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Workplace Procrastination And Its Relation To Time Pressure

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Procrastination is considered a business killer that had gone unnoticed until recently. Procrastination is defined as the deliberate act to postpone needlessly the necessary work that one aims to achieve regardless of expectedly negative consequences (Steel, 2007). Procrastination can take various forms from cleaning desks to using the Internet for non-related work. These seemingly harmless behaviors are found to cover a quarter of most employees’ working days and costing employers around 10,000 per employee annually (D’Abate & Eddy, 2007). Therefore, understanding the factors and mechanisms that influence procrastination should be of interest to both employees and their employers. Although procrastination is commonly associated with laziness, recent research suggests procrastination as a behavioral byproduct of stress (Prem, Scheel, Weigelt, Hoffmann, & Korunka, 2018). Due to the association between stress and work demand such as time pressure (van Eerde, 2000), a link is speculated between time pressure and procrastination. Not only does this present study set out to investigate this link, but also the mechanism underneath it.

Time pressure refers to how pressed and pushed for time, such that people feel the need to work at a faster pace, but having less sufficient time available to complete their tasks (Baer & Oldham, 2006). Time pressure is considered as part of a wider range of work demands, which is claimed to induce workplace stress (van Eerde, 2000). Workplace stress is reported to subsequently link to procrastination behaviors (Beutel et al., 2016). The proposed explanation is that people are likely to delay important tasks when being distracted by stress (Verešová, 2013). Yet by putting things off, employees may feel stressed and overwhelmed thinking about what has been left undone. This vicious stress-procrastination cycle, when connecting to time pressure, implies a possible role of time pressure on procrastination. However, it is worth noting the need for the present study to extend beyond this association by exploring its underlying mechanism. Only then, an adequate answer can be provided as to why some employees tend to procrastinate more than others, varying in their appraisals of time pressure.

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Built upon the transactional stress model, the AAA stress theory explained that the effects of stress depend on whether the situations are appraised as either hindrance (stressors related to constraints) or challenges (stressors related to personal gain) (Mackey & Perrewé, 2014). In this respect, the impact of stress would be heightened if time pressure is appraised as a hindrance or lessened if appraised as a challenge. Considering this and the ties between time pressure and procrastination (Beutel et al., 2016), cognitive appraisals should be measured as mediators between time pressure and procrastination. Simply put, employees are likely to procrastinate less if they perceive time pressure as a challenge rather than a hindrance. Furthermore, the amount of time pressure is proposed as a determinant of whether time pressure is perceived as a challenge or hindrance (Baethge, Vahle-Hinz, Schulte-Braucks, & Van Dick, 2018). A high quantity of time pressure is experienced as overtaxing and more likely to behave as a hindrance rather than a challenge stressor (Schmitt, Ohly, & Kleespies, 2015). Despite their relevance to the workplace environment, empirical studies about these mechanisms are still sparse.

A growing body of research has explored the appraisal mechanism underlying the workplace demands-behaviors relationship. For instance, Chu and Choi (2005) found that the level of procrastination decreased if participants perceived time pressure as a last-minute challenge/opportunity and increased if perceived as strain/obstacle. However, this study used an academic setting which can limit its generalizability to real work settings. A study by Paškvan, Kubicek, Prem, and Korunka (2016), which utilized a real-world setting (i.e. banking industry), found cognitive appraisals as the mediator between job demands and work motivations. Nevertheless, both studies used cross-sectional data, which could potentially generate participants’ biases and ambiguous causal directions between variables and interfere with their study results. Besides these limitations, these studies have not tapped directly into the role of cognitive appraisals in mediating the effect of time pressure on procrastination. Only one research (Prem et al., 2018) directly investigated this mechanism in which a diary study was utilized to allow the recording of employees’ thoughts and feelings in their real work settings, hence makes it easier than cross-sectional/self-report to examine the causal effect of time pressure on procrastination through cognitive appraisals. However, the insufficient measurement between variables within the same day weakened their causality inferences. Moreover, none of the mentioned studies explored the effect of time pressure’s quantity on the mediator role of cognitive appraisal. These methodological drawbacks have left room for further research.

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Workplace Procrastination And Its Relation To Time Pressure. (2021, October 03). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from
“Workplace Procrastination And Its Relation To Time Pressure.” Edubirdie, 03 Oct. 2021,
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