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Procrastination
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing
high-priority or important actions with tasks of lower priority, or
doing something from which one brings enjoyment, and thus putting off
important tasks to a later time. Some psychologists cite such behavior
as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting
or completing any task or decision. Other psychologists indicate that
anxiety is just as likely to get people to start working early as late
and the focus should be impulsiveness. That is, anxiety will cause people
to delay only if they are impulsive.

Schraw, Wadkins, and Olafson have proposed three criteria for a behavior
to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive,
needless, and delaying. Similarly, Steel (2007) reviews all previous
attempts to define procrastination, indicating it is "to voluntarily
delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off
for the delay."

Procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt and crisis,
severe loss of personal productivity, as well as social disapproval for
not meeting responsibilities or commitments. These feelings combined may
promote further procrastination. While it is regarded as normal for people
to procrastinate to some degree, it becomes a problem when it impedes
normal functioning. Chronic procrastination may be a sign of an underlying
psychological disorder. Such procrastinators may have difficulty seeking
support due to social stigma, and the belief that task-aversion is caused
by laziness, low willpower or low ambition.  Contents


    1 Etymology 2 Overview
        2.1 Psychological 2.2 Physiological
    3 Mental health 4 Perfectionism 5 Examples
        5.1 In the workplace 5.2 Academic procrastination
    6 Reactions to procrastination
        6.1 Justification 6.2 Improving productivity

 Etymology

The modern term comes from the Latin word procrastinatus, which is the
past participle of procrastinare derived from pro- (forward) and crastinus
(of tomorrow). Though descriptions of procrastination appear in ancient
Egyptian, Greek and Roman texts, it first appears by name in the English
language in 1548 according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
 Overview Psychological

The psychological causes of procrastination are in debate. Drawing
on clinical work, there appears to be a connection with issues of
anxiety, low sense of self-worth, and a self-defeating mentality. On the
other hand, drawing on meta-analytical correlational work, anxiety and
perfectionism have no connection or at best an extremely weak connection
with procrastination. Instead, procrastination is strongly connected with
lack of self-confidence (e.g., low self-efficacy, or learned helplessness)
or disliking the task (e.g., boredom and apathy). The strongest connection
to procrastination, however, is impulsiveness. These characteristics are
often used as measures of the personality trait conscientiousness whereas
anxiety and irrational beliefs (such as perfectionism) are aspects of
the personality trait neuroticism. Accordingly, Lee, Kelly and Edwards
(2006) indicated that neuroticism has no direct links to procrastination
and that any relationship is fully mediated by conscientiousness.

For most of human evolution, laziness and short-term but fast thinking
(impulsiveness) were overall adaptive. Laziness was adaptive because
energy and time were much more limited than today in more-developed
countries for most people. Limited energy - e.g., lack of food -
meant that avoidance of labor not necessary for short-term survival
was adaptive; after all, the energy invested in longer-term plans
might be wasted due to unexpected disasters (very common before human
control over our surroundings - technology - grew). Similarly, needing
to work on survival matters most of the time meant that time had to be
conserved. For handling day-to-day survival, short-term thinking was most
of what was needed, with planning limited to solving immediate problems;
taking time to think about longer-term plans could be a distraction from
short-term survival. Today, most people in more-developed countries lack
pressures for immediate survival most of the time; our motivations are
more abstract. It is harder for such abstract motivations to overcome
avoidance of tasks that do not give us short-term pleasure and may cause
us short-term pain (e.g., due to boredom).
 Physiological

Research on the physiological roots of procrastination mostly surrounds
the role of the prefrontal cortex. Consistent with the notion that
procrastination is strongly related to impulsiveness, this area of the
brain is responsible for executive brain functions such as planning,
impulse control, attention, and acts as a filter by decreasing distracting
stimuli from other brain regions. Damage or low activation in this area
can reduce an individual's ability to filter out distracting stimuli,
ultimately resulting in poorer organization, a loss of attention and
increased procrastination. This is similar to the prefrontal lobe's
role in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, where underactivation
is common.
 Mental health

For some people, procrastination can be persistent and tremendously
disruptive to everyday life. For these individuals, procrastination
may be symptomatic of a psychological disorder such as depression or
ADHD. Therefore, it is important for people whose procrastination has
become chronic and is perceived to be debilitating, to seek out a trained
therapist or psychiatrist to see if an underlying mental health issue
may be present.
 Perfectionism

