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Procrastination

Psychologists think of procrastination as a delay in beginning or completing an intended course of action. Procrastination is the voluntary delay of an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off for the delay. There is evidence that cognitive behavioral and metacognitive approaches are helpful when working with procrastination. Read more
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Avoidance Hierarchy

Avoidance and safety-seeking behavior serves to maintain anxiety, and exposure to the fear stimuli/situation is an effective treatment for anxiety. Th ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/avoidance-hierarchy/

Exercise

Behavioral Experiment

Behavioral experiments allow individuals to test the validity of their beliefs and assumptions. They are a core experiential technique for therapeutic ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/behavioral-experiment/

Worksheet

CBT Thought Record

The CBT Thought Record is an essential tool in cognitive behavioral therapy. Thought challenging records help people to evaluate their negative automa ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-thought-record/

Worksheet

Developing Psychological Flexibility

Developing Psychological Flexibility is a client information handout which can be used to familiarize clients with the ACT model. ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/developing-psychological-flexibility/

Information Handout

Motivation and Ambivalence

Motivation is a necessary precursor to change, yet many clients are ambivalent about the process of change. The Motivation And Ambivalence worksheets ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/motivation-and-ambivalence/

Exercise

Therapy Blueprint

Since the publication of this version of the therapy blueprint we have also developed a more sophisticated version: Therapy Blueprint (Universal) A th ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/therapy-blueprint/

Exercise

Things To Do List

The Things To Do List is a form of activity record. It encourages the client to think about the priority of each item and to record (and celebrate!) c ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/things-to-do-list/

Worksheet

Thought Challenging Record 7 Column

The thought record is an essential tool in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Thought challenging records help people to evaluate their negative auto ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/thought-challenging-record-7-column/

Worksheet

Unhelpful Thinking Styles

Human thinking is subject to a number of characteristic biases. Cognitive restructuring is the process of helping individuals to overcome their biases ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/unhelpful-thinking-styles/

Information Handout

Assessment

Information Handouts

Worksheets

Worksheets

Self-Help Programmes

Overcoming procrastination

Recommended Reading

What Is Procrastination?

Signs and Symptoms of Procrastination

Procrastination is not considered to be a psychiatric condition and formal diagnostic criteria are not available. Among clinicians specializing in procrastination a popular definition is that procrastination is a “voluntary delay in an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off for the delay”(Steel, 2007). Clinical intervention may be indicated when the procrastination leads to discomfort or distress. Rozental and Carlbring (2014) propose that distress may manifest as some or all of: interpersonal problems, physical illness, stress, anxiety, depression, and financial difficulties.

Psychological Models and Theory of Procrastination

Rozental, Forsell, Svensson, Andersson, and Carlbring (2015) published the results of an internet-based trial of a CBT self-help intervention for procrastination. Modules of the intervention included: psychoeducationabout the causes and maintenance of procrastination; psychoeducation about goal-setting, avoidance behavior, and behavioral activation; theories of motivation and use of reward systems; information about the relationships of ego-depletion and mental fatigue to procrastination; the role of distractions and stimulus control; self-assertiveness and prioritizing; exploring the influence of dysfunctional beliefs and an introduction to behavioral experiments; exploration of personal values; information about the abstinence violation effect and relapse prevention.

Fernie, Bharucha, Nikčević, Marino, and Spada’s (2017) metacognitive model of procrastination distinguishes between intentional procrastination and unintentional procrastination. They argue that cognitive (or ‘ego’) depletion is central to understanding procrastination. Their model includes components including positive metacognitions about procrastination, negative cognitions about procrastination (e.g., ‘my procrastination is uncontrollable’), and cognitive/​behavioral control strategies such as distraction, worry, and rumination which ultimately prove futile.

Resources for Working with Procrastination

Psychology Tools resources available for working therapeutically with procrastination include:

  • psychological models of procrastination
  • information handouts for procrastination
  • exercises for procrastination
  • CBT worksheets for procrastination
  • self-help programs for procrastination

References

  • Fernie, B. A., Bharucha, Z., Nikčević, A. V., Marino, C., & Spada, M. M. (2017). A metacognitive model of procrastination. Journal of Affective Disorders,210, 196–203.
  • Rozental, A., & Carlbring, P. (2014). Understanding and treating procrastination: A review of a common self-regulatory failure. Psychology, 5(13), 1488–1502.
  • Rozental, A., Forsell, E., Svensson, A., Andersson, G., & Carlbring, P. (2015). Internet-based cognitive-behavior therapy for procrastination: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(4), 808–824.
  • Steel, P. (2007). The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 65–94