Today, want to share a book review from Dan Pink newsletter – to find out more about Dan and his brilliant work on how people really function go to: www.danpink.com.
The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done by Piers Steel, PhD
In his new book, Piers Steel, a psychologist at the University of Calgary, says there are three main factors that contribute to procrastination. Which one of these sounds most like you?
- You put off a task because you don’t really expect to succeed at it. [Expectancy]
- You don’t value the task at hand. It’s boring. There are so many other things you’d rather be doing. [Value]
- You prefer immediate, concrete payoffs. You can’t get excited about tasks that contribute to distant, long-term goals. [Time]
Combined with our natural tendency to impulsiveness, these three factors – Expectancy, Value, Time — form the Procrastination Equation.
It may be comforting to know that our brains are actually wired to put things off. The relatively modern prefrontal cortex is able to plan for the future and consider the consequences of our actions, but the limbic system, inherited from our pre-human past, wants what it wants NOW. This accident of evolution sets up the awful tension that procrastinators know all too well. Unfortunately for us, our environment is set up to appeal to our impulsiveness. Opportunities for stimulation, distraction, and entertainment are at our fingertips 24/7.
Steel ends his book with a wide selection of tools to increase our expectations of success, coax us through tedious tasks, and short-circuit impulsivity. The book includes a self-assessment so you can select the tools that are most likely to work for you. “As individuals and as a society,” Steel writes, “we pay a hefty price for our procrastination and have done so since the beginning of history. But we can bring millennia of dillydallying to an end today.”