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Formula For Procrastination Found

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  • by Vengeance (46019) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:20PM (#17593876)
    I have to remember to read it later.
  • Could it be, that the poster procrastinated in adding his </a>?

    Ryan Fenton
  • but just didnt get around to doing it.
  • HD-DVD keys (Score:4, Funny)

    by teamhasnoi (554944) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:24PM (#17593914) Homepage Journal
    The movie industry is going to master a bunch of different versions of every movie, with different keys in each - hoping that it will stem the tide of 'piracy'. I don't think it's going to work.

    I wanted to post this in the last story, but I just got around to it now.

  • Old news (Score:4, Funny)

    by i_should_be_working (720372) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:30PM (#17593996)
    A law for procrastination was found centuries ago. [phdcomics.com]
  • by Arramol (894707) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:38PM (#17594106)
    "A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure" - sounds like something out of Calvin and Hobbes. "The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in Dick and Jane: A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Masato (567927)
      Although I've already seen at least one post to PhD comics, I figured I'd post another since it fits your title so well: Thesis Titles [phdcomics.com]
  • by amplusquem (995096) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:40PM (#17594134)
    "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."

    I procrastinate because I HAVE confidence that I can finish the task later, not because I'm afraid that I won' actually be able to complete a task. If I'm afraid about finishing a task, I will start it earlier. Fear of not being able to complete a task leads to NOT doing that task for a lot of people, not procrastinating.

    These "scientific studies" over analyze simple things such as procrastination. Ever think that maybe it's because of laziness, or just that you really want to watch that football game?
    • I procrastinate because I HAVE confidence that I can finish the task later, not because I'm afraid that I won' actually be able to complete a task.

      The author of the article would probably argue that what you're doing doesn't meet the definition of procrastination, then. Procrastination isn't merely choosing to postpone a task that can just as easily be done later; it's putting something off that you know you need to start now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Procrastinators have less confidence in the ability of their co-workers to complete a task on time (and correctly). Procrastination is a survival skill for talented employees of large corporations. If you're gung-ho and get the job done quickly, you must do it all over again when the specifications change a week before the delivery date. If you have "slack time", you must fix the mess the department screw-ups made of their assignments (all the while remaining a "team player" and saying nothing about the wre

    • "Procrastination" assumes that the time delay "wasted" is greater than the available recreation period.

      However, our media friends have made a real point to control us with fixed scheduling. So, suppose there are 10 hours left to complete a 7 hour project, leaving 2.75 (back out the fatigue factor break) hours of true recreation time.

      Suppose you start at 1PM with the idea to finish by 11PM. It's a complete mistake to "work hard" from 1-8PM, and miss your favorite TV show at 5PM.

      The better way is to pre-alloc
  • He's published early for April 1

    -wb-
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      He's published early for April 1

            Nahh, it was supposed to be April 1, 1989. He's just being consistent!
    • by waterbear (190559)
      Or maybe I got that wrong and it was supposed to out last April 1

      -wb-
  • by pla (258480) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:43PM (#17594154) Journal
    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.

    I procrastinate. Hard-core. I'll put off week-long tasks until the night before. I don't do this because I expect to fail and can blame starting too late - I do it because I know perfecly well that I can do that and still finish the task on time.

    If you accuse me of any confidence-related shortfall, you'd have to call me over- confident. Perfectionist, though? In some things, yes. But I don't procrastinate for that reason either. Where do these absurd theories come from?



    You want to know why I procrastinate, knowing full-well that, while I may not produce my best results, I also have no doubt that I will succeed in producing an acceptible finished product? Simple - Because I've found that at least half the time, the task's nature changes significantly or the task outright goes away. No joke.

    In school, teachers/professors would always extend deadlines because most people whined too loudly that they considered the (perfectly easy and reasonable) assignment too hard or unfair. Professors would scale back the requirements, excuse subpar work, and often never even bother looking at what people turned in.

    In the working world, most "urgent problems" that come up, go away without any intervention by the next day. Long term projects have their budgets slashed at the end of the quarter. reports never get read anyway.



    So, by putting everything off until the last minute, I find myself with a hell of a lot more time to spend on meaningful (aka "self directed") activities.

    That doesn't, however, translate to "lazy". When I say "self-directed", I mean self-directed. I have always impressed my professors or managers not with the quality of my assigned work, but with the quality of what I do for its own sake. But then, I enjoy what I do, so my "personal" projects tend to have value to any endeavor I take on.



