When is procrastination a good thing?

Everyone hesitates to one degree or another, especially when the task in question is awkward (bathroom cleaning, anyone?). Still, the results of a recent Stockholm University study were surprising, as the researchers potentially identified five subgroups of procrastination, ranging from "mild" to "mild" to "severe" and beyond.

By analyzing self-reported information from more than 700 participants on topics such as general quality of life, procrastination tendencies, depression and other factors, the researchers were able to categorize participants as follows:

  • 25 percent of the respondents were "mild procrastinators"
  • 28 percent were "average procrastinators"
  • 14 percent were "well-adjusted procrastinators"
  • 22 percent were "severe procrastinators"
  • 11 percent were "mainly depressed".

The mild, average, and severe groups were expected and varied quite widely by the degree of difficulty respondents had in their procrastination tendencies. According to Alexander Rozental, one of the study's lead authors and a licensed psychologist and graduate student, the “well-adjusted” and “mostly depressed” procrastinators came as a surprise. Student.

You might be thinking: what the hell is a "well-adjusted procrastinator"? Chances are, you know one ... or maybe even one yourself!

"Not everyone finds procrastination stressful, and in fact some people actually use it as a strategy to get things done," explains Rozental in an email interview.

For example, when a deadline looms, some people are more able to focus on an assignment and are often prone to putting things off until the last minute. Since this behavior has little impact on their lives, they are less likely to seek treatment, hence the term "well-adjusted procrastinator".

The subgroup “primarily depressed” differs, however, because the actual basic problem is depression rather than procrastination. The two can easily be confused, as depression is often characterized by motivation problems and decreased activity, which can masquerade as simply old procrastination.

Postponing tasks or work here and there isn't a big deal, but putting off too much can certainly hurt success and self-esteem.

“For most people, procrastination does not affect work or study to the extent you would expect - the procrastination-performance ratio is generally quite weak - but it often creates a lot of stress and anxiety, which in turn, your stress reduces well-being, ”says Rozental.

He explains that people with severe procrastination problems distress their inability to complete tasks on time, which often leads to a spiral of shame. "So procrastination can become extremely debilitating for some people, leading to a situation where you know what to do but cannot start working, leading to more and more anxiety and depression."