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Procrastination : what keeps us at it? - a search for positive aspects Askwith, Howard F. 1999

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PROCRASTINATION: WHAT KEEPS US AT IT? - A SEARCH FOR POSITIVE ASPECTS -by HOWARD F. ASKWITH B. A., Simon Fraser University, 1984 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counselling Psychology) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April 19,1999 © Howard F. Askwith ^ i<W In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of t f ^ ^ ^ A ? W t l j i\lMyi^dM(Zr^ P^C^v^fj^o/^ The University of British Columbia -Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) Abstract The study of procrastination has historically been approached from a negative bias. Often purported to be connected with other pejoratively valued behaviours such as perfectionism, avoidance, aversiveness, learned helplessness, and depression, procrastination is today seen as a problem that begs resolution. Existing research has been unable to determine a sufficiently comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon to prevent, reduce, or minimize the negative aspects of the experience. This fact, combined with the volume of previous research suggests that the procrastination is indeed a complicated phenomenon, composed of more aspects than have heretofore been subject to scrutiny. The research described in the following pages attempted to explore the complex nature of procrastination in greater detail, from an entirely new perspective. It sought to answer the question, "What are the positive and therefore reinforcing elements of the experience, what keeps us at it?" A Critical Incident methodology was used to interview 15 self-identified procrastinators who volunteered in response to notices posted on campus at the University of British Columbia. Eight women and seven men, who ranged in age from 19 to 49, were interviewed about their experience of procrastination. Transcriptions of audiotaped interviews were analyzed to identify themes from three aspects of the experience: (a) positive themes apparent in what happened during the experience, (b) positive themes of the reported outcomes of the experience, and (c) positive themes of what participants reported they would miss if they were no longer able to procrastinate. Ill The results identified 20 themes that are discussed in terms of their relevance to existing literature about procrastination and to counselling psychology in general. The presence of clearly identified positive themes indicates that procrastination contains strong elements of reinforcement for its perpetuation. This description may further enhance our understanding of why procrastination has so far proven difficult to extinguish. The presence of positive themes suggests that the behaviour may be viewed as partially beneficial to the individual procrastinator and may call into question some demands for extinction of the behaviour. Recommendations for further research are made and implications for counselling are also discussed. iv Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iv List of Tables vi Acknowledgements vii Chapter One - Introduction and Rationale 1 Rationale for the study 5 Definitions of the Construct 8 Research Question 14 Assumptions 16 Initial Limitations 18 Chapter Two - Review of Literature 20 Overview 20 Who procrastinates? 22 Where and when does procrastination occur? 34 How is procrastination measured? 35 Why procrastinate? 39 What "Treatments", Intervention Strategies exist? 43 Chapter Three - Methodology 48 Method 48 Procedures 63 Chapter Four - Results 77 Question 1 77 Overall Results from Question 2 78 Themes derived from the Process 82 V Themes derived from Outcomes 87 Themes of what would be missed 92 Summary of results 95 Chapter Five - Discussion 97 Limitations 97 Discussion of resulting themes 99 Discussion of results for Question 3 121 Implications For Counselling Practice 123 Recommendations for further study 128 Credibility and value of results 130 Conclusions and summary 131 References 134 Appendices 140 vi List of Tables Table 3-1 Age distribution among participants according to gender 66 Table 3-2 Educational program level by gender 66 Table 3-3 Faculty of enrollment by gender 67 Table 4-1 Organization of themes 81 Table 4-2 Positive Process Themes (During Procrastination) 82 Table 4-3 Positive Themes of Outcomes of Procrastination 88 Table 4-4 What Participants Would Miss if they could not procrastinate 93 Table 5-1 Comparison Of Question 3 themes with Burka & Yuen's themes 122 VII Acknowledgements This, like all qualitative research, has been a collaborative effort, possible only through the combined efforts of many people. To them go my heartfelt thanks for their assistance in getting this study to this point, and me along with it. To Dr. William Borgen, my esteemed thesis advisor, whose stewardship has brought me from wondering whether any of this was at all "do-able" to seeing it done, and with an acceptable level of quality at that. To Dr. Marv Westwood, my committee second, who encouraged me and stayed interested without reasonable requirement to do so. To my committee "external," Dr. Cheryl Washburn, who supervised my clinical training and schooled me in Solution Focus, the perspective that contributes a major element to this study. To Michael, my first procrastinating client, whose academic future I may not have had the skills to salvage, and the other 20% of practicum clients who presented with procrastination as their concern, and who prompted this topic in the first place. To my transcribers, Bay and Peachie, and Janet, who worked through the pain and who found me Maureen, and Maureen herself, whose diligence, patience, accuracy and humor added so much to the accessibility of the results. To my family, friends, and colleagues, who supported me through the long process, and humored and endured me along the way, with best wishes for those who are at various places in their own journey to thesis completion. And especially my mother, Mary, who so many times said "I just want to stay alive long enough to see you graduate." Now what, Mom? Did I mention the Ph.D. program? To all of you, I want to say thank you, but aaah, I'll do it... yeah, later! 1 Chapter One - Introduction and Rationale Procrastination has been the subject of numerous research studies as well as several hundred years' worth of pithy truisms about the proper management of one's time. Recently, I have been doing a lot of wondering about the phenomenon. What is it? Why do we do it? What motivates us to do it? How might we do less of it or at least control it better? Might some procrastination be justified if we understood it better? Are there purposeful components to procrastination with which one might intentionally act upon the world? Are there aspects of the phenomenon that could be described as positive, functional, or beneficial? As a student of counselling psychology, I am curious about many aspects of the phenomenon. What factors largely contribute to its occurrence? What purposes does it serve, most especially what useful purposes, within the context of a person's life and worldview? Importantly, what, (if any) sense do clients make of the experience to themselves, rather than what sense I can make of it in them? Fundamentally, with all the trouble it is said to cause, what keeps us doing it? I wonder about the ways in which procrastination contributes to negative self-messages and reduced self-esteem in the people who struggle with it. What strategies can serve to reduce those self-messages and the negative impact of procrastination on a person's life. I would like to learn how to empower clients to become less encumbered by the negative consequences of procrastination. I have even been wondering about the possible effects that our pathologizing of procrastination may have on procrastinators: might it perhaps reinforce, if not 2 actually create, the problem? How might we reduce the stress and anxiety that seems to accompany procrastination, to help clients with their frustration? A positive focus One obvious answer to the preceding questions occurs to me. In response to a societal tendency to pathologize the experience of procrastination, I would like to offer a counterbalance, to de-pathologize the experience. This is no easy task, considering that a tendency to pathologize pervades right to the very definitions of the term itself. All current definitions are negative, denoting failures or worse. How does one then begin to counterbalance? An immediate challenge becomes how to find anything positive in a phenomenon that is, today, negative by definition. This is one of the tasks that this study proposed to address. Could positive aspects of the phenomenon be identified to balance current definitions? There has so far been no alternative to offer. Will we ever come to consider procrastination as a natural component of the time-management process? Today it is still a very long way from becoming to time-management what Cochran's concepts of "wavering and positioning" have become to decision-making, a natural component of the process (Cochran, 1991). The latter are seen as natural aspects of the decision-making process despite the delay and frustration that usually accompanies them. On the contrary, within the psychological community and society at large, procrastination continues to be both regarded and reported as negative, self-defeating behaviour. Counsellor and client alike perceive procrastinating behaviour as a problem. Indeed, when procrastinating clients come to counselling, they may frequently express the belief 3 that the reduction of procrastinating behaviour alone will solve their problem. Added to that belief, as I witnessed in my clinical training, they add a litany of negative self-attributions in stating their "presenting issue." Given the preponderance of negative connotations for the term, little opportunity has existed in research or practice for the examination or interpretation of procrastination as a necessary, perhaps even a potentially useful strategy in management of life's stresses, demands, and expectations. Therefore, I want to focus my research on alternate, non-traditional, positive interpretations of procrastination, its processes and its outcomes. I am also curious about several factors that may comprise the experience of procrastination and the possible connections between those factors. These include self-messages, awareness and evaluations of one's abilities, one's feelings of self-esteem, and the duration, reduction, and outcomes of procrastination tendencies. Such a detailed exploration of connections will be left to research designs other than the one described here. Instead, I shall focus on rich description of the experience of the phenomenon as a qualitative basis for future research designs. A solution focus Solution-focused therapy emphasizes what clients can do to change and improve a their situations rather than dwelling on deciphering the nature or source of the problem (O'Hanlon & Weiner-Davis, 1989). I would like to apply a solution focus to the situation: rather than dwell on the possible negative causes of procrastinating behaviours, I would rather explore what clients doto get around, through, or over the blocks they encounter. My practicum experiences with a Brief Therapy and Solution-Focused model of counselling also encourage me to emphasize a search for solutions rather than dwelling on the symptoms and causes of one's "problems". The intent of this study is not to discover new clinical ways to help clients overcome their procrastination. Nor is it my direct intention to help them complete assignments according to their own or others' schedules, or to maintain conscious control of their behaviour in all circumstances. According to the solution-focused model, therapeutic change does not necessarily require cessation of the presenting concern or behaviour. A shift in the client's perception of the behaviour, or in its meaning or its significance, may constitute sufficient therapeutic gain. In fact, it can be argued that it may be a necessary first step toward achieving other therapeutic outcomes. The original shift in perception may eventually result in a diminution or cessation of the disturbing behaviour, but that is not necessarily the desired or required outcome. A shift in perception is considered sufficient (O'Hanlon & Weiner-Davis, 1979). It is my hope that clients will ultimately achieve some sense of relief about their behaviour and whatever motivates and possibly perpetuates it. Armed with a broader perspective on, and greater understanding about, the complexity of their motivations for acting as they do, it is my hope that they will be able to find ways to reduce the negative attributions they make to themselves about their procrastination. 5 Rationale for the study In my search for relevant research, I read an array of articles about procrastination that approached the topic from an experimental, reductionist paradigm. Each of these articles, without exception, viewed procrastination as a "problem" to be examined and attempted to measure, quantify, and explain its ill effects. Subjects were asked to report their tendencies to fail at tasks, to postpone, to delay, and to manifest other negative behaviours. They were then asked to further describe the negative consequences of these behaviours. Much of the behaviour associated with procrastination seems to have been classified as self-defeating or at least self-hindering, negative, and problematic. To date, I have not located any research about positive aspects of procrastination. All of the research I reviewed approached its task with a strong negative bias in basic assumptions about the "problem of interest." For example, a study would offer no definition of procrastination, describing instead "useful categorizations" of so-called personality "source traits" with names like "neuroticism or psychoticism." It would proceed to describe procrastination as a so-called "surface trait" (McCown & Johnson, 1991, p. 414), and posit a connection between surface and source that merits further exploration. The use of such value-laden terms as neuroticism and psychoticism creates an impression of procrastination rather than a factual description of it. That impression is of a connection between procrastination and mental health disorders. In another example, the same authors associate procrastination with such diagnostic and 6 negatively value-laden terms as: chronic, neurotic, anti-authoritarian, over-confident, difficult, lacking, and impulsive. They go so far as to distinguish between chronic procrastinators and "punctual students" (McCown & Johnson, p. 414). It is thus implied that procrastination is the opposite of timeliness, synonymous with lateness and lateness alone. To suggest such a dichotomy first erects a false polarity and then places procrastinators unfairly at the negative pole. This negative bias about the topic may have a number of consequences for procrastinators, including making it difficult for them to reframe their situations more positively and thereby avoid some of the negative sting of diagnosis. I wonder, might they feel immobilized, stuck, trapped? They may find it difficult to consider using their available time to attend to the task at hand or to another equally relevant task. They may not even realize that they could actually have "better things" to do. Negative consequences might also include the experience of increased distress and perpetuation of an expectation that they should suffer for their behaviour. One might even argue that the negative bias about procrastination constitutes a kind of iatrogenic disorder in the subject, one that is induced or at least worsened by the biases with which psychologists, psychiatrists, and other helpers approach the phenomenon. Frequencies Estimates of frequency vary, but many consider the range of procrastinating behaviour to include at least 20% of college and university entrants, as many as 57% of senior class students, and approximately 25% of the general population. Academic procrastination is the most studied as well as purportedly the most frequent kind of procrastination. When we consider the transition from high school, where tasks are mandated and closely supervised, to university, where the tasks remain while the supervision is removed, we can visualize a university student population that is indeed struggling with management of priorities. Priority management that is in conflict with one's stated intentions is but one aspect of a complex phenomenon. Among the general population, agreement seems to hover in the 25% frequency range for those supposedly "afflicted" with a significant degree procrastination (Ferrari, McCown, & Johnson, 1995, p. 15). If one in four adults exhibits a behaviour that is more common than having blue eyes, blond hair, left-handed/right-brain dominance, or most cancers, that behaviour merits closer examination. It might be considered beneficial to de-pathologize our understanding of how 25% of the population reportedly behave. For all of our research about procrastination, studies have so far provided very little insight into how to thwart, combat, overcome, work around, or co-exist with its bastion of negative components. Little has been done to assist this client population, let alone allay whatever discomfort they endure. A Need for Answers Traditional research methods have so far provided very few answers to any of my questions. Presumably, quantitative methods are based on sound assumptions and their agents make reliable and valid claims in the explanation and interpretation of subjects' behaviours. However, procrastination is perhaps a good example of a case where previous studies, even when combined, fail to tell 8 the whole story of the experience. How can procrastination be a) an entirely negative phenomenon, b) so prevalent in the human species, and c) still without adequate therapeutic interventions? There must be another piece to this puzzle, yet to find. Any of these factors alone would be sufficient to justify embarking on further research in the area. Combined, they add impact to the need for renewed attempts at improved understanding and a fuller description of procrastination. Definitions of the Construct Collins Dictionary of the English Language defines the verb procrastinate as: "to put off or defer (an action) until a later time; delay", citing its roots in the Latin word procrastinare: to postpone until tomorrow" (Hanks, P. (Ed.), 1979, p. 1166). Thus the term has a connotation of conscious, intentional management of one's time and one's action. By current standards, this is a relatively benign definition. Other dictionary and research definitions of procrastination vary, highlighting different aspects of the term. As will become evident, the vast majority includes a reference to or implication of negative aspects of the phenomenon. Original definitions Negative connotations for procrastination have not always been the case. It seems that the Egyptians and the Romans knew the wisdom of avoiding unnecessary work or impulsive effort and the utility of deferred judgment, informed delay, and chosen restraint. Originally, the term procrastination meant to merely postpone until another day, to put off until tomorrow, and connoted one's intention 9 to permit time for oneself to ponder an important decision or action. These original connotations of the word seem to have been lost. Ferrari et al. (1995) trace some of the alternate connotations of the term over the ages. They note that the Egyptians had two separate verbs that translate as meaning: to procrastinate. "One denoted a useful habit of avoiding unnecessary work and impulsive effort, while the other denoted the harmful habit of laziness in completing a task necessary for subsistence" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 4). The Romans used this term to imply "deferred judgment [that] may be necessary and wise, such as when it is best to wait the enemy out and demonstrate patience in military conflict...This implies making a sophisticated decision regarding when not to act, an opposite tendency from impulsiveness and acting without adequate forethought" (Ferrari et al, p. 4). Such connotations continued for several hundred years, at least until the 17th century, when procrastination still meant "informed delay" or "wisely chosen restraint". Negative denotations came to supersede positive ones in the English language during the development of the Industrial Revolution. This might explain why procrastination is a "modern malady" associated only with countries where "technology is advanced and schedule adherence is important" (Ferrari et al, 1995, p. 4). Today, procrastination clearly denotes negative behaviour akin to the concept of task avoidance. Five categories of definitions The authors suggest several classes of definitions, those that emphasize temporal, moral, irrational, or operational dimensions, as well as multi-dimensional definitions. Thus, they cite Silver's (1974) temporal emphasis on the forfeiture of 10 "the likelihood that a task will be completed successfully and optimally" (Ferrari et al, 1995, p. 4) by delay past an optimal initiation time for the task. Lay and associates call procrastination "the putting off of effort overtime" (Lay, Knish, & Zanatta, 1992, p. 244). As an example of a moral, judgmental definition, they cite the Webster New Collegiate Dictionary (1992) definition: "to put off intentionally and usually reprehensibly the doing of something that should be done" (Ferrari et al., p. 8, [italics theirs]). Several authors emphasize the irrational aspects of procrastination. Among them, Ellis and Knaus (1977) liken procrastination "to neurosis and [held] that illogicalness is its salient feature"; Burka and Yuen (1983), best known of any authors on the topic, share this emphasis on what they called the "irrational nature" of procrastination (cited in Ferrari et al, p. 7). Ellis and Knaus write: Will no one lift a finger to help rid the world of this destructive aspect of slothfulness? Fortunately, we...will. For we don't like procrastination. It adds little to and it subtracts a lot from joyous autonomous living. We don't see it as the worst emotional plague imaginable, but we view it as a dangerous disadvantage. Part of the human condition - yes - but a nasty, unattractive part. And one that merits extirpation, (cited in Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 7) Some authors are not so blatantly negative, offering more operational definitions. Schouwenberg, an associate editor with Ferrari et al. (1995), notes that procrastination refers to postponing tasks, and that "such postponing is inferred from three behavioural manifestations: (1) lack of promptness, either in intention or behaviour; (2) intention-behaviour discrepancy (delay in behaving according to 1 1 stated intentions or delay in intention to begin); and (3) preference for competing activities" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 72). However operational, Schouwenberg's definition is not free of pejorative connotations. He adds that postponing is usually equated with "dilatory" (i.e., t\me-wasting) behaviour and "needless delay" [italics added] (Ferrari et al., p. 72). Noting that not all late performing tasks amount to procrastination, he regards the notion of needlessness as essential to the definition. Lay, another associate of Ferrari et al., studied "trait procrastinators." According to Lay, their defining characteristic is "the extension of temporal sequences between their intentions and their corresponding goal-directed behaviours... to procrastinate is to put off that which one 'ought' to do, just as much as it involves what one 'wishes' to do" (Ferrari et al., p. 107). The references to pejoratives continue with Silver and Sabrini (1981), who say that all procrastination is self-defeating and inherently goal-undermining. Ferrari et al. offer some balance to this extreme by arguing that procrastination is not always so. While it may "often be self-defeating," it can also be " in one's own self-interest and therefore quite logical" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 7). Thus, procrastination can be functional. Dysfunctional procrastination occurs only when, by procrastinating, "there are penalties imposed on the procrastinator" (Ferrari et al., p. 7). This distinction constitutes a first glimmer of anything other than pejoratively defined procrastination, and leads to a final category of definitions called"multi-dimensional' ones. Milgram's (1991) definition, as one example, emphasizes four components or dimensions as necessary for procrastination. It "is primarily (1) a behaviour 12 sequence of postponement; (2) resulting in a substandard behavioural product; (3) involving a task that is perceived by the procrastinator as being important to perform; and (4) resulting in a state of emotional upset" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 11). However, not all procrastination results in inefficiency or substandard behaviours, it can often serve as "a deliberate self-motivating strategy for persons in need of intense levels of stimulation in order to be adequately motivated" (Ferrari et al., p. 11). Moreover, emotional upset is not always a requisite of procrastination, especially if the procrastinator's intention is to self-handicap or make excuses for behaviour. Ferrari et al. quote Milgram (1991), who evidently believes that procrastination "represents a dysfunction of human abilities" and amounts to a failure to "live authentic lives" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 1). One might question the apparent contradiction between needs for intense levels of stimulation and such a purported failure. Does intense stimulation not suggest living on a cutting edge, and therefore bolster authenticity? Ferrari et al. cite yet another multi-focused definition from McCown and Roberts (1994) that distinguishes between functional and dysfunctional procrastination. They define the latter as "the time past the optimal beginning point for completion of an important task that has a high probability of needing completion and that does not have unreasonable demands of personal costs associated with attempted completion." In contrast to this detailed, complex definition, functional procrastination is defined as "similar behaviour evoked for actions that have a low probability of needing completion or have excessively high costs associated with personal completion at their optimal time" (Ferrari et al., 13 1995, p. 14). That is to say, procrastination can be a conscious, reasonable response to situations where the cost of being punctual would be too high. Among all of the preceding definitions, this is the first to acknowledge a positive aspect of procrastination. Clearly, several definitions of procrastination are available, each emphasizing a different aspect. Some moralize, some measure. Despite the use of language that is scientific, what is common to most definitions is their emphasis on the negative aspects of the behaviour. Lay studied intention-discrepancies, Schouwenberg examined needless delay, McCown and