From Scientific American:
Procrastination does not mean deliberately scheduling less critical tasks for later time slots. The term is more apt when a person fails to adhere to that logic and ends up putting off the tasks of greater importance or urgency. That is, if just thinking about tomorrow’s job pricks the hair on the back of your neck or compels you to do something more trivial, you are probably procrastinating.A penchant for postponement takes its toll. Procrastination carries a financial penalty, endangers health, harms relationships and ends careers. “Procrastination undermines well-being on a wide scale,” notes psychologist Timothy A. Pychyl, director of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa. Nevertheless, recent work hints at potential upsides to this otherwise bad habit: perpetual foot-draggers seem to benefit emotionally from their trademark tactics, which support the human inclination to avoid the disagreeable.
Procrastination is learned, but certain hardwired personality traits increase the likelihood that a person will pick up the habit. “Procrastination is a dance between the brain and the situation,” Pychyl says. That nature-and-nurture view is part of a new line of research into the process and prevention of procrastination. Understanding why people put off projects has led to strategies for helping all of us get and stay on task.