Scientists Discover a Cure for Procrastination

Last Updated May 5, 2010 10:51 AM EDT

How to Stop ProcrastinatingProcrastination is a workplace plague and here on BNET we have no shortage of posts on the issue -- from podcasts with tips from the trenches on how to prevent it, to readers' declaring their procrastinator pride. But never before have we been able to offer a scientific cure for the malady. Unfortunately it's not in the form of a pill, but it's nearly as simple.
All you have to do to beat procrastination, according to Michael Wohl, a psychology professor at Carleton University in Canada, is forgive yourself for it:
Wohl and colleagues have proposed a rather surprising cure - self-forgiveness. That's right, forgive yourself for you have procrastinated, move on, get over it and you'll be more likely to get stuck in next time around.
Wohl and his colleagues followed 134 students through two rounds of mid-term testing, asking each student to report how much they procrastinated when studying for the first round and how bad they felt about it in the period between the exams. The researchers then looked at how much the students procrastinated on their second exams and how well they performed on them. The results?
The key finding was that students who'd forgiven themselves for their initial bout of procrastination subsequently showed less negative affect in the intermediate period between exams and were less likely to procrastinate before the second round of exams. Crucially, self-forgiveness wasn't related to performance in the first set of exams but it did predict better performance in the second set.
The happy conclusion: if you're guilty of procrastination, the first step in overcoming this common vice is simply forgiving yourself for it. The more you obsess, the more likely you are to procrastinate again and do badly on future tasks.

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(Procrastination image by somethingmarissa, CC 2.0)
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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.