Johnson assumed its results were substandard. Certainly such aspects of procrastination are available for study, and consequent penalties of such behaviour can be harsh for actual subjects. However, are negative aspects all there is to this phenomenon? Is the phenomenon only and entirely comprised of negative aspects? An alternate definition I became more hopeful about pursuing an alternate course when I read Colaizzi's comments: If I wish to know what a particular psychological phenomenon is, I cannot begin with or rely entirely upon the definitions provided by traditional psychology because...its operational definitions eliminate the phenomenon's experiential aspects. As a phenomenologist, I must begin by contacting that phenomenon as people experience it. (Colaizzi, 1978, p. 57) 14 Certainly, most definitions lack any reference to potentially neutral or positive aspects of the experience. Are there any aspects of procrastination that reflect concepts such as self-direction, personal agency, or the original connotations of sagacious delay? Given the multiplicity of definitions previously reported, the task of beginning a quest for any positive aspects of procrastination as experienced by university students becomes all the more a challenge. Yet some sort of initial reference point is essential to any research project. Let me share my own attempt to draft a more neutral definition: Procrastination is a kind of management of one's behavior regarding task completion and delay; such management may have conscious and unconscious components and be intentional or unintentional; it frequently involves an abeyance of immediate action. What this definition lacks in specificity it makes up for in absence of pejoratives, and though not without its own problems, it offers a more neutral starting point. Despite prevailing cultural pressure, perhaps it can be seen as a first step in the development of a new, qualitative description of procrastination. Research Question As I have noted, it is useful to examine the existing definitions of procrastination used by other researchers to become familiar with the extent of research. This also identifies the negative bias toward procrastination in current research. Many categories of procrastination have been suggested, including trait, chronic, academic, task, and dysfunctional. Of course, use of a term such as 15 dysfunctional implies that there would be an opposite type of procrastination characterized as functional, but, including the one noted above, I have been able to locate only a few definitions of functional procrastination. Those that exist seem to have been included by their authors as addenda that are included to provide extra limitations on a definition of dysfunctional procrastination rather than describe a separate phenomenon. However, the concept of functional procrastination further bolsters the focus of my study. Creswell (1994, p. 70) recommended that one first ask a "Grand Tour" type of broad, initial question followed by related sub-questions that seek solid descriptive data. With that template in mind, I asked: If there is such a phenomenon or experience as functional procrastination, what is it like, how can it best be described, what are some of the experiences most commonly associated with it, and what purposes does it seem to serve? Moreover, rather than implying the existence of a phenomenon separate from dysfunctional procrastination, I decided to ask if there are instead functional aspects to procrastination in general? What aspects of the experience help reinforce procrastinators to repeat the behaviour? What are some of the salient, positive, reinforcing outcomes of that experience for them? Ultimately, in the face of so many assumptions in the current literature about the negative nature of procrastination, I wanted to determine whether procrastination merely amounts to the sorts of negative experiences that have so far been reported, or if there are in fact other aspects to the experience that one could categorize as functional, useful, beneficial, meaningful, and perhaps positive. Therefore, my research question became: 16 What are the positive, functional, reinforcing aspects of the experience of procrastination as described by university students who procrastinate? Glesne & Peshkin (1995) suggested that, while a research problem is the statement of the intended contribution of the research, and should therefore be clear from the start of data collection, research questions should nevertheless be tentative. One should expect them to change according to respondents' experiences. As will be described below, a pilot study helped to distill wording of questions that were most appropriate to the task. Assumptions A more complete list of the assumptions that I am aware of making is included below. Several are crucial to my rationale for this study. The foremost assumption that I am making is that procrastination would not persist without some form of reinforcement; that such reinforcement has yet to be examined; that understanding such reinforcement might lead to more effective strategies for overcoming the dysfunctional aspects of procrastination. Moreover, I assume that our predilection to the negative aspects of procrastination typically leads one to make negative self-attributions and criticisms of oneself, whether or not they are articulated. I also assume that awareness and articulation of positive aspects of procrastination may reduce such negative self-statements. I do not assume that awareness of positive aspects of procrastination themselves will lead directly and immediately to either a diminution or cessation of procrastinating behaviours. I do 17 assume that research about people's experience with procrastination may well constitute a first step toward that end. Other assumptions that I am aware of making, and which therefore need to be bracketed here, are as follows: I assume that procrastination is not merely a negative experience, nor simply an unconscious form of self-torture and "self-hindering behaviour." I assume that there is at least one other reason, perhaps even a positive one, that motivates us to procrastinate. I assume there may be a constellation of reasons for the behaviour operating on an individual at any given time (multiple causality). Not all may exert equal influence. I assume that psychological research holds the potential to understand these reasons, to unlock the mysteries of why we tend to behave in ways that we and those around us continue to describe as self-hindering. I am assuming that negative affect and negative self-messages frequently occur to people while they are procrastinating, and that this negativity is ultimately destructive to the individual. I assume that procrastination as we perceive it occurs in a society where time and money are greatly valued, often at the expense of individuals. I assume that people are able to be or to become agents of their own destiny, given adequate conditions and opportunities to cultivate that ability. I have a strong personal commitment to the use of reframing as an 18 essential coping and survival strategy, as a way of de-pathologizing and questioning basic assumptions that might otherwise be oppressive or hurtful. I assume that people can describe their experience of procrastination, including positive aspects of it. I assume that I am not yet aware of all of my underlying assumptions... Initial Limitations There are several things a study such as this cannot do. Foremost, it cannot be the definitive expose on the phenomenon of procrastination. All research is additive, and whatever contribution this study can make will hopefully be useful. There is much to learn about procrastination, and it is not within the scope of this study to focus on all its aspects, including its underlying motivations. In fact, an accurate focus on the experience itself and on its outcomes poses sufficient challenge. Similarly, description of procrastination cannot be said to represent any group of people other than those interviewed. Even with a demographically broad range of participants the generalizability of this study will be very limited. Indeed, the broader the range of participants, the greater would be the likelihood that there would be lower congruence between expressed themes among them. However, if considerable congruence were to occur between the themes expressed by people from a variety of backgrounds, the generalizability of the results might be bolstered. Such, however, is not the goal of qualitative research (Schumacher & McMillan, 1993). The ultimate test of validity of qualitative research is left to the reader to determine whether or not the findings resonate with them. 19 The nature and intent of this study is to be descriptive, hopefully richly descriptive of the experience of a particular phenomenon. Description differs from prediction or explanation by providing a wealth of information, which may or may not enhance existing explanations. Those explanations, in turn, may require separate testing, measurement, and validation as well as further exploration. It will also remain to be determined in future research whether the descriptions of the experience as reported by university students correspond with those described by persons from other backgrounds in the community at large. Where is the researcher? It is recommended that, as the researcher, I locate myself in relation to this research and address questions of how I arrived at this topic and this approach. Both events occurred during my counsellor training. In practicum, I was frustrated with my attempts to assist a procrastinating client whose academic future was in jeopardy. When I realized that 20% of my caseload presented with procrastination as a major concern, I recognized the necessity to learn more about the phenomenon. My own experience with procrastination did not contribute significantly. Instead, the decision seemed like a professional way to proceed: so may clients, so few interventions available. My simultaneous exposure to solution-focused therapy concepts became a deciding factor in my choice of research perspective. The solution-focus perspective maintains a positive, client-centred, action-oriented philosophy that I readily embrace. It offers some balance for prevalent negative perspectives. 20 Chapter Two - Review of Literature Overview References to positive aspects of procrastination in the literature are indeed sparse. I was able to locate a brief exception in a rather obscure article. Amid a detailed explanation of its psychoanalytic aspects, Birner mentioned positive aspects of procrastination. He noted that "The paradox of procrastination is that it can often relieve more guilt than it creates" (Birner, 1993, p. 549). He allied himself with Erikson, seeing positive aspects of procrastination in the developmental process of adolescence. He described a "period of psychosocial moratorium where the adolescent pauses, takes stock of things, and suspends action." Moreover, he considered these periods of procrastination to be "a normal phenomenon in the life process" (Birner, p. 542). He even acknowledged that "sometimes hesitation and delay are appropriate responses to new situations, conflicts, and the possibilities of growth." However, these comments comprise the extent of his positive references to procrastination. Birner subsequently returned to comments based on prevalent definitions, noting that when "pauses.. .that take the posture and form of procrastination...lead to positive action they are not truly procrastination. Any developmental fixation [i.e. procrastination, italics mine] by its very nature implies forms of stagnation...the rigid state of procrastination" (Birner, p. 542). A review of the research literature related to procrastination has provided very few useful concepts in my quest for references to positive aspects. Traditional quantitative methods abound almost exclusively in the study of procrastination, 21 with correlation studies as the method of choice. Many of the available articles are peppered with negative characterizations of procrastination. For example, Saddler and Sacks (1993) refer to "a maladaptive coping style like procrastination" (p. 864). Most of the research, based on the pejorative definitions noted earlier, examines concepts that are commonly thought to relate to procrastination. They form part of the mythology of procrastination, and the intent of the research seems to be either to prove or debunk those myths. The mythology It is commonly assumed that procrastination is related to fear of failure, perfectionism, particular personality traits, and self-defeating behaviours in general. Everyone has their theory of why they do it. A client asserted that procrastination was related to what she called FOMS, a fear of missing something, but I was unable to locate any research articles to support her connection. However, researchers have hypothesized correlations between procrastination and Myers-Briggs Typologies, academic locus of control, and self-efficacy (Ferrari, Parker, & Ware, 1992). Among these, the only statistically significant correlation reported was a negative one between procrastination and (low) general self-efficacy. In that study, no significant correlations were established between procrastination and the much-touted Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Other concepts that have been compared include learned-helplessness (McKean, 1994), fear of failure (Schouwenberg, 1992), the big-five factors of personality (Schouwenberg & Lay, 1995), optimism (Lay, 1988), self-handicapping (Lay, Knish, & Zanatta, 1992; Ferrari, 1992), self-presentation and impression management (Ferrari, 1991a, 22 1992), and choice of task difficulty ( Ferrari, 1991b). Procrastination has even been hypothesized as a strategy for vengeance (Ferrari & Emmons, 1994). We shall consider some of these topics below. Who procrastinates? Frequencies As noted earlier, estimates of the frequency of procrastination range broadly from 20% of college and university entrants to 57% of senior students and 25% of the general population (Ferrari, McCown, & Johnson, 1995, p. 15). Academic procrastination is the most studied as well as purportedly the most frequent kind of procrastination. It is defined as delay in the start or completion of study or assignments. Twenty years ago, Barrall's (1976) surveys on U.S. college campuses found that, regardless of campus or major, about 50% of students identified themselves as procrastinating on academic matters at least half of the time (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 12). A few years later, using a self-report instrument not validated against external criteria, Briordy (1980) found that 20% of college students questioned rated themselves as "problem procrastinators" (Ferrari et al, 1995, p. 13) whose behaviour evidently interfered with both their grades and their enjoyment of life. Slightly more recently, Solomon and Rothblum (1984) found that nearly half of the students they surveyed classified their procrastination as a "moderate or more severe problem for them." In turn, 25% of them noted that it "significantly interfered" with grade point averages and quality of life and "substantially 23 increased" their stress (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 14). Notably, while Ferrari et al. assert that students in this study characterized their procrastination as a "continued inability to meet deadlines" (Ferrari et al., p. 14, italics mine), I found no such characterization in Solomon & Rothblum's actual article (1984). Moreover, careful scrutiny of Solomon & Rothblum's article indicates that while 46% of subjects reported that they nearly always of always procrastinated on writing term papers, only 23.7% reported that it was nearly always or always a problem for them. Do almost half of those who say they procrastinate on term papers not perceive it as much of a problem? This discrepancy is not addressed. Demographic Correlates Socio-economic Status. Procrastination has been correlated with a wide variety of other phenomena. McCown (1986) found that it correlated with lower grade point averages (GPA's), higher perceived distress, and greater dissatisfaction with college life. Procrastinators also reported spending less time studying. In this study, those with mitigating life circumstances such as child or family care or employment commitments, especially from the so-called "working class", reported slightly less procrastination and higher GPA's. Aae & Sex Differences. Few studies have examined the phenomenon from the perspective of sex or age among the general population. In one that traced its subjects over time according to sex, men scored consistently higher at so-called 'dysfunctional' 24 procrastination than women for most of their working lifespan. From the age of 20, where their scores converge, men's scores rise to a peak at about age 25. From that point until their late 50s, scores for both sexes steadily declined. Then, women's scores tended to rise sharply, surpassing those of men by about age 57. Scores for both once again continued to rise at approximately the same rate (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 16). These results suggest that 75-year-old women tend to procrastinate about as dysfunctionally as 25 year old men do, and vice versa. It will be left for the reader to decide if such conclusions and the measures that precede them offer any utility. Flett et al. (1992,1995) found some differences between scores for females and males on measures of socially prescribed perfectionism and procrastination. The link between the two measures was particularly evident among males" (Ferrari et al. 1995, p. 124). They report that, in 1988, Milgram and his associates found a sex difference on measures of life satisfaction. Procrastination was associated negatively with life satisfaction for men, but not for women. They also assert an overall "absence of gender [sic] differences in procrastination consistent with other studies (such as Ferrari 1992a, 1992b)" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 141). Psychological Correlates General psychological (dys)-function. Constructs such as personality disorders and psychiatric syndromes have been associated with procrastination in correlation studies (Ferrari, McCown, & Johnson, 1995, pp. 1,15) despite the virtual exclusion of the term from the fourth 25 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) (American Psychological Association, 1994). Correlation between procrastination and accepted personality disorders such as obsessive-compulsive, passive-aggressive, antisocial, avoidant, borderline, and narcissistic personality disorders have been explored, with weak results. The prolific Ferrari stated that "habitual failure to begin or complete intended tasks (i.e., procrastination) may be pathological" (Ferrari, 1991, p.619). To worsen this situation, many of the studies suffer from statistically low results despite design efforts to find subjects who were identified as "high" procrastinators. This, however, does not often stop some researchers from making claims about the purported relevance of their findings. In the third, revised edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III-R), procrastination was formerly listed, along with "avoiding obligations" as a major diagnostic criteria for passive-aggressive personality disorder. (American Psychiatric Association, 1987). Covert aggression was also said to be passively expressed through stubbornness and forgetfulness. Ferrari reports evidence that avoidant procrastination is significantly related to measures of the expression, suppression, and control of anger. These results would imply that procrastination is related to more types of anger than mere "passive-aggression," and may explain recent revisions to the classification in DSM-IV. Also in DSM-III-R, major criteria for classification of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder were perfectionism that interferes with task completion and indecisiveness manifested in avoided or postponed decision-making. Although classification criteria for both disorders have been revised in DSM-IV, Ferrari looked for links between these tendencies and procrastination in correlational 2 6 research. He had already made several such links himself, when, in previous research he "revealed that indecision may be conceptualized as decisional procrastination" (Effert & Ferrari, 1989, p. 152), and "is related to avoidant procrastination" (Ferrari et al. 1995, p. 178). He claimed that decisional procrastination was also significantly related to obsessional thinking and to compulsive behaviours. However, avoidant procrastination was not significantly related to obsessive-compulsive tendencies (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 184). Perhaps happily for our purposes, Ferrari et al. report that all available data indicate no direction of causality in procrastination and negative psychological states. The data "do not allow a clear understanding of whether procrastination causes psychological dysfunction or whether dysfunction causes procrastination" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 19). This statement seems to suggest that one cause or the other is likely to be accurate, merely awaiting "proof with the rejection of the proper null hypothesis. However, one may safely assume that the search for pejorative causes and correlations will continue. NEO-PI-R and EPQ-R personality measurement instruments. In similar studies using self-reports of subjects, (McCown & Johnson, 1991; Schouwenberg & Lay, 1995; Johnson & Bloom, 1995;) so-called lower order or surface trait procrastination was found to be significantly correlated with high measures of Neuroticism (definition?), a so-called source personality trait, on both the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire - Revised (EPQ-R), and the Neuroticism Extraversion Openness - Personality Inventory - Revised (NEO-PI-R). Significant correlation was also reported with low measures of Conscientiousness on the 27 NEO-PI-R. Although not identical, the Conscientiousness scale can be said to roughly correspond to the Psychoticism scale on the EPQ-R, where similar correlations were also found. Both are said to imply that procrastinators are lacking in planning skills for task completion. Considered a third source trait, an Extraversion scale exists in both inventories. Perhaps because of different methods between the inventories in structuring this scale, contradictory results have been reported between procrastination and Extraversion. Anxiety - Fear of Failure - Aversiveness to Task. The robustness of the correlations on the NEO-PI-R and the EPQ-R led Johnson & Bloom to conclude that procrastinators "are personologically lacking in Conscientiousness" (Johnson & Bloom, 1995, p. 132). Moreover, high Neuroticism scores are said to be indications of impulsiveness, self-consciousness, and anxiety. Anxiety is acknowledged as a primary component of procrastination according to many writers in the area. Solomon & Rothblum (1984) reported that procrastination was negatively correlated with academic achievement and positively with problematic levels of anxiety and depression. They linked anxiety with reports of fear of failure and related performance concerns, and classified it as one primary type of procrastination. The other type was related to aversiveness to task, which they found was "rarely the only reason why students procrastinate" (Solomon & Rothblum, 1984, p. 508). They found that this aspect of procrastination correlated more with depression, irrational beliefs, and decision-making difficulties. With such findings, Solomon & Rothblum were among the first researchers to acknowledge that procrastination was far more than a time-2 8 management concern, but rather a complex behavioral, cognitive, and affective phenomenon. Despite design flaws and questionable conclusions which will be duly noted, their work is still widely referenced by their peers, and their conclusion may prove useful. Schouwenberg (1992) cautioned that self-reported reasons for procrastination as collected by Solomon & Rothblum do not constitute actual causes, but merely attributions about causes. He suggested that one's attributions about procrastination may serve as interpretations of irrational behaviour that restore "consistency among behaviours and thoughts," and thereby help "in maintaining self-esteem" (Schouwenberg, in Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 74). He also called them "excuses (that) maintain an illusory positive self-image that may be adaptive for mental health and perceived well-being...(but which) divert attention from what seems really to be important" (Schouwenberg, 1992, p. 234). He reported that between 6 and 14% of procrastinating students also display high levels of fear of failure, but that, in general, measures of trait procrastination and fear of failure are unrelated. Furthermore, he claimed that each corresponded to separate factors or dimensions on the NEO-PI-R, procrastination with Conscientiousness and fear of failure with Neuroticism. Anxiety continues to be the only major aspect of procrastination for which successful intervention techniques currently exist. The most notable of these are relaxation and visualization techniques and cognitive self-statement re-structuring. Ferrari et al. also note that students who procrastinate and also feel a fear of failure "seem to be the pre-eminent clients of student counselors and clinical 29 psychologists", and that such a selection "may have given rise to theoretical notions in which fear of failure plays a dominant role" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 82 -83). Here again, negative bias informs this contention. Perfectionism. Approaching the topic from another perspective, Flett and his associates (1992) looked for components of perfectionism in the procrastination of college students. They reported few significant direct correlations, but found that some perfectionism was correlated with increased fear of failure. Based on previous research by Solomon & Rothblum (1984), and reported in Burka & Yuen (1983), they claimed that fear of failure is a contributing factor to procrastination. They thus posit an indirect link between the two. Schouwenberg's (1992) findings, reported above, contradict these conclusions and claim that fear of failure may merely be a convenient excuse offered by procrastinators. As for perfectionism, it was characterized in two types: self-oriented and socially prescribed. The former "has a positive motivational component that involves active striving to meet goals", plus considerable "conscientiousness, ambition, and internal locus of control." The latter is "associated with a sense of helplessness about the inability to establish personal control over evaluative standards and a sense of hopelessness about the inevitability of failure in the future" (Flett etal., 1995, p. 118-119). It was this latter type of perfectionism that correlated positively with all aspects of procrastination measured: generalized procrastination, frequency of academic procrastination, extent perceived to be a problem, and fear of failure (Flett et al., p. 123). The results were also far more 30 significant for males than for females but the authors refrained from speculating about why this might have occurred. True to their stated expectations, they found a significant negative correlation between procrastination and self-oriented perfectionism. Ferrari (1992) also examined links between procrastination and perfectionism. He noted that "there are occasions when delaying the completion of a task is appropriate and advantageous (e.g., not finishing a project until the best product has been produced)" (p. 75). The sentence reads as if it were an obvious statement of fact. Had it been left at that, it would merely acknowledge and exemplify one positive aspect of procrastination. There is, however, a 'catch' that appears in the example that Ferrari used. Rather than merely acknowledging a positive aspect of procrastination, he instead linked it with yet another pejorative label: "Such instances imply that some procrastination may be a form of perfectionism" (Ferrari, p. 75) [italics added]. He reported that procrastinators "self-reported significantly more self-awareness, self-presentation, and self-handicapping tendencies" (Ferrari, p. 81), "perfectionism, acquisitiveness, protectiveness, private self-consciousness, public self-consciousness" (Ferrari, p. 79), and "social anxiety" (Ferrari, p. 82). He also adds that procrastination and perfectionism were "related significantly, but low" (Ferrari, p. 79), and that the magnitude of relation of the other "coefficients was small" (Ferrari, p. 81). He concluded that, "for procrastinators, perfect behaviour seems to be motivated by anxiety over what others think about their performance...