Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Procrastinating 101: What Do Pigeons, Vermin & Members of Congress Have in Common?

Dr. Piers Steel, demonstrating a tried and true procrastination behavior--cruising the fridge--for the Edmonton Journal.

Today, we embark on a several-weeks journey with Dr. Piers Steel, author of The Procrastination Equation.  Having finished the introduction and first chapter of this recently published book, I am looking forward to the trip.

To begin with, Dr. Steel establishes his considerable credentials in the field, the most significant to me being his own past struggles with procrastination.  I don't know about you, but I feel a little less like a lab rat knowing that the researcher studying a behavior I engage in has his own experience of it.

This book, however, was penned, not just by any old garden-variety procrastinator, reformed or otherwise, but by a man who has spent years conducting his own research into procrastination.  Furthermore, Dr. Steel has applied the technique of meta-analysis to help sort through the 
over eight hundred scientific articles on the topic from fields spanning economics to neuroscience, in languages ranging from German to Chinese. . .

Meta-analysis is a statistical method which, as Piers Steel tells us,
enabl[es] a synthesis of knowledge. . . reveal[ing] the underlying truths we seek.
Using this approach, he was able to wade through a plethora of studies in which researchers have
run laboratory experiments, read through personal diaries, twiddled with neurotransmitters, and dissected DNA. . . .[and] have monitored every setting, from airports to shopping malls; . . .wired entire classrooms to track every student's twitch and shudder; and. . .studied procrastinators from every background, including pigeons, vermin, and members of the U.S. Congress.

Based on these efforts, Steel promises surprises, a departure from the same-old same-old about procrastination, and strategies to help us procrastinators combat the problem.  

Next week, Chapter 1, "Portrait of a Procrastinator."  


  1. It is a great book and I think you will enjoy all the remaining chapters too...