Reducing procrastination using a smartphone-based treatment program: A randomized controlled pilot study

Internet Interv. 2017 Jul 6:12:83-90. doi: 10.1016/j.invent.2017.07.002. eCollection 2018 Jun.


Background: Procrastination affects a large number of individuals and is associated with significant mental health problems. Despite the deleterious consequences individuals afflicted with procrastination have to bear, there is a surprising paucity of well-researched treatments for procrastination. To fill this gap, this study evaluated the efficacy of an easy-to-use smartphone-based treatment for procrastination.

Method: N = 31 individuals with heightened procrastination scores were randomly assigned to a blended smartphone-based intervention including two brief group counseling sessions and 14 days of training with the mindtastic procrastination app (MT-PRO), or to a waitlist condition. MT-PRO fosters the approach of functional and the avoidance of dysfunctional behavior by systematically utilizing techniques derived from cognitive bias modification approaches, gamification principles, and operant conditioning. Primary outcome was the course of procrastination symptom severity as assessed with the General Procrastination Questionnaire.

Results: Participating in the smartphone-based treatment was associated with a significantly greater reduction of procrastination than was participating in the control condition (η2 = .15).

Conclusion: A smartphone-based intervention may be an effective treatment for procrastination. Future research should use larger samples and directly compare the efficacy of smartphone-based interventions and traditional interventions for procrastination.

Keywords: Intervention; Mobile health; Procrastination; Smartphone; Treatment.