Procrastination, Dissected, Theorized

I’ve been putting off writing this, but I know I have to at one point simply to protest some of the things I’ve read in procrastination-related articles.

First things first: yes, I’m a procrastinator. A crammer, to be precise. One day I found myself cramming a major project for Christian Living. That was probably the first time I stayed up way past my bedtime. I was in sixth grade then.

I don’t remember know how late it was. Late is relative now—lately I sleep through the afternoon, wake up at night, and stay up until morning. Sometimes it’s the opposite. It’s not really consistent anymore.

Now, why do we procrastinate?

Confidence

From U Calgary:

Essentially, procrastinators have less confidence in themselves, less expectancy that they can actually complete a task… Perfectionism is not the culprit. In fact, perfectionists actually procrastinate less, but they worry about it more.

What irks me about this is that crammers are actually more confident in themselves than the people who finish things with a more reasonable amount of hours simply because they know somewhere in the back of their heads they’ll be able to finish it anyway. Or is that just me?

Now that begs the perfectionism issue. If a certain task is hurriedly done, is it also sloppily done? I like to think I’m just as much a perfectionist (read: O.C.) as I am a procrastinator, so I’d have to say no.

Vice

From LiveScience:

Impulsive people tend to have self-control problems in general. So they’re more likely to be smokers, more likely to overeat, more likely to gamble. They are the type of people who choose short-term gain and incur long-term pain.

I don’t smoke. I don’t overeat. I definitely don’t gamble. Do I like pain? Maybe I do…

Temporal Motivation What?

From TechRepublic:

Steel’s formula, called the Temporal Motivation Theory, calculates procrastination like Albert Einstein’s equation for energy, E=MC2. It factors the person’s expectancy for succeeding at a given task (E) or self-confidence; the value of completing the task (V); its immediacy or availability (Gamma); and the person’s sensitivity to delay (D) to come up with the desirability of the task (Utility).

The equation reads: Utility = E x V / (Gamma) x D.

Riiiiight. I’d much rather he factored in motivation over self-confidence.

Prevention

Apparently he hates technology too:

The Internet and gadgets like the Blackberry, or “crackberry,” give people a constant source of putting things off, and they create motivationally toxic environments… He said if people want to avoid procrastinating, they need to do things like remove games from their PC, or turn off automatic e-mail alerts.

Tell that to Google! Okay, so we can’t always run things the way they do over there, or cool gadgets and shiny interfaces sometimes distract people from doing their job, but fact is we all have our own “smooth moves” when it comes to getting things done. It’s hit or miss, baby, but it’s still my call. That is, procrastination isn’t the biggest evil out there or inside of us.

The Irony of it All

…is that Dr. Piers Steel, the man behind this “groundbreaking” theory, is was a procrastinator himself. So if you need help, don’t hesitate to visit his online abode and help out with his research.

I don’t know about you guys, but I know way too many procrastinators—from high school, from college, maybe even from elementary. I think many of them share my sentiment: procrastination is quite an art form, just like multitasking.


Update: Find out what procrastination is with a very cool video by zefrank.

12 replies

  1. What irks me about this is that crammers are actually more confident in themselves than the people who finish things with a more reasonable amount of hours simply because they know somewhere in the back of their heads they’ll be able to finish it anyway. Or is that just me?

    to tell you the truth, i believe everyone can be crammers according to your definition. it’s just that some people don’t choose to be crammers, and because they’ve drilled that fact into their minds, soon they believe themselves to be incapable of cramming. sort of a self-defense mechanism, i guess, or a preventive measure of the mind. :P

    btw, that comes from a crammer, hehe.

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  2. My counter to Steel’s belief about procrastinators being less confident is this: people who DON’T procrastinate are NOT confident they’ll finish on time that’s why they start early. Who is to say if a person is confident or not? That’s my question.

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  3. I can’t agree more. Good points you have there.

    Honestly, procrastinators, especially crammers, get their job done because they put things off only when they are sure they can finish it. I’m a crammer myself and I’ve never missed a deadline. I went as far as doing an MP the night before the deadline and actually finished it in time for submission, but that’s because I already had the algorithm figured out in my head.

    And the weird thing about most crammers I know is their OC-ness. I’m OC myself. And how procrastinators satisfy both the deadline and their OC-ness still amazes me.

    And I guess you’re right, it’s like an art form. And just like an artist, a procrastinator knows when it’s time to do what needs to be done. Just like how a painter knows that he needs to paint.

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  4. Good thing you agree with the OC and art form parts, Abbi. I really think people should give more credit to crammers (like us). The article was a bit enlightening, Ver, but irritating for the most part!

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  5. For my part — which is, admittedly, a very small part, considering how I think — I procrastinate not out of any particular desire or need to do so, but because the times when I should be doing something for a deadline are also times of incredible inspiration. And of course the muse should never be ignored, and I end up doing all sorts of “artsy” things instead of finishing papers, reviewing for exams, etc etc etc.

    I’m not sure whether I procrastinate out of any sort of overblown self-confidence. I would like to think my perfectionist side is stronger…!

    Hah, who am I kidding?

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  6. I’m not sure whether I procrastinate out of any sort of overblown self-confidence. I would like to think my perfectionist side is stronger…!

    Hah, who am I kidding?

    Yeah! Maybe I just don’t like it when people analyze me, or me as part of a statistic. ^^

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  7. I M O when learning something new like a technique or process, and something that appears to be procrastination happens, it isn’t –especially with confident individuals.

    I saw this special on Nat Geo that validated the term “sleeping on a problem”, where they verified that humans continuously work on pending problems in their sleep. I think that the symptoms of procrastinating could be our brains subconsciously saying “wait wait wait I haven’t completely figured out how to do it yet.”, and moments of breakthrough happen when one is actually ready to do the task.

    to illustrate; when Kimpo first got his Moleskine, he was complaining that he couldn’t start writing, and then weeks later the writings came “in a deluge”. he had a good term pala for the thing I’m trying to identify, he called it a hump.

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  9. My counter to Steel’s belief about procrastinators being less confident is this: people who DON’T procrastinate are NOT confident they’ll finish on time that’s why they start early. Who is to say if a person is confident or not? That’s my question.

    My thought is this: I think those who start early are not confident that they will get it right the first time hehe

    -from a crammer AND procastinator :D

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