[and] is aimed at impressing others by one's efforts" (Ferrari, p. 82). In contrast, for non-31 procrastinators, "perfectionism may be a strategy to demonstrate one's skills" (Ferrari, p. 82). One is led directly to the conclusion that procrastinators have less honorable motives. Schouwenberg thus faults procrastinators with accusations of impression management to bolster effort. In preferring impression management over demonstration of skill, it would seem that procrastinators would rather save face than show off. Self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is said to be a general form of protection of self-esteem that provides individuals with externally bound or internally transitory attributions for their performance. Reduced effort, lack of practice, and selection of unfavorable performance settings are examples of self-handicapping. Dilatory behaviour is an example of self-handicapping and procrastination. Comparing both concepts, Lay et al. (1992) suggested that dilatory behaviour might serve different self-protective functions for procrastinators and self-handicappers. He reported that self-handicappers behave in ways "conducive to protection of their self-worth" (Lay et al., p. 254) when called upon to demonstrate their ability. They therefore choose the strategy that is most appropriate to that protection. Procrastinators share no such motive, preferring a dilatory strategy for avoiding aversive tasks. Lay concluded that procrastinators are "performance or ego-oriented, as opposed to learning or mastery-oriented. They are therefore more concerned with demonstrating their ability than with developing it" (Lay et al., p. 255). Lay's comments also directly contradict those of Schouwenberg, reported above. He speculated that some of his subjects may have put off their real homework 32 "legitimately", and thereby skewed some of his results, by spending time completing take-home sections of his research. Depression. According to Lay (1995) trait procrastinators have a preponderance of experiences in which their behaviour does not match their intentions, goals, and commitments. As a consequence, they also experience higher levels of dejection-related emotions (depression) than non-procrastinators. Solomon & Rothblum (1984) found that both aspects of procrastination they measured correlated significantly with depression, irrational cognitions, low self-esteem, and delayed study behaviour. Flett et al. (1995) made similar conclusions for females and males. Procrastinators reported significantly more negative thoughts about themselves (self-concept), low self-esteem, greater self-handicapping, and greater depression. They also endorse dysfunctional beliefs, not, as might be expected, "involving performance evaluation concern, but focusing on the need for approval from others" (Flett et al., 1995, p. 145-146). Debate continues about the possibility and direction of causality between depression and procrastination. Saddler and Sacks (1993) looked for interrelations between procrastination, perfectionism, and depression. They reported that "three types of perfectionism and procrastination separately were each positively correlated with depression, although only one type of perfectionism (socially-prescribed) related positively with procrastination" (p. 867). Procrastination was also confirmed as one of four predictors for depression, but there was no interaction between it and other variables in their effect on depression. While procrastination and perfectionism 33 may contribute to mood difficulties, they do not combine to further exacerbate the depressive symptoms of students. The authors also acknowledge that the direction of causality in this relationship is not clear. Learned Helplessness. Using Solomon & Rothblum's PASS and a learned helplessness (LH) scale, McKean (1994) found that students at high risk for LH exhibited a "real-world deficit" (p. 182) by procrastinating more on academic tasks than those at low risk. He considered this procrastination to be a manifestation of effects of LH in the behavioural domain. Locus of control. Ferrari, Parker, & Ware (1992) reported no significant relationship between academic procrastination and academic locus of control. They also noted that, in 1982, Aitken found a non-significant correlation between her procrastination measure (the API, see next section) and Rotter's locus of control scale. They called for further research in the area, since a connection between the two constructs seems to them to be" intuitively logical" (p. 37). Questions of relevance The outcomes of most of these studies are not directly relevant to the study at hand. Statistical claims and outcomes vary, but what all have in common is the negative bias of their basic assumptions and definitions of procrastination. In all probability, they are measuring dysfunctional aspects of procrastination while 34 generalizing their claims to what I suggest may be an entirely larger phenomenon, one with functional and dysfunctional components. Where and when does procrastination occur? Burka & Yuen (1983) highlighted six areas where they found that procrastination commonly occurs. These areas included in one's household, at work, at school, in personal care, in social relationships, and in finances. They also consider both typical and unusual patterns of delay as well as excuses procrastinators offer for their behaviour. It is by now evident that the vast majority of the research that has been conducted has been performed on students in academic settings. The literature thus distinguishes between academic and non-academic procrastination. Milgram and associates (Milgram, Sroloff, & Rosenbaum,1988; Milgram, Gehrman, & Keinan, 1992) conducted several studies of a category of procrastination that he referred to as procrastination in everyday life. Originally it was likened to "neurotic indecision" (1988), but later four types came to be referred to: academic, decisional, neurotic, and life routine (1992). A key distinction between these was the "repeated postponement of major life decisions" (Milgram et al., 1988, p. 197). In this earlier work, prior to the American Pyschological Association's 1994 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Milgram et al. (1988) reported that procrastinators viewed the routines of daily living as "unpleasant impositions and as a means to achieving a wholly different end - self-assertion through passive-aggressive resistance" (p. 208). Despite reports of reduced measures of life-satisfaction and higher measures of dysphoric effect, 35 covert negativism, and perceived incompetence, Milgram et al. suggested that that there may be perceived benefits to some procrastination: In marching to a different drummer, the procrastinator may gain enough in subjective consequences (relaxed pace, spontaneity, freedom from the yoke of conformity) to compensate for what one loses in objective consequences (being late or failing to perform certain life routines). (Milgram, Sroloff, & Rosenbaum, 1988, p. 202) Ultimately, they reported that procrastination "reinforces the self-gratifying illusion that they are in command of something in their lives, no matter how trivial or minor" (Milgram et al., p. 208). In the same article they describe procrastination as "a curious human aberration...a dysfunction of important human abilities" (p. 210). The abilities they refer to are time-management and decision-making abilities, which they recognize as "important assets in coping with the stressors, major and minor, in daily life" (p. 210). Moreover, they call for further research and emphasize the "importance of embedding the phenomenon of procrastination in comprehensive theories of human-decision making and action, stress and coping" (p. 210). Harkening to Cochran's (1990) work on decision-making, I agree. I also wonder whether traditional researchers will ever come to view some kinds of procrastination in the same way that they do time-management and decision-making, reported above, as "abilities" and "important assets in coping"? How is procrastination measured? The standardized measures used in the studies reviewed also contain negative bias. Typically, items measure how many times one failed to perform a 36 task rather than how many times one actually and successfully performed it. Successful avoidance of tasks is never measured. Not surprisingly, all contain statements purported to describe behaviours commonly associated with procrastination. Most have weak reliability scores, but the negative consequences of this fact are rarely, if ever, addressed. In the last 15 years, several instruments have been designed to measure procrastination. These include the Aitken Procrastination Inventory (API) and Mann's Decision Procrastination Scale (DPS), both introduced in 1982, Milgram's Tel-Aviv Procrastination Inventory (TAP) in 1983, Solomon and Rothblum's Procrastination Assessment Scale for Students (PASS) in 1984, Lay's General Procrastination Scale (GP) in 1986, Johnson's Adult Inventory of Procrastination (AIP) in 1989, and the Tuckman Procrastination Scale (TPS), in 1991. In each, items are comprised of statements that are purported to be descriptive of behaviours commonly associated with procrastination. These items are rated on Likert-type scales, and some are even tested statistically for content validity. A few, such as the AIP, also contain descriptive self-perception statements with which the respondent is asked to agree or disagree. Milgram's TAP alone is exceptional because of its reliance on four- rather than five-point scales and its use of two instructional sets of ratings for each item, namely time frame and ease of scheduling/schedule adherence. It has more than twice as many (54) items as any of the other scales. I believe its designers should be complimented for their attempts to measure interesting and unusual aspects of the construct. 37 Other than raw numbers of subjects classified by sex, most measures offer little normative or demographic data about respondents on whom the design was tested. Most studies report weak (if any) reliability scores, especially regarding temporal stability. Most also claim high construct validity scores for correlations with other psychological constructs ranging from neuroticism to non-competitiveness. Here again, constructs with negative connotations greatly outnumber all others. Lay's GP has been the measure most thoroughly and rigorously tested for reliability and validity, and is reportedly the most widely used. Next is the AIP, which is the only instrument that has been frequently used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs. In addition to the DP, both have been designed for application to wider populations than just students. The others are more directed toward student populations. Ferrari et al. (1995, p. 65) report that AIP scores have been significantly related to the APS but not the GP. They claim that the AIP may therefore measure a different construct, perhaps some other aspect of procrastination, than the GP. Despite the GP's reported widespread use, much of the research reviewed for this study used the PASS to measure procrastination. Flett et al. (1995) note that previous applications of the PASS may have indicated significant association between procrastination and anxiety due to overlapping content and the test-construction assumptions of its creators. McKean (1994) noted its "limited" reliability and validity. The consequences of these facts were not acknowledged by its creators or the many researchers who have subsequently referred to their so-called "hallmark" work. As a chief source of data for analysis of correlation 38 between procrastination and other constructs, instruments such as the PASS have been used to determine correlations, draw conclusions, and make inferences and clinical recommendations affecting the lives of many people. It is essential that the limitations of such instruments be considered when making inferences and recommendations that affect people, and that such inferences and recommendations be "limited" accordingly. Moreover, the methodological use of self-reports and negatively skewed items on measurement instruments may bolster impressions of credibility by providing results that confirm what was sought. How people self-report or how they respond to a pre-arranged format of questions may be related to the societal norms and definitions they espouse. I believe it is likely that self-reports and other responses to negatively skewed items on measurement instruments readily reflect, corroborate, and confirm the negative biases inherent in the researcher's questions and in prevailing societal connotations. The closest any of these instruments come to acknowledging positive aspects of procrastination is their use of positively keyed items on their Likert-type scales. Most do this for just less than half of the items on the instrument. Since all are designed on the basis of society's current negatively skewed definition of procrastination, the use of any in this study would constitute a philosophical contradiction to my stated methodological preferences. Only a strong argument for their use in order to bolster validity through triangulation of methods would convince me to administer one of these instruments to my respondents. 39 Why procrastinate? Several explanations The question of why one would procrastinate can have several meanings. One might be to ask what the causes of the behaviour are. Another might be to ask to what end or for what purpose it occurs. A third might be: what maintains the behaviour? Given the negative definitions and the unfavorable correlations ascribed to procrastinators by current research, the first two questions are the most loaded. Answers suggested by some theories have already been reported in the preceding sections, such as those referring to anxiety, fear of failure, and task aversiveness. Ferrari et al. (1995) report numerous other possible explanations for procrastination. These includes concepts such as phobias, specious rewards, irrational beliefs, ego-defenses, negative self-statements and excuse-making, low self-esteem, achievement motivation, intelligence, impulsivity and extraversion, exaggerated sense of self-efficacy, the hidden meaning of achievement-related events for the procrastinator, fear of achievement, neuropsychological and biological variables, stress-induced analgesia, increased norepinephrine turnover with some release of endogenous opiates, and even the capacity for accurate time perception (Ferrari et al., 1995, pp. 30-45, 225). I find many of these ideas intriguing. A few actually offer creative explanations of the phenomenon, but none escape the pejorative paradigm. With definitive explanations still elusive, it is the third meaning of the question "why procrastinate?" that we now address: what maintains the behaviour? 40 Behavioural Reinforcement Theories I read the section on reinforcement theories in Ferrari et al. (1995) with great curiosity. Might they refer to the same theoretical tenets that I believe may help to explain procrastination? They reported that "procrastinators could recall significantly more incidences of successful performance at last-minute deadlines and significantly fewer incidences of being punished by external agencies for not being punctual." They added that "students tended to perform activities that were seen as more enjoyable than studying ...and procrastinated tasks that they found unpleasant." These findings suggest some utility of a "reinforcement paradigm for deciphering causality of procrastination" (Ferrari et al., 1995, pp. 26-27). Noting Skinner's assertion that behaviour exists because it is reinforced, the authors concluded that therefore, "procrastination should occur most frequently in students who have either been rewarded for such behaviour or who have not been punished sufficiently for it" (Ferrari et al., p. 26). They even hypothesized that "people are more likely to procrastinate actions that have more distant consequences than those with immediate consequences" (Ferrari et al., p. 27). It is a primary assertion of this study that we do not yet sufficiently understand the complexities of the reward and reinforcement process with respect to procrastination. Perhaps if the authors had not approached the subject from a pathologized perspective, they might have asked subjects about reinforcing aspects they experienced during the process of procrastination rather than about "last-minute" successes and "distant" consequences. If they were sharing my perspective, they might instead have referred to the subtitle of this study and asked what "positive reinforcer(s) help to keep us at if?" According to Lieberman, a reinforcer\s an event that increases the probability of a response when presented after it, and reinforcement is the presentation of a reinforcer following a response or the increase in response probability that results from this presentation (Lieberman, 1990, p. 209). Responses that are accompanied with satisfaction are more likely to recur. If a stimulus is reinforcing, it should strengthen whatever response precedes it (Lieberman, p. 161). Assuming that some degree of satisfaction accompanies continued procrastination, is it fair to characterize that satisfaction, as Ferrari et al. seem to do, as derived from the removal of an aversive stimulus, a negative reinforcement? Might it not be derived from the introduction of a rewarding stimulus instead, a positive reinforcement? In psychological terminology, punishment decreases the likelihood of a response due to the presentation of an aversive stimulus or the removal of a reinforcing stimulus. One might suspect that anxiety about procrastination would act as punishment to decrease the behaviour, but this effect has not been demonstrated. Punishment is not the same as negative reinforcement. The latter is defined as an increase in the probability of a response due to the removal of an aversive stimulus. Reinforcement always involves strengthening of a response, and punishment always involves its weakening. Reinforcement is called positive when the effect is due to the presentation of a stimulus, negative when a stimulus 42 is removed (Lieberman, 1990, p. 245). It is the aspects of procrastination that can be characterized as reinforcing that are the very focus of study in this paper. In a manner that I would characterize as the wrong direction in the right area, Ferrari et al. set up elaborate experiments to explore whether "Tasks are more likely to be procrastinated if there is the likelihood of punishment in the near future, as compared to at a distant time" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p.28). Instead, why not explore procrastination if there is the likelihood of reinforcement and reward in the near or distant future? Nevertheless, the authors remain consistent to their negative perspective. They even reported the possibility that procrastination might be a means of escaping or avoiding responsibilities. In 1990, Mazur proposed the theory that escape conditioning occurs when a response terminates an aversive stimulus after the stimulus has appeared. Avoidance conditioning is defined by the occurrence of an operant response that postpones an aversive stimulus. Procrastination may thus be seen as either escape or avoidance behaviour, the former when a task is aborted and remains incomplete, the latter when never undertaken and avoided (Ferrari et al., 1995, pp. 28-29). According to this theory, the discriminative cue is said to be anxiety. Thus students who have extreme anxiety are most likely to procrastinate because it is more reinforcing to avoid the anxiety associated with studying than it is to study. It would seem that, to these authors, the probable type of reinforcement that might occur would involve escape or avoidance. They fail to consider the possibility that one might prefer or be drawn to a positive condition rather than be drawn away from an aversive one. 43 Ferrari et al. also referred to Ainslie's theory of specious rewards, calling it "a positive reinforcement variation of avoidance conditioning that might shed further light on the application of principles of learning to the understanding of procrastination" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 32). In 1982, Ainslie posited a strong human tendency to choose the short-term reward over the long-term goal, providing that the short-term goal is immediately pleasurable. Ferrari et al. embellish this definition into "the human proclivity to choose a short-term but lesser good over a delayed and longer-term outcome with a higher hedonic value" (Ferrari et al., p. 32). The latter definition seems to be far more pejorative. For procrastinators, the tendency to choose the short-term reward is said to have developed into a habit wherein goal completion is short-circuited by demands for leisure. This results in increased anxiety about the task at hand, and in turn, to increased avoidance (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 32). The logic seems sound, the explanation plausible. The assumptions on which they are based are entirely negative. Why must procrastination be deemed "specious," or deceptively incorrect, at all? If we can only explain procrastination by basing the explanations on assumptions of pathology, and still cannot do much to influence it, perhaps we need to rethink those assumptions. What "Treatments." Intervention Strategies exist? Burka & Yuen (1983) prescribe a rational approach to overcoming "the procrastinator's glaring inability to do what everyone else seems to be able to do, i.e., to get on with the responsibilities of life" (p. 196). Characteristics of a rational approach would include: observation of the behaviour followed by planning for 44 change, gradual introduction of incremental changes in the behaviour, constant monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and actions for evaluation and feedback purposes, and flexible rewards for effort and approximations of success. They advise that one tally the internal and external consequences, take stock of the costs of the behaviour, and liken the impending struggle to overcome procrastination to a war. This is presumably intended to be a way of building motivation for an otherwise onerous task. They offer no information regarding the efficacy of their strategies, so one is forced to examine more closely the continued popularity of their book after fourteen years. Might it indicate that their emphasis on time-management and conscious behaviour has demonstrated (unpublished) results, or whether people are still looking for effective strategies fourteen years later. Schouwenberg suggests a three-step "treatment strategy" for academic procrastination that has cognitive as well as behavioural components. The steps are: 1) Changing the "Procrastinator's code" (Burka & Yuen, 1983) of deeply cherished and tenaciously held unrealistic beliefs. 2) Changing the parameters of "Ainslie's ratio" (Ferrari et al, 1995, p. 73): increasing the perceived reward value of long-term activity or decreasing its delay. 3) Personality management and re-adjustment by deliberate (perhaps ongoing) efforts, to raise Conscientiousness levels and reduce Neuroticism ones (Schouwenberg, in Ferrari et al, 1995, pp. 83-84). Ferrari, McCown, and Johnson would seem to concur. Despite much-touted connections between anxiety and procrastination, they report that reducing anxiety 45 per se has no significant effect on procrastination scores (Ferrari et al., p. 199). Moreover, anxiety associated with task avoidance extinguishes itself over time (Ferrari et al., p. 213). In addition, the college environment has more immediately punitive consequences for task failure, encouraging anxious procrastinators to be over-represented in the college-age group (Ferrari et al., p. 213). They hold that" the most effective therapeutic style with the unconscientious procrastinator is a firm yet understanding, reality-oriented approach emphasizing the existence of a pattern of self-deception (Ferrari et al., p. 203). Treatment includes the distribution of handouts and lectures about cognitions that foster the anxious avoidance of situations and non-conscientiousness about consequences. In general, Ferrari et al. recommend that "adult procrastinators require more rigorous psychological, and in some cases, medical evaluation. Their behaviour is more ingrained, less dystonic, may require longer treatment to modify (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 217). Group therapy, in contrast, seems particularly helpful for college students and not particularly useful for non-students" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 190). Group attrition rates of adult procrastinators are very high. The authors reported that 80% of participants in one study missed 3 of 12 scheduled sessions [25%] (Ferrari et al., p. 216). By virtue of being older, adults also have longer histories of procrastination. There would seem to be other concerns for adults who procrastinate. The authors note that individual therapy suffers from the drawback of "a bit more gradual reduction or erosion of gains, inasmuch as clients in this form of treatment do not have close peer support and camaraderie that seems 46 helpful in preserving behavioural change regarding task completion (Ferrari et al., p. 208). The book "Becoming a Master Student," a popular resource for students, recommends a "Seven-Day antiprocrastination (sic) plan" (Ellis, 1998, p. 65). Based on activities that correspond to the first letters of the days of the week, Ellis offers suggestions and strategies with a decidedly cognitive, action-oriented base. He characterizes procrastination as "an obstacle...a habit...to eliminate," and "a cycle...to stop" (Ellis, p. 65). Unlike researchers noted above, he devotes a portion of his discussion to the positive aspects of procrastination. He suggests that procrastinators procrastinate deliberately in order to develop choice about the behaviour, observe their behaviour scientifically, without judgments, and ask whether it, in fact, constitutes a problem. (Ellis, p. 65) He follows this with a chapter of ideas for maintaining motivation and thereby avoiding or stopping procrastination. He approaches the topic with a perspective that seems similar to that of the current study, suggesting that students "compare the payoffs to the costs" (Ellis, p.67). In my view, two promising interventions for managing procrastination merit reference. The first, reported by White (1988), recommends the use of imagery and guided visualization to "tame the critic" within and thereby bring one's actions more in line with one's conscious, stated intentions. The second suggests the use of paradoxical interventions and reframing of the situation, as recommended by Puig (1983) and Shoham-Salomon, Avner, & Neeman (1989), who report how one is "changed if you do and changed if you don't" (p. 590). Studies such as these 47 offer clinical applications that can be very useful to counselling psychologists and other mental health practitioners. Both seem to offer alternatives that enhance the procrastinator's agency and try to flow with rather than against the process of one's own experience. Summary It will be clear from the preceding report that previous research on procrastination has approached the topic from a negative bias. References to positive aspects of procrastination have been few and those that have been made were usually made "in passing." The existence of reinforcing aspects of procrastination has been only minimally acknowledged. The need for research to address this gap is apparent, and the current study is considered a first attempt in that direction. To begin, a more thorough description of the positive aspects needs to occur. Therefore, the following question is again posed: What are the positive, functional, reinforcing aspects of the experience of procrastination as described by university students who procrastinate? 