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When Procrastination is Persistent, Pervasive and Pointless

Sure we all procrastinate sometimes. Why not? Let’s see, shall I spend the evening doing mind-numbing clean-up chores or enjoy a good time with my friends? Shall I do tedious paperwork or plop down on the couch and watch my favorite show? It’s never been easy to control our urges, especially when what we “should” be doing goes against our grain.

In the digital world, however, procrastination is even harder to conquer. Accessible, appealing, addictive distractions are everywhere. Beepers beckon. Entertainment entices. Digital devices ding. Social networks seduce. Gaming, blogging, chat rooms, You-Tube, video streaming — and more — easily lead us astray. Digital temptations are just so much more seductive. Exciting, fast-paced entertainment actually changes the way our brains operate. If a task doesn’t immediately hold our interest, our minds gravitate to other matters.

So, what’s a person to do? Can’t we just enjoy ourselves? We all procrastinate about something; so what’s the big deal? Yes, agreed. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t ever put a task off to another day. You tell yourself, you’ll clean out the garage; yet, it doesn’t get done. You say you’ll organize your paperwork, but it’s still a mess. Oh, well. You can live with your disorganization. It’s not that bad, as it’s not affecting your personal, family or career goals.

But, what if, it is that bad? Or worse? What if your procrastination is not something to chuckle about as people tend to do? What if your procrastination is persistent, pervasive and pointless? Let’s look closer at those three descriptive terms.

Persistent Procrastination is when your procrastination is never ending. You don’t do what needs to be done. Or, you start doing a task but never finish. Or, you only lurch into action at the last minute, prodded on by an impending deadline or a ticked-off third party. Or, you put a lot of effort into a project but never complete it because you conclude that it’s “not good enough.” You’ve always got “a reason,” but, after a while, that reason rings hollow.

Pervasive Procrastination is when your procrastination is widespread, permeating many areas of your life. It’s not just the tough tasks you put off; it’s even the simple things. Procrastination has become a tenacious trait. It’s your modus operandi. Though you may say you have every intention of doing what needs to be done, your energy remained dammed, damning you to staying just as stuck as ever.

Pointless Procrastination is when your procrastination is meaningless, senseless, even a bit inane. You put off doing tasks, not because you would rather watch TV. No, you just put it off. And spend the time doing nothing, unless staring into space or vegging out on the couch count as something significant.

So, as you can see, persistent, pervasive, pointless procrastination is nothing to chuckle about. Just the opposite. It’s a dysfunction that needs to be addressed. It may be a sign of depression, dependency, anxiety, apathy, attention deficit or brain impairment.

A caveat: Now that you know that procrastination can be a sign of a serious dysfunction, don’t go overboard diagnosing yourself or a loved one.  Seek out professional help before you conclude that procrastination is a sign of a mental or physical disorder.

Despite its seriousness, it may simply be a bad habit that has taken hold. And, as I’m sure you know from experience, changing ingrained habits is tough, but not impossible. Though the digital age makes it harder to stay on track, still, you can learn how to modify, alter and tweak your ways to reduce your procrastination habit. And when you do, you will develop a more enhanced, enriched, empowered version of yourself. Anyone against that?


When Procrastination is Persistent, Pervasive and Pointless

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Dr. Linda Sapadin, psychologist, success coach and author is proud to announce the publication of her new book, Overcoming Your Procrastination: College Student Edition – Advice for 6 Personality Styles available on Amazon. Now more than ever with remote learning, this book is a must-have. If you’re a perfectionist, dreamer, worrier, crisis-maker, defier or please, grab your copy. No longer a student? Get my book How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age – 6 Change Programs for 6 Personality Styles. Visit to subscribe to my free e-newsletter. Contact her at [email protected]

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APA Reference
Sapadin, L. (2018). When Procrastination is Persistent, Pervasive and Pointless. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 21 Aug 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.