Over time, the definition of procrastination has become skewed and vague, and, unfortunately, not many people or sources can provide a definitive definition for the word. The following hypothetical situation can provide a good example of the two opposite sides of procrastination: Two students had put off doing an essay until the day it is due. The first student had been doing smaller, less important tasks (checking grades, planning for the rest of the week, etc.) without putting much direct thought into completing the essay. The second had sat down with the intention to write multiple times, but never got past typing his name on the paper without switching over to Facebook and giving up. The first student waited until he had just enough time to write, proof-read, and edit his paper. The second didn’t think he’d have enough time and decided not to do it. While it is apparent that both students put off doing their essays, did either of them actually procrastinate? The first student put off his paper until the latest possible time, which means he clearly procrastinated if it took him that long to do it, right? However, since he was doing other relatively important things, an argument could be made that since he was still working (even though it was on different, probably less important tasks), he wasn’t procrastinating because was still actually doing something. The second student could be considered not procrastinating because procrastination can be substituted with “put off” or “delayed”, which both imply that the assignment would at some point be completed (or at least started).
The two students did in fact both procrastinate. The reason it seems so different is because it was. Procrastination is broken up into two categories; active and passive. Active procrastination (what the first student used for his essay) is the systematic delay of a task. It allows the procrastinator to manage his time by putting off things that don’t need to be done right away (the essay) in order to do other quicker, or more enjoyable things (checking grades, planning, etc.). It is a fantastic way to take in all the benefits of procrastination. Passive procrastination (what the second student employed) is, more or less, the act of blindly saying “screw it, I’ll do it later”. Unlike active procrastination, passive procrastination doesn’t use much, or any time management. For example; an active procrastinator would make sure he has enough time between when he starts his essay and when it is due. A passive procrastinator will just lazily put an assignment off without regarding how much time is left to complete said assignment. Active procrastinators typically won’t encounter as much stress as passive procrastinators because there will already be time set aside to worry about, and complete the assignment, while passive procrastinators can begin to get stressed out over the work looming over their heads.
The big thing that separates procrastination from “put off” and “delay” is time. Procrastination involves the delaying of a timed task until the latest possible time within the given timeframe. While something can be put off indefinitely, procrastination has a set deadline for when a task can totally lose its relevance. For example; I’ve been telling my self I’d go running for some time now. I’ve been blowing it off for weeks by not doing it, and I’ve postponed it by telling my self “I’ll just do it tomorrow”, but I haven’t been procrastinating because there is no set time or date. I just haven’t been doing it out of laziness. That is what really sets the word procrastination apart.
5- Excessive personal experience as both an active, and passive procrastinator