Facts on Procrastination ~ Health Guide

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Facts on Procrastination

Written by Mystic on Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It took most of the 20th century for psychology to get serious about studying people who postpone till tomorrow what they ought to do today. But today, their focus couldn't be timelier. In our computer-driven society, people can opt for hyper efficiency, but they can also mindlessly procrastinate with endless electronic distractions. The resulting damage -- while often trivialized -- can be severe, stunting careers and leaving lives mired in shame and self-doubt. Like many forms of self-defeating behavior, procrastination turns out to be deeply rooted in psyche and personality. It's not about time management. To tell a chronic procrastinator to 'Just Do It' is like telling a clinically depressed person to cheer up.

Self-defeating delays

Indeed, all of us occasionally put off boring or unpleasant tasks -- mowing the lawn or organizing our taxes. To break free from such habits is not very difficult. For so-called trait procrastinators correcting their ways is a different ball game altogether. They repeatedly postpone acts that would lead to success or more fulfilled lives. If we call friends at the last minute, for instance, they're less likely to be free. If we phone to make a reservation two hours before dinner, we probably can't get a table. And if we revise our resumes or write a presentation the day before a job interview, well, it's no surprise if we don't get the job.

How many people actually are trait procrastinators? No one really knows. Small surveys have found about 20% of adults report trait procrastination. A seminal 1984 study of 342 college students found close to half, always or almost always, procrastinate at writing term papers.

But it is clear that most trait procrastinators pay a high price. There is the obvious cost: A study of 104 college students published in the November 1997 issue of Psychological Science found that procrastinators turned in their papers later and got lower grades. And there's a more poignant impact. A web-based survey by The Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Canada has received 2,700 responses to the query, "To what extent is procrastination having a negative impact on your happiness?" So far, 46% say "quite a bit" or "very much," and 18% report "extreme negative effect."

Procrastination Facts - Study Skills Library

Procrastination--UIUC Counseling Center

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