An upbeat, motivational guide to procrastination.
Steel (Haskayne School of Business, Univ. of Calgary), an industrial-organizational psychologist whose doctoral thesis examined procrastination, explains it all: what it is, why people do it, what the results of such behavior are and what do to about it. Defined here as irrational delay, procrastination is a measurable trait, and the author provides simple tests so that readers can determine their type of procrastination and how they compare with others. Steel introduces three characters, dubbed Eddie, Valerie and Tom, whose stories illustrate the motivational elements that make up the “procrastination equation”: Expectancy x Value / Impulsiveness x Delay = Motivation. Simply put, the equation means that the motivation to perform a particular task declines when the expectancy or value of a task’s reward declines or when there is an increase in impulsivity or in the delay of the task’s reward. Graphs and charts demonstrate how these elements operate and what Steel’s research on procrastination has revealed. Individual chapters focus on each of these equation’s elements and give pointers on how to deal with them. Following the self-help sections, Eddie, Valerie and Tom return in stories that illustrate how they changed their behavior and their lives by applying the recommended tactics. Procrastination, writes the author, is widespread because it is wired into the human brain, occurring when the impulsive limbic system overrules the more rational prefrontal cortex, and he offers a capsule history of procrastination from the introduction of agriculture to the industrial revolution. Today, he writes, computers and television are the top two distractions that fuel procrastination, but, in his view, easily built and readily implemented technological devices could provide a solution to our weak wills in these areas of temptation.
Everything you ever wanted to know about procrastination but never got around to reading.