Procrastination: the Causes and Consequences

Procrastination costs businesses money and creates tension and stress for the person suffering from it. This short article looks at the types of procrastination and how to combat it.

Procrastination stands as a very well known, relatable problem to most of us. As Tim Urban describes procrastination in his ted talk, Procrastination is our rational decisions being stumped by instant gratification – the need for a short term mood repair over the long term pursuit of our intended actions.


The effects of procrastination are broad, from poorly conducting our workflow, to impacting the future progression of our own careers, or even a whole company. Studies show that procrastinating managers fail to take the initiative to raise the level of performance, therefore limiting their company’s growth, strategy and future.


Procrastination formats

Tim Urban characterises procrastination in two different formats:


  1. Deadline procrastination, which he describes as being unable to make rational decisions until a last minute deadline is due, or as he illustrates, “the panic monster awakens”


  1. Urban suggests that a secondary form of procrastination is the most damaging, being named Long-term procrastination – occurring in the absence of any specific deadlines, resulting in the ‘hard tasks’ never being completed.


But why do we procrastinate?

It is not laziness, nor is it just poor time management. It is more based upon our emotions rather than our productivity. The negative effect we experience relates to our present feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, or happiness, and disengaging from the aversive tasks is simply a short term repair from a negative effect (Xie et al., 2022).


Another cause, as suggested by the HBR, is that procrastinating managers have previously suffered negative consequences when taking initiative, therefore have a belief that any effort to take initiative will be shot down – supported by the positive correlation between procrastination and fear of failure (Bruch & Ghoshal, 2002).


How can we combat procrastination?

In short, it remains internal, The NYT advises we focus only on our next action, and prioritise our self regulation, starting by maintaining our self worth (The New York Times, 2019).



Lieberman, C. (2019) Why you procrastinate (it has nothing to do with self-control), The New York Times. Available at: (Accessed: 01 November 2023).

Xie, J., Bastian, C. and Martin, C. (2022) Why do people procrastinate?: The role of prospective memory, negative affect and time perspective. thesis. University Of Sheffield.

Bruch, H. and Ghoshal, S. (2002) ‘Beware the Busy Manager’, Harvard Business Review, February. Available at: (Accessed: 01 November 2023).


This month’s article is written by Oliver Jones who is a student at Oxford University studying Business. If your business would benefit from your staff having more time and making decisions more efficiently, please contact us to enquire about our Time Management Training Courses.