    And all this because I procrastinate, a habit looked down on by most people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nedmud (157169)
      I think the answer to this is that what you're doing isn't real procrastination --- instead, you say you do this because you know it's the optimum course of action for some tasks. Many procrastinators know full well that they should get started NOW, but they just don't.
      • MOD UP (Score:3, Informative)

        by schwaang (667808)
        FTA:
        Not all delays can be considered procrastination; the key is that a person must believe it would be better to start working on given tasks immediately, but still not start.
    • By the definition in the article, what you're doing isn't procrastination, because you don't believe you SHOULD start sooner. If you think you're fine doing it later, that's not procrastination. Procrastination is when you think you should do it earlier but still do it later anyway.
    • I also procrastinate because I'm rather overconfident. Having dealt with consultants who eventually turned out to be just as knowledgeable as I was halfway through projects didn't lessen my confidence.
      The one thing I have to do when I have to do anything is just start it. It's like I have to switch myself on and then I do it, and then often I feel good doing it.
      Knowing I'm very lazy helps as well because then I know what to deal with to get myself to do something.
    • by Mordibity (16804) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:09PM (#17595840)
      Well put. As a good friend of mine once said (Hi Joe!):
      If it can't be done the night before...
      it can't be done.
    • by Pseudonym (62607)

      And this is why all such formulas, assuming they have any accuracy at all, have limited power of prediction. Humans are not rational actors; they are arbitrary and capricious. Human behaviour is complex, and beyond our basic needs (hungry => find food), very little of it can be reduced to simple formula.

      Just ask a quant.

    • by DCheesi (150068)
      Yes and no. Realistically, even if you're completely convinced of your ability to do the job, it would be better to get the work done immediately just in case some bizarre misfortune should befall you on or before the last night (before the work is due). So if you choose to wait until the last night/minute, it's either because you're 1) Confident to the point of delusion ("nothing can hurt me"), or 2) you're really not as confident as you think. Or 3) you're skilled, but very unwise...
      • by pla (258480)
        it would be better to get the work done immediately just in case some bizarre misfortune should befall you on or before the last night (before the work is due).

        Although I'd rather not normally think of it in those terms, if some bizarre misfortune befalls me (great turn of phrase, BTW, Kudos!), the project still goes to "irrelevant" status - But not because the project itself changed.

        However, planning on that happening would indeed seem unwise, since it only really works once. But that one time - Wow!
    • by Knetzar (698216)
      "the task's nature changes significantly or the task outright goes away."

      I remember early in grad school I finished off a project a few days after it was assigned. Then the profressor did just that and I had to significantly modify my program. The worst part is, when I asked him, "What about the people that have already done the project?" His response was, "They should have procrastinated."
  • by zakeria (1031430) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:45PM (#17594182) Homepage
    So this is slashdot.. I'll report my cure for cancer ... sometime soon ... perhaps..
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:48PM (#17594214) Homepage Journal
    From TFA: It's still unclear why some people may be more prone to developing procrastination behaviour, but some evidence suggests it may be genetic"

    If it is genetic, then procrastinator should be protected under discrimination laws, like vets, the blind, etc. "You can't charge me interest or penalties on my unpaid income tax! I'm disabled by GPD." ( Genetic Procrastination Disorder )

    • From TFA: If it is genetic, then procrastinator should be protected under discrimination laws, like vets, the blind, etc. "You can't charge me interest or penalties on my unpaid income tax! I'm disabled by GPD." ( Genetic Procrastination Disorder )
       
       
      Right!
      We need to organize a lobbying campaign right away...
    • by zsau (266209)
      Sure, we'll let you off the hook--once you've filled out Forms 11G, 17B and at least sections one, three, five and ten of form 28L. Unfortunately, we've run out of copies of 28L so you'll need to come back on Wednesday. Form 17B can usually be picked up from the office on the other side of town; otherwise, ask for it here when you come back. Filling in forms 2B and 110-2007 will also provide income assistance if you can demonstrate that your procrastination has caused un- or underemployment and thereby fina
  • Links (Score:3, Informative)

    by martyb (196687) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:04PM (#17594396)

    Links to the sources:

    BTW: A quote I saw on the latter site:

    "One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow." Vincent T. Foss
  • Useless formula (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:05PM (#17594408)
    Steel has also come up with the E=mc2 of procrastination, a formula he's dubbed Temporal Motivational Theory, which takes into account factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability (G) and the person's sensitivity to delay (D).

    It looks like this and uses the Greek letter G (capital gamma [except I changed the gamma to a G since slashdot wouldn't take the gamma]): Utility = E x V / GD


    Here's my problem with psychology types coming up with formulae--the results of the calculation depend heavily on the scale used for measurement of the variables. I don't know of any standard scale for "expectancy of succeeding with a given task" or any of the other variables. Further, it seems that these variables would depend on self-evaluation, which we all know is not particularly useful--particularly in this area.

    In other words--why did this guy claim to make a formula? Formulae are for people looking for a result that is reasonably precise; but in this case the extremely imprecise input will result in useless output.
    • by ozbird (127571)
      He missed a term: repulsion of dealing with salesmen (R).
      (Especially car salesmen - surely replacing them with a web form would be a win-win situation for the company and the buyer?)
    • I don't know of any standard scale for "expectancy of succeeding with a given task" or any of the other variables.

