how your actions will actually harm you in the long run. You are not going to let how you feel about a particular task stand in the way of your personal future, are you?


  • Low Frustration Tolerance - circumstances overwhelm you easily; you find situations radically intolerable and terribly unfair. Frustration is characterized by whining and complaining, and such phrases as “it isn't fair,” “this is too hard,” and “no one else has to,” etc.

How to resolve: Get help from someone who can show you how to solve the problem. Learn how to temporarily postpone your desires. Most of the time, you will eventually get what you want.


  • Self-Downing - this happens when you continually minimize your own skills and abilities and express doubt about your ability to succeed. A person who habitually puts himself down tends to disbelieve himself even when he is successful: it was “just dumb luck.” In addition, he may also find it hard to accept praise and compliments for work performed.

How to resolve: Figure out why you feel uncomfortable with success. Did significant others in your life often make you feel that way? Were you taught to minimize your success? Why is success so scary? Will it make you stand out in the crowd? Do you feel as though others will not accept you if you are successful? Remember to compliment and praise yourself for work accomplished.

Procrastination is the thief of time.- Edward Young


Steps to the Cure

  • Realize you are delaying something unnecessarily.

  • Discover the real reasons for your delay. List them.

  • Dispute those real reasons and overcome them. Be vigorous.

  • Begin the task.

Some tools that will help:

  • Make the tasks look small and easy in your mind. ("I've written lots of excellent papers; this is just one more paper.")

  • Do only a small part of the task each time. ("I'll just check out the books tonight. Later on, I'll glance through them.")

  • Five-minute plan: Work on something for just five minutes. At the end of five minutes, switch to something else if you want. Chances are, you'll get involved enough to keep going.

  • Advertise your plans to accomplish something, and let peer pressure push you forward. ("I told everyone that I was going to finish this tonight.")

  • Use a good friend as a positive role model. If you have trouble concentrating, study in the presence of someone who doesn't.

  • Modify your environment - if you can't study at home, find a place where you can study; or, change your study situation at home.

  • Plan tomorrow and establish priorities - some students find that simply writing down reasonable starting and stopping times help them get going.

  • Expect some backsliding. Don't expect to be perfect even when you're trying to get rid of perfectionism! So occasionally, your plans will not work. Accept setbacks and start again.

The dread of doing a task waste more time and energy than doing the task itself.

Procrastination is like a credit card... fun until you get the bill.
Nothing is as fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task!
Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there!


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