Don't Delay

Understanding procrastination and how to achieve our goals

Planning and Procrastination

How do you approach planning?
Art Markman, Ph.D.
This post is a response to No problem, I’ll have it done next week by Art Markman, Ph.D.

Calendar pageI have a question for the faithful readers of my Don't Delay blog. In fact, I have two questions. They're about how you plan and make intentions. Will you take a minute and answer them for me?

I just read Art Markman's summary of the latest research paper out of Roger Beuhler's lab at Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario). I've followed Roger's and his colleagues' work on the planning fallacy closely over the years, and my students and I have conducted some studies of our own in relation to procrastination.

In this most recent study summarized by Art, Roger and his colleagues used a technique to get research participants to make early or late predictions of when they would complete the task. This is the technique as Art summarized it:

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"To get people to make early predictions, they were asked to start at today and look forward on the time line and mark on the line when they would complete the assignment. To get people to make late predictions, they were asked to start at the deadline and work backward and mark when they would complete the assignment."

This got me thinking about procrastination (of course), and it led me to want to ask you these two questions:

  1. Are you a chronic procrastinator? (yes or no, we'll keep it simple for now)
  2. Which approach below best describes you when planning your intended work on a task?

a) I start at today and look forward in time to decide the next possible opportunity to act.

b) I look to see when the task is due and work backward to set my intended time to act.

Are you willing to whet my appetite for a new study by providing your anonymous replies to this post? Can you guess my hypothesis here? I wonder how this might relate to what we might call approach and avoidance goals?

Thanks for your time in posting your reply.  Comments are welcome too. I'll summarize the responses in a future post.

 

Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where he specializes in the study of procrastination.

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