Procrastination: Good, Bad or Universal?

Originally posted on Celi-chan In Wonderland Blog, November 21st, 2017.

While doing research for the my recent article on the subject titled Understanding Procrastination & What To Do About It,  It made me wonder….

Considering how often and how many people tend to procrastinate, it would make sense that more tasks in the world would go unfinished, but that’s not actually the case. People often believe that those who continually put off doing tasks are lazy or even reckless, but some who do, tend to revel and even thrive in the chaos of a hectic lifestyle.

With the possibility of a portion of those people being masochists aside, is it possible that procrastination could be something positive? Perhaps. It may come as a surprise to consider some of the possible good aspects of procrastination.

Positive Aspects of Procrastination

Procrastinating can be productive at times when people do other smaller tasks they previously procrastinated, in order to avoid doing a different task they believe would take more time or effort. Kind of like cleaning the house when there’s a work or school project that needs your attention.

The rush of the rush may explain why, although many people tend to procrastinate, things still get done in the world. People become more excited or motivated to complete a task once the due date draws near. These people find the limitations created by their procrastination as a challenge to  overcome. And the sense of achievement gained from overcoming all odds stacked against them can be quite thrilling as well.

The product resulting from the extra effort expended by the procrastinator to complete their task within certain parameters is another positive aspect, however its usually only positive if procrastinators are successful in overcoming the challenge.

Sometimes the limitations forced upon procrastinators cause them to make great things through instinct and creative problem solving. Because of this some may believe that their best work comes from the stress of encroaching deadlines and limited resources. Their success however is probably attributed to simplified or strong concepts behind the product, as quality tends to vary.

Furthermore, the limitations caused by procrastinating could also aid those that struggle with indecisiveness. With less time or options available to work with, there’s less time for second guessing one’s decisions, causing one to be more invested in the decision that is finally made (or made for them). That person will either sink or swim…OR sink so badly they manage to float somehow, in a metaphorical sense I mean. Like when a director makes a horror film so inadvertently yet purposefully bad it’s actually good. 

Finally, the need or feeling to procrastinate could also be alerting you of the possibility that the task that needs doing isn’t as important to you as you think, and maybe your attention would better used elsewhere. Self reflection and evaluation may be necessary to discover what task is more worth doing.


Negative Aspects of Procrastination

I’ve discussed this pretty thoroughly and succinctly in my previous article HERE so I’ll just go over the essential bits. All the bad things that come from procrastinating are: 

  • feelings of stress, anxiety, and guilt
  • health problems related to these emotions such as nausea or stomach pain
  • social criticism or disapproval for being unable to finish tasks or keep commitments
  • unfinished tasks may culminate into a procrastination loop, or doom cycle
Is Procrastination Universal?

Procrastination of course is an interesting trend. However it seems like it affects mostly western cultures, or maybe it’s because I’m a westerner that I notice it more within the culture. In my mind the tendency doesn’t quite seem to fit with the stereotypical work ethic of, say, Japanese culture, where there have been numerous reports of “karoshi“, or death by over-work. It doesn’t seem like procrastination would be likely in Japan.

However, that could certainly be part of my own misconceptions about eastern culture. Personally, if I was living in a culture where someone could literally work themselves to death then I would probably be more inclined towards procrastination or just giving up on the whole “9-5 job” thing entirely.

Is Procrastination Good, Bad, Universal? You Decide

I think what determines whether procrastination is good or bad is the amount of stress someone feels from the experience and whether they believe that stress to be a constructive force or a destructive one.

Let me know whether you think procrastination is good or bad thing.

If there are any other good aspects to procrastination that I missed then let me know.

And if you’re from another country or have knowledge of non-western cultures, then let me know what you think of procrastination, or if there’s a similar tendency to put-off doing tasks in other cultures as well.




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