Slay Procrastination

Suffer from putting things off too often?  I know I can.  Especially when it comes to general admin and paperwork.  Luckily, a Canadian Professor Steel has developed a formula to explain why we’d do this.  I only came across this the other day, but it seems he’s been working on this for quite a while now.  Here’s a key para:

Steel has also come up with the E=mc2 of procrastination, a formula he’s dubbed Temporal Motivational Theory, which takes into account factors such as the expectancy a person has of succeeding with a given task (E), the value of completing the task (V), the desirability of the task (Utility), its immediacy or availability (Γ) and the person’s sensitivity to delay (D). It looks like this and uses the Greek letter Γ (capital gamma):

Utility = E x V / ΓD

So getting cracking on something is a function of four perceptions:

  1. chance of succeeding
  2. value of it when done
  3. immediacy/availability
  4. personal sensitivity to delay

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find in my brief googling, anywhere that explained how these figures are produced.  For instance, is the chance of success a percentage figure?  How about defining the ‘value’?  Is this like a probability, on a scale between 0 and 1?  Nevertheless, you can make up your own and it’s a timely reminder in these year-end times not to check your email when you really ought instead write that report.

A pal of mine once admitted to me that he was a master procrastinator.  A trick he’d picked up was when you realise you’re putting something off, write down all the reasons why you are, and all the reasons why you shouldn’t.  He reckoned it worked for him.  At the foot of this article there’s other ideas too.

Inspired by this, here’s a playful attempt at working out most people’s approach to cold-calling.  “Utility” (the Desire to cold-call) must clearly be above zero, no matter how slight 🙂 Here are the 4 values guestimates:

  1. success chance: 1 call in 20 will provide a result
  2. value: we could use either an average deal or commission value, so let’s say this is £1,000
  3. immediacy: let’s make this 1, as you can do it right away, no problem
  4. delay sensitivity:  well, if you don’t do it, you might not hit your numbers, which could lead to the sack, so delay could be catastrophic, let’s say 100.

The workings are:

(0.05 x 1000) / (1 x 100) =

50 / 100 =


A half.  Seems neither here nor there!  Better get on the phone, then….

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