If you ponder on it for a moment, what feelings do you have about the kinds of task(s) you are putting off?

Adding Value


Most likely, that chore you are currently deferring is probably something you don’t especially enjoy. The technical term for this measure of enjoyment is … Value.  And the less of it a task has for you the harder it is for you to get started on it.  We may have little problem initiating a conversation with a friend, surfing the net or sitting to eat dinner, but most of us struggle to do the washing, tidy up or start the tax return.

Similarly, the reason students give for essay procrastination is that they .. “just dislike writing term papers.”

The Research

Although the fact that we are less likely to pursue an unpleasant task may seem pretty obvious, researchers have conducted over 20 studies involving over 2,000 people to reach the same conclusion. Well, at least now we are sure !!

The studies reveal that some tasks are ‘universally’ burdensome like, doing the dishes, organising our things or seeing the dentist.

On the other hand, to the degree that individuals consider a certain task uniquely unpleasant, the exact bundle of procrastinated tasks will differ from person to person.

This is why, in certain households the kitchen bench will always be covered with dirty dishes yet another household will have a clean bench but the medicine cabinet will be overflowing with outdated prescriptions. Some will have fridges that need filling with fresh food, while others have a dining table needing to be filled with friends.

Experienced Value

Given the connection between what is pleasurable and what is promptly pushed aside, it makes sense that chronic procrastinators tend to detest life’s allotment of responsibilities. Their jobs, chores and duties are all irksome and they avoid tackling these tasks as long as possible. If you find yourself saying “work bores me” or “I lack the enthusiasm to follow through with this”, the absence of pleasurable subjective Value is the likely source of procrastination (even though the task may be recognised as having objective value).

If it is true that you have difficulty keeping your attention on the mundane, most likely, boredom signals irrelevance and your mind slides off onto something else.

I’m quite sure numbers of helpful thoughts could be found to counter the difficulty of lack-of-Value, but this is not my purpose at this point. For now, to recognise valueless-ness as a significant issue in our lack of ‘performance’ is in itself, enough work for one day.



(Ref: Piers Steel 2011)

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