Monday, November 16, 2015

Procrastination is part of the human condition

Procrastination is fundamental, like eating: when we look ahead to the future, we know we will have plenty of tasks that we won't be able to finish, just as we know we must eat. That is simply how life works. As [George] Ainslie explains, the number of things we might do is potentially infinite. "It is literally impossible not to put off most of what you actually can do." Ainslie suggests that procrastination problems are simply part of the human condition: "Why conspicuous temptations can be identified and subjected to personal rules, a preference for deferring effort, discomfort, or boredom can never be entirely controlled. It is as fundamental as the shape of time, and could well be called the basic impulse."
Frank Partnoy, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay (New York: Public Affairs, 2012), p. 166 (citing George Ainslie, "Procrastination: The Basic Impulse," paper presented at the CUNY Workshop, New York (July 9, 2008), p. 9)

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