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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. 

 

74 thoughts on “Home

  1. Dear Dr. Steel,

    A quick word of thanks for your work on chronic procrastination. It’s nice to finally find someone who isn’t going to tell me to “prioritize, list, execute”. Your explanation seems to fit perfectly with my perception of my own behaviour.
    However, I’m now 52 and am getting a little weary of trying to get the monkeys off my back. During my life, I have had to combat compulsive gambling and alcoholism, both of which thankfully are now firmly under control. But my tendency (read, “compulsion”) to procrastinate has nearly got me beaten.

    Through honest retrospection, I now realize that I have always had this problem, even from childhood, and I would estimate that I currently waste more than half of the working day and 80% of my free time. My sense of lack of achievement is overwhelming and obviously my sense of self-worth and self-steem have suffered badly.

    Considering my potential, I have achieved so little in my life and am fully aware that my loathing of responsibiity and my craving for instant gratification have led me to “self-destruct” at several points in my life.

    Perhaps now that I understand this disparity which exists between the rationality and intentionality of future planning versus the complete lack of execution in the present, I may be able to fight back a little harder.

    But please. Keep working. Invent a pill or a mantra or a voodoo bracelet. Anything! Because for millions of us, this condition is literally like slow death.

    1. My wife and I were reading over this comment together, noting how well constructed and thoughtful it was. Certainly, the writing quality is indicative of someone with tons of potential. I too felt in earlier years the frustration of being my own worst enemy, and the wasted efforts to hide the fact. For now, I really do recommend giving the program SAENT a try. It is the closest thing I found to that voodoo bracelet you seek. Just takes one week to allow it to work.

      Best, Piers

  2. Good day sir,

    Do you ever found that there’s other factors that can cause procrastination to the students such as the approach of the teacher, socioeconomic status rather than the motivation itself.

    Thanks,
    Tatz Padua

    1. Putting off despite expecting to be worse off. Can low expectancy and low value increase procrastination and those other factors cause them? Yes. I think your question is better framed as non-impulsivity sources of procrastination.

  3. 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.

      1. Dear professor Steel,
        Thanks for the excerpt! Understand from it that we need to see optimal self-control in curvilinear terms.

        Currently I am in the process of completing my PhD-thesis in education. I have studied the relationship between time spend online in class and secondary school students’ feeling of a conflict between their academic ambitions and their digital activities/habits, and the relationship between this sense of a school-net-conflict and their perceived ability to exercise self-control. I found that time spent online in class has moderately large positive path coefficient with school-net-conflict in Norway (N=ca1000) and Sweden (N=ca1000), but not in Finland (N=ca1000) and a very large positive path coefficient between this school-net-conflict and students’ ability to exercise self-control in all three countries.

        Now I am drawing on these findings in a qualitative study of students’ academic procrastination (focusing on digital distractions). Of the four perspectives of procrastination research presented in Klingsieck (2013), I guess I draw on the second (motivational and volitional aspects) and the forth (situational aspects). In connection with the literature review, I noticed that most studies included all students, not just those who evidently had an intention of studying and who evidently valued the greater rewards of the outcome of studies rather than the value of immediate gratifications. How can this be if the definition you present in Steel (2007) is based on the idea of weakness of will (i.e. not following through good intentions)? How do those carrying out the studies know that the students they ask have an intention of studying in the first place? They will not experience the quint-essential self-regulatory failure if they did not feel the need to regulate in the first place? In secondary school at least, studies suggest that one cannot presume that the students intend to study or study the way expected of them. They may to a certain degree also reject many main tenets of schooling.

        Looking forward to hearing from you!

        Thomas Arnesen

      2. Those who delay include procrastinators and non-procrastinators. If delay is the only way you are identifying procrastinators, then you do have a problem. But it isn’t. We ask them if their delay is irrational. It is inherent in the measure. However, you can compare delay with self-reports (that was my own PhD study) and find the two are highly correlated. So most delay is indeed procrastination.

  4. 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

    Sincerely,
    Kelvin Cheung
    Grade 11 student at Renaissance College, Hong Kong

    1. Hi Kelvin Cheung, I am also a year 11 student and is studying in an international school in Shanghai.

      I am also working on a procrastination project that’s centered around my school community and might include other students in Shanghai as well.

      I would really like to learn more about your research on procrastination. How about we communicate via e-mail and share some thoughts?

    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.

  5. Hello Mr. Steel.

    I’m a student at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, and I’ve struggled with procrastination for most of my academic career. I read your book “The Procrastination Equation” in the Summer of 2015 and it gave me a huge boost of motivation and I stopped procrastinating for a short while. It felt good to be getting things done and not delaying or giving into impulses.

    However, once I returned to university in the Fall, I fell back into my old habits. I’m considering re-reading your book to see if that helps, but I was wondering if you have any advice how to retain the ability to avoid procrastination.

    Thanks,
    Sage K.

    1. This is normal. The idea is to lengthen your productive periods and shorten your procrastination fall outs. If the first gets longer and the second gets shorter, then you are doing fine.

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