      That's because you didn't RTFA! Of course he had to come up with or borrow standardized tests to give a score for each of the variables, and statistically test their construct validity and reliability, to boot
      • Ummm, I did RTFA, and I just read it again to see what you were talking about. There's no mention in there of standardized tests for any of the factors. Additionally, if the formula was intended to be precise, it would have to take into account the degree that one factor matters in comparison to another. I didn't however read the actual paper; perhaps there is more in the paper.
    • Search for all the comments referencing "badscience" or "Goldacre" for the scoop on this nonsense. In summary - a PR firm paid some greedy shill to spout this nonsense as part of an advertising campaign. It's pseudoscience, unrelated to real psychology.
  • by johnny maxwell (1050822) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:08PM (#17594436)

    These stories are just clever PR gags, they contain nothing of scientific value. Just look at the "equation" for a moment and you start wondering what the actually equate:

    "Steel has also come up with the E=mc2 of procrastination, a formula he's dubbed Temporal Motivational Theory, which takes into account factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability () and the person's sensitivity to delay (D). It looks like this and uses the Greek letter (capital gamma): Utility = E x V / D"

    See: "expectancy", "value", "desirability" and so on. Perfect scientific quantities, don't you think?

    Read more about those jerks atGuardian's Bad Science [guardian.co.uk], they come up regularly

  • Procrasticode (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:09PM (#17594448)
    do {
        if (job.time_allocated < job.deadline - now()) {
            play();
        }else{
            work();
        }
    } while (!job.finished)


    That's how I do it even though this is clearly more efficient:

    while (!job.finished) work();
    play();
  • This reminds me of a poem that my 4th grade teacher always had on the wall:

    Procrastination is my sin
    It brings me endless sorrow
    I really should stop doing it
    I guess I'll stop tomorrow
  • Depression (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:15PM (#17594494) Homepage Journal
    Depression goes together with both procrastination and perfectionism (although I don't profess to know which way (if any) the causality works). Depressed people tend to feel guilty they've procrastinated so much, and, as a result, they avoid the task - in other words, they procrastinate further. Depressed people also tend to be dissatisfied with their work (even or perhaps especially when others praise it). Sometimes, that can be a reason to not take the last step in completion or submission.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by myndzi (645534)
      Entirely true for me.

      "Steel has also come up with the E=mc2 of procrastination, a formula he's dubbed Temporal Motivational Theory, which takes into account factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability (G) and the person's sensitivity to delay (D). It looks like this and uses the Greek letter (capital gamma): Utility = E x V / GD"

      Something interesting to note here -
  • by HungWeiLo (250320) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:15PM (#17594500)
    While the Type-A do-gooder hardworkers were busy digging holes in the dirt with their bare hands, the lazy procrastinators decided to invent a hoe to do it twenty times faster (and probably starting the job two days after the hand diggers). All technology serves to implement laziness and procrastination, which in turn drives progress.
    • Efficiency is nothing more than being clever about being lazy.
      Which is basically what you said.

      Also, Larry Walls said a few things on good programmers being lazy. I.e., automating like crazy and taking the easiest path.

      See also the 'Agile Programming' mantras, 'do the simplist thing that can possibly work' and 'you aint gonna need it'.
  • Early on, I'd start all the assignments my teachers gave to me the day they handed them out. Then later teachers started cancelling harder assignments because people couldn't do them. So I decided at that point if teachers cancel assignments 5-10% of the time, if I wait for the last day possible to do the assignment. Then that stuck. So I'm a procrastinator on all things boring.
  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:22PM (#17594572) Journal

    I put off stuff when I don't want to do it. End of story. I find that reminding myself of the consequences for not getting things done is only mildly effective. You have to have a balance of work and pleasure. Sometimes, going off and partying really is the answer. When you're "relaxed" or "partied out", then you're more willing to work. If you find yourself fulminating about something you don't want to do, stop. Get a cup of coffee, talk with a friend, play a game, whatever makes you feel good. This will take just as much time, but when you come back you'll be happier about rolling up your sleaves and getting the job done.

  • However, no indication was given of how much time was spent putting it off before it was begun.

    No, but we do get a hint at it:

    According to this AP article [cnn.com], the study entailed "10 years of research on a project that was supposed to take only five years."

  • Here's one [despair.com] for all the procrastinators.... I still haven't got round to ordering one though...
  • Well, sort of... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:29PM (#17594652)
    Posting anonymous for obvious reasons...

    I procrastinate because, yes, I'm an under-achiever and uncertain of myself. But I think I'm an underachiever because I've intentionally and strategically kept new people out of my life for fear of being found out as a bisexual (including remaining a virgin... I don't know if remaining a virgin throughout college is common or if I'm in an extremely tiny minority).

