Thoughts on procrastination & habits

Below is a link to a great TEDx about procrastination given by self-proclaimed "master procrastinator" Tim Urban. Procrastination plagued my academic career from elementary all the way through graduate school, and it was driven by anxiety and perfectionism (I'm not saying those are the sources for everyone). The anxiety is related to unknowns at the onset of a task, perception that a task is too challenging, deadlines, grades, etc. Additionally, I am my toughest critic, so the constant self-evaluation, edits, and re-do's of any task, be it academic or related to personal goals, takes time and effort, thus creating an additional stressor that feeds avoidant behavior. In my experience, both variables cumulatively create a perfect storm to procrastinate. I've spent some time discussing habit formation in previous posts, and procrastination is certainly an impediment to building healthy habits, interfering with your ability to be time efficient and thorough. If you procrastinate, spend some time thinking about what factors cause you to do so and what types of tasks you avoid. Is there a common denominator in either? It's probably a nice start point toward decreasing procrastination. 



  • When I read the title of this discussion, it drew me in right away. Hmmm … I wonder why? I’ve always been the queen of procrastination for as long as I can remember and , fortunately, I have learned that procrastination is not an option as my responsibilities have increased. I remember all to well typing (yes, typing, on a typewriter) a term paper at midnight before the paper was due. While I still procrastinate at times (note the delay in my response to this post, shame on me) I do organize my day based on what I need to get done for that day. At work procrastination is not an option. I need to be focused, organized, and efficient. The job must get done within a certain time frame. I try to get my kids to organize their responsibilities also and Liam loves to ‘set alarms’! It keeps him on task and he is very committed to getting his ‘work’ done. Jimmy, on the other hand, takes after me when I was his age. Why do something now when I can put it off until later? He does, however, get his tasks done, albeit after I have had to ‘remind’ him a few times. If I had any advice to kids and young adults, it would be to avoid procrastinating now, as it will only cause you stress in the future. Thanks for the post!

    Susan Beaver
  • This is so true Vin. I was always a procrastinator especially in school. I knew the panic monster all to well. When it was time to complete my master’s program to become a BCBA I knew I had to change something or I was going to fail. I had to change my behavior so I started to identify behavior that was incompatible with procrastination; writing a paper, reading textbooks, researching articles, etc. I also would break larger tasks into smaller, more manageable sizes so they didn’t seem so daunting and reinforcement for completing an assignment and that feeling of accomplishment wasn’t so far away. It’s creating small victories that can lead to accomplishing your overall goal to win the battle against procrastination!

    Brandon Sierchio

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