“Talk of the Nation” did a show about procrastination recently featuring psychology professor Timothy Pychyl and philosophy professor John Perry. I read Perry’s funny article about structured procrastination several years ago and I still laugh every time I read it. Not only that, it’s a good strategy!
A very interesting point that Pychyl brought up is that there’s no evidence of the “arousal procrastinator,” that is, people who work best under pressure and let things wait until the last minute. Arousal types are characterized by extroversion, sensation-seeking and reducing/augmenting behavior (of desired emotional states).
Lots of people believe that they do their best working right up to the deadline but apparently, that’s just an illusion. It can also be learned behavior, if that’s the only way a person has ever approached deadlines.
Another fascinating finding has to do with procrastination and self-forgiveness. A study to discover whether people would procrastinate less the next time if they forgave themselves for the current instance found that, yes, it did work that way.
The unexpected result was that this was much more true for the women in the study. One theory is that “procrastination is related to self-worth or self-esteem for females but not males.” Who knew?
A third interesting point Pychyl made is that all delay is not procrastination. It’s only procrastination when you set an intention to do something by a particular time. So, there’s your loophole…
[photo by ShereenM]