Dyslexia And Procrastination: How to manage?

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Editorial Team


Postponing certain tasks is commonly seen in individuals. What’s important to highlight here is the reason behind it. As people with learning difficulties perceive things differently, they tend to postpone or delay their tasks which leads them to develop the habit of procrastination. As this habit of temporizing is objective and is not healthy, it needs to be addressed. 

While procrastination can be challenging to overcome, is this the learning challenge that is causing it? This article can guide you through multiple insights and strategies that can help with procrastination and, at the same time, perform better.  

Procrastination- A habit that brings down?

The practice of delaying or placing tasks for a later time or till the last-minute deadline can be marked as procrastination. This attribute is subjective and may be seen occasionally or regularly in a few people. 

A mix of overload, motivation needs, and distraction along with confusion can make an individual procrastinate.  This attitude has often been regarded as being lazy and incompetent. Most of these people often claim that the scene is not exciting enough to concentrate on tasks, but there can be complex reasons behind the same. 

Nonetheless, the question here is, does this habit bring down an individual? 

We might have to jump in a little deeper to understand the causes and the consequences along with the concept of procrastination that an individual faces. Many people may have been exposed to adversities like postponing to do work later. But the fact is they may be anxious and feared of failing in them.  

Carola Grunschel[1] did research to explore the reasons and consequences of academic procrastination. This study conducted on 32 students showed that anxiety and fear of failure were common reasons behind temporizing. 

With the exception of a few who derive adventure out of pressure and prefer working under tight schedules, most of the people caged by procrastination may overcome their demotivation to work through incentives and rewards. But it has more complex and rather neurologically diverse explanations to it. 

Looking into the science[2] behind procrastination, we can notice that the role of the prefrontal cortex is eminent. As that part of the brain that makes decisions, the prefrontal cortex needs consciousness to make it work. However, the limbic system always waits to take over the disengaged tasks. Accordingly, it gets bad on productivity. 

Do individuals with dyslexia really procrastinate?

Procrastination is seen among individuals irrespective of the compromises they may have.  We will divide the concept of procrastination into two elements, namely “task-avoidant” and “task-oriented”. Research[3] done by Samira Syal and Minna Torpa suggests that the “task avoidant” behavior of any individual is associated with their reading skills and reading acquisition, and on the other hand “task-oriented” behavior has been found to be associated with literacy development, phonological sensitivity and success in educational and occupational backgrounds. 

These inferences indicate that neurobiological compromise may be the cause of natural avoidance. This can be a task-oriented selection or for all of them. It can be due to the feeling of being disconnected, unregulated emotions, and impulsivity due to their literacy development, the sensitivity of phonics, and other grounds.

Attributes of dyslexics- What leads them to procrastinate? 

Several factors have contributed to the development of procrastination in an individual, while the following three factors were found to be in relation to the emotional regulation of an individual. 

Also, it would be important to understand the reason behind postponing, which forms the base to form strategies to come over:

  • Emotional Intelligence- The need to boost

Research[4] around procrastination, consisting of students with and without learning difficulty, tried studying the effect of the disorder on the emotional intelligence, self-esteem, and academic procrastination of that individual.

The results of this study indicated that the relationship between emotional intelligence and academic procrastination was stronger and higher among students with dyslexia than students without it. These insights clearly show that learning-challenged individuals need to focus on better emotional intelligence to address procrastination. 

  • Goal Preferences and Priorities

A cognitive self-regulation-based study[5], done in 2009, studied if students with learning difficulties were more prone to maladaptive behaviors leading to lower academic performance and self-efficacy. It was found that the self-regulatory characteristics of an individual with dyslexia made them limited in their perception of their potential. 

It was outlined that there was a huge gap between the goal preferences and effort attribution of individuals with learning difficulties. This gap can be the reason behind procrastination with the opinion that these are unachievable. Making sure to have achievable goals and revising priorities can help mitigate procrastination. 

  • External Environment

It may not always be the individual but the environment that’s a contributing factor to a situation as well. For example, an individual is seen to be going through a sad phase in life, inhibiting them from focusing on work, and adhering to deadlines; it could be a result of their broken engagement. We can say the environment that we thrive in cultivates the skills that we strive for. 

Similarly, research[6] was done in a college classroom environment to understand how it could be contributing to academic procrastination, and with a hopeful solution in the near future, the study suggests that when an environment promotes adaptive motivational beliefs, they are bound to inhibit procrastination.