48 Chapter Three - Methodology Method In this chapter I shall address my choice of methodological paradigm and explain the particular method used, the Critical Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954). I shall also note some concerns related to my method and subsequently describe the procedures I used to conduct the study. The chapter concludes with a detailed report of the measures taken to ensure acceptable standards of reliability and validity. Choice of paradigm Justifying my choice of paradigm is a rather straightforward task. Traditional, quantitative psychological methods study aspects of experience in isolation. They study parts that can be observed, measured, and manipulated. This has so far been the case with the study of procrastination. In the attention of traditional methods to the readily observable and negative aspects of procrastination, any positive aspects that might also exist have remained neglected subjects of study. Qualitative methods attempt to rectify such neglect by examining whole phenomena rather than parts, and to study them in the context in which they are experienced, in which they are lived. Hence, qualitative methods are entirely appropriate to the current study. In contrast, "conventional paradigms do not yield satisfactory answers to certain types of questions (such as about human volition and meaning and quality of subjective experiences)" (Hoshmand, 1994, p. 89). 49 Perhaps in part due to its traditional paradigm, quantitative research has reported little about "quality" aspects of procrastination, and it provides incomplete and therefore unsatisfactory answers to our understanding of the phenomenon. To my mind, the prevalent negative and pathologizing explications of procrastination are insufficient. I seek a method that will "permit as full [italics added] an explication of the experience as possible" (Hoshmand, 1994, p. 91). I seek a fuller explication, one that includes both the positive aspects of the actual experience and its positive outcomes. "By reflectively explicating unquestioned assumptions and meanings," qualitative methods strive "from a critical perspective to...make visible that which has become invisible by training and custom" (Hoshmand, p. 93). This study seeks to make visible our customarily negative attitudes about procrastination and the glaring absence of more benign ones. In identifying positive aspects of procrastination, we may discover "new understandings that are transformative" (Hoshmand, p. 93), ones that are perhaps measured in practical terms such as clients' reduction of perceived anxiety, increase in self-esteem, or other shifts in perspective. I strongly hold an "assumption of human agency...which requires a methodology conducive to the analysis of intentional action" (Hoshmand, 1994, p. 82). As a part of my bias, I believe that clients have within them both the agency to instigate changes in their lives as well as tendencies to act in ways that run contrary to their own intentions. "Intentionality has also been studied in the therapeutic context, using qualitative methods" (Hoshmand, p. 95). What a perfect , 50 match for the study of procrastination, for I suspect that some procrastinators might characterize their experience as a frustration of their intentions. Another noteworthy aspect of the qualitative methodology's approach is its emphasis on "collaborative inquiry that is empowering to participants [and] aimed at the description of problems as well as finding solutions" [i.e., a solution focus] (Hoshmand, 1994, p. 96). Finally, qualitative research is a response to the call for socially relevant research, asking researchers "to consider the social significance of their methodological decisions" (Hoshmand, p. 96). I emphasize this point for any researchers who may have contributed to the pathologizing of individuals who procrastinate. Method of Study and Criteria for its choice Initial considerations helped determine an actual method from among the many qualitative options. Certainly, some sort of interview would need to be a key component of the method. I wanted to give participants an opportunity to voice their experience and to describe it in great detail. Traditional psychological research, constrained as it is by its devotion to empirical and experimental methodology, has been prone to missing large portions of phenomena. A non-empirical interview could address missing portions. Another consideration regarding the interview was essential for this study. The interview needed to include reference to the outcomes of the experience of procrastination, in addition to respondents' descriptions of the process, as part of their overall description. I suspected that reinforcing or positive aspects of procrastination might well be characterized as outcomes of the phenomenon, so 51 that it would be in the descriptions of outcomes that positive themes would emerge. I also assumed that it would be difficult, even unlikely, to elicit descriptions of positive aspects and outcomes (results) in isolation, without participants' references to negative aspects. I therefore decided to ask participants to describe entire incidents, and left myself the task of gleaning the positive from negative elements as a first step in analysis of the data. A variety of qualitative methods might encourage the respondents to describe full details about their experience. However, the necessity of attending to outcomes as well as to positive and negative aspects of procrastination as essential sources of data suggested another course. I decided to use the "Critical Incident Technique" described by Flanagan (1954) and Woolsey (1986) with its emphasis on questions about what aspects helped and hindered the experience. In fact, the Critical Incident Technique is ideally suited as a valuable tool in my study. It has provided the basic structure on which all respondents' examples are delivered, containing detailed descriptions of lead up, what happened, and outcomes of procrastination. This structure naturally encourages one to report significant detail within the framework of what helps and hinders and within each component of the structure. In that way it produces ample data for analysis in a framework that is easily accessible from any starting point. I chose to begin my analysis with attention to the positive aspects of the outcomes of procrastination, chiefly because my advisor recommended it and because intuitively we both suspected that area would readily offer the most salient information. The use of 52 Critical Incident methods has permitted the degree of detail and specificity that this study has achieved. Its intricacies will be described shortly. Therefore, I determined that accepted qualitative interview techniques, in critical incident format, would derive a fuller description of the phenomenon of procrastination without leading or unduly influencing respondents. These methods permitted me sufficient leeway to explore the phenomenon of choice and to collect useful descriptive data. Other concerns Another issue merits attention here. If Schouwenberg's previously mentioned statements about attributions of causes are to be believed (chapter 2, page 27), there may be a problem with this study's methods from the outset. If irrational behaviour, excuses, and illusory self-images are what procrastinators report, what are the consequences for the validity of the data collected in interviews with them? Could it be that people volunteered for my study in order to share their interpretations of their own irrational behaviour? Is procrastination all about illusion, presentation of self or preservation of face? My bias says no. A benefit of this methodology is that it affords respondents a voice to speak their experience and it affords readers the opportunity to judge for themselves the validity of the results. 53 Specific benefits of Critical Incident Technique Several reasons combined to make Flanagan's Critical Incident Technique (CIT) an appropriate choice from among the many qualitative methods available. Woolsey (1986) found CIT to be well suited to descriptive, and I would add exploratory, research. CIT elicits outcomes of incidents and "allows for elaboration of the personal meaning ascribed to the experience" (Ross, 1997, p. 94). Chiefly, the method provided this study with flexibility along with structure and produced ample descriptive data while maintaining methodological rigour. Well-suited to the study at hand, CIT has identified helpful positive factors and outcomes of each reported incident of procrastination. The CIT was originally developed by Flanagan about a half-century ago to identify factors related to high performance in the U.S. Air Force. From the beginning, he readily acknowledged that the technique is actually a "flexible set of principles which must be modified and adapted to meet the specific situation at hand" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 335). Psychologists and counsellors have since recognized the utility of the method and have adapted it to their specific purposes. The method has been widely applied to examine both helping and hindering factors in an array of phenomena and experiences such as unemployment (Borgen and Amundson, 1984), overcoming aids-related depression (Alfonso, 1997), and First Nations Healing (McCormick, 1994). Traditional Critical Incident research has come to include examination of both positive and negative, helping and hindering aspects of an event. In the current study, CIT examines the 54 experience of procrastination to explore factors that procrastinators describe as helpful to their continued procrastination. Application of CIT continues in the current study to produce a concise methodological approach to specific aspects of a phenomenon. This study sought to elicit participants' descriptions of the positive, reinforcing aspects of procrastination. Because CIT provides flexibility in the questions it asks, questions were tailored to address that specific consideration. At the outset of the research it was unclear whether participants would report sufficient numbers of positive aspects to merit analysis. The method permitted the quest for positive elements to be stipulated in the research interview questions to ensure that whatever positive aspects were present would likely be reported. The incident structure has also lent itself to the collection of specific events rather than general phenomenological descriptions and overarching themes. It also permitted identification of many themes in a given incident. I believe this would have proven to be a more difficult task using phenomenological techniques. Phenomenological analysis, in contrast to CIT, would have derived more general and descriptive themes about the meaning and significance of procrastination. It is traditionally "directed to elicit an in-depth reflective description of the experience that is the focus of the analysis...open to all aspects of the experience" (Alfonso, 1997, p. 48). CIT has permitted rich description of all salient aspects of procrastination just as a standard phenomenological interview would. CIT, however, has also permitted direct, detailed categorization of these aspects into 55 positive and negative components and made for relatively structured analysis of the desired content of interest. "Critical".. ."incidents" CIT constitutes a variation of the general phenomenological interview that has added focus. It has provided a specific structure in which to generate the interviews, because it has required that participants describe "incidents." According to Flanagan, data qualify as incidents if they include references to three specific aspects of the phenomenon that is being studied. Descriptions of what led up to the experience provide relevant contextual information; descriptions of what happened during the event clarify its process and detail phenomenologically "what it was like, as lived" for the participant; reports of outcomes connect the event to significant results. In combination, the three elements provide context, description, and consequences, and the potential for a thorough understanding of the phenomenon in question. According to Flanagan, an incident is "sufficiently complete" to permit inferences and predictions, or in the case of this study, analysis of themes. In Flanagan's original sense, the term "critical" was used to suggest sufficient clarity of intent or purpose, and sufficient definition about its consequences. He defined it as "extreme behaviour, either outstandingly effective or ineffective with respect to attaining the general aims of the activity" being studied. (Flanagan, 1954, p. 338) Its connotation has developed to reflect the salience of the examples reported. Participants now decide what constitutes "critical." They provide their own phenomenological observations that comprise the data for subsequent 56 analysis. They are most imminently qualified to comment based on their familiarity with the activity. Flanagan would likely be satisfied that incidents thus identified and described by participants make "a 'significant' contribution, either positively or negatively, to the general aim of the activity" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 338). An amalgamation of incidents is, in turn, analyzed, thematized, and categorized to produce "a comprehensive list, a conceptual map" (Alfonso, 1997, p. 49) of the topic under study. The same "incident" structure also provides the framework for extraction and analysis of the data because it readily permits classification into the above three aspects. In this study, positive and negative elements were extracted from descriptions of both the process and outcome stages. Semi-structured interviews derived descriptions of incidents. The three-part structure of incidents provided distinct, discrete elements which were readily available to categorization and extraction of inherent themes. In this study, a critical incident was an event or situation in which the participants experienced themselves procrastinating where that procrastination had positive and/or negative aspects during or after its occurrence. The study asked about and attempted to edify participants to the positive elements of their procrastination, the aspects that help to maintain the behaviour. Data collection procedures Flanagan recommended a five-step research procedure that entailed clear statements about of aims, plans, data collection/analysis, and reporting. The steps roughly correspond to the chapters of a master's level thesis: (a) Introduction, rationale and statement of the research question; (b) review of literature; (c) details 57 of methodological procedures; (d) reporting of results; and (e) discussion of findings. This similarity made it easier to adhere to his recommended procedures as a matter of course, integrated as they were with existing research requirements. General aim. Flanagan was concerned with exploring effective and ineffective aspects of phenomena. Some of his steps are therefore less directly appropriate to this study. For example, the concept of "effectiveness" is not relevant to the current study of procrastination. His first step, description of the general aim of the studied activity, is a case in point. The aim of procrastination can be said to be delay of task accomplishment. The multiple definitions provided earlier in this report suggest that agreement on a definition is an elusive quest. Thankfully, Flanagan also noted that "we cannot hope to get a completely objective and acceptable general aim for a specific activity" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 337). Rather than definition, we can develop a functional description or primary purpose of the studied activity. In the absence of acknowledged expert opinion, the "objectives of participants in the activity must then be determined from the participants themselves" (Flanagan, p. 336). This requirement was addressed by the initial question asked of all participants: "How did you know you qualified for this study?" Their answers also provided a range of definitions of whatever it was they did (i.e. procrastinate) that made them qualified to speak about it. 58 Plans and specifications. The group to be studied must be specified and the appropriate instruction must be given to them as self-reporting observers. This step was addressed in the operationalized research question asked of all participants, with its specific mention of positive as well as expected negative aspects of the experience. CIT plays a key role in this step, requiring complete and specific descriptions, practical examples of positive and negative aspects from self-selecting reporters who are familiar with the activity (Flanagan, 1954, pp. 338-339). Collection of data. Of the options Flanagan listed, this study used interviews with self-reporting participants to provide data for the study. Participants reported from memory about their experiences, some recent, others not, all salient, personally significant, and detailed. I posed questions and comments to encourage elaboration and further clarification as required. Flanagan (1954) believed that having participants rather than researchers select examples to report served to bolster the relevance of the data collected. Woolsey (1986) has suggested strategies for data collection, including the inclusion of nonverbal cues in transcription and attempts to maintain vocal nuance in clarification of the incident (cited in Alfonso, 1997, p. 52). This is no easy task, since capitalization, punctuation marks, and editorial comments can scarcely suffice in capturing non-verbal subtleties. Non-verbal communication is highly open to interpretation. I also believe that CIT permits interview in sufficient detail to elicit 59 salient data in plain prose. Therefore, minimal indication of nuance was reported in the events of this study (see appendix M). Flanagan also recommended procedures for obtaining data in interviews. He encouraged researchers to inform the participants about the sponsorship of the study, its purpose, the selection of participants, anonymity of the data, and the all important research question. All of these procedures were addressed in the posted flyer, the initial phone contact, the preamble, and the signing of the consent form at the start of the interview itself. Flanagan also warned against the use of leading questions during the interview. My training in the use of paraphrase, probes, active listening, extending thinking, and projective techniques increased the likelihood that participants were permitted to express their ideas freely and fully. Flanagan's recommendations regarding sample size were less strictly adhered to. Instead, general principles of anticipated redundancy of themes were applied. After expert consultation, targets of fifteen interviews and a minimum expectation of forty-five incidents were established. By interview 14,1 had begun to get the impression that I had heard much of what was being said before. I completed two more interviews for good measure. It should be noted that data recording procedures have developed considerably since Flanagan first made written records of incidents. Audiotaping, transcription, and computerized word-processing are now available. Today more than ever, "it is desirable to have interviews recorded electrically and transcribed. This increases the workload substantially" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 342). It also 60 provides greater accuracy than edited post-interview notes that he used. It also affords ample verbatim quotes long after the incident has been described. These improvements are crucial to Flanagan's next step, analyzing the data. Analyzing the data. When combined, the material resulting from interviews, in raw form, provides "a functional description of the activity in terms of specific behaviours." (Flanagan, 1954, p. 343) Flanagan warns that it is imperative to maintain essential detail of the data "while sacrificing as little as possible of their comprehensiveness, specificity, and validity. (Flanagan, p. 344) The intention is to produce data that is efficiently summarized and described. It is also to draw inferences from them "so that it (sic) can be effectively used for practical purposes" (Flanagan, p. 344). There are three important choices to be made at this stage, according to Flanagan. The first is a choice of frame of reference, the general nature of the classification. The frame of reference is based on intended uses of the data, ease and accuracy of their classification, and their relation to previously developed classifications. In this study, I intend to use the data to better understand the role of positive aspects in reinforcing the behaviour called procrastination. The intended use of the data is also directly related to previous classifications. An abundance of negative classifications of procrastination has been reported at length. The positive, reinforcing perspective for this study results from my perception of the need to balance the classification frame. A general way to view the frame of 61 reference used in this study is the assumption that procrastination contains positive and negative aspects in its process and its outcomes. The frame of reference also has a bearing on Flanagan's next procedural choice, category formulation. In keeping with his recommendations, themes that seemed evident were tentatively identified, defined, and labeled. New categories were added as required, and additional themes extracted from incidents classified into them. Definitions of categories were redefined as needed, and redefinition and development of new categories occurred until themes from all incidents were classified. Larger categories were sub-divided and similar categories were combined. All categories were reviewed and re-examined. All of these choices were based on the established positive frame of reference. Experiences that did not seem to contain positive elements were not included in the thematization process. Clearly, this step is highly inductive and open to subjective influences. To address this concern, reliability and validity checks have been developed. They will be described shortly. Categories should be reviewed by others because "the confirmation of judgments by a number of persons is usually reassuring" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 344). Andersson and Nilsson (1964) found that a rate of 75 to 85 percent "inter-rater" agreement could be achieved in categorization according to themes. Their findings now constitute the reliability target that is generally agreed upon. The final choice is one of level of specificity versus generality for reporting purposes. Trade-offs have to be made between the advantages and disadvantages of complexity and simplicity of themes. I approached this 62 requirement from a "wait and see" perspective, until I knew how many themes had resulted from my analysis. Twenty themes do not constitute an unmanageable number, nor do they seem to omit reported aspects of the experience. Instead, they seem inclusive and rather exhaustive. A few categories were combined on the basis of similarity of elements in their content. Flanagan also set standards for the process of categorization. Categories should be clear cut and logical, convey meanings in themselves, be homogenous, neutral, and stated in positive terms, share the same level of importance, produce findings that are useful and easily applied, and should be comprehensive. I have applied these standards to the thematization process reported here. Interpretation and reporting. Adequate detail is the key consideration in reporting of results, relying on prototypical incident and verbatim quotes for its accuracy. Also at this point in the analysis, Flanagan calls for an examination of the researcher's bias that may have entered the research design. Limits to generalizability and representativeness of the participants must be reported. The value of results should also be emphasized. "The researcher should not shirk ...responsibility for rendering judgment concerning the degree of credibility which should be attached to...findings" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 345) and "the value of the final results obtained" (Flanagan, p. 355). These matters will be duly addressed in the discussion of results, limitations, and recommendations for further research. 