So What If I Procrastinate?

At this point in the week there may be a few of you thinking, “Yeah, I procrastinate.  So what?  It doesn’t hurt anything.”

Well, you’re wrong.  Procrastination does hurt some things: you, those around you, and your work.

Procrastination hurts you.  While there is evidence that procrastinators are healthier while they are procrastinating, stress that comes with the rush to make a deadline more than makes up for it.  Research led by Dr. Fuschia Sirois of the University of Windsor found that,

…trait procrastination (our tendency to procrastinate in most areas of our lives quite chronically) is linked with poor health in adults, and that this association is best explained by the direct effects of stress.  (Learn more in the post by Timothy A. Pychyl, PhD – Unnecessary Illusions and the Truth about Procrastination.)

Procrastination hurts those around you.  Your delays impact others.  Period.  To quote Dr. Pychyl again (this time from Psychology Today):

In the name of “working better under pressure,” too often social engagements are canceled, promises are broken, and favors called in to have others problem solve last-minute catastrophes (a jammed printer becomes a national emergency). Anyone within the vicinity suffers the intense pressure of the looming deadline. Procrastination harms relationships at home and at work.

Procrastination hurts your work.  Funny thing – people say they work better under pressure but research simply doesn’t support it at all.  In layman’s terms, our brains break down when we are under pressure.  Sian Bielock, PhD offers a more clinical explanation in her piece Losing Your Cool Under Pressure:

…under pressure, the prefrontal cortex (and the working-memory housed there) stops working the way it should. This malfunction of the prefrontal cortex also wreaks havoc on our ability to control our emotions. A major component of working-memory is inhibition, which helps us keep what we want in mind and what we don’t want out. It also helps us control our thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

So procrastinate if you choose.  When you do, know that your choice comes with a price to you, those around you, and your work.

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