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How to Stop Procrastinating

From homework to the gym, there are about a million and one things to put off in a day - and a good chunk of us are avoiding them consistently. We’ve dug around to examine why we procrastinate, and how best to get back on track.
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Procrastination has been an integral part of my life’s successes — and failures — for some time now. From putting off graduate school applications, wedding seating charts, and gym visits, I’ve been practicing the art of procrastination pretty heavily these days. And if we’re being really honest here, I’ve actually checked Facebook 12 times since starting this paragraph. But hey, I know I’m not the only one out there — more than 25 percent of Americans admit they procrastinate. But even though procrastination is usually frowned upon, there are people who actually see some benefits to putting things off. For those who want to get back on the timely-productivity track, how do we quit procrastinating?

Procrasti-not Anymore! — The Need-to-Know

The word “procrastination” comes from the Latin word procrastinat, meaning “deferred till the morning.” In the year 44 B.C., the ancient Roman leader Cicero spoke about the evils of procrastination in a political speech against Mark Antony. But procrastination didn’t truly acquire the negative connotation it has today until the Industrial Revolution of the 1750s, when wasting time meant making less money.

Today, with the growing use of the Internet and social media, procrastinating is getting easier (and more exciting!) The nature of procrastination: a meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Steel P., Human Resources and Organizational Dynamics, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada., Psychological Bulletin. 2007 Jan;133(1):65-94.. In fact, online procrastination has been connected to the concept of Problematic Internet Use Problematic Internet use among information technology workers in South Africa. Thatcher A., Wretschko G., Fisher J., Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, Cyberpsychology and Behavior. 2008 Dec;11(6):785-7..

Researchers suggest procrastinators have a harder time self-regulating than non-procrastinators. Putting things off is also linked to characteristics including impulsivity, poor time management skills, and lack of work discipline The nature of procrastination: a meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Steel P., Human Resources and Organizational Dynamics, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada., Psychological Bulletin. 2007 Jan;133(1):65-94.. And ladies may be better at the whole GTD thing: Guys make up 54 percent of self-admitted procrastinators.

It turns out there’s more than one way to be a procrastinator, and some of them aren’t half bad. For example, the term structured procrastination refers to individuals who decide to do a task that’s a little lower on their priority list instead of something slightly more important that they don’t really want to do. Instead of studying for that mid-term or writing those thank-you notes, the dentist appointment is made and the dishwasher gets emptied. There are also active procrastinators, who actually like the pressure of a close deadline and find satisfaction in being able to pr

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