    Instead of succeeding, I purposefully have kept away from doing anything that might even remotely mean people being near or around me for over the last ten years, almost becoming a shut-in hermit except for going to my university (in which I'd talk to nobody). When you're hard-working and successful, and finish your work on time, you have a chance of being in some spotlight, such as the Dean's list or honor roll... remaining anonymous and unknown meant nobody would notice or get hurt if I, oh, just happened to jump off a bridge someday, and I performed accordingly in my work to reflect that. I have nobody to blame but myself for being a coward, having very recently come to terms with how my irrational fears of irrational people have severely jeopardized my well-being; and that if someone has a problem with something so trivial about me, that's THEIR fucking problem, not MINE. But that's another story... I procrastinated on purpose. During these last couple of months I have finally been working on some of the things I wanted to do when in college, at least those things related to computer programming such as teaching myself other programming languages, writing a small game, making a crude graphics rendering engine to learn more OpenGL than I did in college... of course, it's not as fun when you're not working on something like this with fellow students and having fun, but I've graduated and now I'm not sure where or how to meet people in my town.

    Anyway, I'm getting distracted from the subject at hand. Long story short, irrational fears not directly related to what you're procrastinating may indirectly cause you to procrastinate what you're procrastinating... (I hope that wasn't grammar-diarrhea)
  • I already came up with the formula, I was just too lazy to publish it.
  • by Flipao (903929) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:50PM (#17594948)
    I've always thought Procastinators were people who kept their virginity in exchange for money... or people who cut each other's genitals in exchange for money... either way I think I probably need a shrink :/
  • From The Fina Article: Steel concludes: "Continued research into procrastination should not be delayed, especially because its prevalence seems to be growing."

    If the prevalence of procrastination seems to be growing, doesn't this say something about the workload of the average procrastinator? I don't think people have been getting lazier during the past decade or so, so there must be another reason for procrastination getting more in vogue.
  • not my experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misanthrope101 (253915) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @05:48PM (#17595638)
    Essentially, procrastinators have less confidence in themselves
    The things I procrastinate are things I know I can wing well enough at the last minute and still get by. I'd bet many procrastinators are similar. Not everything has to be done right now. Plus, I've found that many problems self-resolve if you ignore them, or you find out later that they weren't the emergency they first seemed to be. We're just too mired in the cult of efficiency, and everyone is convinced everything has to be done now-now-now so you can do more-more-more. We would do well with less doing and more thinking.
  • How much do you want to bet that slashdot is one of the variables in the formula? :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:17PM (#17595924)
    Posted anonymously to avoid Karma Whoring.

    Bad science and useless formula [guardian.co.uk]


    Folk as it has already been psoted earlier this is simply some PR agency which asked some random guy to MAKE UP a formulae. That's it. The formulae is useless , as useless as the pr/marketing around it. Tskkkk. What's it with Slashdot and pseudo science ?
    • An excellent article--except for this:
      you can have an infinitely good weekend by staying at home and cutting your travel time to zero (because dividing stuff by zero makes infinity).

      The author apparently didn't run that comment by any of his "rude mathematicians".
  • There are a thousand ways to procrastinate. I know, I've done most of them. I have also treated quite a few procrastinators professionally.

    The article looks pretty useless to me so I thought I'd offer my 10 years of clinical experience in hope of satisfying those looking for some real insight.

    We make decisions based on how we feel about the options at the time we think about them. Let's think about when you're next going to the dentist. Unless it's pre-booked, you probably think about going to the

  • I'm procrastinating by reading this comment thread.

    I'll also echo that I procrastinate things because I'm accustomed to being able to wing them and do well.
  • Essentially, procrastinators have less confidence in themselves, less expectancy that they can actually complete a task...

    I call bullshit. As an expert procrastinator, the real reason is this: Procrastinators are lazy. Since they took 10 years and it took me about a minute to write this, I'm apparently ~5000000 times more efficient at figuring these things out, but I bet I won't get a grant or anything.

  • This is interesting to me as a procrastinator. The old "perfectionist" chestnut has stuck with me over the years, despite all the evidence to the contrary (eg. the current state of my living room ;). OTOH, the insecurity angle is certainly part of it as well. Personally I think that both explanations are correct as contributing factors, as is the simple fact that humans tend to naturally undervalue future outcomes. By that last I mean that you'd rather maintain a current relaxed/happy state at the probable
  • From TFA: ...a formula he's dubbed Temporal Motivational Theory, which takes into account factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability (L) and the person's sensitivity to delay (D). It looks like this and uses the Greek letter L (capital gamma): Utility = E x V / LD


    Hmmmm - so precisely what units are these variables given in? Because if you don't know - the equat

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