Elements of the Mind


Welcome to the Procrastinus website!  As part of a larger scientific effort, we are starting to connect procrastination to other aspects about yourself. So after seeing how you compare regarding putting stuff off, take a moment to look at the other assessments at our Survey Center, each with personalized feedback. 


64 thoughts on “Home

  1. What is your response to Alfie Kohn’s assertions that self-discipline is overrated based on psychological, philosophical and political arguments. Psychological: dutiful students may be suffering from what Horney called the “tyranny of the should”, “teenagers who have morgaged their present lives to the future”. Philosophical: What must be true about people if self-discipline is required to make oneself do valuable things? Sin-centric assumptions that it requires an iron character to subdue the beast within: our desires are shameful, and we must strive to overcome them. Conservative world-view. Political: Self-control is not just a feature that a person might possess, but is more accurately described as a situational concept (individuals will display different degrees of self-control in different situation). The more we fault people for lacking self-discipline, the less likely are we to question the structures (politica, economic, or educataional) that shape their actions, i.e. the attention paid to self-discipline is not only philosophically conservative in its premises, but also politically conservative in its consequences?

    1. Excerpt from my book:

      Just don’t overdo it. While procrastination can lead to an inauthentic life, in which long-term dreams sour inside you, so can our efforts to completely eliminate procrastination. A genuine and autonomous individual seeks a life endorsed by the whole self, not just a fragment of it. Trying to squelch your impulsive side entirely is ultimately self-defeating; the wants and appetites that propel a life depend upon being attended to. Overregulation—seeking the perfect over the real—isn’t healthy and won’t make you happy. You are going to have to find a balance.

      Just as the Procrastination Equation’s techniques can work too well, so could the techniques in Will Ferguson’s fictional self-help book. In his novel, after people read What I Learned on the Mountain, they did become blissful, contented, kind, and vice-free. They replaced their cigarettes and alcohol addictions with hugs and self-acceptance and swapped their oversized cheeseburgers with sensibly sized ones made from tofu. But all this virtue came at a cost: though everyone was equally content, they were also equally bland, interchangeable, and forgettable. Their personalities were whitewashed by their yearning to overcome all their flaws, and along with their vices so went desserts, fashion sense, and simply desire.

      Procrastination represents a single swing of the pendulum, an emotional short-sightedness that sees only the present. As the pendulum swings to the other side, rational far-sightedness can become equally troublesome; we tend to focus only on the future. When asked about their past regrets, workaholic employees wished they had occasionally goofed off, and exceptionally industrious students regretted studying through Spring Break. Consequently, optimal self-control involves not the denial of emotions but a respect for them. Not all indulgent delays are irrational. You need to have moments of expression, when you can laugh freely with friends, or let yourself go to be indulged and pampered. Using the words of W.H. Davies, a vagabond Welsh poet of my mother’s youth: “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” To be idle, frivolous, spontaneous, and whimsical—these qualities deserve a place in our lives too.

  2. Dear Professor Steel,

    Hi, I am Kelvin Cheung, a grade 11 student from Renaissance College, Hong Kong. I am currently filming a documentary for my personal project on the topic of Procrastination.

    Recently, I have visited your website, procrastinus.com, and found this source extremely helpful for my research and content of my short film. I find your work to be particularly interesting and helpful. I am writing to request an online interview for us to discuss some of the harms of this human behaviour, why do we procrastinate, and how to overcome this habit.

    I wish to use the footage from our digital interview in my final documentary which will be viewed by some students in my school (teenagers aged around 12-15).

    If you are available please do let me know and we can arrange a convenient time for a Skype video call.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you

    Kelvin Cheung
    Grade 11 student at Renaissance College, Hong Kong

    1. Well, be definition, if you are procrastinating, you think you should be doing something else. You might be wrong, but that’s just dumb luck. On average, procrastination is associated with worse everything (because you yourself thought it was bad in the first place and you are generally right).

    1. Had so many people ask about this, it is in my latest post. What do you think? Was rather pissed at Adam at first, given the shallowness of his research in this area, but friends suggested I softened my tone and give him the benefit of the doubt. So I did, though I think the real test will be in whether he retracts his position. Call me the cynic, but I don’t think that’s likely.

      1. That’s what I thought. I didn’t read your post, sorry about that. I’m rather pissed at the audience his hurtful advices has, hence my comment here. Thank you for responding in a post.

      2. A lot of people struggle with procrastination, myself having been one of them. When people make light of it or tell me it is a good thing, ticks me off too.

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