Procrastination Does Not Equal Laziness

Procrastination Does Not Equal Laziness

Procrastination. We’re all guilty of it, whether it’s putting off washing the dishes until tomorrow or avoiding writing that research paper until the night before. Inevitably, we experience regret and vow never to procrastinate again.

So, why are many of us repeat offenders, especially since procrastination is ultimately detrimental to us?

According to Dr. Piers Steel, author of “The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done,” procrastination equates to self-harm, not laziness. Procrastination at its core involves a level of self-awareness; we know it leads to negative consequences, but we persist anyways.

People are mired in cyclical procrastination because of an inability to manage negative feelings or moods around finishing a certain task. Procrastination provides a momentary sense of relief, enabling us to effectively regulate emotion in the moment, at the expense of future harm.

So how do we manage our moods and procrastinate less?

  1. Forgiving Ourselves

Take notice when you are doing it, but try not to beat yourself up over procrastinating. Research has shown that self-forgiveness enhances future productivity.

  1. Changing Thoughts

When the urge to delay strikes, remind yourself of a time when you completed something similar and it turned out well. Or, think about the benefits of completing the task. What praise might you receive from a boss, teacher or family member upon completing the project? How will you feel about yourself?

  1. Making a Pros & Cons List

Jot down the pros and cons of promptly completing the task at hand as well as the pros and cons of avoiding the task. Compare the results and analyze the items. Think about which items will affect you in the short term versus the long term, and decide which is best for you.

  1. Make Distractions Less Tempting

Set yourself up for success and remove temptations. If you know you’re tempted to check your email or refresh your Instagram feed every 10 minutes, put your phone in another room, turn it off or give it to a family member to hold while you complete the task.


Authored by: Jennifer Jamgochian, LMSW