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Description: Quick! Off the top of your head, why do people (perhaps you yourself) procrastinate? Procrastination is perceived to be a huge problem generally, and when I ask students to name a few things they think they need to work on in order to improve their academic and life performance, procrastination (doing less of it) tops the list. Being able to say something sensible about why people procrastinate is an important first step towards being able to tell them what they need to do in order to stop procrastinating. So, why do people procrastinate? Form your own answer to that question and then reads the article linked below for a look at what some current psychological research suggests.

Source: Procrastination isn’t your fault, but it’s your responsibility, Piers Steel, UCalgary News.

Date: August 14, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by kmicican from Pixabay

Article Link: https://www.ucalgary.ca/news/procrastination-isnt-your-fault-its-your-responsibility?

So, perhaps, “It makes me more creative” or “It gets me focused and motivated” are not ideal answers to the question of what procrastination is. That certainly explains why simply deciding not to do it or deciding you will stop doing it when the thing you have to get done really matters do not work very well. It is helpful to view procrastination as natural but not functional and to see that the skills involved in goal striving can help AND can be learned. The distinction between onset delay and goal striving skills is useful if you think about it and work on it. As Peirs Steel says, “procrastination is not your fault,” he says, “but it is your responsibility.” So, own it and get help if needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why did you think people procrastinate before you read the article?
  2. What is the difference between onset delay and goal striving?
  3. What might help you avoid or reduce procrastination (now that you have read the linked article)? Or perhaps you can worry about that tomorrow?

References (Read Further):

Steel, P. (2010). The procrastination equation: How to stop putting things off and start getting stuff done. Random House Canada.

Svartdal, F., Klingsieck, K. B., Steel, P., & Gamst-Klaussen, T. (2020). Measuring implemental delay in procrastination: Separating onset and sustained goal striving. Personality and Individual Differences, 156, 109762. Link

Svartdal, F., Granmo, S., & Færevaag, F. S. (2018). On the behavioral side of procrastination: Exploring behavioral delay in real-life settings. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 746. Link

Zuber, S., Cauvin, S., Haas, M., Daviet, A. S., Da Silva Coelho, C., & Kliegel, M. (2020). Do self‐reports of procrastination predict actual behavior?. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, e1843. Link

Steel, P., Svartdal, F., Thundiyil, T., & Brothen, T. (2018). Examining procrastination across multiple goal stages: a longitudinal study of temporal motivation theory. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 327. Link

Lee, F. K., Sheldon, K. M., & Turban, D. B. (2003). Personality and the goal-striving process: The influence of achievement goal patterns, goal level, and mental focus on performance and enjoyment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 256. Link

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