Learn the causes.
Make a plan.
Act on what you learn.
Causes of Procrastination
1. Sense of unpredictability – Does the feel task unexpected?
2. Personality under threat – Does working on the task make you feel like who you ‘really are’ is not being recognized?
3. Inability to control the situation – Does the task cause you to feel overly supervised or controlled?
4. Novelty of the situation – Is the task new and so you cannot use past experience to guide you?
For more information, read Well Stressed by Sonia Lupien (John Wiley & Sons Canada, 2012).
B. Emotional Needs
One of the only available ways to assert independence. Solution: Talk to a trusted adult who can help you find healthier ways of asserting your independence.
A feeling of power by completing tasks at the last minute. Solution: Talk to a trusted adult who can help you find healthier ways of experiencing that excitement.
Task is not as interesting as other activities in life. Solution: Consider your values and see how doing the task helps you live up to your values.
Task does not seem relevant to real life. Solution: Talk to a trusted adult and ask for an explanation. Since you decided you trusted the adult, trust the explanation even if it does not make sense to you right now.
Fear that success will damage relationships with others. Solution: Talk to a trusted adult who can reassure you that you will belong in your relationships even if you do very well at the task.
A way of getting revenge on other people. Solution: Remind yourself that revenge always leads to long-term unhappiness. Talk to a trusted adult about healthier ways of dealing with conflict.
Poor skill level so the task is very difficult. Solution: Talk to a trusted and skilled adult who can help you identify and improve the needed skills.
Fear that lack of success will mean lack of personal worth. Solution: Talk to a trusted adult who can reassure you that you are a valued human being even if you do not get the task done properly.
Fear that only perfection is acceptable. Solution: Talk to a trusted adult who can help you learn how to set priorities and see the deeper purpose of life.
C. Personality Challenges
Inner versus Outer World
Literal versus Inferential Observation
Objective versus Subjective Decision-making
Organized versus Spontaneous Style
ESTJ and ENTJ:
Reasons for procrastination: avoiding a task for which you feel you do not have the needed skills; avoiding a task that does not let you feel in control; turning to anger rather than addressing the problems; fear that success will damage relationships with peers or family members.
Solutions: talk to someone who can help you learn the needed skills so you can accomplish the task; talk to someone who can help you find a way to be successful and yet keep valued relationships.
ESFJ and ENFJ:
Reasons for procrastination: fear that success will damage relationships with peers or family members; there are too many other enjoyable social activities; working alone is not as enjoyable as talking with others.
Solutions: talk with someone who can help you find a way to be successful and yet keep valued relationships; look at your values and see how accomplishing your tasks will help you live up to those values.
INFP and INTP:
Reasons for procrastination: fear that only perfection is acceptable; seeing too many possibilities.
Solutions: break a task into steps and set deadlines for each step; talk with someone who can encourage your and help you see the task more realistically; start in the middle of the writing task rather than at the beginning.
ISFP and ISTP:
Reasons for procrastination: there are too many other more enjoyable activities to do; task does not seem relevant to real life.
Solutions: look at your values and goals and see how the task helps you reach what is important to you; break up a task into smaller tasks and reward yourself as you complete each step; ask for help in managing your time and then show appreciation for the help.
ENFP and ENTP:
Reasons for procrastination: the task is not as interesting as other activities in life; there are so many interesting ideas that nothing gets completed; a feeling of power by managing to accomplish tasks at the last minute; fear that it is too late to accomplish the task.
Solutions: learn to set priorities, make decisions and follow through on them; find healthier ways of getting a sense of power and achievement.
ESFP and ESTP:
Reasons for procrastination: the task is not as interesting as other activities in life; being alone to complete written work is not as exciting as doing hands-on activities; the deadline seems far away.
Solutions: learn to set priorities, make decisions and follow through on them; reward yourself for small steps in completing tasks; take time to consider the impact of your present behaviour on your future life.
INFJ and INTJ:
Reasons for procrastination: there are so many interesting ideas that it is hard to settle down and get something accomplished; fear of not doing the task perfectly; lack of confidence in own abilities.
Solutions: see the humour in expecting perfection; realize that most tasks do not have to be done perfectly; talk with someone who can help you organize your ideas.
ISFJ and ISTJ:
Reasons for procrastination: taking too long to collect too much information; trying to turn a small task into a large project; feeling overwhelmed by trying to do tasks more thoroughly than required; avoiding doing any task that cannot be done perfectly.
Solutions: talk to someone who can help you see the overall purpose or goal for the task; get friends to remind you to relax and have some fun in life.
For more information, read Procrastination: Using Psychological Type Concepts to Help Students by Judith A. Provost (Gainesville, FL: CAPT, 1988).
Make a Plan
1. Analyze the cause:
– unbalanced emotional needs?
– personality challenges?
2. Be patient:
– “What should I be doing right now?”
– “Can I do it?”
– “Can I do it cheerfully?”
3. Organize tasks:
– Make a list of what needs to be done.
– Write down due dates.
– Assess how long each task will take.
4. Organize your time at home:
– Spend at least 20 minutes a day working
– Spend at least 15 minutes a day studying.
– Spend at least 30 minutes a day reading.
– That means you will have to use your time
wisely in class so you don’t have to finish
small assignments at home.
4. Build good habits:
– Get sufficient sleep.
– Eat nutritiously.
– Develop a schedule.
5. Talk to yourself about your values:
– “Do you want people to trust you?”
– “Do you want to reach a high level of
– “Do you want to be a wise person?”
– “Do you want to be an informed citizen?”
6. Get help:
– If you need an encouraging talk, find a
friend or go see Ms. Rosen.
– If you are overwhelmed, find an adult who
can help you prioritize tasks.
– If you do not understand your work, find an
adult who can explain it to you.
[This page may be copied for personal use or use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2014 Sophie Rosen.]
Act on What You Learn
Practise: Analyze your own stress
Make a list of situations that cause you stress. Analyze them using SPIN. Decide on strategies that might alleviate your fears. Try them.
Practise: Create a skit
1. Assign roles:
a. someone who is procrastinating
b. someone who will encourage wise behaviour
2. Decide on the action:
a. How will the procrastinator show procrastination? What will be said?
b. How will the encourager help the procrastinator be wiser? What will be said?
3. Write the script.
4. Decide if you need any props.
5. Memorize your lines.
8. Practice some more.
Practise: Create a Plan
1. Describe a situation when you procrastinate.
2. Analyze the cause.
3. Think of what you can say to yourself when you are tempted to procrastinate.
4. Go give your plan a try.
5. If it works, tell a friend. If it doesn’t, make a new plan.
Situation: I should walk the dogs when I get home from school, but I play video games instead.
Cause: I’m physically worn out.
Solution: Come home. Eat a nutritious snack. Set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes. Play video games. When the timer goes, go walk the dogs.
Situation: My parents tell me to do my homework but I text my friends instead.
Cause: I’d rather do something that is fun right now than think about what needs to be done for tomorrow.
Solution: Consider your values and then talk to yourself. “I value being trusted. If I want my parents to trust me and give me more freedom, I should do my homework. If I want my teacher to think of me as being trustworthy, I should do my homework.”