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Influence of Procrastination on Academic Performance, Life Satisfaction and Stress

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Table of contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Rationale
  4. Method
  5. Sample
  6. Instruments
  7. Demographic Questionnaire (Devised by Researchers)
    General Procrastination Scale (GPS)
    Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)
    Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)
  8. Procedure
  9. Discussion
  10. Conclusion


Procrastination is a widely used behavior or course of action which involves postponing important tasks or work that needs to be completed promptly. The present study was conducted to check the influence and reasons for procrastination on academic performance, stress and life satisfaction among university students. The sample of 100 university students was derived from different universities of Pakistan through convenient sampling. Three scales “General Procrastination Scale” by Lay 1986, “Satisfaction with Life Scale” by Ed. Diener 1985 and “Perceived Stress Scale” by Scheldon Cohen 1983 were employed online. Differences amongst gender were not found with respect to procrastination. As hypothesized stress and life satisfaction were found to be significantly correlated with procrastination. Moreover, findings of the study also suggested that academic performance was not affected by procrastination.


The word procrastination is originated from Latin verb “procrastinare”, that means ‘putting forward until tomorrow”. It has been defined as the irrational tendency to delay tasks that should be completed. In contemporary societies procrastination is a common behavior. According to Steel “It is often defined as a voluntary delay of an intended course of action, despite expecting to be worse off for the delay”.

Oxford Dictionary defines Procrastination as “The action of delaying or postponing something”. While according to DSM-V Procrastination is not a disorder but it may be a symptom of a psychological disorder. Procrastination has been linked to several negative associations, such as depression, irrational behavior, low self-esteem, anxiety and neurological disorders such as ADHD. Others have found relationships with guilt and stress.

Procrastination acquired negative connotations during the Industrial Revolution; until then procrastination was viewed neutrally and could be interpreted as a wise course of (in) action. It is considered as universal problem related with a variety of pessimistic outcomes and usually happens when tasks are aversive or distasteful in a range of life domains. It is the delay of a task which needs to be done. It is a habit of saying no to a task that it should not be started now and justifying it illegitimately.

Popoola (2005) considers procrastination as a dispositional trait which has cognitive, behavioral and emotional components. Procrastination defines as intentionally avoiding any implementation, any individual delaying or putting off a work until it is too late or nearly late. According to Solomon and Rothblum (1984) “Academic Procrastination is the irrational tendency to delay tasks until an individual experiences discomfort.” Other professionals define it as an act of delaying an intended sequence of action despite expecting consequences due to that delay.

The Concept of academic procrastination was first mentioned in 1984 in the American Psychological Association’s journal “Counseling Psychology”.

Academic life satisfaction is “operationally defined as the expected satisfaction in one’s life in school by the fulfillment of his/her important academic goals or aspirations”.

Academic performance is a success or failure measured by educational institutions or how better or well a student performs to meet the standards set by government and institution itself. It includes examination grades, percentages, and GPA etc.

According to Barlow & Durand stress is body’s physiological response to a stressor, which is any event or change that requires adaptation. Stress is usually defined as an individual’s reaction to stressors forced upon them. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (1999) defines stress as “The harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, needs of the worker”.

Procrastination has many types; most important of them all is “Academic Procrastination.” It is natural scene to see university or school’s library being occupied with students of every age borrowing articles, books, journals just before. In academic arena such type of procrastination (academic procrastination) is considered as a widespread problem and has received additional research and professional interest than other types of procrastination.

Around 80 to 95% of students or half of the college students engage in procrastination. So, its causes and effects are an interesting research subject. Academic procrastination negatively affects academic performance; learning and achievement of students, as indicated by studies conducted in academic arenas proves that procrastination affects about 46 to 95 percent of undergraduate students.

Some people have reported procrastination as a performance enhancing strategy. According to Ferrari (1991) students having greater ability tend to procrastinate more than those with lower ability. While some studies failed to find a correlation or an association between procrastination and academic performance and some even concluded that there is a positive effect of procrastination on academic performance.

