Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available.
We all procrastinate at some time or another, and researchers suggest that the problem can be particularly pronounced among students. An estimated 25 to 75 percent of students procrastinate on academic work. One 2007 study found that a whopping 80 to 95 percent of students procrastinated on a regular basis, particularly when it came to completing assignments and coursework. According to Ferrari, Johnson, and McCown, there are some major cognitive distortions that lead to academic procrastination.
Procrastination can have a serious impact on a number of life areas, including a person’s mental health. In a 2007 study, researchers found that at the beginning of the semester, students who were procrastinators reported less illness and lower stress levels than non-procrastinators. This changed dramatically by the end of the term, when procrastinators reported higher levels of stress and illness. Not only can procrastination have a negative impact on your health; it can also harm your social relationships. By putting things off, you are placing a burden on the people around you.