PROcrastination: Two Sides of the Same Coin, or Two Currencies All Together

Picture of By Andrada Pop

By Andrada Pop

Following up on the PROcrastination series, we’re looking into the bright side of this tainted subject. This time, let’s sum up our procrastinating ways and see whether you are an active or a passive procrastinator.

Since our last Procrastinator Anonymous meeting, I’ve had a couple of deadlines, meaning that I had plenty of chances to procrastinate, by researching procrastination. And I’m not the only one: It has been estimated that between  70% and 90% of students procrastinate, with more than 50% claiming to procrastinate consistently and problematically. But first, let me ask you this. Why do you procrastinate? Is it because you feel unable to get the task going, or is it because you are waiting for the fear to kick in overdrive? Some of us, myself included, rely too much on our Panic Monster and we feel like only that can instil us with the motivation to get the job done. Starting anytime sooner than too late is out of the question. That is what sets active procrastinators apart from their passive counterpart, as researchers Chu and Choi have found.

Passive (or traditional) Procrastinators

This type of procrastinator is your typical postponer. They know they should do the thing, but they do other, easier, more enjoyable things while feeling guilty for not being productive. Researchers define this type of procrastination as being related to ‘delays that are unjustified, ones that cannot be defended on grounds of more urgent or important commitments’. 

As for determinants of passive procrastination, a study shows that younger people with lower psychological wellbeing are the textbook passive procrastinators. A reduced sense of purpose, feeling not in control of one’s environment and lower autonomy were all predictors of this task delaying behaviour.

Active Procrastinators

As the name suggests, active procrastinators don’t have trouble managing their time, instead, they choose to start their tasks later in order to attend to other more urgent undertakings. They are still procrastinating on their tasks, but they see it as an effective way of getting other small jobs done. Other active procrastinators recognize that they can’t start an important task too early before the deadline because they associate the stress of the approaching deadline with greater creativity and productivity on their part. As we’ve seen in the previous issue of this series, procrastinators are very good at convincing themselves they have enough time, to the point of disillusion. 

However, in their paper, Jason Wessel, Graham L. Bradley, and Michelle Hood have discovered that active procrastination is not related to behavioural delay and Emily Anne Habelrih and Richard Edward Hicks go even as far as to say that ‘being an active procrastinator can be a sign of healthy well-being’. 

Different Currencies All Together

Regardless, your productivity isn’t representative of your self-worth. 

While these two concepts share the term ‘procrastination,’ there isn’t much in common considering the effects on wellbeing. Still, we should note that both active and passive procrastination is predicted by a low sense of purpose. You see, existentialistic thinking gets us all. 

Besides the trend of complaining/boasting online about one’s procrastination, procrastination is a real issue indicative of lower psychological wellbeing. 

However, there are ways of managing this. One way is to forgive yourself. Another is to work on your sense of purpose, your control over your environment and autonomy. Which, now more than ever, is easier said than done. What you can do is make your desk a bit more appealing. Find a nice, inspiring desktop image; hang a beautiful picture on your wall; choose a relaxing, but not distracting playlist.  

Regardless, your productivity isn’t representative of your self-worth. 

What is the Takeaway from All of This? 

If you are a student, there is a high chance you have a low sense of purpose and that means you might be a procrastinator. And if you are a procrastinator, the odds are higher that you are an active procrastinator. And if that is true, you most likely are reading this instead of starting an assignment because you are not panicked yet. In that case, get back to your work! We only have 2 more months until the summer break, so hang in there. Wish you the best of luck!

Cover: Josh Appel on Unsplash

Edited by: Audrius Šaras

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