Composed by: Alethia Buckle
Dr. Ferrari, in an interview by the American Psychological Association, stated his belief that everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator. He claims that we all put tasks off, but in his research, has found that 20 percent of U.S. men and women are chronic procrastinators. He believes that they delay at home, work, school and in relationships.
Steel, in his book, “The Procrastination Equation, referred to Procrastination as dysfunctional delay, yet some researchers have posited the claim that the habit of procrastinating may be a strategy for dealing with stress. It is believed that putting off tasks makes us worse off for doing so. However, is procrastination entirely negative? Steel postulates that the obsessive person who tries to get tasks done at the first opportunity may be just as dysfunctional as the procrastinator who is seen as irrational for leaving everything for last minute. He accepts that none of these persons are using time intelligently. Steel made the claim that a type of energy builds within a procrastinator, eventually, a threshold is crossed and something clicks. At this point, a procrastinator starts working on the task. He believes that there is some inner mind that automatically reduced the task down to its essence, as there are no more moments to spare. The procrastinator delves into the work, making ruthless decisions and astonishing progress. He believes that before the person starts to work, there is perhaps a menacing cloudiness, and then the panic of the last minute brings some glittering clarity over them.
How can I make procrastination work for me?
Megan Poorman’s article on “Procrastinating your way to a PhD,” posits that everyone procrastinates. The notion exists that this is a bad habit and one must strive to not engage in it. However, Poorman used Piers Steel’s workshops, based on his book, “The Procrastination Equation,’ as a support for her arguments that state that we can make procrastination work for us. Steel argues that human nature causes us to do anything when we want to avoid tackling important tasks. She suggests that to avoid losing productive time, we should execute tasks that are less urgent while we are procrastinating on one.
Can Procrastination help to increase productivity?
Poorman notes that we need to change our mindset in order to engage in ‘productive procrastination.’ She explains this type of procrastination by suggesting five steps. These include: redefining our source of value, letting go of the guilt, using the dead time, employing the law of averages and recognizing when you have to force yourself. She explains that to conquer this problem, we must change how we view procrastination and make it productive, we must redefine our source of value, which is having the ability to relax and not be so stressed about unfinished work, but be able to switch between work and life tasks.
We should forgive ourselves and not allow our minds to be clouded with guilt and remember who we want to become after completing our degree. We should use our ‘dead time’ to do other tasks such as checking and responding to important emails, and doing other required paperwork, but we should avoid doing things like checking social media. We, must try and prevent last minute rush before our deadlines, but rather clear some space so we will have more time to complete our research later in the day. Because of the flexibility of graduate school, Poorman suggests that the down weeks should allow us to be better prepared for more tedious weeks. Deadlines will always be there to keep, hence, if we find ourselves procrastinating or behind on one task because we don’t feel like working on it, then we should push through. We should recognize that our progress will fluctuate, however we should average out time spent working. Poorman says we have to force ourselves at times because deadlines are coming up and we need to recognize when we must do this. We should employ productive procrastination, and this will allow us to feel up to the challenge instead of being overworked and burned out.
Can procrastination really work positively in higher education?
It is believed that procrastination may help us to become even more productive if we are able to channel it the right way. Interactions with some persons doing higher education at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, have revealed claims that engaging in this practice give them an increased flow of adrenaline that ignites a drive to get the task done. The researcher believes that some persons may not intentionally want to procrastinate, however, more clarity for given tasks may occur when deadlines are drawing near. This means that a research topic may seem complex and unmanageable, but with the deadlines drawing closer, concepts become clearer and a plan of action appears into one’s consciousness. The researcher is of the view that people are different in nature and one approach may not work for all as humans have different levels of comfort and different conditions under which we function. Hence, if a procrastinator gets the tasks done because of the last minute drive, then one cannot discourage them from discontinuing a practice that may have become their nature. On the other hand, there are those whose best work comes only when work begins soon after tasks were given, this person may produce mediocre work if they engage in the ‘procrastination equation’ as those conditions may be stressful to them and may cause them to fall apart. Therefore the researcher stands on mutual grounds when the issue of procrastination is considered, it is not all for one, and it is not one for all.
Ferrari, J. (2010) Psychology of Procrastination: Why People Put Off Important Tasks Until the Last Minute. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from:
Poorman, M. (2017) Procrastinating your way to a PhD. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from:
Steel, P. (2010). The Procrastination Equation: How to stop putting things off and start getting stuff done. Random House Canada. Retrieved from