Photo by: Rachel Fisher via Flickr
On July 20, the 10th Procrastination Research Conference took place at the DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.About 60 psychologists and behavioral economists from different parts of the worldattended the conference.
The event was almost delayed -- not because the participants lingered in their hotel rooms -- but because the shuttle driver got lost while looking for the conference venue, The New York Timesreported.It would have been ironic if the conference on procrastination started late because the participants took too long in their rooms before they went down and boarded the bus bound for theUniversity.
Joseph Ferrari, the chairman of this year's conference and a professor of psyschology at DePaul University, beamed at the number of conference participants who came from Europe, Asia, SouthAmerica, the Middle East, and Oceania.The conference is the fruit of Ferrari and his colleagues' efforts over the past two decades to have an event where they could share and debate onprocrastination -- not because they delayed organizing a conference, but because the topic used to be a taboo.
When Joel Anderson, an associate professor at the Utrecht University's Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in The Netherlands was introduced in other conferences he had delivered aspeech or lecture, when the title of his talk was announced, participants often laughed or snickered when they heard he would talk about procrastination.
However, proscrastination, or the frequent delay in starting or finishing a task on purpose to the point when the person experiences discomfort, such as anxiety or regret, is no laughing matter,Ferrari said.He revealed that procrastination is a pervasive behavior that is done by one in five people, or about 20 percent of the population.
Are you a procrastinator?
At one point in their lives, all of us have experienced delaying something or an activity.It could be a chore we find boring, such as cleaning the house, or something that is difficult such asmaking the Calculus seatwork due at the end of the school term.If I postponed something, am I a procrastinator?
Experts say a person is considered a chronic procrastinator if he or she is consistent in procrastinating in multiple areas of his life, be it work, personal, financial, or social.Because ofputting off the task, it creates situations when the person wreaks havoc, undermines goals, and produces perpetual shame.
There are three hallmarks of a true chronic procrastinator from an occasional procrastinator.The former delays making a decision until it is too late to make one, keeps on saying, "I will do ittomorrow," and delays things until the last minute which could have some additional cost to the person.
Countries with the most number of procrastinators
Bilge Uzun, a research scientist at the Bachcesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey, showed a slide with images of Poland, Britain, Turkey, and Austria.She asked the conference participants thequestion: "Where do you think we find the most procrastinators?" it turned out that there is no one country that stands out for procrastination.Numerous studies done in Germany, Japan, SaudiArabia, and other nations confirm that the 20 percent rate is universal, according to NY Mag.
Stephan Forster, a psychologist at the University of Munster in Germany, said that procrastination is more of a psychological disease.Among the consequences suffered by chronic procrastinators arebroken marriages, lost jobs, financial mess, problems with self-esteem, and deflated dreams.
With procrastination defined and its negative impact defined, the next question is can people who have problems with procrastination address the problem?Can neuroscience help procrastinators?
Tips from the experts
Inc.asean.com cited a book by Mel Robbins, titled "The 5 Second Rule," which provides tips on breaking free from procrastination.Robbins wrote that breaking free from the habit is difficult ifpeople do not understand procrastination.Robbins explained that it is not the task that procrastinators are avoiding, rather, the stress associated with the task.
Procrastination is a coping mechanism with stress, or even a survival mechanism.Once a person is aware that postponing doing a task is not a reflection of his work attitude, a self-awareness isdeveloped as to the reason behind the behavior.
After acknowledging that you are stressed, Robbins said the person with procrastination problem must make a five-second decision contrary to the stress response.She used a drowning child analogyto illustrate the five-second rule.It goes like this: If you are on a beach and saw a child drowning, you would no longer think if you will save the child.Instead, it will be a reflex response tojump into the water and save a life.When faced with a stressful task, Robbins advised the procrastinator not to use the brain but to act with courage by jumping into the task and doing it.Theresult is not as important as breaking the cycle of postponing and confronting the stress.