Research Update


Research on Procrastination seems to be a hot topic in  Chronic Disorganization and also an area that ICD subscribers deal with professionally and perhaps personally on a daily basis.

Dr. Catherine Roster and Dr. Joseph Ferrari provided an abstract for the ICD Conference Program on their current research on Procrastination as it relates to indecision and behavioral procrastination.   Through their preliminary research they concluded :

Findings from this study suggest that general procrastination tendencies may enable a lifelong pattern of responses to one’s environment that become increasingly maladaptive as adults amass possessions throughout the life cycle while simultaneously delaying disposal decisions.

Recently in New Zealand, an experiment was conducted on how Procrastination relates to deadlines.  The participants were asked to finish a survey within a week, a month or no deadline.  Upon completion, a donation would be made to a charity.  

The team from the University of Otago concluded that people were less likely to complete a task when given a longer deadline (one month) than they were if they were required to complete it in a shorter time (one week) or no deadline. The longer deadline allowed people to feel that there was no rush to complete the task and that they would eventually get to it within the month.  However, as we all know, other things come along during that month and the original task is soon forgotten.  It is understandable that a shorter deadline (one week) created a sense of urgency in the participants.  What is interesting about this particular experiment is that the team concluded that not having a deadline also created a sense of urgency in the participants.  

These results may help professional organizers set the appropriate deadlines when asking their clients to complete tasks. 


Please contact Lynn Gooding if you have any questions or ideas of what we should be monitoring for chronic disorganization research.

1 “Deadlines, Procrastination, and Forgetting in Charitable Tasks: A Field Experiment”
by  Stephen Knowles and Maroˇs Serv´atka and Trudy Sullivan and Murat Gen, of  University of Otago, MGSM Experimental Economics Laboratory, Macquarie Graduate School of Management, University of Otago, University of Otago