What Is Procrastination And How To End It

By Leon Ho, Founder of Lifehack

Postponing tasks is simply a bargain – trading the joy of the present for future hasty catches and looming deadlines. Each bout of prcorastination subtracts from your pool of opportunities, those which could have been yours had you acted timely.

Have you already tried different ways to overcome procrastination? Those ways can work up to a point… until they don’t, and you fall back to square one…

Every time you procrastinate, your motivation and confidence level drops even more. It’s a downward spiral that would make you feel stuck and powerless to overcome.

We don’t deliberately procrastinate; it is a habit that we fail to let go of. We need willpower and drive to let go of the habit of procrastination.

For whatever you need to learn about Procrastination, this is your go-to guide.

Facts & Statistics About Procrastination

We all procrastinate. But do we really know how deep the rabbit hole goes?

Dr. Joseph Ferrari’s research suggests that a whopping 20% of people consider themselves chronic procrastinators.[1] That’s 1 in 5 of us regularly putting off today what could be done tomorrow.

Now, we might joke about it, but procrastination isn’t a laughing matter when you dive into its effects. Another piece from Dr. Ferrari, alongside Díaz-Morales, found that if you’re regularly pushing tasks to the back burner, there’s a long-term toll on your physical and mental well-being.[2] Why? Procrastinators often don’t develop good coping strategies, leading to more stress. They’re also missing out on key skills to handle life’s curveballs.

Speaking of curveballs, Darius Foroux threw a pretty big one with his study of over 2,000 individuals.[3] He discovered that nearly 88% of workers drift into the procrastination zone for at least one hour daily. Doing some quick math, for someone earning $40k annually, that’s like tossing 15 grand out the window if they’re sidetracked for three hours!

On the topic of work, another study found that as procrastination goes up, performance slides down.[4] So, every time you sneak in some blog-reading, shoot off an unrelated message, or dive into the latest office gossip, you’re not just losing time, you’re compromising the quality and quantity of your work.

But here’s a twist: You might be thinking of “classic procrastination” – the “I’ll do it later” approach is the only kind of procrastination; but Rory Vaden has identified another sneaky culprit, which he calls “priority dilution.”[5]

Ever find yourself busy with something that feels productive, but isn’t the main thing you should be doing? That’s priority dilution. You might feel you’re getting stuff done, but are they the right stuff? We’ll dive deeper into this “productive procrastination” later.

Lastly, there’s a fascinating correlation that’s worth pondering over. A significant chunk of people, when presented with the statement “No matter how much I try, I still put things off”, nodded in agreement. This paints a .64 correlation, hinting that for many, procrastination feels almost involuntary.

What Is Procrastination?

Piers Steel, the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, defines procrastination in this way[6]:

“Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”

In other words, procrastination is doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. The end result is that important tasks are put off to a later time.

Delaying action or making a choice is a form of procrastination. For example, people who procrastinate have a week to complete a task but keep putting it off until the very last minute, even if they intend to begin working on it earlier.

A lack of self-control leads to procrastination, which is often related to the mental condition known as ‘akrasia.’ This is when one acts against their better judgment to avoid doing something important [7].

Procrastination stems from a psychological perspective, where short-term mood repair and emotional regulation (instant gratification) are prioritized over long-term performance and well-being. To put it another way: when procrastinators are reluctant to take on a task because they’re anxious or find it tedious, they postpone it to avoid experiencing negative emotions in the here and now.

Procrastination can also be exacerbated by disconnection from one’s future self. Even if they are aware that this is not the case, people still believe that any happy or unpleasant results they may encounter in the future will be experienced by someone else [8]. When it comes to procrastination, this means that the prospect of incentives or punishments drives them.

Now, with these insights in hand, you’re better equipped to tackle your tendencies and get to the heart of what’s holding you back. Let’s dive deeper…

Final Words

Procrastination is a bad habit that many of us fail to get over or simply don’t know how to overcome it once and for all. After reading this article, you should have gained insights on how to break your procrastination loop and start getting things done.

Now it is time to put the learnings into action. Take the right action today and stop procrastinating!