Piers Steel likes to think he is among the world’s foremost researchers and speakers on the science of motivation and procrastination. Well, he is a Distinguished Research Chair at the University of Calgary, where he teaches human resources and organizational dynamics at the Haskayne School of Business. His research has appeared in several outlets around the world, ranging from Psychology Today and New Scientist to Good Housekeeping and The New Yorker. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, with his wife and two sons.
Aside from being a practicing procrastinator from an early age, Piers started formally studying the phenomenon while getting his doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Working with Dr. Thomas Brothen, he had access to a class administered through a Computerized Personalized System of Instruction, an arrangement that allows students to progress through a course at their own pace but is well known for creating high levels of procrastination. Also, being a computerized course meant that every stitch of work that the students completed had a time-date stamp exact to the second. It is an ideal setting for studying procrastination. On top of this, Piers also applied meta-analysis to the study of procrastination, a technique for mathematically summarizing all previous research done on the topic (some 800 previous studies). Together, these techniques provided the results for his PhD thesis “The Nature and Measurement of Procrastination.”
Though researching human potential and performance from a variety of perspectives, Piers’ primary focus after graduating continued to be procrastination. He conducted a series of projects to improve the measurement of procrastination, identify the prototypical procrastinator, and isolate effective self-regulatory techniques to prevent procrastination. Following in the tradition of Dr. Stephen Covey, a fellow business professor whose own PhD thesis from Brigham Young University formed the basis of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Piers also put what he had discovered in book form, The Procrastination Equation, except without the same publishing success. Presently, he is running up a behavioural lab at the University of Calgary to conduct cutting-edge procrastination research and among the founders of the metaBUS project to meta-analytically summarize all that is known.
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