Piers Steel, a professor at the University of Calgary’s school of business, knows why you procrastinate. And he’s got the formula to prove it. Steel has just published his mathematical model for procrastination, and it looks a little something like this:
Utility = E x V / Γ D
Where utility is the desirability of a task, E is the expectancy someone has of succeeding at it, V is the task’s value, Γ (the Greek letter gamma) is the task’s immediacy, and D is an individual’s sensitivity to delay. (The formula does not, alas, seem to account for such factors as the likelihood of being e-mailed a YouTube video during attempts to complete the task.)
Steel’s research also revealed that (surprise!) most people are doomed to fail when it comes to keeping New Year’s resolutions and that perfectionism may not be the root cause of procrastination.
Steel’s meta-analysis, published in the current issue of the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin, is based on a synthesis of nearly 700 other works on procrastination. And it only took him 10 years to finish it.
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