Research Paper on Concept of Procrastination

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1206 Words
Date:  2022-09-10

Reasons Why I Chose the Topic

Being a curious student, I have always wanted to understand the concept of procrastination, how people understand it, and its influence on achieving our goals. I wanted to know whether procrastination is laziness, and if not, or how different is it from it. I have seen people saying that they work best under pressure. They, therefore, choose to put off the task until they have very little time left. Following that, they work long stretches to complete the task, and they do it so well. Another group of people would postpone since they cannot control themselves from the urge of distractor activities, which are more pleasant. I chose to explore this subject and study it to have an in-depth understanding. This is the reason why I chose to write about this topic.

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Definition of Procrastination

So, what is procrastination? Procrastination is defined as the act of delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring (Jones, 2011). Procrastination is coined from two Latin words: Pro, meaning forward, forth, or in favour of, and crastinus which means of tomorrow. So, procrastination is pushing an activity forward in favour of tomorrow or the next time (Steel, 2011). Procrastination can also be defined as the act of postponing an intended or scheduled task without any valid reason (Kokane, 2018).

Theories of Procrastination

Apparently, everyone procrastinates. The act of putting off activity to a later time is common to most of us. Dr Piers Steel of the University of Calgary, Alberta, in his publication The Nature of Procrastination which appeared in the Psychological Bulletin (Steel, 2007) came up with a theory of temporal motivation. In a comprehensive meta-analysis, Piers states that time and pleasantness of the task are important factors that motivate an individual to complete a task. He says that when a particular activity is given a lot of time, the motivation to carry out the task is very minimal (Steel, 2011). However, the motivation increases as the time lapses. Together with his counterpart, Cornelius J Konig, they said that as deadline approaches, the 'perceived usefulness' of the task, or the 'benefit 'of it increases. This theory has greatly assisted me to understand why people procrastinate. He brings together several key aspects that substantively explain human behaviour.

Firstly, the theory emphasizes the effect of time and deadlines on the attention given to a particular task; it asserts that as the duration of time (Delay) to close of deadline decreases, one tends to give more attention to that task. Secondly, it argues that the usefulness or importance (Value) of activity increases exponentially as the deadline for that particular activity comes near. The theory also states that the greater the expectation (Expectancy) of an individual and the higher the reward, then the motivation to complete the task increases. He calls this expectation, self-efficacy. In the theory, the idea of impulsivity (state of feeling unable to resist the urge to perform other activities not related to the task) and long duration of time to the deadline, are viewed to be great demotivators. All these are summed up in the procrastination equation Expectancy x Value/Impulsivity x Delay. This is the equation that describes the irrational delay experienced by procrastinators.

The procrastination equation can be illustrated by using an example of three individuals: Eddie, Valerie and Tom. Eddie is a salesman who has tried all his best, but he realised his sales are not improving, every time he makes calls, he is turned down. So, because his expectancy is very low, he decides to put off his phone calls until later, demoralised. Valerie on her side is struggling with writing about municipal politics; it is not her favourite despite having done several times, and, she gets bored texts her friends instead. She puts off the work because she does not enjoy doing it. The technical term Piers uses here is value, the lower the value, the less the motivation to do it is. Tom, on the other hand, wants to book a hotel but find no motivation just until the deadline beckons. All these three individuals are procrastinators who show exactly how value, expectancy (self-efficacy) and time causes procrastination (Steel, 2011).

The other thing I learned about procrastination is that it can be structured to work well and become very useful. This is called structured procrastination. Structured procrastination has been defined as an art of making this bad trait (procrastination) work for you. It can "convert procrastinators into effective human beings, respected and admired for all they can accomplish and the good use they make of time'' (Partnoy, 2012). According to Partnoy (2012), procrastination does not mean that you are doing nothing. It motivates one to do other activities that may not be urgent but equally useful. For instance, a student can forego mathematics homework and choose to sharpen a pencil, do gardening, and so on. Ideally, it may look lazy to put off an urgent activity, but on the flip side, sharpening of the pencil is equally of great value.

How My Understanding of The Topic Changed During the Course of my Research

I realised that structured procrastination is a way of exploiting procrastination. By arranging the list of the tasks to be done in order of their importance and urgency. One can then start doing the ones on top of the list in that order hence acquiring structured procrastination success. By carefully considering each of the above aspects, you can change your unproductive procrastination time into a chance to make it useful (Becker, 2015). However, this requires a good amount of self-deception, you must be able to commit yourself to task with inflated importance and unreal deadlines.

As I was doing this, I also came to understand other distractor activities which can cause unproductive procrastination. They included opening Facebook, Twitter or YouTube every time I was doing something substantive, and looking at the amount of work I have and then complaining endlessly instead of doing something about it. All this causes unproductive procrastination. The type of distractor though can moderate procrastination effect. That is, due to emotional distress, procrastinators will choose to spent time on distractors but only if the distractor is pleasant enough (Forgas, Baumeister, & Tice, 2009). This research brought me a new way of viewing what procrastination is. It has greatly influenced what I used to think about procrastination. Having fully understood the concept of procrastination and how it impedes the achievement of our objectives and goals, I am in a better position of avoiding or reducing. Consequently, the study of procrastination will help me improve my academic performance.


Becker, L. M. (2015). Writing successful reports and dissertations. Los Angeles: Sage.

Forgas, J. P., Baumeister, R. F., & Tice, D. M. (2011). Psychology of self-regulation: Cognitive, affective, and motivational processes. Psychology press.

Jones, D. (2011). Cambridge English pronouncing dictionary. Cambridge University Press.

Kokane, T. V. (2018). Get your golden egg: 19 ways to win over procrastination. Educreation Publishing.

Partnoy, F. (2012a). Wait: the useful art of procrastination. London: Profile. Retrieved from

Partnoy, F. (2012b). Wait: the useful art of procrastination. New York: PublicAffairs.Steel, P. (2011). The procrastination equation: the science of getting things done. Sydney: Murdoch Books.

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