Procrastination

At the Emotional Health Centre, Therapy House, 6 Tuckey Street, Cork city we help with procrastination

If you ask the average person “are you a procrastinator?”, they will often grin sheepishly and reluctantly tell you about all the things they ‘put off’ doing in their lives. Most people identify with procrastinating on certain tasks at certain times in their life. Studies across the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have found that around 20% of adults in the general population are chronic procrastinators and it is often much higher in school or university settings (75% – 95%!!). So this means procrastination is a fairly typical behaviour for a lot of people, so remember you are not alone! However, there is a difference between general procrastination, which we all do at certain times and more problematic procrastination. These will help you understand your procrastination, and later learn ways to overcome procrastination to lead a more fulfilling life.

What is procrastination?
Often people mistake procrastination for “laziness”. They talk about it as if it were some nasty character flaw. So, if it isn’t laziness, what do we really mean by the term ‘procrastination’? People will often use definitions like, “putting off”, “postponing”, “delaying”, “deferring”, “leaving it to the last minute” – all of which are valid. What we mean by procrastination is…”making a decision for no valid reason to delay or not complete a task or goal you’ve committed to, and instead doing something of lesser importance, despite there being negative consequences to not following through on the original task or goal”

You can see from this definition that procrastination is in some way an intentional decision. Having said that, it may happen very fast, almost automatically and be like a habit, so that you may not even realise that you’ve made the decision. Another element is that you needlessly put off or don’t complete something you made a commitment to doing. You generally substitute the task for something that is a lesser priority. And most importantly you do this despite there being a lot of disadvantages to procrastinating. What tends to distinguish more general ‘putting-off” or ‘delaying’ from a more serious procrastination problem is how bad the negative consequences are that follow the procrastination.

What do you procrastinate about?
Being a procrastinator doesn’t mean that you are necessarily a person who puts off doing everything in life, although this may be the case for some. There are so many different areas of our lives in which we can procrastinate. Some of these areas may be more obvious (i.e., study or work projects) and others may be more subtle (i.e., health check-ups, changing our diet or exercise routine). Really any task we need to complete, any problem we need to solve or any goal we might want to achieve, can be a source of procrastination. For many people, there will be certain areas of their life they are able to keep on top of, and certain areas where procrastination reigns.

For an appointment please ring Therapy House, 6 Tuckey Street, Cork city on 021-4273757 or email us on