Traditionally, procrastination has been associated with perfectionism,
a tendency to negatively evaluate outcomes and one's own performance,
intense fear and avoidance of evaluation of one's abilities by others,
heightened social self-consciousness and anxiety, recurrent low mood,
and "workaholism". According to Robert B. Slaney adaptive perfectionists
(when perfectionism is egosyntonic) were less likely to procrastinate
than non-perfectionists, while maladaptive perfectionists (people who saw
their perfectionism as a problem; i.e., when perfectionism is egodystonic)
had high levels of procrastination (and also of anxiety). Accordingly,
meta-analytic review of 71 studies by Steel (2007) indicate that typically
perfectionists actually procrastinate slightly less than others, with "the
exception being perfectionists who were also seeking clinical counseling."
 Examples In the workplace
	This
	section requires expansion.

Procrastination in the workplace comes in many forms, and communication
can sometimes suffer from employee silence.
 Academic procrastination

More specifically, a 1992 study showed that "52% of surveyed
students indicated having a moderate to high need for help concerning
procrastination". It is estimated that 80%-95% of college students
engage in procrastination, approximately 75% considering themselves
procrastinators.

One source of procrastination is the planning fallacy, where we
underestimate the time required to analyze research. Many students devote
weeks to gathering research for a term paper, but are unable to finish
writing it because they have left insufficient time for subsequent stages
of the assignment.

"Student syndrome" refers to the phenomenon where a student will
only begin to fully apply themselves to a task immediately before
a deadline. This negates the usefulness of any buffers built into
individual task duration estimates. Students also have difficulties when
self-imposing deadlines.
 Reactions to procrastination Justification

Individual coping responses to procrastination are often emotional or
avoidant oriented rather than task or problem-solving oriented. Emotion
oriented coping is designed to reduce stress (and cognitive dissonance)
associated with putting off intended and important personal goals,
an option that provides immediate pleasure and is consequently very
attractive to impulsive procrastinators. There are hundreds of identified
emotion oriented strategies, similar to Freudian defense mechanisms,
coping styles and self-handicapping. Those procrastinators use include:

    Avoidance: Where we avoid the locale or situation where the task
    takes place (e.g., a graduate student avoiding going to University).
    Distraction: Where we engage or immerse ourselves in other behaviors
    or actions to prevent awareness of the task (e.g., intensive videogame
    playing or Internet surfing) Trivialization: We reframe the intended
    but procrastinated task as being not that important (e.g., "I'm
    putting off going to the dentist, but you know what? Teeth aren't
    that important.").	Downward counterfactuals: We compare our situation
    with those even worse (e.g., "Yes, I procrastinated and got a B- in
    the course, but I didn't fail like one other student did."). Upward
    counterfactual is considering what would have happened if we didn't
    procrastinate.  Humour: Making a joke of one's procrastination,
    that the slapstick or slipshod quality of one's aspirational
    goal striving is funny.  External attributions: That the cause of
    procrastination is due to external forces, beyond our control (e.g.,
    "I'm procrastinating because the assignment isn't fair").  Reframing:
    Pretending that getting an early start on a project is harmful
    to one's performance and leaving the work to the last moment will
    produce better results (e.g., "I'm most creative at 4:00 AM in the
    morning without sleep.").  Denial: Pretending that procrastinatory
    behaviour is not actually procrastinating, but a task which is more
    important than the avoided one.

Task or problem-solving oriented coping is rarer for the procrastinator
because it is more effective in reducing procrastination. If pursued,
it is less likely the procrastinator would remain a procrastinator. It
requires actively changing one's behavior or situation to prevent a
reoccurence of procrastination.
 Improving productivity

Procrastinators may respond with any number of methods for better
time management. Piers Steel recommends being aware of one's "Power
hours", when a person's internal circadian rhythms are best suited
for the most challenging work (often, but not always, between 10am and
2pm). Increasing one's feelings of self efficacy (e.g. learning optimism)
can also be effective. Steel says that it can be helpful to avoid too
much commitment; commit only to the first step. As Steel explains: If
you can't run a mile, then run a block. Stop when you've done that and
the next time try two blocks... personal stories of triumph can bolster
people's spirits for years.