Procrastination is something we all do from time to time. Whether it’s a chore we really don’t want to do, studying for an exam or preparing ahead for an event, sometimes it’s easier to keep putting things off until the last minute. 

Procrastination is a rising issue amongst the UK population, in which a recent study by Legal & General has indicated that over half of people in the UK believe that procrastination has affected their life in one way or another.

Below, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest reasons for procrastination amongst the UK population, the effects of it and what cities are the biggest perpetrators. 

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination has been defined by researcher, DR Piers Steel, as ‘the voluntary postponement of an unpleasant task, often against one’s better judgement’. The act of procrastination itself can be subjective, in which some people describe it as thriving under pressure.

However, you choose to see procrastination, it is usually triggered by the below common circumstances:

  • A method of coping with anxiety
  • Replacing unpleasant tasks with pleasant ones to combat low mood
  • To control or replace certain emotions

Many studies suggest that procrastination is not actually about time and how much of it you have or how you use it but actually more psychological. Some researchers suggest that procrastination is a learnt behaviour in which people are trying to control their mood rather than time, by replacing unpleasant activities with ones that will offer an immediate mood lift.

How Has the Pandemic Affected Procrastination?

According to the study by Legal & General, 30% of people in the UK have said the pandemic has made them less motivated to get through their to-do list. One of the reasons that has emerged to be causing procrastination is increased anxiety around the pandemic in which 34% of 25-34-year-olds said feelings of anxiety were the biggest reason they were feeling less motivated.

Common forms of procrastination during the pandemic have included being late to work, missing a table reservation and missing a flight. Of these acts, 25–34-year-olds were found to be the worst culprits. 

Researcher Jessica Myrick, from the Media School at Indiana University, has suggested that procrastination is being used as a misguided form of emotional regulation as the act brings short-term relief, but in the long run, it can actually increase stress and other negative emotions.  

Some of the consequences of long-term procrastination can be:

  • Feelings of guilt
  • Anxiety and depression
  • A Weakened immune system, making people more susceptible to colds and the flu
  • Cardiovascular disease

The Top Cities for Procrastination

According to the study by Legal & General, these are the top cities for procrastination: 

  • Cardiff
    • In Cardiff, 31% of the city’s population are thought to be procrastinators. Research shows that the biggest culprits for aiding procrastination include social media (33%), TV/ Netflix (25%), video games (14%), being alone with a partner (6%) and childcare (7%). 
    • Interestingly, of the respondents in the study, those aged 55 are more likely to get distracted by the above tasks than those in younger age groups. 
  • Liverpool
    • 28% of the population in Liverpool procrastinate. As one of the highest rankings in the UK, one of the reasons to explain this could be found in Liverpool’s well-being statistics. 
    • According to studies, people in Liverpool have a happiness ranking of 7.3%, which is a slight decrease from before the pandemic. 
    • In addition, anxiety has risen to 3.2 from 2.8 from last year, which correlates with theories that anxiety and procrastination are linked.
  • London
    • The third highest place for procrastination in the UK is London. 
    • As the capital city was hard hit by the pandemic, it could be said that rising levels of anxiety alongside stressful jobs could be affecting procrastination levels.

Overall, procrastination seems to be a problem in many of the UK’s major cities and has been linked with the emotional state and overall wellbeing of a person. While the past couple of years have induced significant stress and anxiety for everyone, it seems that fostering healthy emotional habits can go a long way in helping prevent procrastination habits.