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Summary:

When I was a kid, I was such a bad procrastinator that my mother actually cut a circle out of a piece of paper, wrote “TUIT” in big letters on it and said, “Okay, there’s your ’round tuit’…NOW will you clean your room?!?” A study by […]

When I was a kid, I was such a bad procrastinator that my mother actually cut a circle out of a piece of paper, wrote “TUIT” in big letters on it and said, “Okay, there’s your ’round tuit’…NOW will you clean your room?!?” A study by Dr. Piers Steel, ten years in the making, was recently published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin to address this very issue that the world has been putting off. The study is entitled, “The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure.”

According to Science Daily, Dr. Steel has concluded that:

- Most people’s New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure
– Most self-help books have it completely wrong when they say perfectionism is at the root of procrastination, and
– Procrastination can be explained by a single mathematical equation

Predictably, the article cites technology as a factor. As the Kansas City Star quotes Dr. Steel:

“That stupid game Minesweeper — that probably has cost billions of dollars for the whole society,” he said.

Is procrastination an issue for you, too? For me, I find that I have absolutely no trouble with doing the important things in a timely manner. Give me a deadline, and I’ll stick to the schedule without fail. It’s the less important items with open deadlines that I struggle with.

What do you think is the root cause of procrastination? Too much tech? Willpower? Genetics?

  1. Hi… I think that it is the view we take on the task at hand as to whether or not it gets done. We all know that we must achieve a certain number of things everyday to move us in the direction of succcess. The little action steps that bring us closer to the ultimate goal. I find the important tasks are the first to be done or else the rest will not follow. I make a note of the results I want to achieve, followed by the steps required to achieve them and then go from there. Nobody’s perfect and procrastination is a big thing to overcome. It is somehow inbuilt from childhood like when we didn’t want to go to bed…

    Ange

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  2. People procrastinate what they don’t want to do and prefer to spend time doing things they enjoy. Maybe there’s less procrastination among web workers because they would tend to be more self-motivated and because they are choosing to do certain projects. I’m very selective about gigs I take on; I don’t want to spend my precious days marching to someone else’s priorities.

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  3. I haven’t seen one in years, but there are actually little round tokens with “TUIT” stamped on them. I believe my dad had a few. They even said something witty like “relieves you of all procrastination” or something.

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  4. I find that I really need to motivate myself to do some tasks, but others I get really excited to do. Re-fill the fence post cement… 3 months and still in the queue. Purchasing the “World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade” expansion… pre-ordered. But I’m trying to overcome my procrastination since, well, it drives my wife crazy; and that’s not a good thing. It helps if I do/start a task as soon as requested, because if it’s not something that’s of particular interest (fun, interesting, etc.) to me it’ll be much easier to try to put it off at a later date.

    I read an article at CNET this morning about a University of Calgary professor who has come up with a mathematical formula for procrastination (so he says). It sounds kind of dodgy to me, but it’s related, so I thought I’d add the link.

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  5. That’s the same study, Jon.

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  6. permanent hater Friday, January 12, 2007

    OH MAN, my procrastination is so bad that I closed/opened Firefox twice before I got around to posting this comment.

    Seriously tho, I believe I suffer from chronic procrastination. I think Web 2.0 only makes things worse for society in the big picture (useless social networks, etc.)

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  7. Old saying – If you want anything done, give it to a really busy person.

    In other words, those who procrastinate are those who really do not have much to do in the first place; others, who have much going on – for instance, a PhD thesis, several client projects, a super-active job-hunt, an essential and very disruptive domestic emergency repair project with no back-up, a training regime – will get most done without breaking into a sweat or sinking into a depression or clicking even once on Minesweeper or even Scrabble.

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  8. @Judi Sohn – Yes… yes it is the same study. Being a procrastinator I ended up reading everything over the weekend (there’s too much to read online), so I’m feeling sheepish now. Baa-baa! :)

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  9. How bout the fact that I waited a couple days to read this article with it sitting open in one of my browser tabs.

    “Why do today what can wait until tomorrow?”

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  10. [...] you’re a procrastinator, you don’t need a mathematical formula, you know who you are. Worse, the people who work with you know, too. I’ve tried the [...]

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