63 Reliability and validity Reliability. In defense of the perceived subjectivity of the categorization and sorting process in CIT, Andersson and Nilsson found a "strong tendency" for subsequent re-sorters to place incidents in the same categories (Andersson & Nilsson, 1964, p. 401). They also report only slight differences between the numbers of incidents collected by different researchers and general categorization results they achieve. Validity. As a method, CIT can also claim to uncover all-important aspects of a studied event, and resulting categories can claim to actually represent important aspects of the studied topic. Moreover, one must not lose sight of the fact that CIT is a method of grouping the observations of multiple observers. This produces "full and precise details," and presumably the gathered "information is accurate" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 340). Procedures Selection of participants Currently registered students and staff at UBC were invited to volunteer for this study. They were recruited on campus by means of flyers on public and departmental bulletin boards, and in UBC "newsgroups" on the internet. Most volunteers were therefore self-selected (See appendix A). A university population was chosen for sampling since most of the existing research about procrastination has been carried out on this population. It would 64 be fortunate if this research could add important new information and raise further questions about that group. I hoped that a range of volunteers, predominantly students from various faculties, departments, years, academic standings, ages, and both sexes, and in sufficient numbers to provide a broad cross-section of experiences for analysis would come forward, but these criteria were not required for participation. In fact, the only criterion for participation other than that participants were self-identified procrastinators was that they be conversationally fluent in English and. This requirement permitted respondents to comprehensively describe their experience in a manner that could be accurately recorded, understood, and reported. As an adjunct to the advertisements for volunteers, in the case that response to flyers was low, I was prepared to use the technique of snowball sampling to contact participants. If necessary, I would have asked volunteers to recommend others they knew as possible respondents in the study. This risked the introduction of further bias into the research by increasing the participation of people who were acquainted with each other. In quantitative research circumstances, this might have confounded results with other factors. It posed less of a concern in qualitative research, and ultimately was not used. Two people mentioned that they knew others who might have been interesting in participating, so I invited them to have their friends contact me if they decided to volunteer. None of them did. A few participants were previously acquainted with each other, and three of them were previously acquainted with me in the department where we were all enrolled. 65 Demographics I received twenty inquiries from people expressing interest in the study. Four people cancelled or decided not to participate. I interviewed eight women and seven men, totaling 15 respondents from four continents. Average age was 27.8 years; the youngest was 19, the oldest, 49. In five-year increments, there was representation from almost every age group; the range is not heavily stacked at any point. Four people had diplomas, eleven people held B.A. degrees, and five had M.A.'s. The faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce, Engineering, and Education were all represented, plus there was one unclassified student and one UBC employee who participated. Participants had declared majors in English, anthropology, marketing, music, dietetics, chemical engineering, and more. Fourteen people were working at the time of the study, five had partners, one had children. The average GPA was B+. One person also reported being adopted. Demographic results are portrayed in Tables 3-1, 3-2, and 3-3. A complete demographic listing has been compiled in Appendix D. Demographic questions Participants were asked to provide some minimal vital statistics for purposes of describing the demographic range of participants. These statistics included age, sex, faculty, year, and major. However, such data was only used for informational purposes and rudimentary comparisons and categorizations, not for conclusions about populations (see appendix C). Table 3-1 Age distribution among participants according to gender Age Female Male TOTAL 18-19 1 1 2 20-24 2 1 3 25-29 2 4 6 30-34 1 1 2 35-39 0 0 0 40-44 1 0 1 45-49 1 0 1 TOTAL 8 7 15 Mean 30.1 25.4 27.8 Table 3-1 Educational program level by gender Level Female Male Total Masters Degree 3 2 5 Bachelors Degree 4 3 7 Diploma 1 0 1 Unclassified 0 2 2 TOTAL 8 7 15 6 7 Table 3-1 Faculty of enrollment by gender Faculty Female Male TOTAL Arts 2 0 2 Science 1 0 1 Commerce 0 1 1 Engineering 0 2 2 Education 2 0 2 Graduate Studies 3 2 5 Unclassified 0 1 1 Staff 0 1 1 TOTAL 8 7 15 Number of interviews During discussions with my thesis advisor, we originally suspected that approximately ten interviews might provide sufficient data to demonstrate a redundancy of themes that is commonly accepted as an indication of having attained sufficient data for analysis. "A general rule of thumb is to collect incidents until redundancy appears" (Woolsey, 1986, p. 246). Committee members suggested that I reconsider this number, depending on how soon in the interview process redundancy began to occur. Eventually, I targeted a goal of 15 interviews, and did a sixteenth for good measure. 68 Participant interviews Interviews were arranged with volunteers at their convenience and occurred chiefly in the counselling interview rooms of the department of Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. One interview occurred at a participant's home and two more occurred at the residence of the researcher. Each audiotaped interview lasted from one to two hours. Four respondents willingly returned for an entire second interview of similar duration. There were 22 interview sessions in all. Each respondent was asked to read and sign an approved consent form at the outset of the interview (see appendix B for samples). Participants were asked to respond to several standardized questions to elicit a detailed description of their experience of procrastination. Interview Questions Question 1. I had weighed the pros and cons of providing participants with my own definition or not. Would a positive definition bias their reports? After reflection and consultation, I decided on an alternate strategy. First, participants were asked how they knew they qualified for the study. The intent of this question is to elicit the participant's own frame of reference for procrastination, an informal, personal definition of the term, based on their own experience and judgment. This also addressed Flanagan's recommendation of establishing a frame of reference. 69 Question 2. This question provided the structure for the Critical Incident format. Participants were asked to describe three or more examples of their own procrastination, where that procrastination contained either positive or negative aspects, or both. This included asking them to describe what lead up to the experience, what happened during it, and what the outcomes, both positive and negative, were. Responses to this question comprised the bulk of interview content. As the interview proceeded, participants were encouraged to clarify and expand on their descriptions. I assumed that these descriptions would readily include references to negative aspects of their experience and might not readily refer to positive elements. In such cases, I was prepared to ask them to focus on describing the positive aspects of their experience of procrastination as the need arose. It was occasionally necessary to rephrase questions from a variety of perspectives in order to elicit full and candid descriptions from some individuals. A list of possible alternate questions appears in Appendix E. Question 3. In addition, participants were also asked what they would miss if they were no longer able to procrastinate. To provide a sense of balance, they were also asked what they would change about their procrastination. Since the answers to the latter question suggest negative rather than positive aspects of procrastination, they were not subjected to analysis for inherent themes. 70 Pilot study A pilot study was conducted to attempt to gauge the most effective combination and sequence of interview questions. A volunteer was interviewed as if they were an actual respondent, then asked to provide feedback about their reactions to the interview. They also offered their impressions of the content and sequencing of the questions. In addition to providing me with a general template of what to expect from interviews, the pilot study also helped to discern whether the questions I asked would produce sufficient content for analysis, whether these procedures would produce useful and manageable results, and whether there were any further kinks or oversights that might not yet have been apparent in the plan. Information obtained for analysis In all, 2,300 minutes of audiotape were recorded, and due to technical difficulties with portions of some tapes, approximately 2,200 minutes (almost 37 hours) proved intelligible enough to transcribe. The interviews were transcribed in their entirety to thereby comprise the raw data for analysis. The content of each transcript was analyzed to derive whatever themes it suggested. After all themes were extracted, they were categorized, grouped, and re-grouped, according to whatever similarities were found. It was difficult to speculate at the start about what some of those themes were to be, but it was anticipated that they would include at least a few that could be obviously classified as positive, functional, or beneficial to the participant. 71 The transcripts were divided into content relating to each example or "incident" of procrastination. This was largely a sequential task, because respondents told their stories largely from beginning to middle to end. Comments that seemed extraneous to the incident were cut, and any relevant comments that appeared later in the transcripts were pasted as required. Next, I removed my statements and my paraphrased responses from the examples. While I had made ever effort to make my responses additive, extending and paraphrasing the respondents' previous statements, I decided it would be better in the final analysis to use participants' comments by themselves, without my remarks interspersed. Each example was further reduced to its essential story components, comprising preferably one but no more than two printed pages. If it contained all three critical incident components of lead up, what happened, and outcomes, it was said to comprise an "incident," ready for further scrutiny. Another aspect of the methodology to consider is the richly detailed information it yields. Critical Incident as well as other qualitative methods generates an abundance of data. Without clear frames of reference to guide ones exploration of it all, one could easily become overwhelmed. Such an abundance of data can also be categorized in several ways. The veracity of this statement is supported by the different ways in which positive and negative perspectives on procrastination have interpreted similar information. Staying as true as possible to actual verbatim statements of participants has helped to minimize distortion of their content. 72 The self-reporting nature of the data collection has been questioned as a possible limitation to Critical Incident studies. While memory may fail to provide all relevant incidents, Flanagan asserts that recalled incidents provide "adequate data" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 340). Motivation of the participant, recency of the event to the present, and salience of the event itself are still other relevant factors. Initial validation procedures As a first validity check, an expert advisor reviewed the format and content of these distilled incidents. I then attempted to contact 60% of participants to request their verification. The extracted incidents were then returned to the 50% of respondents whom I was able to reach. Each was asked if the content they received from me accurately reflected their thoughts and feelings from the time of the interview. Did it reflect what they had intended to say? All replied that it did. I requested that they make any revisions, additions, or deletions they deemed appropriate. A few expressed interest in the opportunity to re-read their comments, and some of them even reported feeling embarrassment at their comments. One participant adjusted a few typographical errors that had no bearing on the thematization process that later occurred. The others all reported back to me that no revisions were required. The accomplishment of this step constituted an important check of the content validity of the incidents. It was assumed that incidents would contain both positive and negative aspects, so that they could not be categorized separately as positive incidents and negative incidents. This proved to be the case. Instead, as an initial frame of reference, aspects of each incident were classified into four sub-categories, both positive and negative aspects of process and of outcomes. As my familiarity with each incident grew, I examined both components for key words or phrases that suggested essential positive and negative elements. I compiled these in a grid format for each respondent. See appendix M for the results in raw format. After I had generated negative and positive content from the process and outcome components of each incident, I analyzed the positive content for themes. I began with positive outcomes, seeking themes that were apparent. I repeated this procedure several times, jotting notes and comments as I went, whatever came to mind, whatever the content suggested. It was intended to be a draft, suitable for major revision as required. I looked for patterns and similarities among all themes from all participants, and labeled and arranged the results to ultimately generate more general, higher-order themes. I needed to be careful about the interpretations I subsequently made in order to ascertain that they were warranted and that they reflected the internal coherence of the data. Qualitative methods are said to vary according to the need of the situation, and CIT is no exception, but this should not be mistaken as license to distort or carelessly interpret the data. Hopefully, the themes I have named are useful as they relate to the questions asked and in adding to a general understanding of the phenomenon. I repeated the entire procedure with the positive reports of process. Collectively, the results provided the draft of the themes reported in the next chapter. An initial reliability check produced an agreement rate of 71% for outcome themes, far higher than expected given so many instances of themes to identify. 74 After numerous discussions with my advisor and my reliability checker, as well as subsequent revisions, I submitted the eventual lists of themes to final reliability checks. All produced agreement in a very acceptable 83% range. Inter-rater Reliability Checks of the extracted themes Based on the respondent's descriptions of outcomes, I composed an initial draft of themes that seemed most evident. I derived representative, explanatory examples of each, and listed them in tentative, convenient order. An external checker with a Master's level background in counselling psychology and familiarity with phenomenological methodology agreed to examine the themes to generate an inter-rater reliability percentage. I provided her with a list of the eleven themes extracted from the outcomes of incidents. The list contained definitions, explanations, and examples of each theme. These materials are attached in Appendices F and G. She independently checked the outcomes to attempt to identify as many of the same themes as possible. This was a critical step in the study because a low rate of correspondence would suggest that the themes did not have immediate validity to the common observer. It was also necessary to verify that several themes could all be (reliably) identified within any one extracted incident with a high degree of reliability. Until the checkers work was done, it was not apparent whether as many as seven themes could be identified in one incident. Foremost, the fact that numerous themes were in fact identified reliably in the themes of positive outcomes suggests that the themes, as identified, represent reliable categorizations. No alternate themes were obviously identified nor extraneous themes found to be present. As mentioned earlier, the initial reliability check of outcome themes resulted in a tentative agreement rate of 71%. This outcome is respectable given the complexity of the data examined, but it is not considered sufficient according to existing reliability research standards. I met with the checker to discuss our differences, to better clarify definitions of what did and did not constitute a given theme, and she began the matching process again. This time, the results were a very respectable 83%, comfortably within projected ranges suggested by Andersson and Nilsson (1964). During our discussions, an unofficial check of the validity of the categories themselves was also occurring. We repeated the entire process for process themes, once again commencing with an agreement rate of 78%. Further consultation and discussion, and argument and persuasion led to a second sort and resulted in a final rate of 83%. Themes of what participants would miss (Question 3) were similarly sorted and listed. We consulted about category names for these themes, and our discussions resulted in the combination of some categories. Agreement rate here was 92%. The high agreement rates achieved are, in themselves, a satisfactory indication of reliability. The fact that the rates were calculated separately, based on the process, the outcomes, and what would be missed, rather than on all three aspects combined, instills further confidence in the reported results. 76 Exhaustiveness, Participation Rate. Theoretical Agreement As a further check of the reliability of the established categories, I held aside ten percent of incidents for later extraction and categorization of the themes they contained. They proved to fit readily into the existing categories. No new categories were required. Given the success of both of these checks, the extracted themes can claim an acceptable degree of exhaustiveness. The two remaining checks of validity of the results required that I take two more steps. In concurrence with the recommendations of Borgen & Amundson (1984), I set an arbitrary participation rate of 25% as a minimum requirement for a resulting theme to merit discussion. The results will be reported in the next chapter. The themes will be discussed in Chapter 5, where their validity will be further assessed by their connections and theoretical agreement with previous research literature. In the six ways just noted, I have attempted to ensure a highly acceptable check of the reliability and validity of the results using all of the commonly recommended procedures. By pursuing high inter-rater reliability, checking back with participant "co-researchers," obtaining expert opinion about the incidents I derived, testing my categories for exhaustiveness, establishing a reasonable participation rate and examining theoretical agreement, these validation procedures are successful and complete. One can thereby assume with a high degree of confidence that the themes reported in the next chapter portray an accurate description of the positive aspects the phenomenon. 77 Chapter Four - Results The results of data collection and analysis are reported in the following pages. They include examples of participants' verbatim answers to Question One followed by a detailed description of all subsequently generated themes. Following the chronology of procrastination, their order first reflects its process, then its outcomes, and ends with reports of what would be missed if participants could no longer procrastinate. All extracted themes are defined, exemplified, and their participant frequencies and rates tabulated. Question 1 After the preamble and collection of demographic information, participants were asked the first official question of the interview: "How did you know you qualified for the study?" Examination of their answers identified two recurring phrases. The first phrase that appeared in several variations was "I do it." One participant identified herself as someone who had "garnered the reputation of being the queen of procrastination," another said he saw himself as "a prime candidate" for a study of procrastination. Eight participants used the phase "putting things off' to describe what it was that they did to qualify. This phrase was followed by an assortment of comments such as: "...so that it makes me uncomfortable," "...with things sort of bunching up at the end,"".. .a technique of avoidance,"".. .that's one of my bad habits," ".. .that don't have an element of excitement or newness or interest," 78 "...because I can always find a million other things to do," and "...a theme of my life." Two others reported variations on "doing something when I should be doing something else." An alternate perspective on the same task read as "I know I have to do something, it has to be done, and yet I will not do it. I will wait, and I will wait until the last possible moment and then I will do it." The comments of two participants were distorted beyond comprehension by faulty audio recording equipment. In these initial phrases, hints of some of the eventual themes are evident. Clearly, participants saw themselves as qualified to speak as bona fide procrastinators, familiar with the behaviour and its many nuances and consequences. Notably, there is ample reference to negative aspects at this point and little reference to anything that could be described as remotely positive. Overall Results from Question 2 In all, one hundred one (101) incidents were identified. They are included in appendix M. An additional four examples did not contain the required elements to qualify as "incidents" and were discarded. Topics on which participants reported procrastinating covered a wide range of issues. Academic assignments, career and health decisions, appointments, and day to day chores such as dishwashing, sending greeting cards, and refueling the car were all reported. The process and outcome aspects of incidents were analyzed for thematic content. The "lead-up" to incidents was not analyzed for themes. Twenty positive themes were identified amid the process and outcome elements of those incidents. Nine 79 themes were extracted from descriptions of the process of procrastination, eleven from its outcomes, and seven more from "Question 3" reports of what participants would miss if they could no longer procrastinate. Incident frequencies Partly due to the richness of the description provided by participants, and partly due to the complex nature of the phenomenon of procrastination itself, a given incident was likely to contain more than one theme or could contain more than one instance of a theme. The fact that numerous themes were in fact identified reliably in all three aspects of procrastination also suggests the complexity of the process of procrastination. Many issues are being addressed; much is going on during the experience, as suggested by the presence of numerous themes in many incidents. Theme frequencies will be reported, but will not comprise the main focus of the analysis. Emphasis will instead be placed of participant frequency rates for a given theme. Of the 101 incidents examined, five contained only one identifiable theme in the outcome portion of the incident. Another 17 more contained two themes, while the balance had three, four, five, or six themes. One incident produced seven distinct themes. Moreover, there was no obvious pattern in distribution of themes, for example, where two themes occurred, there were a number of possible combinations, not always the same two. No pairs, triads, or runs were particularly evident. This suggests a variety and a complexity to the phenomenon and may partly explain why attempts to curtail it have so far proven 80 futile. How and where does one begin to begin to influence such a complex behaviour? It would be most difficult to address all issues at the same time. Participant frequency rates Participation rate reflects the percentage of the fifteen participants who reported incidents from which a given theme was extracted. The number is derived by multiplying the number of participants who reported a given theme by 100 and dividing the result by the total number of participants. Flanagan (1954) believed that a higher participation rate bolstered the validity of the category. This general guideline was further refined when Borgen and Amundson (1984) recommended that a rate of 25% would be sufficient to establish valid categories (Ross, 1997). I had asked participants to describe what led up to their procrastination, what its process was like, and what its outcomes were, as well as what they would miss if they were no longer able to procrastinate. I analyzed the positive aspects of their reports of the process, the outcomes, and what they would miss. A table of all extracted themes, the positive themes of procrastination, is presented below to provide a general overview of results (Table 4-1). Subsequent tables identify frequencies of incidents and participants, as well as the calculated participation rates. The frequencies and participation rates for the nine themes of process appear in table 4-2. Those for the 11 themes of outcomes are tabulated and presented in Table 4-3, and those for what participants would miss are listed in table 4-4. The themes reported in all tables are listed in the order of decreasing participation rate. Table 4-1 Organization of themes Positive tl" Process Themes 1. Reassurance of self 2. Choices about use of time 3. Taking action 4. Immediate gratification 5. Self care 6. Avoid unpleasant aspects 7. Shifting expectations 8. Learning 9. Enjoy increased pressure Themes of what they would miss 1. Choices about use of time 2. Control 3. Spontaneity & Unpredictability 4. Stimulation & excitement of procrastination Outcomes Themes 1. Satisfaction with results 2. Accomplishment of task 3. Leaving oneself an out 4. External validation 5. Learning 6. Avoid unpleasant aspects 7. Immediate gratification 8. Self validation & acceptance 9. Choices about use of time 10. Relief 11. Power & control 5. Relaxation 6. Satisfaction with results 7. Social Harmony 82 Themes derived from the Process Participants' comments about what happened that they perceived as positive during the process of procrastination produced nine themes. The comments appear in appendix H. The order of frequency of those themes appears in appendix K. In cases where participant rate was the same, the theme with the greater number of instances is listed first. The themes appear in order of participant frequency in the following table. Inter-rater agreement found 160 instances of agreement, out of a possible 194. This constituted a reliability rate of 83%. Table 4-2 Positive Process Themes (During Procrastination) Incident Frequencies. Participant Frequencies, and Participation Rates by Theme Theme Incident Frequency Participant Frequency Participant Rate 1. Reassurance of self 36 14 93% 2. Choices for Use of Time 33 13 87% 3. Taking action 17 12 80% 4. Immediate gratification 30 11 73% 5. Self care 15 11 73% 6. Avoid unpleasant aspects 19 10 67% 7. Shifting expectations 14 8 53% 8. Learning 10 8 53% 9. Enjoy increased pressure 9 8 53% 83 1) Reassurance: The most common theme to emerge from this part of the research was that of reassurance of self. Fourteen participants (93%) reassured themselves about aspects of the experience, including a) The eventual outcome of the task at hand, as in: "They will understand if you're stressed," "it'll get done," "I have a shot," it'll be great when it's out of my life," "I knew I would find something in the end," "I tell myself I don't have to get stressed over it, I can still make ends meet," b) The process they underwent or expected to undergo, "I do that type of thing on a regular basis," "it won't take long," "there's a reason I didn't go through with it fully," "it's just something that happens," "I make sure I get the most or what I wanted out of the experience before I do other things," "I knew I'd get to it eventually," "this is okay, just get into it," "telling myself it's not a bad thing to put it off for a while," "I deal with it better when relaxed," "maybe I shouldn't push so hard." c) Their reasons for doing or not doing the task in the first place: "I felt an obligation to him," "I really want to do this project," "I want to do this, I must be holding back," "you've come this far, you want to graduate," "it's almost professional development" d) General self approval: "This is cool, I'm my own person, this is my right," "it's my style," "you need this time," "I like to do the writing on the envelopes perfectly." 