Monday, January 15, 2007

Procrastination Creates Problems . . . tell me something I didn't know!











Last week I read an AP article on procrastination, a concept with which I am more than familiar. (And boy, that's an awkward sentence!)

According to a Canadian industrial psychologist who completed a five year study in ten years (ha!), procrastination is on the rise . . . and it makes people poorer, fatter, and unhappier.
University of Calgary professor Piers Steel wrote a thirty page study published by the American Psychological Association. In 1978, only about 5 percent of the American public thought of themselves as procrastinators. Now it's 26 percent. Why? So many other things to do: TV, the internet, cell phones, video games, iPods, Blackberries.

He estimates that the U.S. gross national product would probably rise by fifty billion dollars if the icon and sound that notifies people of new email would just . . . disappear. "People who procrastinate tend to be less healthy, less wealthy, and less happy," Steel said. "You can reduce it, but I don't think you can eliminate it."
For instance, a delay in filing taxes on average costs a person $400 a year, Steel found.
I can easily understand why procrastination results in weight gain. How many "last suppers" have you enjoyed? I've had more than my share, because it's always easier to begin a healthy eating plan TOMORROW. Ditto for the exercise plan.

But I have to rise to procrastination's defense. I don't procrastinate when it comes to things like cleaning house, paying bills, and dealing with taxes--the sooner those things are done, the better. But when it comes to work, I've found the following to be true:
1) I work better under pressure. Not crushing pressure, but steady pressure. If I build in too much lead time, I'm too relaxed.

2) Sometimes the old creativity gets a workout while your brain is occupied with a procrastinating activity -- an engaging game of Spider Solitare, for instance. Whenever I "hit a wall," I put off the work and piddle with something else. When I return to work, the problem often melts away.
3) Some ideas/concepts/characters need time to ferment. I call this "back burnering." Sometimes I know I'm onto something, but I just can't grasp the big picture. So I set the idea aside and work on something else for as long as it takes.

So--despite Mr. Steel's study, I would urge you to rethink the matter. Begin to eat right and pull on those sneakers and sweats, but remember that Procrastination wants to be your friend. It can charming . . . as long you don't spend too much time in its embrace.
Speaking of TV, I'm so excited: JACK'S BACK! I love 24! Are you as hooked as I am?

~~Angie

3 comments:

Tim said...

Not much on Jack, sorry. But procrastination has always been a friend and enemy.

When speaking to the public, I write my best material when under a time crunch. I find it much easier to focus when my time is limited . . . and somehow the creativity seems to come out in it as well.

Thanks for sharing the article and your take.

Bill said...

Rebecca,

This is off topic, but I wanted you to know at The Spiritual Oasis we are in the process of developing list of resources for writers. Your blog is an excellent resource and we have listed it on the Writer’s Resources page.

I you are aware of additional writer’s that you would like to recommend, please drop me note at bill@thespiritualoasis.org.

Grace and Peace,
-bill Williams

Ernie W. said...

HI Angie, Love 24,can't wait. I have one hour more to go before it comes on (as I write this).

I agree with your thoughts on the virtues of procrastination. Sometimes it's a real struggle to do something I know that has to be done. Oh well, I'll deal with procastination--tomorrow.

Ernie