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Posted by on Jul 23, 2008 in Miscellaneous | 4 comments

Procrastination Nation: Hi-tech makes us time-wasters?

Color me skeptical… Yet another new study with yet another new tech affliction:

According to new research, one person in five now suffers from the problem so badly that their careers, relationships and health are threatened. Many researchers blame computers and mobile phones for providing too many distractions for people.

‘The subject is seen as joke,’ said Professor Joseph Ferrari of DePaul University in Chicago. ‘But the social and economic implications are huge. These people need therapy. They need to change the way they act and think.’

Ferrari says that chronic procrastination is now so serious a condition it needs to be recognised by clinicians. In a study to be published later this year, he estimates that 15 to 20 per cent of people are chronic procrastinators. ‘We now have data on 4,000 people, and it doesn’t seem to matter what age you are, or your sex or background.’

He has devised a questionnaire to help diagnose the condition, which he says is ‘much more common than depression or common phobias’. Procrastination also has knock-on effects – it encourages depression, lowers self-esteem, causes insomnia, and indirectly affects health by discouraging visits to the dentist or doctor. Sufferers are also more likely to have accidents at home involving unmended appliances.

InBox Zero’s Merlin Mann zeros in on this line:

Even the beeps notifying the arrival of email are said to be causing a 0.5 per cent drop in gross domestic product in the United States, costing the economy $70bn a year.

Mann also points us to The NYTimes reporting that 28% of the average worker’s day gets blown on unnecessary interruptions. He suggests we turn off the beeps!

Talk of the Nation did a show on How to Be a Productive Procrastinator. It’s available for streaming. Among the guests is John Perry, a self-professed “structured procrastinator.”

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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • RememberNovember

    People waste time every three minutes scrolling through there Blackberries, not to mention the foot-traffic hazard they represent here in NYC. They’d get to their destinations faster, make meetings on time etc if they would put them away and just friiggin walk! Saves on gas and is much safer too!

  • epiphyte

    OMG. I actually followed this link, but (since it’s an uncomfortable topic with me) then bookmarked the page to read later.

  • pacatrue

    No idea if the issue is clinical, but I indeed can lose hours in a day to procrastination, such as TMV.

  • janey1

    Don’t think all procrastination is created equal.

    It can sometimes be good to procrastinate – it can lead to less struggle, delay (counter-intuitive, but true), and more optimal functioning.

    There’s a new book out titled Productive Procrastination, and it describes how to do it, how to tell productive from destructive procrastination, and how to end the destruction kind. It’s available on Learn more about the book at

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