There have been recent buzzwords floating around that are trying to reframe procrastination as a positive thing, but researchers note these are largely inaccurate descriptions.
Pychyl's latest research (a finished paper is currently under review) points to the fact that active procrastination, which suggests that waiting until the last minute can be beneficial, is a misnomer.
"Conceptually, it's an oxymoron and in terms of the data, we don't get any of the same results [as the original study]," he says. "It's actually purposeful delay. 'Active procrastinators' work at the last minute because they know they can pull it off. That's not procrastination. [Procrastination] is knowing you should work today but saying 'I don't feel like it, I'm going to do something else instead.'"
Joseph R. Ferrari, PhD, St Vincent DePaul Professor of Psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and author of "Still Procrastinating?..." takes issue with the term structured procrastination as well — it's really just prioritizing, he says.
"If I have a dozen things to do, obviously 10, 11 and 12 have to wait because I'm doing the first one," he says. "But a real procrastinator isn't just prioritizing. They'll do one, maybe two [things] and then rewrite the list and shuffle things around [without getting anything else done]. To prioritize is not the same as procrastination."
On another note, Steel says there are ways to minimize the effects of procrastination. Here's one example: let's say you're working on writing up a report due tomorrow. What you really should be doing is shaping the content of the document, but you're checking grammar and adjusting the formatting.
"That's not ideal, but it's still part of the project and ... you're going to have to do that anyway," he says. "But when you get to the task you're supposed to be doing you've cleaned off that part of your plate at least. That's low-cost procrastination, some people call it productive procrastination."
Beware, though: research shows that people that think they do best under pressure are actually wrong, according to Ferrari. "They do worse than non-procrastinators, but they think they do better," he says. "So there's this misperception that by waiting they do better."