Dr Crissy Scott Psychologist

All therapy continues to be remote, no face to face appointments available (Updated 2024)


How many times do we say “I will do this after” or “I will leave it for tomorrow”.  Our lives are becoming busier, with many things to do, tasks to complete and deadlines. All this can be stressful and it also give us so many opportunities to procrastinate.

Procrastination is defined as a voluntary tendency to delay initiation or completion of important tasks, even though this may have some negative consequences.



Many studies show that the tendency to procrastinate can be explained analyzing behavioural, cognitive and affective aspects, related to:

–            Poor time management (for example underestimate the time needed to complete a task)

–            Lack of organizational skills (ability to identify priorities, knowing when to start an activity etc)

–            Lack of decision making

–            Discomfort regarding tasks

–            Problem solving skills

–            Unrealistic expectations (this is related to the ability to set up realistic goals that  we will be actually able to achieve).

–            Low self- efficacy (referred to individual judgment about his/her own ability to achieve a goal, and to predict the required competences in terms of making efforts, diligence accomplishing tasks, and implementation of the right solution to reach the goal)

–            Irrational thoughts (such as: “I am inadequate/a failure/inferior/not good enough”) or ruminative thoughts (such as: “Why didn't I start earlier?”)

–            Lack of motivation

Based on some of the aspects above, the tendency to procrastinate could also be understood as a strategy to manage negative emotions such as anxiety and fear.

Let's think for example of students approaching their exams, medical check ups, job interviews and so on. These are all situation where it's pretty common to be anxious and scared to fail. In these cases procrastinating can be recognized as an avoidance-oriented coping skills. In other words, someone finds it easier to postpone rather than dealing with those situations and managing those emotions related to them. The short-term positive affect, such us the relief or the pleasure of engaging in a more pleasant activity even if less important, reinforce the tendency to procrastinate at the cost of long-term goals (succeed at the exam until the graduation, being healthy, pursuing a satisfying career).

This may lead to bad consequences, such as:

–            restless night

–            high level of stress

–            panic

–            regret

–            anxiety and depression


Because of the risk of these consequences, procrastinating will be considered clinical relevant if:

–            It  lasts more than 6 months

–            It influences more than half of the day

–            Individuals feels it links to physical or psychological challenges


Procrastination can be linked to difficulties such as depression, OCD and ADHD to name a few.



Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions have been found to be effective to reduce the tendency to procrastinate:

–            Working on those affective, behavioral and cognitive aspects CBT helps to: correct the irrational thoughts and beliefs, reduce self-devaluation thinking, overcome the fear of failure, be able to make reasonable plans, improve time management and organizational skills.

–            Working on individual's psychological flexibility, ACT teaches us: not to avoid experiences; to accept negative events, negative experiences and emotions; to be congruent with own values and to take actions according to those values. The reduction in avoidance can lead to our personal growth and keep us more in line with our personal values.


In summary, it maybe helpful to think about the reasons you are procrastinating, what are you telling yourself, how are you giving yourself a reason or permission not to do the tasks you need to do? Think about how this will impact your life and set some clear time specific goals around how you will begin to address this.


Written by:

Paola Stracquadanio, Assistant Psychologist

Edited by:

Crissy Scott, Counselling Psychologist