Where does procrastination come from?

Picture of Dr Lisa Turner

Dr Lisa Turner

World renowned visionary, author, high-performance mindset trainer for coaches to elevate skills, empower clients to achieve their maximum potential

Procrastination, a ubiquitous human behavior, is a paradoxical phenomenon that often baffles its victims. It is an invisible enemy, lurking in the shadows of our daily lives, waiting to pounce at the most inopportune times. It’s an artful dodger that conceals itself within a shroud of seemingly innocuous actions, only to be unmasked when the consequences of its derelictions become unavoidable. Where does this seemingly omnipresent behavioral phenomenon originate from? This engaging inquiry unfolds a tantalizing tapestry of causality that weaves together strands of psychology, biology, environment, and even our very culture. Let us embark on this intellectual odyssey to reveal the genesis of procrastination.

The Psychological Perspective

Our first port of call on this journey is the domain of psychology. The psychological roots of procrastination can be traced back to multiple intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

The very first and perhaps the most influential is an individual’s mindset and cognitive style. 

Perfectionists, for instance, who are perpetually pursuing the ideal, may delay tasks for fear of producing suboptimal results. The same applies to those with an intrinsic fear of failure or criticism, for whom delaying becomes a defense mechanism against potential disapproval or disappointment.

Next, we encounter impulsivity and the lack of self-control. The brain’s reward system plays a crucial role in this context. Immediate gratification, however fleeting, often wins over the long-term benefits that require perseverance and commitment. This high preference for immediate rewards is scientifically termed “temporal discounting.”

It is no secret that procrastination often develops in those who experience depression or anxiety; it is a form of avoidance used to deal with overwhelming feelings. Evidently, individuals exhibiting such maladies are particularly susceptible to procrastination, which provides a fertile breeding ground. 

Not accurately predicting the time it will take to complete a task, known as the “planning fallacy,” can fuel procrastination. This type of cognitive bias results in individuals waiting until the last minute to complete duties that require more time than they initially thought. 

Biological and Environmental Factors

As we delve deeper into our exploration, we discover that procrastination also has biological and environmental roots.

In terms of biology, genetic factors play a significant role in procrastination. Scientific studies have revealed a significant genetic correlation between procrastination and impulsivity. Thus, it is possible for procrastinatory tendencies to be encoded in our DNA.

Environmentally, the influence of our surroundings and the people around us cannot be understated. A highly competitive and stress-inducing environment may lead to procrastination as a form of rebellion or escape. Moreover, an individual’s upbringing and early life experiences may also predispose them to procrastinate. A background of excessive control and criticism, for instance, could lead one to procrastinate as a means of exerting autonomy.

The Cultural Aspect

Finally, the cultural tapestry in which we are enmeshed contributes to the prevalence of procrastination. Cultures that highly value productivity and overwork, such as the ‘hustle culture,’ inadvertently foster a sense of burnout, leading individuals to procrastinate. On the contrary, cultures that emphasize relaxed attitudes toward work may also encourage procrastination as a socially acceptable behavior.

Moreover, the culture of instant gratification, further accelerated by the digital revolution, serves as an ideal environment for procrastination to thrive. With distractions merely a click away, focusing on the tasks at hand becomes increasingly difficult.

Role of Technology and Procrastination

Stepping into the realm of the digital era, we find an unmissable component in our investigation – the profound influence of technology on procrastination.

To commence, it’s imperative to acknowledge that the vast digital landscape has redefined how we spend our time and attention. With innumerable applications, platforms, and digital devices at our disposal, distraction has never been so accessible and appealing. Technology’s double-edged sword nature is evident – while it has undeniably accelerated progress and innovation, it simultaneously poses a substantial risk of escalating procrastination.

Arguably, one of the chief culprits behind tech-induced procrastination is social media. These platforms, designed to captivate our attention and induce dopamine hits, create a loop of instant gratification that’s difficult to break. The thrill of the new notification, the intrigue of the latest post, and the gratification from online interactions – all contribute to a powerful procrastination cocktail. Furthermore, the boundless abyss of online content leads to what’s commonly referred to as “analysis paralysis” – the overwhelming presence of too much information causes us to delay decisions and actions.

The concept of “cyberloafing,” or the use of internet and mobile technology during work hours for personal purposes, is another manifestation of procrastination in the digital age. Cyberloafing can range from checking personal emails to engaging in online shopping, gaming, or streaming videos. While some may argue that these activities provide necessary breaks to recharge, unchecked, they can develop into chronic procrastination habits.

Lastly, technology also affects our perception of time, which inadvertently contributes to procrastination. The ceaseless stream of information and 24/7 connectivity blurs the boundaries between work and leisure, disrupting our ability to manage time effectively. When every moment is filled with potential for work or play, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “I’ll do it later,” leading to persistent procrastination.

That said, it’s worth noting that technology, when used wisely, can also serve as a powerful tool against procrastination. Numerous applications and platforms exist that help improve time management, boost productivity, and foster habits that can curb procrastination. For instance, task management apps, digital calendars, and focus-promoting tools can all aid in structuring our digital lives in a more effective manner.

In essence, the relationship between technology and procrastination is nuanced. On one hand, technology offers a fertile playground for procrastination to thrive, serving up endless distractions and gratifications. On the other, it also provides a suite of tools to combat procrastination, promoting better time management and productivity. As the digital world continues to develop, so too does our understanding of how to leverage it for maximum benefit while mitigating the risks of procrastination. The key lies in developing a conscious, intentional relationship with technology, transforming it from a foe into an ally in our battle against procrastination.


Procrastination, therefore, emerges from a complex interplay of psychological, biological, environmental, and cultural factors. It’s an intricate labyrinth, with numerous passages leading to its heart. Understanding this complexity is essential for devising effective strategies to combat procrastination and improve productivity.

If you’re battling the tenacious grip of procrastination and seeking a path towards a productive and fulfilling life, CETfreedom is here to assist. With an array of resources and tools that are tailor-made to unlock your potential, CET Freedom guides you on the voyage of self-discovery and growth. Say goodbye to procrastination and step into a world of limitless possibilities with CET Freedom today.


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