Why do we do academic procrastination?

Hi, learners! Have you ever postponed completing school assignments? Initially, the intention of delaying only one to two hours. However, when we realized it, it was already near the deadline for submission. That is an example of academic procrastination.

Why do we like to do academic procrastination? Find the answer in this article! An article that discusses the definition, impact, and causes of academic procrastination.

What is Academic Procrastination?

Procrastination is an act of delaying starting or completing a task or job. In an academic context, procrastination occurs when students delay the completion of academic activities, projects, and assignments for no essential reason [1].

For example, when the deadline for submitting a math assignment is three days away, we choose to postpone completing it. We reasoned that we still have three days to complete them, even though we can actually complete them on the day the task is given.

Another example is while working on an assignment, suddenly we got a message from a friend. What do we usually do? Instead of staying focused on doing tasks, we often focus on replying to messages from friends or scrolling through social media.

The slogan is not, "if you can do it now, why later?", but "if you can do it later, why now?"

What are the Impacts of Doing Academic Procrastination?

There are impacts of doing academic procrastination, among others are increased stress and anxiety and bad academic achievement.

Increased Stress and Anxiety

Academic procrastination can increase stress and anxiety, especially near deadlines [4]. When we are far from a deadline, we are incredibly relaxed. However, as the deadline approached, panic began to strike. In the long term, it will impact our mental health.

Bad Academic Achievement

The expectancy is when we have more time to complete the task, it will not only help us in completing the task but also help us understand more about the essence of the task we are doing. So, we cannot only fulfill the task but also improve our understanding of the material in the task.

Therefore, academic procrastination will have a negative impact on our academic achievements [4]. Because we will only focus on collecting assignments but neglect the process to understand the subject matter better. 

Why Do We Do Academic Procrastination?

Okay, so academic procrastination is bad for mental health and academic achievements. This impact is well-known. The majority of students already understand the impact of academic procrastination. Then why do we keep doing that?

There are several reasons why we do academic procrastinate, both external and internal factors.

First, anxiety disorders and fear of failure, perfectionism, fatigue both physically and mentally, and lack learning skills [1][4].

Anxiety Disorders and Fear of Failure

Anxiety disorders, both in the form of test anxiety and social anxiety, are stated to affect a person's frequency of academic procrastination.

Regarding test anxiety, procrastination is done because of the discomfort when facing the test. While related to social anxiety is the fear of not being able to meet the expectations of others, for example, the expectations of good grades from teachers or parents.

Both of these anxieties are closely related to the fear of failure -in tests, doing assignments, and learning disabilities. As a result, we tend to delay doing the task, rather than doing it but not getting maximum results.


Ever heard the quote, “Quality over quantity?” The quote refers to quality which is more important than quantity. Perfectionists have a tendency to want the best quality when they do something.

For example, when you write an essay you want to make an extraordinary essay or when you do a math problem you want to get a perfect score. Because they want to achieve that perfection, perfectionists will tend to wait for “the right time”, “good mood”, “inspiration”, “supportive environment”, and other terms that actually lead to academic procrastination without them knowing it.

Physical or Mental Fatigue

Physical and mental fatigue is an important factor for someone delaying completing a task. For example, tired due to lack of quality sleep, thus delaying tasks or activities that should be done. Likewise mental fatigue, such as feeling stressed, burnout, or other forms of psychological fatigue.

Low Study Skills

Another reason we do academic procrastination is the lack of learning or study skills. Skills are not only related to the ability to understand the material explained by the teacher, read from books, watch on YouTube, or listen to Podcasts.

Study skills include study time management skills, taking good notes, active listening, exam preparation, and even managing stress in studying. Low learning skills will have an impact on our habit of procrastination.

For example, when we do not have good time management skills, we will be confused about dividing the time to do schoolwork, study, and rest. As a result, we are unable to balance and complete many activities in our daily lives.

Bad Learning Environment

An unsupportive learning environment can take many forms. For example, inadequate internet, unsupported facilities, noisy surroundings, or many other distractions.

Have you ever experienced that when you are focused on studying or doing assignments, suddenly you hear traffic near your house? Especially when your task requires a calm atmosphere when thinking. Must be annoying, right?

In these situations, we often decide to postpone doing the task until the atmosphere is quieter. Then when the noise is finally gone, so is our mood for study!

Another example is when you have to do tasks that require references from the internet, while the internet network is extremely slow. How do you feel and what do you usually do?

Unpleasant or Too Difficult Tasks

Unpleasant tasks become our external stimuli delaying completing the task. When we do something we don't like, or maybe it's too difficult, we send pain or unpleasant signals to the brain [3].

To protect ourselves, the brain will suggest we do something else that can eliminate unpleasant feelings. As a result, we will do other things that we think are more fun [2]. Without us realizing it, this is a process of procrastination.

I don’t like it! Let’s find something more interesting.

For example, student “A” has a math assignment. Unfortunately, he doesn't like math. The math task will make him feel uncomfortable. The mood is not good.

To improve his mood, student “A” will do things that are fun for him. Maybe listening to music, watching television, hanging out with friends, and so on. Anything, other than facing and completing the task.

Lack of Clear Instructions

The instructions in question can be in the form of verbal instructions from the teacher or lecturer, as well as written instructions in the assignment sheet or test. When we do not understand the purpose of the task, we tend to delay the work.

Maybe procrastinate until you understand the point or postpone until a friend does the work first. Ever experienced it, right? We are busy asking friends about the meaning of the tasks given to us.


So, learners, academic procrastination can have a negative impact on our mental health and learning outcomes. It is important for us to understand the reasons for academic procrastination so that we can find the right way to overcome these problems.


[1]Bolbolian, M., Asgari, S., Sefidi, F., dan Zadeh, A.S. (2021). The relationship between test anxiety and academic procrastination among the dental students. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, Vol. 10, pp. 1-6.

[2] Gargari, R.B., Sabouri, H., dan Norzad, F. (2011). Academic Procrastination: The Relationship Between Causal Attribution Style and Behavioral Postponement. Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci, Vol. 5, pp. 76-82.

[3] Oakley, B., Sejnowski, T., dan Hammons, G. (nd). I’ll Do It Laters, Honest! Course Learning How To Learn For Youth at Coursera, by Arizona State University.

[4] Shatz, I. (nd). Academic Procrastination: Examples, Consequences, Causes, and Solutions. Tersedia: https://solvingprocrastination.com/academic-procrastination/ 

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