2) Choices for Use of Time: Thirteen participants (87%) in this study also reported an abundance of opportunities to choose how to use whatever time they 84 had available to them. Comments included " I'm very economical with time, compounding activities makes me more efficient," "what's the big deal of staying ten more minutes?" "What's another day?" "I want time for life," "I've got all week and next week, I know there's gonna be time," "we can bike faster," "I'll work harder tomorrow," "I'll do it tomorrow for sure," "maybe it's not quite time," "taking my time about it,"" realized I need to add extra time,"" maybe tomorrow," "later," "squishing work into the least amount of time possible," "let's see how furry the plates can get" "let's do it all in one shot," "somehow it will be done tomorrow," "there's always later," "next time won't take so long, I'm gonna be on time," "I'll pick up some seconds on the way," "it won't take long," "I'm not prepared to address it now" 3) Taking action: Twelve participants (80%) reported taking a number of actions related to the task while procrastinating, including "checking with friends" and "comparing progress with classmates," "I put the clock radio beneath the bed," "I'm eliminating things from my life that are distracting me from my main goal," "I saw an advisor and changed my major," "I stopped meeting my work quotas," "I ran through it twice, then defended," "I walk around, step away from work, do something easy to clear my head," "I feel a need to be vigilant, go, go, go," "I decided not to do it" 4) Immediate gratification: Eleven participants (73%) also reported many occasions of immediate gratification they received while procrastinating. These included "finding 'pearls' of expression in creative writing" to having "fun," "I got the 85 solitude I want," "there's something gratifying in it," "I felt excited and calm," "I get the most out of the experience," "it's nice to be home visiting," "Wow, this (tormented artist thing) is kinda fun, kinda neat!" "it makes me feel better," "I get into a nice warm car, all hunky-dory, no waiting for anyone else,"" I like feeling the excitement of working all night," "it's enjoyable, and I gain knowledge and learn stuff that's important to me," "I get extra sleep," "I love thinking about it all." 5) Self-care: Eleven participants (73%) maintained a degree of self-care as reflected in such statements as "finally, I have to look after myself," "I'll take no risks, it's self-preserving, you have to choose your fights carefully", and "it's important to take self-care before giving to others," "I'm not staying up all night," "I had enough and it's not worth my time," "I was protecting myself from the hurt of their previous rejection," "I delay to protect myself, and feel good about resisting" 6) Avoidance of unpleasant aspects: Ten participants (67%) reported avoiding the task itself, such as confronting elders: "it could get ugly if we got angry, so I avoided it," doing dishes: "my awareness of dishes getting moldy in the sink quickly fades away," or looking for work: "by not handing out resumes I don't have those negative feelings." Others report strategies for effectively avoiding anxiety: "I avoid anxiety by displacing it." Still others avoid only an aspect of the task: "I stay on the outside of the task, don't dive in," "I'm avoiding premature calls and hard feelings with my current employer." Some reported avoiding a perceived future consequence of taking action: "I almost don't want to get consumed by it yet," "I don't want to set up for failure." 86 7) Shifting and re-establishing expectations and standards: Eight participants (53%) described a number of strategies that amounted to temporarily "adjusting the bar," as it were, reconsidering and shifting their own standards of what they expected of themselves. They also reported having reconsidered their initial standards. "I minimized the importance of the task until it was almost secondary," "I wanted to do it in a way that reflected how well I thought I'd done the job," "if I don't get an interview I can blame it on my last minute cover letter," "I leave it for when I have no more time left, then I run out of time to compare it to my standards," "I started looking at percentages, how much is each assignment worth?" "It's a constant on and off, gradual, considering alternatives," "I decided that anything over a pass is a bonus," "How much effort am I willing to put in? Is it worth it?" "I decided to just do the job well enough," "once the deadline is passed, I have nothing official making me do it." 8) Enjoyment of increased pressure: This was reported by eight participants (53%), and evident in such statements as "it makes it a bit exciting, and I try to enjoy the tension,"" I work well under pressure, I'm more motivated and creative because of the sense of urgency, it's now or never, gets the juices flowing," and "there's an appealing aspect of working under pressure, like a tormented artist, everything flowing, late at night, alone with the keyboard and a glass of sherry. It's exciting, and it keeps my interest," "procrastination adds urgency, needfulness, energy, value, drive, and focus, so that I can think of the huge perspective and get it all in." 87 9) Learning: Eight participants (53%) reported gaining some insight or acquiring some knowledge during the experience: "it's familiar, I know myself in it, there's something gratifying in it," "I read for six hours about Russian art," "it's curiosity, I might miss something if I don't listen to the program," "it's serious, control is a big thing for me," "it's never been my way of doing things," "I'm noting ways to improve," "escape to things that interest and inspire me, wondering, comparing, rationalizing, it's enjoyable, I gain knowledge and learn stuff that's important to me. Themes derived from Outcomes Participants' comments about positive outcomes of the experience of procrastination also produced discrete themes. Their comments are appended in appendix I and the order of frequency of the extracted themes is tabulated in appendix L. Once again, in cases where participant rate was the same, the theme with the greater number of instances is listed first. The themes appear in order of participant rate of response in the following table. Inter-rater agreement found 47 instances of disagreement out of a possible 280, for a reliability rate of 83%. 88 Table 4-3 Positive Themes of Outcomes of Procrastination Incident Frequencies. Participant Frequencies, and Participation Rates by Theme Theme Incident Frequency Participant Frequency Participant Rate 1. Satisfaction with results 59 15 100% 2. Accomplishment of task 48 14 93% 3. Leaving oneself an out 22 12 80% 4. External validation 21 12 80% 5. Learning 20 11 73% 6. Avoid unpleasant aspects 19 11 73% 7. Immediate gratification 23 10 67% 8. Self validation & acceptance 20 10 67% 9. Choices for Use of Time 15 9 60% 10. Relief 14 9 60% 11. Power & control 13 8 53% 1) Satisfaction with the results of task accomplishment: This theme far and away reflects the highest participation rate among all categories and the most frequently reported comment about participants' perceived positive outcomes of procrastination. All fifteen participants (100%) made comments that suggest this theme, and along with the next theme, it was identified far more frequently than any other theme. It includes such comments as "I was satisfied with the results" to reports such as "I got an A+" and "It's really good, like I'm on a ego-high", "you can feel the extra marks coming, it feels really good, unusually good," "we did a good 89 job in the end", "it's perfect, looks good, I'm happy, it met my standards," and the vividly descriptive "the assignment is still warm from the printer, it looks so good, the results sitting there, all crisp, edges are straight, it's something to be proud of." 2) Accomplishment of the task: This was the second most frequently identified theme in participants' comments, referred to by fourteen participants (93%). In this research, it seems that the procrastinators are in fact task accomplishers. Participants reported completing tasks, whether household chores or term papers, as "done", "done well", "on time" as well as "a little late". They made comments such as "I did it," "a writing storm engages the pen," "I told him I didn't want the job," "I rode my bike through the snow to church," and "the dishes get done." 3) Leaving oneself an out: On many occasions, twelve out of fifteen participants (80%) reported circumstances where they could be seen to be leaving themselves an "out," having a safe excuse or face-saving strategy for their action or inaction. These included comments such as "I avoid it until there's little time left so that's all I can do," "I did my best in the time available," and "I always have an out in case it's not so good," "if I wait I might be noticed, and the insightful "I'm doing half a pretty good job." 4) External validation: Twelve participants (80%) described situations that constituted external validation of their behaviour. Chief among these were instructors' acceptance of late submissions, granting of extensions, and making positive comments about the content. "They loved it," "my employer was grateful", "the report got received okay", "I think the professor respected me, so he let me 90 go. I got no marks off," "my girlfriend referred to it as being on 'my' time," "most people don't get upset about a few minutes either way." 5) Learning: Increased self-knowledge as well as general learning are included in this theme. Eleven participants (73%) made statements such as "I'm pretty up to date on current affairs, and I know something about Russian art", "I need to say it's okay to take care of myself, and "I'm learning to procrastinate care of others and not procrastinate self-care, the quality of my life depends on it", that all reflect some type of learning. 6) Avoidance of unpleasant aspects: Eleven participants (73%) reported using procrastination to avoid such unpleasant aspects as "I avoided a failure experience", "I avoided burnout, wasn't working myself into a panic," and "it was better that I didn't snap at them, it avoided an uncomfortable, nasty situation". 7) Immediate gratification: Ten participants (67%) reported enjoying a variety of pleasures as outcomes of procrastination, including "I've borrowed a kind of cheerfulness from the activities I was doing," "it was one of the best shots I've ever taken, a pleasurable way to brighten up the day," and "I felt happy to be a part of the team", and " I get essential rest, it really makes a difference in tiredness in my day." 8) Self-validation & self-acceptance: Ten participants (67%) reported statements which fit this theme in the following ways: "I begin to feel decent, confident, proud of myself, it begins an extraverted phase," "there's an acceptance 91 about why I'm in this place," "I was very resourceful at age 11," "I'm like this and I think it's funny," "it was a good job I held off as I did." 9) Choices for Use of Time: Several participants (nine, 60%) noted that they viewed their use of time as a positive outcome of the experience, "plow through two weeks of work," "I churned it out in 8 hours," "I'm saving time, and gaining time to do other, more pleasurable things, not missing out on the completely, completely enjoyable things I wanted to do," "spend 13 hours in one day and do the whole thing in one big take," "I pulled it together quickly," "10 hours later and not tired, with something to be proud of, and, written all at once, it's more consistent," "I do it in one shot, compressed time and use the balance for leisure," "it's an efficient use of time, I can condense it, squishing work into the least amount of time." 10) Relief: Perhaps not surprisingly, nine participants (60%) reported feelings of relief when their procrastination ended, usually with their task accomplished. Such statements as "finding relief by binding my anxiety," "I can feel relaxed and get some breathing room," and "I felt grateful exams were done," "I'm glad it's over," indicate this relief. 11) Power & control: Eight participants (53%) commented that having power and control was a positive outcome of their procrastination. "She can never do that again, I won't let her take advantage of my good nature," "I don't really want to spend time alone with her," "by binding my anxiety, I get a sense of controlling it," "I'm going to do this when I'm ready," "I drag my feet on purpose, exerting negative 92 control, I call the shots and determine the situation," "I got some power back, and feel a certain weird safety in terms of control," "it turned out a heck of a lot better not letting the pressure get to me." Themes of what would be missed In response to the third question asked of them, the fifteen participants made thirty-eight statements about what they would miss if they could no longer procrastinate. These statements were sorted into seven themes. Comments appear in appendix J. Themes are listed in order of frequency in appendix M. In cases where participant rate was the same, the theme with the greater number of instances is listed first. The themes appear in order of participant frequency in the following table. With respect to these statements, inter-raters only disagreed about the thematic essence of three of the thirty-eight statements, so reliability is rated at 92%. 93 Table 4-4 Themes of What Participants Would Miss if they could not procrastinate Frequencies and Participation Rates bv Theme Incident Participant Participant Theme Frequency Frequency Rate 1. Choices for Use of Time 8 8 53% 2. Control 7 6 40% 3. Spontaneity & Unpredictability 7 6 40% 4. Stimulation / Excitement 5 5 33% 5. Relaxation 4 4 27& 6. Satisfaction with results 4 4 27% 7. Social harmony 2 2 13% 1) Choices for Use of Time: Eight participants (53%) reported that they would miss positive features of the experience that relate to the use of time and task management. These included "doing things simultaneously," "doing a lot of things at one go", "the extra time that I gain for something else I valued more, that are more pleasurable," to "the shortcuts you can take" and being "focused under pressure" as well as "not being totally busy." These statements indicate uses of time that can be characterized as ranging from efficient to extra to spare. 2) Control: Six participants (47%) reported that they would miss a variety of aspects related to the theme of control, ranging from "creative control over my environment" to "the ability to choose between doing different things" to "being as possessed as I can about what I choose and what I want to do." Another 94 participant referred to procrastination as a coping mechanism that is useful because "you sometimes feel like you're out of control." Still another noted that "it keeps having to get things done ahead of time from becoming too overwhelming, too overpowering." Whether control of time, or choice, or outcomes, control seems to be a recurrent theme in these statements. 3) Spontaneity & Unpredictability: Six participants' made references ( 4 7 % ) to two conceptually- related themes: spontaneity and unpredictability. Both invoke connotations of surprise, novelty, and psychological stimulation. Spontaneity was reported in such statements as "the spontaneity of putting things off when I wanted to, wisely, when I need to," "the allowance for straying," "to be really spontaneous and do other things, not robotic," and "the element of spontaneity, fun, passion, living on the edge, going with the flow." Unpredictability was directly noted in such statements as "the unpredictability of incidents, it's more fun than knowing what's going to happen," the concise "unpredictability," as well as more subtly in statements such as "the gamble, the sense of luck, something good that might happen today." 4) Stimulation / excitement: Five people ( 3 3 % ) made statements in the category that included references made to positive aspects of procrastination related to zest and vitality, such as "the un-flatness of existence, the thrill and excitement," "the stress of doing things at the last minute," "the excitement and fun that go with focus," and "love for life that let's me get out in the sunshine to feel life." 95 5) Relaxation: Four participants (27%) referred to the sense of relaxation that they would miss. "Their statements ranged from "being able to shift focus away from a task, putting yourself in neutral, idling for a while," "the chance not to be tense, not to be on the go all the time," to "downtime to relax," and an indirect reference to relaxation in "avoiding burnout." 6) Satisfaction with results: In addition to noting this theme as a significant positive outcome of procrastination, four participants (27%) also noted that this was an aspect of the experience that they would miss. The theme of satisfaction with results refers to the rewards and positive payoffs of procrastination, such as "meeting a lot of good people, the friendships that can result," to "the little rewards along the way, a little bit of light in my life," to "my best work," and "getting as much done as I do." 7) Social harmony: The last theme resulted from the comments of two participants. One noted that they would miss "being easier to live with," the other predicted that she would "become a social outcast, saying things that would upset others." Because this theme does not represent the comments of 25% of participants, it does not meet the minimum participant rate set as a validity check. It is reported here but will not be further discussed in the context of this study. Summary of results Twenty themes were identified in participants' descriptions of the process and outcomes of procrastination, and in what they would miss if they were no 96 longer able to procrastinate. Inter-rater reliability rates for all themes were all well within acceptable ranges, from 83% to as high as 92%. 97 Chapter Five - Discussion This chapter has the task of addressing all remaining issues. It begins with a review of limitations of this study and qualitative research in general. Next, it offers an in-depth discussion of the results reported in the preceding chapter, with specific attention to the theoretical oVs-agreement between the reported themes and previous research. Implications for practice are addressed next, followed by recommendations for further research and a statement about the overall value of the study. Finally, conclusions of the study and a summary are reported. Limitations This study has identified positive themes that are inherent in the experience of procrastination. It has attempted to analyze their significance and implications. It has done so in isolation, to the exclusion of the negative themes that are commonly known to be equally inherent. The limitation of attempting to analyze the themes in isolation amounts to a limitation of scope. It risks failing to address or account for the interaction and interplay of positive and negative themes and their multiple, perhaps variable significance to the procrastinator. To rectify this would indeed be a complicated task. It was never the intention of this study to examine negative themes, so it remains a task that is perhaps best left to subsequent studies of the phenomenon. It will suffice for purposes here that positive themes have been identified. Their significance and influence can continue to be examined. 98 The scope of this study has also permitted the positive aspect of procrastination to be examined in a way that was, until this study, virtually ignored in the research literature. The cumulative nature of research now has the opportunity to integrate this contribution to the knowledge base into general understanding. Design limitations generally appear in threats to the internal and external validity of the design. Considerable effort, reported earlier, has been made to recognize, address, and minimize potential threats to internal and external validity of the study. Participant reaction and independent and expert corroboration at various stages of the study have hopefully minimized existing threats. The range of participants also helped to minimize selection threats. There may, of course, be procrastinators who do not wish to be interviewed about their experiences, and it is equally possible that their stories, were they ever to come forward to tell them, would differ from those recounted here. History and maturational threats may nevertheless occur in the form of strong cultural influences regarding acceptable interpretations of the studied behaviour. The choice of CIT prevented possible concerns about attrition. Since this examination of the positive aspects of procrastination is, to the best of my knowledge, original, so are its interpretations. However, alternate explanations may exist, and when recognized, may ultimately lead to eventual understanding of the phenomenon. Attention to both helping and hindering aspects of a phenomenon in CIT also helps to address this threat. Methodological limitations are chiefly addressed by the CIT. Reliability and validity concerns have been addressed to as reasonable an extent as possible. 99 Furthermore, the limitations noted above should be "tempered with reasonableness" (Schumacher & McMillan, 1993, p. 572) and should not undermine the importance of the study. Generalizability of results is probably the most common aspiration of most research, and whether in quantitative or qualitative research, inappropriate or over-generalization are most frequently cautioned against. In that regard, this study is no exception. Qualitative results are never generalizable because they do not reflect data collected by random sampling of participants. Instead, they are recognized by design and purpose as descriptive of particular samples and situations and not intended to permit inferences about larger populations. They are intended to be "useful in making sense of similar persons or situations" (Alfonso, 1997, p. 158). One can maintain faith in the adequacy of the range of participants represented in the study and the subsequent breadth of description that may result, yet one may not extrapolate their experiences to a more general population. Because qualitative research is descriptive, it provides us with richly-detailed information about some of what we might expect to occur in other circumstances, but those expectations must fall far short of any kind of prediction. Discussion of resulting themes The results of this study provide numerous contradictions and alternate views to many of the correlations, opinions, and conclusions posited by previous researchers. However, their opposition to those same conclusions can also serve to validate the results. In this chapter, some themes will be discussed as they 100 relate or connect with existing literature. Others will be examined as they address a contrast with that literature. Still others will be notable in the silence in the literature about the issues they raise. Combination of themes for discussion purposes. Several themes share a connection to each other. For example, the theme of Satisfaction with Results shares a logical connection with the theme of Accomplishment of Task, a theme that often accompanied it in participants' descriptions of outcomes. One must first complete the task, then feel satisfied. As another example, Spontaneity & Unpredictability and Stimulation & Excitement comprise separate yet related themes. They also address the same literature. Therefore, in the discussion that follows, it will be convenient to consider some themes in combinations that are based on their connections to each other or to the literature they address. For these reasons, as well as for the sake of avoiding repetition of relevant literature, where this occurs, themes have been addressed in unison. The general order for consideration was determined by the relative participant frequency rates of themes, regardless of the aspect of procrastination from which the theme was extracted. Therefore, process themes, outcome themes, and themes of what would be missed will be considered in a variety of combinations to maintain the logical connections noted above. Satisfaction with Results & Accomplishment of Tasks. Participants' comments that related to themes of satisfaction with results and accomplishment of task were by far the most frequently reported. All 15 101 participants reported satisfaction with results, 13 reported accomplishment of task. The reinforcing effect of this combination is interesting, especially if we recall behaviour theory's assertion that "responses accompanied with satisfaction are more likely to recur" (Lieberman, 1990, p. 161). Not only did the participants in this study report accomplishment of their tasks (it is noteworthy that none included an example of an unaccomplished task), they also report satisfaction with the results of their accomplishment. These two themes clearly and strongly suggest that reinforcement is present in the experience. Recalling Ellis and Knaus' definition of procrastination as something that "adds little and subtracts a lot from joyous, autonomous living" (cited in Ferrari et al, 1995, p. 70), the reported frequencies of satisfaction with results and accomplishment of task suggest that the definition may be inaccurate. Indeed, joyousness can be considered an extreme form of satisfaction. High reported frequencies of Satisfaction with Results also contrast with two components of Milgram's (1991) definition of procrastination. They do not support his references to either "substandard behaviour" or "resulting emotional upset" (Ferrari et al, 1995, p. 11) that are purported to occur. Reported satisfaction with results also raises questions about Milgram's findings regarding supposed sex-differences on measures of life satisfaction, even though satisfaction with results and life satisfaction are clearly not identical concepts. There would seem to be an inherent discrepancy between this study's reports of frequent satisfaction with results and Milgram's report of reduced measures of life satisfaction and higher measures of dysphoric effect among 102 males (Milgram et al., 1998). How, if at all, can this study's reports of satisfaction with results be justified/reconciled with reports of perceived incompetence? (Milgram et al., 1998) The theme of Satisfaction with Results also suggests a possible explanation for the limited effectiveness of interventions to reduce procrastination. Ferrari et al., (1995, p. 213) note an intervention that includes lectures to procrastinators about "non-conscientiousness about consequences." During such interventions, are procrastinators expected to deny feeling satisfaction with results as a consequence of their procrastination and subsequent accomplishment of task? How might procrastinators who feel satisfaction with results react when lectured about their presumed non-conscientiousness? One has to wonder if they might notice an "empathy gap." Elsewhere, the same authors also report that the behaviour of adult procrastinators is said to be less dystonic, that is, more satisfying. The theme of satisfaction with results would seem to be congruent with this characterization (Ferrari etal., 1995, p. 217). Also recall that Flett and his associates posited an indirect link between procrastination and perfectionism by way of the contributing factor of fear of failure. First of all, does it not seem that satisfaction with results as an outcome might assuage any remaining fear of failure? Ferrari noted significant but low correlations between procrastination and perfectionism, yet concluded that "for the procrastinator, perfect behaviour seems to be motivated by anxiety over what others think about their performance" (Ferrari, 1992, p. 82). In contrast, the 103 incidents that characterized the theme of Satisfaction with Results in my study include very few references, in passing, to "what others think." Accomplishment of Task. In marching to a proverbial "different drummer," procrastinators are suspected to be gaining "enough in subjective consequences (relaxed pace, spontaneity, freedom from the yoke of conformity) to compensate for what one loses in objective consequences (being late or failing to perform certain life routines)" (Milgram, Sroloff, & Rosenbaum, 1988, p. 202). To what losses might the authors be referring? The high reports of Accomplishment of Task witnessed in this study question that type of assertion by suggesting alternate "objective consequences." A full 93% of participants referred directly to the accomplishment of their task, and 100% reported feeling satisfaction with results of an accomplishment, whether or not they referred to the accomplishment in their description of the experience. Some reported being late, mostly with permission or tacit approval, and usually with little or no penalty. Participants also reported that even the most odious tasks eventually got accomplished, from refueling the car to sending birthday greetings to one's mother-in-law. They also reported occasions when they themselves were alleviated of the task with no reported negative consequence or loss incurred. It has already been noted that participants in Solomon & Rothblum's (1984) studies were said to have reported "continued inability to meet deadlines" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 14). In contrast, 93% of participants in my study reported 48 instances of accomplishment of task. Of those instances, and without 104 prompting to choose such examples, three participants reported missing an original deadline and requiring an extension on seven occasions. This accounts for a mere 20% of participants and 15% of the incidents in this category. Two more incidents contain an implication that a deadline was missed, without actual mention of that in the incident. At most, 26% of participants reported or implied missed deadlines. This leaves another 41 incidents reported by at least 74% of participants indicating accomplishment of the task in a timely fashion (i.e., to deadline). To quote one participant, "99.0999% of the time I will succeed in accomplishing the task; it's very rarely that I cannot do it. It has backfired on me, but most of the time I can somehow manage to do it." Reassurance. Self-Care. Fear of achievement is one suggested explanation for procrastination (Ferrari et al., 1995, pp. 30-45). There seems to be a connection here with the theme of Reassurance that participants report giving themselves during their experience. Twelve participants reported making reassuring statements to themselves, offering themselves reassurance about reasons for proceeding and eventual outcomes. None mentioned fear of achievement. None mentioned failure. In fact, their success is also further bolstered by references to accomplishment of task made by thirteen participants, as noted above. Other aspects of these fears are said to include fear of failure, anxiety, and aversiveness to task. Anxiety is purported to be a primary component of procrastination according to researchers Solomon & Rothblum (1984), who found that procrastination was positively correlated with problematic levels of anxiety. In 105 my study, anxiety was also mentioned in incidents in a positive way. One participant noted that "binding" it to a distracting interim task could effectively reduce it. Ferrari et al., (1992) commented about procrastination as a possible form of perfectionism, noting that procrastinators reported more self-protection, self-presentation, and self-handicapping tendencies. When we ignore the implication that these behaviours comprise a negative perfectionism, it becomes clear that these three components bolster the validity of reported themes of Self-Care (15 incidents, 73% of participants) self-validation (20 incidents, 73% of participants) and leaving oneself an out (22 incidents, 80% of participants) in the current study. Is it not, however, judgmental to apply a "perfectionistic' label to these behaviours in the first place? It need not be perfection istic to be aware of potential perceptions of oneself by others, and therefore to consider one's self-presentation. It is arguably healthy to thereby engage in self-protective and appropriately self-handicapping behaviours. It need not be paranoid to "leave oneself and out." One could easily characterize the same behaviours as astute, self-preserving, appropriate, and clever. Of course, all of these interpretations depend on one's initial frame of reference. Flett and his colleagues (1995) found that procrastinators report significantly greater self-handicapping. Because this behaviour is linked with lower self-esteem and negative self-concept, this type of self-handicapping is presumably different from that reported by Lay (noted above). Careful examination of both sets of 106 research suggests that positive self-handicapping is possible yet not traditionally ascribed to procrastinators. Positive self-handicapping has been prevented from being applied to procrastinators by definition, because procrastination is defined as negative. Perhaps this situation provides an opportunity to view procrastination in a more favorable light. Procrastinators who engage in behaviour that is commonly referred to as self-handicapping may now be better understood as shifting and re-establishing their standards and priorities. With only a little shift in our own expectations, standards, and definitions, we may consider them to be involved in a complex interaction with their environments, exhibiting flexibility and adaptability in response to changing circumstances. Choices for Use of Time. This theme was present in the descriptions of process of 87% of participants, the descriptions of outcomes of 60%, and the descriptions of what they would miss about procrastination of 53% of participants. It refers to positive references to use of time, doing things "quickly," "squishing a task" into available time, and "efficient" use of time. The range would suggest that a considerable number of participants were aware of the role of time and the choices they made for it at various points throughout the experience. These numbers also cast doubt upon the efficacy of definitions in current research such as Schouwenberg's, which equates postponing with "dilatory" (i.e., time-wasting) behaviour and "needless delay" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 72; Lay, 1992). Such a definition is obviously pejorative. The frequencies of incidents in this study that report efficient and 107 effective use of time suggest that the definition is also insufficient. Clearly, participants have reported that they can appreciate their time use as productive and resourceful rather than dilatory and their delays as necessary. Lay found a defining characteristic of procrastination to be "the extension of temporal sequences between intentions and,their corresponding goal-directed behaviours" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 107). This is not necessarily a bad thing, as suggested in one participant's statement about her choices for use of time, "I even straightened the fabric out, thinking I was gonna do it, maybe tomorrow, later." Another said, "Let's see how furry the plates in the sink can get." "I'm squishing work into the least amount of time possible." "Let's do it all at once, in one shot." Contrast to this another participant's statement "I knew it would be an all-nighter, a lot of work and a lot of fun. I took a nap at about 11 p.m. to work longer, straight through." And "I resisted the temptation to work on the carving, I put it off, then a bit more, taking my time, telling myself it's not a bad thing to put it off for a while." Lay also found that procrastinators prefer "a dilatory strategy for avoiding aversive tasks" (1992, p. 205). Participants in my study instead reported an intentional use of time, including delay, to achieve anticipated ends as well as to gain access to more pleasurable activities in the near term. "I don't want to do it now, I'd rather not put in four hours, I'll do it later, leave it for when I have no more time left, I'd rather do something else I value more, things that are more pleasurable." McGown (1986) reported that procrastinators in his study reported spending less time studying. The results of my study suggest that this statement requires 108 clarification. Do procrastinators spend less time studying that they "should," or "think they should," or do they spend less time studying than non-procrastinators do because they study more quickly and more efficiently? Comments such as the following either directly refer or allude to efficiency in the use of study time: "It's an efficient use of time, I can condense it, squishing work into the least amount of time." "I plow through two weeks of work," "I churned it out in 8 hours," "I spend 13 hours in one day and do the whole thing in one big take," "I pulled it together quickly," "10 hours later and not tired, with something to be proud of, and, written all at once, it's more consistent." Another possibility regarding Choices for Use of Time merits consideration. Frequency rates for this theme decrease from process to outcomes to what would be missed. The reduction in rates may suggest that the value ascribed to those choices shifts over the duration of the experience. What might be occurring here? It seems as if participants are valuing choices about use of time while time permits those choices, i.e., during rather than after procrastination. Could this indicate that participants are minimizing a formerly valued aspect after the fact? Once no further time remains for choosing, it is as if they minimize their appraisal of their previous choices. Might it also indicate part of the process involved in eventual minimization of other positive aspects of the experience? These questions require alternate methods to explore fully, and they merit attention. 109 External Validation. As an argument for the utility of a "reinforcement paradigm for deciphering causality of procrastination," Ferrari et al. reported that procrastinators "could recall...significantly fewer incidences of being punished by external agencies for not being punctual" (Ferrari et al., 1995, pp. 26-27). Indeed, 80% of participants reported 21 instances of External Validation, which is a form of positive complement for the concept of "being punished." They reported situations in which friends accepted or even expected their tardy arrival, and instructors granted extensions "understanding "^ and awarded high grades to late papers. These responses constitute overt as well as tacit approval of the behaviour, approval that occurred (reinforcingly) for four-fifths of participants. The reinforcing potential of External Validation is also bolstered by the absence of punishment that one might otherwise expect. Arguably, if enough externally influential people in a procrastinator's life punished the procrastinator or refused to approve the behaviour, one would expect the frequency of the behaviour to decrease. Flett and his associates, commenting about performance evaluation, found that procrastinators did not report significantly more thoughts "as might be expected, involving performance evaluation concern" (Flett et al., p.145-146). My theme of external validation, instead, referred to frequent references that participants made to tacit approval in terms of permission to delay, granting of 110 extensions to due dates, and similar reinforcement of procrastination by peers and other people influential to procrastinators. Taking Action, Accomplishment, and Choices for Use of Time. Procrastinators (low conscientiousness) scores on the NEO-PI-R personality inventory and Eysenck's EPQ-R revised personality questionnaire are said to imply that procrastinators are lacking in planning skills for task completion (Johnson & Bloom, 1995). In the current study, the 17 instances of Taking Action related to the task reported by 12 participants (80%), plus 48 references to Accomplishment of the Task by 14 participants (93%), do not support that assertion. On the contrary, nine participants (60%) described 11 outcomes and 13 participants (87%) described 33 process situations where they were both aware of and appreciative of their strategies and Choices for the Use of Time. Time management and planning skills are often taught to procrastinators in intervention workshops precisely because they are seen as important elements of task completion. While time-management strategies for workshop leaders and procrastinators may differ, there is ample suggestion that the former are preaching to the converted when 87% of the people I interviewed expressed such appreciation of how they spent their time. Leaving Oneself an Out (Self-Handicapping). Procrastination is said to share common elements with the behaviour of self-handicapping, especially dilatory (or intentionally delayed) behaviour. Such behaviour is said to serve different functions for procrastinator and self-111 handicapper. Lay describes procrastinators as preferring a dilatory strategy "for avoiding aversive tasks," ostensibly at the expense of their self-worth, while self-handicappers are seen to prefer the same strategy for "protection of their self-worth" (Lay, 1992, p. 254). The same behaviour is labeled avoidance in procrastinators and protection in self-handicappers. Yet 14 procrastinators (93%) in my study reported 36 incidents of reassurance and 11 more (73%) reported 15 instances of behaviours that were characterized thematically as self-care. These numbers strongly suggest themes that are synonymous with protection of self-worth. Just over half the people interviewed, eight participants (53%) reported Shifting Expectations and Standards during procrastination. Another 12 (80%) reported incidents with outcomes that included ways of Leaving Oneself an Out. When combined, all these references suggest a strong element of self-preservation in procrastinators. Moreover, the numbers suggest that conscious, intentional perception and evaluation of possible consequences is happening while procrastination is occurring, and that appropriate responses and adjustments to those eventualities ensue. The negative perspective about procrastination in this example focuses on one's intentions in order to determine a positive or negative characterization. It would seem that one couldn't intentionally apply a dilatory strategy for positive reasons and still call oneself a procrastinator. One instead must be a self-handicapper. Likewise, one cannot delay with the wrong intentions, with negative or avoidant intentions, and still dare to call oneself a self-handicapper. It follows that other strategies could also be evaluated depending on the intentions of who 112 was performing them. Hedging a bet, leaving oneself an out, and shifting and re-establishing standards are reported in this study as positive themes. To Lay, because procrastinators do them, they would undoubtedly be seen as negative behaviours. In response, I suggest that self-handicapping, too, can have positive and negative aspects. Avoidance of Unpleasant Tasks. While ten procrastinators (67%) reported avoiding during the experience, and 11 (73%) reported avoiding as an outcome of procrastination were all situations of unpleasantness. As mentioned in the results section of this report, examples included avoiding the task itself: "taxes", an aspect of it: "I didn't have to do what I didn't feel comfortable doing," "I don't have to wait 20 minutes in a stupid theatre," or an outcome of it: "things I'm pressured by are displaced for that little while." "I avoided making any stupid mistakes and an uncomfortable, nasty situation," "I'm not having to face up to the stress of what's happening in our life, what the future holds, or face reality." Mazur's research (1990) anticipated the category of avoidance of unpleasant tasks. His theories of avoidance and escape conditioning offered explanations for strategies that postpone or terminate aversive stimuli. In themselves, they do not seem to hold pejorative connotations for procrastinators. Ferrari connected Mazur's theory with avoidance of responsibility, and the die was cast in condemnation of procrastination and all who do it. Ferrari suggested incomplete and aborted tasks as well as those avoided and never undertaken. The current study suggests that there are aspects of tasks that participants avidly 113 avoid, namely unpleasant aspects, even though they eventually get around to confronting those aspects. When they do so, they report doing so on their own terms and in their own time. Immediate Gratification. The theme of Immediate Gratification was used to identify aspects of procrastination that participants reported finding pleasurable, including simply having fun, and especially immediate, attention-grabbing situations, payoffs, or rewards. Eleven participants (73%) reported 30 instances during the process, 12 more (80%) reported 23 instances as outcomes. Immediate Gratification is the most obvious, but by no means the sole, reinforcer of procrastination. Based on behavioural theory, it is a common assumption that such gratification is reinforcing. In purest behavioural terms, the reinforcer is often likened to a reward. Ferrari et al. (1995) note an alternate kind of reward as a possible explanation for procrastination, in the sense that it leads predictably to a desired or anticipated result. They characterize is as neither a simple reward, nor a good or bad reward, but rather as a "specious" reward, that is, a superficially true yet fundamentally false one. Ainslie (1982) posited "the theory of specious reward," the human tendency to choose short-term reward over a long-term goal. (Cited in Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 32). Ferrari et al. describe the short-term reward as a characteristic "proclivity to choose a... lesser good" with lower "hedonic value" (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 32). Pure behaviourists would avoid such value-laden statements. Recalling Lieberman, "A reward is a reinforcing stimulus if it strengthens whatever response precedes it" (Lieberman, 1990, p. 114 161). Rewards are rewards if they increase response probability. They may be characterized as effective or not, but it is questionable in psychological research to apply the term "specious" to behavioural rewards. Moreover, several of the rewards that participants reported are quite plainly non-specious, or rather, salient. Such examples as "finding 'pearls' of expression in creative writing," "I get extra sleep," "Wow! This is kinda fun!" and "I love thinking about it" would hardly characterize specious rewards. Learning. Procrastinators have been said to be "more concerned with demonstrating their ability than with developing it" (Lay et al., 1992, p. 255). I my study, a sizeable portion of participants (53% in process, 73% in outcomes) reported 30 instances of Learning that were elements of their experience of procrastination. They described their appreciation for developing themselves, as characterized by the statement "I'm noting ways to improve." They reported increased knowledge "about Russian Art" and "current affairs," and increased self-knowledge, "I know myself in it." Contrary to the findings of Lay et al., another participant reported doing "things that interest and inspire me, wondering, comparing, rationalizing...! gain knowledge and learn stuff that's important to me." These results all suggest an emphasis on developing rather than demonstrating ability. Self-Validation and Self-Acceptance. These themes suggest that procrastinators are indeed concerned with maintaining self-esteem, as Schouwenberg suggested. From his negative 115 perspective, he seems to define most procrastination as "irrational behaviour." He decries positive self-attributions as "interpretations that restore consistency among behaviours and thoughts,... excuses that maintain an illusory positive self-image that may be adaptive for mental health and perceived well-being...(but which) divert attention from what seems really to be important" (Schouwenberg, 1992, p. 234). It must be noted that the themes of self-validation, self-acceptance, and self-care reported in this study did not contain reference to maintenance of face, performance, or public perceptions. It is true that they are subjective self-reports, not objective professional evaluations. However, based on the evidence available, it would require a value judgment to interpret them as illusory. Flett et al. connect depression with procrastination. They found that procrastinators reported "more negative thoughts about themselves, endorsing dysfunctional beliefs...focusing on the need for approval from others" (Flett et al., 1995, pp. 145-146). In contrast to this, ten participants (67%) reported 20 incidents of Self-Validation and Self-Approval in their descriptions of procrastination. When combined with 36 instances of reassurance reported by 14 participants (93%) during the process, an impression of sufficient self-approval develops. No need for approval from others was evident in the themes gathered. Relief. The theme of experience of Relief was reported by 60% of participants. Ferrari et al., (1995, pp. 28-29) note the influence that of the removal of aversive stimuli can exert, which is referred to as negative reinforcement. The concept of relief suggests that some kind of aversive stimulus must have been present in the 116 experience prior to the feeling of relief, in order for it to occur. Moreover, it indicates that the aversive stimulus does get removed. In such a situation, relief itself can be noted as a positive experience that provides further positive reinforcement, over and above the negative reinforcement. The results would seem to be a doubly reinforcing effect, in removal of negative and introduction of positive stimuli. Enjoyment of Increased Pressure. Ferrari asserts that procrastination often serves as a motivating strategy for "persons in need of intense levels of stimulation in order to be adequately motivated" (Ferrari et al., p.11). In contrast, the moderate frequency (53%) of the theme of enjoying increased pressure would suggest that nearly half of participants report no such enjoyment. On the other hand, Ferrari's insights about the role of motivation and stimulation in procrastination are supported by the reports of 73% of participants about positive aspects of immediate gratification they enjoyed during procrastination and by the 67% who reported it as an outcome. The role of such stimulation is further indicated by the 47% of participants who said they would miss the elements of spontaneity and unpredictability and the 33% who would miss stimulation and excitement if they could no longer procrastinate. These authors also reported that procrastinators "could recall significantly more incidences of successful performance at last-minute deadlines" (Ferrari et al., 1995, pp. 26-27). This scenario suggests an enjoyment of increased pressure and is supported by the 93% of my participants who commented about 117 accomplishment of task and by all 100% of them who reported a fair degree of satisfaction with those results. Shifting and Re-Establishing Expectations and Standards. This theme offers a contrasting and alternative explanation to the concept of two types of perfectionism. Procrastination is said to bear a significant, negative correlation with the positive version of perfectionism characterized by "active striving to meet goals, conscientiousness, ambition, and internal locus of control." It is also said to be correlated positively with a negative perfectionism characterized by "a sense of helplessness about the inability to establish personal control over evaluative standards and a sense of hopelessness about the inevitability of failure in the future" (Flett etal., 1995, p. 118-119). My study identified 14 statements reflecting shifting and re-establishing standards and expectations made by 53% of participants. I try to convince myself it's no big deal -1 wanted to do it in a way that reflected how well I thought I'd done the job - At the last minute I make up a (lesson) combination that is up to my standards, the standard is good because it keeps me challenged to produce extra - By then I'm looking at percentages, how much is each assignment worth? How important is the class? So I do assignments for the more important ones first - Anything over a pass is a bonus - Once the deadline is passed I have nothing making me do it, I'm off the hook but not completely. Then I think 'you've come this far, you want to graduate, you have to do it.' 118 Statements such as these seem to more closely match the description of positive perfectionism. The personal control and efficacy