Procrastination and How You Can Overcome It


Procrastination sounds diverging manner in the ears of different categories of people depending on the image to which it is conjured. Fortunate individuals who have not been severely affected may imagine a person resting on his or her bed whereas an assignment waits upon him/her. For those who have faced problems with it, the images of procrastination will look very unpleasant. 

The dictionary defines procrastination as an act of postponing, putting off, deferring, prolong. The  word is made from two Latin words i.e. pro meaning forward and crastinus meaning belonging to tomorrow thus “forward it to tomorrow.” To the ancient  Egyptians, the word “procrastination” was viewed in two different ways, i.e. “a  useful habit” of avoiding unnecessary work and impulsive effort and “a useless habit” of putting forward relevant work that is foremost necessary like academic work for students. 

However in my own perception, it is illogical to think of procrastination in certain  circumstances as “a useful habit”, it is rather complete if described as “a useful habit of laziness.” This is derived from my reasoning that even the presumably unnecessary work that gets pushed forward will with time become a source of stress and discomfort as it will demand an individual’s pressured/inconveniencing effort to get it to completion. This in turn suggests that there is no absolutely unnecessary work in human life.

To me, it is the degree of importance that differs.  It is either that the work is seemingly less important at a particular time and does not attract dire consequences in the shortest time possible or it is actually more important that the consequences of procrastination are severe and manifest in the shortest time possible. Therefore, a person who is that the helm of accomplishing both these tasks will in most cases begin with the latter and procrastinate on the former. 

This brings me to concur with Jane B Burka who considers procrastination as a  continuum of distress. She puts forward a description of both ends of the continuum of distress of procrastination. 

At one end of the continuum distress, there are people who procrastinate but do not suffer much. Some of these people keep very busy and loaded with projects and activities, living from one deadline to the next, they have intense pressure and would not choose to live in any other way. Others love to take life easy, it may take them a long time to get a task done but they’re in no hurry to get around to it, they are not especially driven or pressured. At times people choose to deliberately 

procrastinate, they might decide to put something off because it’s low on their priority list or because they want to think things over before making a decision or taking action. They use procrastination to give themselves to reflect, clarify options or focus on what seems most important. 

We all have moments when everything seems to appear at the same time and we can’t help but fall behind temporarily. At times like this, something’s got to give in.  it would be impossible to get everything done on time. Some people do not suffer from their procrastination because it occurs in areas that are of little consequence to them. The more important things get done more or less on time. Procrastination is part of their life but in a minor way. 

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“Others don’t suffer because they don’t anticipate any problems, and they don’t admit they are procrastinating. They may be overly optimistic about how long it takes to complete a task, consistently underestimating how much time they need,  some are “socially active optimists” who use the distraction of social activity to procrastinate and have fun doing it. Outgoing and extroverted, they are (overly)  confident about postponing now and being successful later.” 

“At the other end of the continuum of distress are people whose procrastination  creates significant problems. The problems may lead to internal or external  consequences. Internally, it may lead to feelings that range from irritation and  regret to intense self-condemnation and despair. Externally, the consequences may  come as a shock if you haven’t thought about possible repercussions. Some are  mild like a small penalty for late payment whereas others are so severe that the  procrastinators have to endure major setbacks in life.” 

“Procrastination, why do you do it, what to do about it now by Jane B burka” 

Following the above description of the two ends of the continuum distress of procrastination, the first end could simply deduce that the procrastinator to a  certain extent used a better sense of judgement in his decision-making. This is because it is generally either because the procrastinator chose to complete the most crucial task over the less important ones, because he had an accurate calculation of the time thus putting forward the work or because it was completely unavoidable to procrastinate etc. However, it is not conclusive that procrastination in that end is a useful habit. The procrastinator either just seems lucky not to experience severe consequences or he/she is conscious in his mind about the consequences which then makes him less affected. On the other end of the continuum distress of procrastination, it may be proper for us to say the 

procrastinator acts against his/her best judgement, a statement derived from the definition of “Akrasia,” a term used jointly by Socrates and Aristotle to refer to the word procrastination. The question to be answered here is, “why do we say the procrastinator acts against his or her best judgement?” the answer is simply that,  here they value instant gratification rather than delayed gratification which when simply put means we want rewards here and now rather than later. This is all  brought by “time inconsistency.” 

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Aristotle in his account of the virtuous life in the Nicomachean Ethics and particularly in the seventh book which deals with the character flaw of lack of self-restraint puts forward what we are dealing with regarding procrastination as the tension between rational deliberation and choice and desire. That is to say the procrastinator knows the good he ought to do but doesn’t do it. This closely relates  with “acting against your best judgement.” And this is all brought by desire, desire unrestrained by reason. It is put forward by Aristotle in a simple statement.  “Motion in the soul leading to acts of behaviour, arises either by desire unrestrained  by reason or desire restrained by reason.” The purpose of rational choice then is to  drive desire toward its appropriate end, toward the good that the human soul rationally seeks. 

Therefore in my conclusive statement, it is suggestive of me that every burning desire must be restrained by reason since desire restrained by reason tends to drive to a non-desired end in the long run though it may lead to sort term enjoyment.  Reason is a trait typical of a human being, but restrained reasoning is towards desires is typical of only rational human beings. 

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The writer is EKADIT ANTONY BERNARD | Email:


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