My annual physical was in July. My doctor gave me a requistiion for blood work. It's almost October and I haven't done that yet. Is this procrastination?
Typically, we think of procrastination as an intention-action gap. If we intend to do something, and we voluntarily and needlessly delay action on our intention, it's procrastination. But, what if we don't make the intention?
I think the key thing here is knowing what we "ought" to do. If we ought to do something, then it's procrastination. I certainly tell my 8-year-old daughter that about making her bed or picking up her toys. It's unnecessary delay on her tasks. But is this fair?
I want her to pick up her toys. She doesn't want to do it. I'm not sure she has internalized some sort of "ought" in terms of this task. She certainly doesn't seem to have an intention. It seems we often want to label others as procrastinators, but is it true? What about my blood work? What would my doctor say?
I never did quite make an intention to go to the lab. Why? Well, I have to fast. There's often a line up. It's a hassle. Psychologically, we refer to these tasks as aversive. Aversive tasks are associated with procrastination. So, it's beginning to sound like procrastination to me.
I do have a vague intention to get it done, someday. I keep that requistion on my desk, somewhere. I even think about it, sometimes. If my blood work turns out like my intentions, you'd diagnosis me as anemic. My intentions are weak, lacking vigor. There's no resolve.
Interestingly, procrastination is associated with fewer wellness behaviors and treatment delay. Our research has clearly demonstrated the indirect relation between procrastination and health this way - we delay our exercise or diet goals, and we can even delay treatment. This has a negative overall effect on our health. But wait, this blood work isn't "treatment" per se. I guess it would be considered a wellness behavior.
When I was discussing this in our research group today, Eve-Marie pointed out that even our best intentions - those intentions that Peter Gollwitzer calls implementation intentions - require commitment. If there's no commitment, then there's no action despite the plan.
So, it's time for some resolve and commitment. However, I have to fast first, so I'll do it tomorrow! Oh, the irony!
Sirois, F. M., Melia-Gordon, M. L., & Pychyl, T. A. (2003). "I'll look after my health later": An investigation of procrastination and health. Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 1167-1184.
Sirois, F. M. (2004). Procrastination and intentions to perform health behaviors: The role of self efficacy and the consideration of future consequences. Personality and Individual Differences, 37, 115-128.
Sirois, F. M. (2007). "I'll look after my health, later": A replication and extension of the procrastination-health model with community-dwelling adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 15-26.