As stated by domestic and foreign research, there is still a vague relationship between procrastination and academic performance. So, it is essential to research more about procrastination and understand the relationship between procrastination and academic performance.

Stress deals with various types i.e. work-related stress, stress in teachers, stress in depression and anxiety leading procrastination, stress on low and high effort tasks and relation of stress and self-compassion.

An article describes that procrastination and delaying produces stress. According to researchers, organizations hold unfavorable effects due to procrastination. Like work-related stress. It involves acts like wasting time, poor performance and stress. High level of work-related stress gives negative effects on emotional well-being. Steffy and Jones (1990) noted this stress causes job-related dissatisfaction which itself is the single most clear psychological effect of stress such as tension, anxiety, depression, aggression, irritability, confusion, boredom and procrastination.

Another work represented the relationship between procrastination manifested as a behavior with the experienced stress along with preferred coping strategies with the stress. Identifying the stress and burnout syndrome a questionnaire was used from Henning and Keller (1996). As a result, significant positive correlation was discovered among procrastination of teachers experiencing stress. Three areas were identified i.e. cognitive, emotional and social. A positive correlation was identified in the physical area of experienced stress. Moreover, highly significant negative correlation was found between proactive coping and procrastination of teachers and highly significant positive correlation between avoidance coping and procrastination.

Life satisfaction depends upon the rate of procrastination; low rate of procrastination will lead to high level of life satisfaction and vice versa.

Several studies have revealed several negative consequences of procrastination on student’s wellbeing, as a result procrastinator report more illness symptoms and stress at the end of the semester. Some studies reveal that procrastination was highest in the youngest cohort (14–29 years) and unemployed persons. In some other studies we found that low self-regulation and high procrastination together might increase to experience higher negative feeling and lower academic and life satisfaction.

To study the relationship and effects of procrastination on academic life satisfaction and self-regulation, a research was conducted in which 328 undergraduate students took part, questionnaires were given to them. Different scales like Tuckman Procrastination Scale (TPS, Self-Regulation Scale (SRS), Academic life satisfaction (ALS) and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) scales were used to access academic life satisfaction, self-regulation etc. result of this research showed that higher levels of self-regulation are related to lower levels of procrastination.

Another study was conducted to describe the relationship between academic procrastination and academic life satisfaction, author found that academic procrastination was significantly and negatively related with academic life satisfaction and academic achievement and academic life satisfaction was positively correlated with academic achievement.


The fundamental reason for this study is that major challenges are confronting when it comes to check the procrastination level of students of Pakistan as there are no research work done in our culture & society regarding this aspect. The sole purport for this research is to evaluate the study variables in the localities of Pakistan. A greater research and development are required to find out the degree of procrastination and its impact on academic performance of students. This research will help identifying a gap of stress and life satisfaction among students due to procrastination.

Purpose of this study is to check and measure the degree of relationship between procrastination, academic performance among students and their life satisfaction along with stress.



The sample of present study was delimited to student population (N,100). They were both male (n=50) and female (n=50) with age ranging from 16 to 30 years. Educational level of the sample was categorized into two groups that were bachelor’s program (n=82) and master’s program (n=18). Academic performance was measured through GPA categorized into three groups that were 2.00-2.6 (n= 4), 2.7-3.3 (n=46) and 3.4-4.00 (n=50). The sample technique was convenient sampling.


Demographic Questionnaire (Devised by Researchers)

A simple questionnaire was developed to gather the demographic information from the participants. It included age, gender, education level and percentage of academics.

General Procrastination Scale (GPS)

To asses procrastination among the sample, GPI is used. This scale is developed by Clarry Lay in 1986. This scale includes 12 items. Responses across items are summed to obtain a single score. Points are given based on four points where 1 means almost always and 4 states almost never. This scale has a Cronbach alpha of 0.82 (Lay,1986) and a test retest reliability of 0.80 reliability.

Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)

To evaluate satisfaction in life among the sample, SWLS is used. It is developed by Ed. Diener in 1985. This scale includes 5 items. Responses ranges from 1 to 7 where 1 means strongly disagree and 7 means strongly agree. The maximum score of this scale is 35 and minimum score is 5. This scale has a Cronbach alpha of 0.74.

Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)

To measure stress among the sample, PSS is used. It is developed by Sheldon Cohen in 1983. It includes 10 items. Responses ranges from 1 to 5 where 1 means never and 5 is very often. This scale has a Cronbach alpha of 0.78.


Initially the former scales were converted into Google doc. questionnaire. Then prospective sample (N=100) was approached and asked for their consent. After agreement the link of form was sent to the agreed sample which included 50 males and 50 females. The sample comprised of students from various universities living in different cities of Pakistan. Majority of the sample was from Islamabad. After completion of the study the sample was statistical analysis on SPSS.


Procrastination is a process of delaying tasks or something important that needs to be completed on time despite the discomfort a person feels due to the delay. According to Steel “It is often defined as a voluntary delay of an intended course of action, despite expecting to be worse off for the delay”. While according to DSM-V procrastination is not a disorder but it may be a symptom of a psychological disorder.

The primary purpose of this research was to check the influence of procrastination (independent variable) on academic performance, stress, life satisfaction among university students. Earlier research findings suggest that around 80 to 95% of students or half of the college students engage in procrastination. Another article described that procrastination and delaying produces stress. While according to Durden (1997) students with high procrastination level were significantly less satisfied with their life and vice versa.

The findings of our research highlighted that there was no relation in procrastination amongst gender although a slight difference was notable in their means (both male and female) so hypothesis one was rejected. However these findings clearly contradict with earlier researches as some researchers stated that men had higher levels of procrastination than women (Mandap, 2016), while other found female students to be procrastinating more than males. Though some early researches supported our study findings by reporting that no prominent difference was found among males and females means scores on procrastination.

Correlation was also observed between procrastination and academic performance through GPA’s of the sample showing no significant relation thus our second hypothesis was also rejected, evidence of the hypothesis rejection can be seen in earlier research findings. One of the previous studies says that procrastination negatively affects academic performance; learning and achievement of students. Studies conducted in academic arenas proves that procrastination affects about 46 to 95 percent of undergraduate students. While some even concluded that there is a positive effect of procrastination on academic performance. Our study sample was comprised of university students having high ability (majority of the sample) that eventually lead to no significant relation of their academic performance with their procrastination level as supported by Ferrari (1991).

Another purpose of this study was to understand how procrastination relates to stress in students. Primarily it was hypothesized that there was likely to be a significant relationship between stress and procrastination. It was revealed that stress and procrastination had negative relationship. A study supported our findings highlighting that students with high procrastination level might not experience high levels of stress since social support and interpersonal relations might act as safeguards against it . However, the findings of the present research are mostly inconsistent with the earlier findings. As researchers like Tice and Baumeister (1997) found that university students who were high level procrastinators experienced high level of stress.

It was hypothesized that there was likely to be a significant relationship between procrastination and life satisfaction. Findings of this study revealed that there is a significantly negative relationship between life satisfaction and procrastination. This might be since procrastinators because of their delaying of the work are unable to complete their tasks on time. So, they feel stressed and lack of motivation resulting in less satisfaction in life. Some of the research support the hypothesis’s notion as it was argued that life satisfaction is affected by success or failure in academic performance of students. So, one can say that procrastination can directly or indirectly influence student’s life satisfaction.


In the light of all the research conducted, procrastination is the postponement of tasks to be completed on time. This study demonstrated the relation of procrastination with academic performance, stress and life satisfaction. It also showed that procrastination can affect life satisfaction but carries no significant effect on gender and academic performance. Although limited sample constricted the result implications on a greater population, but it has opened a door to further studies in this field.

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