Unit 1: Introduction to Procrastination

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  • Learners will reflect on what the knowledge they already have about procrastination.
  • Learners will examine the definition of procrastination.
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Before We Begin

Using the link to the Jamboard below, learners will reflect on their knowledge of procrastination and write their answers in the boxes provided.

(The ticks are there for learners to see where the textboxes are located.)

What is procrastination?

Do you ever sit with yourself and think, "I have to do this thing, but I'll get to it later" or "I can always do it tomorrow"? Do you ever find yourself completing trivial activities rather than the major task that deserves the top spot of your priorities? These are the thoughts and actions of a procrastinator. To give a formal definition, procrastination is the action of postponing or delaying a task or set of tasks.

There are 3 types of procrastination according to the Lewis Howes's podcast (2021) about procrastination:

  • Classic Procrastination
    • Classic procrastination is the type of procrastination described above. It's about delaying what should be done.
      • An example of this is having to pay a bill but instead going to watch a movie.
  • Creative Avoidance
    • Creative avoidance is a type of procrastination where a task needs to get done, but instead other minor tasks are completed. It's having to do a task but makes up different tasks to look like progress is being made.
      • An example of this is needing to write a final essay but completes chores around the house.
  • Priority Dilution
    • Priority dilution is a type of procrastination where a bunch of tasks are completed but the significant tasks are left uncompleted. It's avoiding significant, high priority tasks with less urgent, low priority tasks.
      • An example of this is when lesson planning for the next day needs to be completed but is instead checking emails.

Why do people procrastinate?

There are many reasons as to why people procrastinate. People are quick to jump on the excuse that by procrastinating people are lazy, but there are deeper underlying factors. To start, a person might procrastinate a task because they deem the task as unpleasant. When people find a task to be unpleasant, it doesn’t motivate them to complete said tasks so they push it off. Students use the Internet as a way to procrastinate. They can spend hours mindlessly scrolling through articles, social media apps, and watching online content. Whether a student has a task to complete for in-person learning or online learning, the reasoning is the same.

Besides just deeming a task unpleasant, people procrastinate because of perfectionism. When someone is unsure if they can or will complete a task perfectly, they tend to push it off. They develop a fear that if they work on the task, then they won’t meet the expectations. The more fear or anxiety that is developed, the more likely the person is to wait until the last minute to complete it. Then, it causes the person to become overwhelmed and stressed. They will develop negative beliefs about themselves, which can also lead to low self-esteem and mental illness.

How does online learning specifically affect procrastination? Again, if a task is unpleasant because it is boring or the student doesn’t understand the relevancy, they will procrastinate. If there are only a few deadlines with large assignments, it will cause students to procrastinate due to the course being too open. Also, working alone can cause a student to procrastinate. Students who don't converse with peers feel isolated and alone, and those feelings don’t motivate a student to progress with their work, which causes them to procrastinate (Burns, 2019). Baek (2021) included a comment in her article about online learning saying that during online learning there is more time to submit assignments since they don’t have to be physically handed in, which adds to the procrastination.

Below is a YouTube video from TED-Ed that further discusses why people procrastinate.


Below is the link to a quizlet matching game that reviews the unit:

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Head to the next unit when you're ready by clicking the link below:

Unit 2: You vs. Procrastination

Or go back: Clobbering Procrastination

Head somewhere else: Stephanie Timpe's Portfolio Page