Lack of Confidence, Not Perfectionism, Dooms Procrastinators

From time to time I scan EurekAlert! which publishes easy-to-read blurbs on new research out of academia. They recently noted a University of Calgary study on procrastination, which I found interesting:

"Essentially, procrastinators have less confidence in themselves, less expectancy that they can actually complete a task," Steel says. "Perfectionism is not the culprit. In fact, perfectionists actually procrastinate less, but they worry about it more."

Other predictors of procrastination include: task aversiveness, impulsiveness, distractibility, and how much a person is motivated to achieve. Not all delays can be considered procrastination; the key is that a person must believe it would be better to start working on given tasks immediately, but still not start.

3 comments on “Lack of Confidence, Not Perfectionism, Dooms Procrastinators
  • That nails it for me, particularly for an especially difficult spreadsheet that I may put off fearing it to be too difficult or take too much time during regular working hours, only to find that is simple needed the application of some elbow grease.

  • Lack of confidence definitely fits one of the cases when I procrastinate. I dislike phoning people who I don’t know (we could call it “cold calling,” even if I’m not selling). I’ve had some research projects that took longer to get going simply because I always found reasons or excuses not to phone people. Once I got going, it was usually fine.

    The other reasons I procrastinate is either bordom (not being interested in the project), or sometimes not knowing where to start. With the latter, sometimes I just need time to float it around in my head. Maybe this is procrastination, or maybe it’s just working on the problem in another way — I’m not sure.

  • The usual culprit for me is fear of being interrupted. If I don’t feel like I will have enough time to complete a concentration-oriented task without being interrupted, it’s hard for me to start.

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