Procrastination Article - What is it?

"Telling a chronic academic procrastinator to 'just do it' is not going to work – It's like telling a clinically depressed person to cheer up." (Hoover, 2005). 

Procrastination: What is it, and how do I put off dealing with it for now?

Although procrastination is an extremely common habit, it can become a form of self-sabotage for learners, regardless of your degree level (Kearns, Gardiner, & Marshall, 2007).

To procrastinate is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as to "delay or postpone action; put off doing something" (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Eric Hoover of the Chronicle of Higher Education (Hoover, 2005) suggests that procrastination is essentially "when one keeps reorganizing [one's to-do list] so that little or nothing on it gets done." Hoover asserts that procrastination is linked to issues that frequently afflict college students; including anxiety, lowered self-esteem, plagiarism, depression, and cheating. In other words, procrastination can make you miserable, and prevent you from achieving your academic goals.

Hoover also recognizes, though, that procrastination is not something easily remedied. He quotes Joseph R. Ferrari, a prominent researcher on the phenomenon, as saying,

Why We Procrastinate

There are two prominent schools of thought on why procrastination occurs. Ferrari and others have pointed to two types of procrastinators, based on two very different motivations:

·         Arousal procrastinators put work off for the adrenaline rush that comes with completing a project under a tight deadline.

·         Avoidant procrastinators put projects off because they're worried about their ability to perform adequately or because they worry that success will result in more pressure from others to continually perform at the same level (Hoover, 2005).

More recently, in his book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and start Getting Stuff Done, Piers Steel has listed three reasons why people procrastinate:

·         They lack self-confidence.

·         They dislike the task.

·         They lack impulse control (the latter being a classic symptom of Attention Deficit Disorder, but also characteristic of those without ADD who simply struggle to stay focused in a multitasking world (Golden, 2011).

Overcoming Procrastination

So how can you better understand the specific reasons you procrastinate, and what can you do to address this problem? See the activities and strategies n are designed to help you. Gain an understanding of how, when, and why you procrastinate: an important step in changing your behaviors and habits.


Hoover, E. (2005, December 9). Tomorrow I love ya! Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(16), A30–A32.

Kearns, H., Gardiner, M., & Marshall, K. (2008). Innovation in PhD completion: The hardy shall succeed (and be happy!). Higher Education Research and Development, 27(1), 77–89. doi: 10.1080/07294360701658781

Oxford University Press. (2010). Procrastinate. Retrieved from Oxford Dictionaries Web site. 

Golden, S. (2011). The Procrastination Equation. Inside Higher Education.

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