The Impulse Driven Mind


Probably because procrastination is a problem that plagues not only the average Joe, but also the the academic, the successful and the talented, much disciplined research has gone into the topic, particularly over the last 30 years.

So what really is the main cause of Procrastination?

Studies have isolated four primary characteristics that predict procrastination. And knowing and understanding them brings hope for dealing constructively and doing better with our own procrastination tendencies.

Achilles Heel

Of these four, there is one trait that stands out above the rest. Perhaps no surprise that the Achilles Heel of procrastination turns out to be …Impulsiveness; that is, living impatiently, wanting something now.

Exercising self-control (or delaying immediate gratification) is difficult for those of us who are impulsive. We just don’t have much ability to endure short-term pain.

Impulsiveness also determines how we respond to ‘task anxiety’. For those of us who are less impulsive, anxiety is an internal cue that gets us to start a project early.

But for those of us who are more impulsive it is a different story: anxiety over a deadline will lead straight to procrastination. The impulsive will try to avoid an anxiety provoking task, or block it from their awareness, or not even recognise (denial) their own building anxiety. This is a tactic that makes perfect sense if you are mainly looking at the short term.

In addition, impulsiveness leads procrastinators to be disorganised and distractible. Researcher Henri Schouwenburg (quite the handle!) puts it bluntly: Impulsiveness is to suffer from weak impulse control, lack of persistence, lack of work discipline, lack of time management skill, and the inability to work methodically.


The aspect of this statement that highlights to me here is the word ‘Suffer’. indeed, to be plagued by any of these attributes is to suffer; an injury of sorts keeping me from approaching my own potential. Taking in this uncomfortable truth will lead us to a low point, a point from which things can get better. Much help can be obtained for Impulsiveness.

So there it is.
Procrastination predictor no.1 = Impulsiveness.


(Acknowledgements: Peirs Steel – The Procrastination Equation 2011)

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