This is a damaging factor in the support system of an individual with a learning difficulty. An environment that does not offer the same and works on rather stringent guidelines allows any growth among individuals with dyslexia and thus leads to procrastination. 

The analysis of numerous variables that have been attributed to procrastination among individuals with dyslexia can be summed up into the understanding that there are psychological, physiological, and environmental factors that determine if an individual will engage in procrastination or allow oneself to grow and seek efficacy fulfillment in life.

With the “why” answered, we will now share a few “how-to” around overcoming procrastination. The following insights should help us understand how we can mitigate procrastination and adopt strategies that may succeed. 

Mitigating procrastination- Working plan of actions

Procrastination may have distinct grounds for every individual. Nonetheless, it may be a good idea to mitigate the practice to enhance a sense of discipline and responsibility. Consequently, here are some strategies that may work for you:

1. Awareness

The first and foremost strategy to overcome procrastination is to develop self-awareness.

  • This can be done by identifying triggers that lead you to procrastinate and overcoming them by pushing through and completing the task at that very moment. 
  • Label your thoughts and emotions that arise when you feel like procrastinating. Write them down and voice them. This helps in reducing the negative impact of those feelings and thereby, overcoming them. 
  • Question yourself as soon as a procrastinating thought arises. Make sure that your answers make sense to you and allow no space for excuses.

2. Shifting focus from  feeling good 

With the option to procrastinate and postpone your work to the following day often comes a settling relief and feeling of freedom from the anxiety of the task for that particular day. Nonetheless, this feeling doesn’t last long enough, and the counter comes in twice as hard the following day. Consequently,  it is important to avoid succumbing to feelings of relief when there is a certain work pending with ample time to get it done without rushing. 

3. Reduce the options in a day 

Too many options and decisions to be made within a day may overwhelm even the most composed individuals. This can be a key reason for procrastination. Therefore it is a wise way to cut down and maintain the decisions that have to be made in a day to avoid the confusion and overwhelm that comes with it, preventing eventual procrastination. 

4. Break out of the day

Our days can be messy, irrespective of our disabilities and inabilities. Accordingly, the best way is to piece it together at a pace that feels comfortable and manageable. You may plan the day in breaks of 5 hours, and by that, we mean to plan the first 5 hours of your day after waking up, then plan the next 5, and so on. This would allow you to manage your emotions and work simultaneously. 

5. Eliminate the mindset that “pulls back”

An individual with a learning difficulty might be prone to low self-esteem, feelings of reduced self-efficacy, and compromised potential function. Nevertheless, this could either be something that’s just a minute part of the real scenario or a huge obstacle for the mindset.

In order to prevent procrastination which comes because of these reasons, it is important that the individual focuses on changing the mindset with a positive outlook, and while that can be tough to manage, it can be a wise step to seek guidance from a counselor and navigate through this thought process into a rather firm and positive one. 


Through the insights in this article, we tried to highlight the major attributes of procrastination, specifically in populations with learning difficulties. It’s befitting to say that while some of these factors are manageable, other factors like a cultivating environment and phonological acquisition skills require a major breakthrough of support to break this vicious cycle of self-loath and relief leading to procrastination.

Thus, a huge chunk of work needs to go into the inculcation of better coping skills and making sure that individuals with learning difficulties have the ability to self-regulate their emotions, to make sure that one aspect of their life doesn’t spill over another. 

References :

  1. Grunschel, C., Patrzek, J., & Fries, S. (2013). Exploring reasons and consequences of academic procrastination: An interview study. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 28(3), 841-861.
  3. Syal, S., & Torppa, M. (2019). Task‐avoidant behavior and dyslexia: A follow‐up from Grade 2 to age 20. Dyslexia, 25(4), 374-389.
  4. Hen, M., & Goroshit, M. (2014). Academic procrastination, emotional intelligence, academic self-efficacy, and GPA: A comparison between students with and without learning disabilities. Journal of learning disabilities, 47(2), 116-124.
  5. Baird, G. L., Scott, W. D., Dearing, E., & Hamill, S. K. (2009). Cognitive self-regulation in youth with and without learning disabilities: Academic self-efficacy, theories of intelligence, learning vs. performance goal preferences, and effort attributions. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 28(7), 881-908.
  6. Corkin, D. M., Shirley, L. Y., Wolters, C. A., & Wiesner, M. (2014). The role of the college classroom climate on academic procrastination. Learning and Individual Differences, 32, 294-303.

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