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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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Resource type


Therapy tool

Avoidance Hierarchy (Archived)

Note: This resource has been superseded by the Fear Ladder exercise. The Avoidance Hierarchy exercise has been archived and will remain available whil ...


Behavioral Experiment

Behavioral experiments are planned experiential activities to test the validity of a belief. They are one of the most powerful techniques available to ...


Behavioral Experiment (Portrait Format)

Behavioral experiments allow individuals to test the validity of their beliefs and assumptions. They are a core experiential technique for therapeutic ...


Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Clinical Perfectionism (Shafran, Cooper, Fairburn, 2002)

People with perfectionism pursue high standards in one or more areas of their life and base their self-worth on their ability to achieve these standar ...

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model of Perfectionism (Shafran, Egan, Wade, 2010)

People with perfectionism pursue high standards in one or more areas of their life, and base their self-worth on their ability to achieve these standa ...

Information Handout

Developing Psychological Flexibility

Developing Psychological Flexibility is a client information handout which can be used to familiarize clients with the ACT model. ...

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 ...


Performance And The Yerkes-Dodson Law

The Yerkes-Dodson Law suggests that performance increases with mental arousal (stress) but only up to a point: when an individuals’ level of stress ...

Information Handout

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 ...


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 ...


Understanding Perfectionism

Our ‘Understanding…’ series is a collection of psychoeducation guides for common mental health conditions. Friendly and explanatory, they are co ...


Unhelpful Thinking Styles

Human thinking is subject to a number of characteristic biases. In the 1960s, Aaron Beck identified several of these biases which were common in his d ...

Information Handout


  • Irrational Procrastination Scale | Steel | 2010
    • Scale download archived copy
    • Website link archived copy
    • Steel, P. (2010). Arousal, avoidant and decisional procrastinators: Do they exist?. Personality and Individual Differences48(8), 926-934.
  • Procrastination Assessment Scale for Students (PASS) | Solomon, Rothblum | 1984

Information Handouts



Self-Help Programmes

Overcoming procrastination

  • Understanding procrastination part 1 download
  • Understanding procrastination part 2 download
  • Changing procrastination download
  • Dismissing procrastination excuses download
  • Practical techniques to stop procrastination download
  • Adjusting unhelpful rules and assumptions and tolerating discomfort download
  • Putting it all together, doing it, and keeping going download

Recommended Reading

  • Fernie, B. A., Bharucha, Z., Nikčević, A. V., Marino, C., & Spada, M. M. (2017). A Metacognitive model of procrastination. Journal of Affective Disorders210, 196-203. download archived copy
  • Rozental, A., & Carlbring, P. (2014). Understanding and treating procrastination: a review of a common self-regulatory failure. Psychology5(13), 1488. download archived copy
  • Toker, B., & Avci, R. (2015). Effect of Cognitive-Behavioral-Theory-Based Skill Training on Academic Procrastination Behaviors of University Students. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice15(5), 1157-1168. download archived copy

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


  • 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