Why Procrastination Makes You Depressed (and Depression Makes You Procrastinate)

Dr. Tim Pychyl

Dr. Tim Pychyl (@procrastwitate) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, and the Director of the Centre for Initiatives in Education at Carleton University, in Ottowa, Canada. His psychological research is focused on the breakdown in volitional action commonly known as procrastination, and how it relates to personal health and wellbeing.

He is the recipient of numerous teaching awards including the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, a Graduate Mentoring Award and the inaugural recipient of the University Medal for Distinguished Teaching.

He is the author of “Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change“, the host of the iProcrastinate Podcast, writer of the brilliant Don’t Delay blog at Psychology Today, and founder of the Procrastination Research Group.

In today’s episode we explore how procrastination relates to things like depression and anxiety, we discuss the emotional factors that initiate and drive procrastination, and how it can affect not only your mental, but your physical health and wellbeing, by increasing your chances of things like coronary heart disease.

We discover why we’re terrible at forecasting our future moods and why you’ll never “feel like doing it tomorrow”, how to grease the wheels of productivity and boost your willpower, and why Homer Simpson might have something very profound to teach us about how we treat our future selves.




Tims Recommended Links

Procrastination.ca – Home of the Procrastination Research Group

iProcrastinate Podcast

Don’t Delay – Tim’s blog at Psychology Today

Further Reading

Depression and Procrastination – Psychology Today

Weakness of Will – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

How Negative Emotions Lead to Self-Regulation Failure – Psychology Today

Procrastination can lead to heart problems – Science Alert

I’ll Feel More Like it Tomorrow – Psychology Today

It’s Time to Get Acquainted With Your Future Self – Science of Us

Forecasting the Future (Interview with Dan Gilbert) – Psychology Today

External Supports for Your Willpower – Psychology Today

Books Mentioned in This Episode



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Image courtesy: MattysFlicks

2 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    Hi Danny, I really found this podcast helpful, thanks for your work and contribution to this complex,important , cool subject.
    I’ve listened to this podcast several times while doing my work (I’m a photographer) to make sure I get it all and remember all the helpful advise.
    Like everybody, I want to get better with my procrastination and while Tim suggested starting small with the tasks one tries “avoiding”, I also find it that making habits helps overcome the resistance of doing it. In the sense that when one makes a habit, one stops thinking.I think at some level, and after a while even the most difficult tasks make us feel good(and I think our body releases some endorphins as well)
    I’m thinking of the fishermen that wake up at 4 am, athletes, inuits,
    That do you think?

    Thanks again

    • Danny Whittaker
      Danny Whittaker says:

      Hi John,

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast. I think it’s great if you can form a productive habit, once it becomes a habit, then great. But it’s the turning of a task into a habit in the firstplace which is the difficult part. That’s where things like implementation intentions and environmental anchors come into play.

      For instance, let’s say the habit you want to form is to sit down at 10am and write from two hours every morning. Firstly, set an alarm for 9:50am. This is an environmental anchor. Like a shift bell at a factory. This is your cue to “clock in” and get to work.

      Things like a home office/studio are good environmental anchors as well. Use your home office/studio for NOTHING BUT WORK. No Facebook. No whacking off to porn. No eating at your desk. Just work. Then, whenever you walk into this space, you’ll automatically slip into work mode.

      I know a guy who despite working from home, wears a shirt and tie during work hours. That’s a brilliant anchor.

      As a little aside, I think this relates to why a lot of people struggle to sleep nowadays. Our beds have become a place where we sit eating pizza, watching Netflix, and pissfarting about on our laptops. Crawling into bed is no longer a cue for rest and relaxation. It’s just another cue to carry on working, stressing out, and keeping up with the Joneses.

      As for implementation intentions, that would be things like turn off your phone and unplug your modem to reduce distractions. Clear your desk the night before, so that when you sit down at 10am you don’t have to clear away all the McDonalds bags and sticky tissues from your last fapfest. You can just get straight to work.

      For you, an implementation intention might be make sure your photography equipment is all packed up the night before, batteries charged, SD cards wiped, and waiting in the boot of the car. No faffing. Up, breakfast, straight out to work.

      As for the routines of early risers like fishermen, athletes, and Inuits. I think these are less about habit and more about things like industry requirements, competitive edge, and cultural norms, respectively.

      Not to play down the level of dedication required in each case, of course. Those guys are hardcore. I wouldn’t get up at 4am if Pam Grier circa 1974 invited me for a skinnydip at sunrise!

      Well… Depends on my implementation intentions, I suppose 🙂

      Thanks for listening, Danny


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