The difference between prioritizing and procrastination is the difference between a backbone and a wishbone.
One is in control, the other is just hoping.
I cannot emphasize enough that not all delay is procrastination. Just because you put it off doesn’t mean that you are harming yourself. Indeed, successful prioritization means putting things off — only with planning and organization.
Here’s the rule: if there is any harm in the delay, it’s procrastination. If not, it’s prioritization, and a job well done. Continue reading →
Would you take the one marshmallow now or wait for two later?
Don’t let the marshmallow be a distraction!
Procrastination is all about putting off for later something you don’t want to do in exchange for feeling better now.
In the classic Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, Professor Walter Mischel offered young children a sort of opposite problem: feeling stress now by putting off something you want in order to get more of it later.
He gave children a marshmallow and then told them that if they didn’t eat it now, in fifteen minutes they’d get another one. But if they ate the first one, they wouldn’t get another one at all. (Here for How to give the marshmallow test.)
Seems kinda cruel to me, and if I were a kid in the experiment, I’d have eaten the 1st marshmallow then held the researcher for ransom for five more — and now.
Impulse control v instant gratification
The point is, however, that the ability to withhold the impulse for instant gratification is a powerful life skill. Children in the experiment who were able to hold off for two marshmallows were found, ten and twelve years later, to be “significantly more competent” than other adolescents and scored higher on SAT tests.
Phew! So you got it in. Was it as good as it could have been?
Procrastination isn’t just about getting to things late. It’s also about getting them done fully and properly.
Any harm caused by delay or deferment is procrastination. Just because you turned it in on time doesn’t mean that you couldn’t have done better had you given yourself more time, or had you not given up in the middle and just mailed in the rest.
Complete completion, or just kinda done?
As a teacher I all-too frequently received unfinished or sloppily completed last minute work. But, heh, it was in on time! Sorry, return to sender. Continue reading →
Great interview on CTV Ottawa news! In this interview Dr. P talks about the destructive and limiting effects of procrastination on lifestyle choices. When procrastination controls you, you are not in control of the things you want to do and be. Dr. Pychyl shows viewers the priorities and responsibilities for his own life, as he discusses the truly “existential” damage of procrastination and the limits it puts on the lives of sufferers. Continue reading →