inherent in these statements seems self-evident. Power & Control. Aitken (1982) and Ferrari, Parker & Ware (1992) reported no significant relationships between procrastination and locus of control (academic or otherwise) but continued to posit an intuitive connection. Their intuitions would seem to be supported by 13 reports from eight participants (53%) that were characterized as thematic of power & control, and six (40%) who identified control as something they would miss if no longer able to procrastinate. Is this reported perception of power and control genuine or illusory? Recall the claim that procrastination "reinforces the self-gratifying illusion that they are in command of something in their lives, no matter how trivial or minor" (Milgram et al., 1998, p. 208). Consider the following collection of one respondent's comments: I drag my feet on purpose. It gives me a covert negative way of exerting control over others. There's a certain weird safety in terms of control, having control is feeling safe and comfortable, I know what's happening with me. I am prepared to honor my different rhythm, I get to call the shots and determine the situation. I waltz in and it's show time! I get my way, it works...it's predictable. Covert and negative such actions may well be, but as described by this respondent, they suggest no indication of self-gratifying illusion. The consequences are very real, and very immediate. In fact, the people waiting for the 119 foot-dragger quoted above reportedly do little complaining, and in so doing they externally validate the described behaviours. "I feel bad, say that I'm sorry, everyone tolerates it and it's over, life goes on." To identify even further reinforcement, consider a subsequent statement: "plus, I don't have to wait twenty minutes in a stupid theatre, and I maintain control." Spontaneity & Unpredictability. Stimulation & Excitement. These themes refer to different yet related concepts, different qualities of procrastination. They share an intuitive conceptual link, insofar as they all refer to an absence of external influence, an unfetteredness, and all contain a degree of surprise and novelty. They also suggest an elevated degree of sensory arousal. They contrast sharply with the theme of Power & Control. The novelty of unplanned events and surprises reported in this study are gratifying and pleasurable and thus reinforcing. Aitken (1982) reported finding a correlation between self-reported procrastination and impulsivity, and used this to support Ellis & Knaus' (1997) claim that procrastination is related to an inability to delay gratification. She also reported a high correlation between achievement motivation and lack of impulsivity (cited in Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 42-43). Rather than reporting impulsivity, 47% of participants in the current study reported a preference for being "really spontaneous...not robotic" and "living on the edge, going with the flow." One reported that unpredictability was "more fun than knowing what's going to happen." These constitute statements that previous literature would characterize as impulsivity. It would be useful to determine whether participants would score equally poorly on traditional "achievement motivation." Ferrari et al., (1995) noted that some subjects reported a "high" or a "rush" following last minute task completion (p. 225). The authors considered those reports in relation to possible addiction and substance abuse tendencies. The concepts of feeling a "rush" or a "high" relate to the stimulation reported by 33% of participants in my study. However, in the current study, participants reported no addictions or substance abuse concerns, nor did they use the language of addiction to describe their experience. Instead they used terms such as "fun," "thrill," and "excitement," all terms that suggest ample reinforcement. Relaxation. Consistent with the negative perspective on procrastination, the concept of relaxation as a positive aspect of procrastination has not been examined in previous literature. Four participants (27%) reported that they would miss the "downtime" that procrastination provides them. The closest concept I was able to locate was a reference to "stress-induced analgesia, and increased norepinephrine turnover with some release of endogenous opiates" as possible explanations of procrastination (Ferrari et al., 1995, p. 225). Pharmacology and brain chemistry aside, it is nevertheless a stretch of terminology to compare relaxation and analgesia. Perhaps reduced stress, relaxation, and an inability to feel pain are all physiological states along the same continuum. Such a possible connection between the terms would seem to merit further examination after considering one participant's comment that they would miss "the chance not to be tense, not to be 121 on the go all the time." In such a case, relaxation would definitely constitute positive reinforcement. Discussion of results for Question 3 I specifically asked participants to report what they would miss if they were no longer able to procrastinate. Burka & Yuen ask a variation of that question: "Consider this: If you stopped procrastinating, what new problems or situations would you have to face that you don't have to contend with now?" (Burka & Yuen, 1983, p. 107). The format of their question ("new problems... to contend with" [italics added] p. 107) is yet another example of negative focus found in most studies related to procrastination. As a point of interest, contrast, and further validation of the themes identified in my fourth question, I have included a comparison chart of their themes and mine: 122 Table 5-1 Comparison Of Question 3 themes with Burka & Yuen's themes My Q3 themes: What would you miss if you could no longer procrastinate? Choices for Use of Time Control Control Unpredictability Spontaneity Relaxation Stimulation/excitement Satisfaction with results Social harmony Social harmony Similar to process theme: Shifting expectations Similar to outcome theme: leaving oneself an out Similar to outcome theme: self-validation And Similar to process theme: reassurance Burka & Yuen's themes: If you stopped procrastinating, what new problems or situations would you have to face that you don't have to contend with now? No equivalent There's always more work to do I'd lose control over my life No equivalent No equivalent No equivalent Life would seem boring It's lonely at the top My relationships with people would change I wouldn't be a nice person anymore My illusions would be shattered I'd be completely responsible for myself Maybe I don't deserve this This comparison raises some interesting possibilities. I wonder if the differences in the results are demonstrably different because of the positive or negative skew of the question. What other explanations might there be for the similarities, and especially for the differences? My study suggested that choices for use of time would be missed by more than half the participants, Burka & Yuen make no mention of time. If the numbers are combined, nine people referred to the 123 intuitively connected concepts of stimulation, unpredictability, and spontaneity as factors they would miss. No similar concepts appear in Burka & Yuen's list. There is some agreement about the concept of control, reported by 47% of participants and reflected in two of Burka & Yuen's themes. A comment descriptive of one of their themes states that their respondents would become "cold and unfeeling toward others" (Burka & Yuen, 1983, p. 107). This resembles comments made in the theme that I called "social harmony." By virtue of its low (13%) participant rate, my theme has not been address in this study. It is nevertheless interesting to note that the only other theme in my study with any similarity to Burka & Yuen's gathered such a low participation pate. Burka & Yuen also report three other themes that are not reflected in my study, themes referring to shattered illusions, deserving-ness, and the yoke of responsibility. Perhaps these negatively skewed answers are the result of the format of their question. Implications For Counselling Practice Counsellors themselves might benefit from the results of this study. The identification of positive aspects of procrastination stands in opposition to prevailing attitudes and ways of looking at "the presenting issue." For some helping professionals, this may present an opportunity to shift their own attitudes about procrastination and their expectations for procrastinating clients. Awareness of positive aspects may shift helpers away from unintentional "collusion with the negative" (S. Bartek, personal communication, April 4,1999). 124 Additionally, counsellors may find it useful to bring the results of this study to the attention of their procrastinating clients for their consideration. The concept of credibility for the positive aspects of procrastination is a novell one. Clients could be asked to examine and weigh the often-reported cons of procrastination against the pros as they are described here. They could be asked to generate positive aspects of their own procrastination. As Ellis (1998) recommended in "Becoming a Master Student," the possibility exists for clients to judiciously evaluate the ramifications of their behaviour and gain motivations to choose appropriate strategies for task accomplishment. At very least, the themes identified in this study suggest that the scenario is not all bleak and negative. On the contrary, they suggest that there are, frequently, good reasons for procrastinating, as well as positive aspects during the process and as its outcomes. This study can thereby offer clients a view that procrastination is not all bad, that their behaviour is not all reprehensible, their efforts not all in vain. This may amount to a shift in perspective. From a solution-focus, such a shift in perception, meaning, or significance may also be sufficient to instigate a self-induced procedure of therapeutic self-care that will assist clients with accomplishing tasks, achieving goals, and enjoying the journey that gets them there. The abundance of positive elements that seem to be inherent in the experience of procrastination may also beg the question "why (would we want to) stop a good thing?" Well-placed efforts may attempt to reduce our perceptions of a 125 need to stop procrastinating, at least until truer, more generous tallies of pros and cons can occur. The uninspiring task lacks the reinforcing elements of spontaneity, unpredictability, immediate gratification, plus satisfaction and relief. If we remove the positive, reinforcing elements of the experience while we reduce procrastination overall, what do we replace them with? Perhaps we need creative suggestions for this puzzle. Clients are more likely to present negative aspects in counselling. Counsellors who draw a client's attention to positive aspects may be said to be challenging "blind spots" (Egan, 1990, p. 34). In a text used to train counsellors, Egan refers to procrastination as a category of "excuses that need to be challenged," in order to prevent the frequent scenario in which "procrastination has led to some crisis" (Egan, p. 202). Egan identifies procrastination occurring "in the helping process itself wherein clients "explore problems endlessly and put off setting goals, developing strategies, and acting" (Egan, p. 202). To exacerbate the matter, "comfortable but outmoded frames of reference keep them locked into self-defeating patterns of thinking and behaving" (Egan, p. 34). He believes that "the client's implicit interpretation of the world is in some ways distorted and unproductive...blind spots and distortions are so common in human experience" (Egan, p. 186). I would add that, in the light of original definitions of the term and positive themes reported in this study, recent interpretations of procrastination, as well, are "in some ways distorted and unproductive" (Egan, p. 186). 126 Egan has identified challenge as a critical step in the helping process, especially in terms of "promoting attitude change and cognitive restructuring" (Egan, 1990, p. 186). He believes that "one of the most important things counsellors can do is help clients identify blind spots...unfetter their imaginations in the service of problem management and opportunity development...and develop new, more useful perspectives on both problem situations and unused opportunities." (Egan, p. 34) One hope for the implications of this study is that it will provide impetus to people who procrastinate for "getting rid of distortions," and, as Egan recommends, "replace blind spots with new perspectives" (Egan, p. 186). Each theme has potential implications for counselling. Each also offers a potential balance to negative attributions that clients may inevitably make about their procrastination. An increase in clients' awareness of these aspects may provide some balance to the tyranny of negativity that governs the general perception of procrastination today. Consider, for example, the theme of Power & Control. Counsellors might ask their clients to consider alternate ways to exert their power and control in the experience of procrastination. Arguably, the mere act of suggesting to clients that their behaviour has positive elements may help to empower them. They may take the information as a kind of permission to change their behaviour or not, by their choice. Positive aspects of procrastination suggest a wider view of the phenomenon than is usually reported. If clients are given the opportunity to reframe their perspective, they may be able to gain distance, to disconnect from 127 the negativity that has commonly been associated with procrastination. From a distance, they may find relief and respite or attitude shift. They may find freedom to control their choices, or power to act on their own behalf. Likewise, with reference to Immediate Gratification, clients might be asked to reconsider the importance of the gratification they receive at various points in the procrastination process. Some may decide that it is not worth the consequences that ensue. Others may be able to give themselves permission to more fully appreciate rewards that accompany procrastination. Clients might also be asked to examine apparent contradictions that arise in their procrastination. Some participants in this study reported "doing their best work" in situations of increased pressure and imminent deadline. Some valued the relaxation that procrastination evidently provided them. Some participants reported shifting and re-establishing their expectations and standards for tasks, more reported leaving themselves "an out," and nearly all reported actually accomplishing tasks. Throughout the experience of procrastination, participants reported making choices for their use of the available time. Insights about any or all of these aspects of procrastination may prove helpful to procrastinators who are frequently plagued with negative attributions about the behaviour. Here, too, a trade-off might need to be considered between complicating an already complex behaviour and examining the whole picture. As a result of this study, procrastination now can be better described as a highly complex phenomenon. Its aspects affect people in their entirety, in cognition, emotion, and behaviour. Further, careful study may help to better 128 determine its effects, for it appears that positive and negative aspects are combined and intertwined in the experience. As reported interventions have demonstrated, a strategy that intends to reduce or remove negative aspects of behaviour yet fails to address the effects of positive reinforcing behaviours is doomed to very limited, if any, success. Recommendations for further study The next task in this line of inquiry would be to replicate the study to determine whether the same themes continued to be evident in participants' descriptions of their experience of procrastination. A further step would involve expanding the study to examine whatever negative themes exist, and compare their connections with the current literature. The challenge of subsequent studies would be to attempt to compare positive themes to negative themes and to the types of events in which they both occur. A further challenge would be to integrate those results into a coherent mass of information that could be applied to useful ends. These comparisons could potentially develop useful interventions (that might be) based on one's yet to be determined "procrastination style." Quantitative methods might be able to explore relative influences of positive and negative aspects of the experience, and also address their effects and influences over time. (It was noted in interviews for this study that participants often ended their descriptions with negative comments about what they could, should, or would have done given alternate circumstances or a chance to change their behaviour.) 129 Further research could examine the effectiveness of the suggested themes to determine whether the map of categories they provide should be "refined, extended, or modified in a meaningful way" (Alfonso, 1997, p. 164). The general lore of other cultures often refers to their perceptions of time. The nuance of what was once referred to as "Indian time" reflects some attitudes and beliefs of First Nations people. Reflecting a stereotype of Latin-American culture, a song in my childhood contained the lyric "Manana! Manana! Mariana is good enough for me." Cultural differences in procrastination could also be examined to foster better intercultural understanding. There is a possibility that frequent reports of accomplishment of task in the current study may be an artifact of sampling procedures. If, in fact, only "task accomplishers" volunteered for this study, there may be other stories and descriptions of to examine. What themes might be extracted from the descriptions of other participants for whom accomplishment of task was not achieved, for whom the task remained incomplete? Behavioural psychology has developed extensive theories and concepts to explain aspects of human behaviour. Analysis of the current data by experts in that area, plus further research using common behavioural methods would seem to be another logical as well as promising direction to pursue. Finally, the several challenges persist. Research has yet to find effective ways to minimize and alleviate the negative impacts of procrastination, to develop strategies to recognize and integrate positive elements of the experience, and to 130 shift our connotations of the experience (back to) toward their original positive sources. Credibility and value of results Flanagan recommends that researchers make a special point of reporting on the degree of credibility of the results as well as on the value of the final results obtained (Flanagan, 1995, p. 355, 345). I shall therefore endeavor to do so. The combination of efforts to establish and maintain reliability and validity, as described at various points throughout this report, indicate that the study has upheld high reliability and validity standards and can therefore claim an acceptable degree of credibility. CIT, self-reports, inter-rater reliability and tests for exhaustiveness all suggest that the themes reported entail an extensive description of positive aspects of procrastination. The value of these results is an entirely different question. Proponents of the negative aspects of procrastination might ask "What, if any, good is there to be had in encouraging this behaviour?" That would entirely miss the point of this study. I have never proposed that procrastination ought to continue for its own sake. I have, however, proposed that procrastination be better understood in terms of all the components that comprise it. I have further proposed that increased understanding of the reinforcing elements of procrastination can offer the procrastinator more accurate information about the why's and the wherefore's of their behaviour. This information may prove to be a key element in subsequent attempts to manage the behaviour more effectively, less deleteriously, and with less negative emotional impact and greater satisfaction. Therefore, I firmly believe 131 that the results of this study hold great/significant/considerable value inasmuch as they offer the procrastinator opportunities to reduce discomfort. That is clearly a good thing. Conclusions and summary The results of this study have merit at two distinct levels, the research perspective and research results. Qualitative research is often criticized as subjective, less objective, or less factual than quantitative research. It is indeed ironic that the qualitative methods applied in this study have consistently identified a definite bias in an abundance of prior quantitative research on this topic. The results identify aspects of a behaviour that have remained unexamined until now. In response, they offer a measure of balance for the negative. In this way, the themes that this study has described constitute an initial step in a new direction. To the best of my knowledge, the phenomenon of procrastination has not previously been examined from a positive perspective. From concept to inception, from initial consultations and discussions about methodological options through to the varied and eloquent statements of the participants interviewed, this study marks a start in a promising direction. Promising, because it has introduced a positive perspective onto a formerly negative topic. Important, too, for surely researchers and counsellors alike can collectively do a better job than that done so far in curtailing the impact of negative aspects of procrastination in clients. This study has asked and answered a few good questions. Its major strength is derived from the positive perspective that fosters those questions. 132 Further research that begins with the same positive perspective is bound to develop more good questions and may offer other answers that are both useful and practical. As it has been described in the preceding pages, procrastination is a complex phenomenon, rarely just about one factor or facet, which may explain why the bulk of quantitative study of the subject has been so ineffective. Quantitative studies have endeavored to study its factors in isolation, when in reality the factors may interact and occur in tandem, in combination, in complexity. Description of the positive elements of the experience serves to expand the frame of reference of our understanding of procrastination. It adds considerably to the complexity of the factors involved in procrastination, and therefore provides a fuller, more accurate conceptual map of the phenomenon. It also provides multiple avenues for further research and potential interventions. Hopefully some of those avenues will lead to appropriate planning and strategizing of techniques that better integrate the behaviour and decrease its negative impacts in everyday life. In all, this study has brought forth ample data to identify and describe the existence of an aspect of procrastination that is at very least "not dysfunctional." The findings of this study suggest several themes that describe positive aspects of the experience of procrastination. Ultimately, though frequently overpowered by negative comments, positive elements were evident in every one of the 101 incidents studied here. Using Flanagan's (1954) Critical Incident Technique, a total of 20 positive themes were identified. These themes correspond to the aspects of the process, the outcomes, and what would be missed about procrastination. 133 In a type of reverse strategy validity, the validity of the described themes has been supported by their contradiction and refutation of the existing literature on the subject. Theoretical d/s-agreement was therefore demonstrated for all twenty categories with existing literature on procrastination. Adherence to five additional validity-check procedures has indicated that the results of this study merit confidence. While the results of this study do not demonstrate causes or suggest obvious solutions to the dilemma, they do indicate multiple sources of reinforcement of the behaviour. The frequencies with which they have been reported do not directly indicate the amount of reinforcement that they constitute. They do suggest that reinforcement exists in sufficient portions to play a role in maintaining the behaviour, one that persists despite negative consequences (not examined here). A quantitative indication of the effect of positive aspects of procrastination is an aspect of the experience that has yet to be measured. So, too, does an indication of the relative effect of positive and negative aspects in the whole scenario of the experience. It is evident in the descriptions of their experience that participants are making decisions, taking action, and making choices about delay in their task accomplishment. An enhanced awareness of the positive implications, consequences, and rewards of that behaviour is bound to increase the likelihood that, true to its original definitions, aspects of their procrastination can have the potential to, once again, become "wisely chosen delay." 134 References Alfonso, V. (1997). Overcoming depression in HIV+ patients. 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K. (1986). The critical incident technique: An innovative qualitative method of research. Canadian Journal of Counselling. 20. 242 - 254. Appendix C - Demographic Questions Demographic Information Name Sex Age Marital status Number of children Program of study Major Year Degrees held GPA Working Occupation How long Cultural background Appendix D - Participant Demographics 144 I.D. cc EE GG~ UU FF KK AA LL Sex M M M M 26 24 25 33 26 21 33 19 Current Program Unci. B A M.A. M.A. B.Comm :: M.A. ,• B.Sc. YEAR Major English Antho / Poli Sci. CNPS Lang.Ed. .Marketing CNPS • "Dietetics Degree Held GPA B.A.: English Lit A-B.A.: psychology B.A.: Phys.Ed. Dip: Coaching Level 4 BA-Anthro Dip: TESL B+ A+ B.A . psycholog Dip Mktg Mgm Occup-ation Student Student Coach Teacher Student Student ' Student Working Cashier Res. Advisor Researchr Coach, Entre-preneur Subst.Tchr TA Laborer Career Counsellor YRS 6 8 5 STAT M DEP's 0 0 0 0 0 Cultural Back-ground Canadian, half British, part Metis/ French-Canadian/ Latvian, Adopted Canadian, mixed descent, urban, advantage d Caucasian mainstream Canadian, Celtic, Irish, Scottish, British, & German descent Latvian Canadian, Jewish Ukrainian, strong family backgroun d/life, close White, Western European ancestors Canadian, Chinese-Born, Christian Appendix D - Participant Demographics 145 I D BB NN PP RR SS ZZ sex M M M F I Age 21 26 , :\\?< -49 28 19 29 40 Current Program Tchr Ed. B.Eng. B.A. MA B.Eng. B.Ed. M.A. YEAR Major B.A • psychology Chem. Eng ' "usic CNPS Metals/Mate rials H S French Engl. Ed. TESL. Degree Held B.A.: psychology BA Honors: French/ Spanish B.A.Honors: Linguistics GPA B+: A Occup-ation Student- Student Student Student | Student Student . Student Working Asst. Dir., PeerCnslg Svce, R.A. Marketing Youth Worker Tutor, odd • jobber Nanny Rx. Asst. TestWritcr YRS 2 8 1 STAT S M M s DEP's 0 Cultural Back-ground Indo-Canadian Chinese, Cantonese, Vietnam-born Canadian. 100% Dutch Ethnicity English, naturalized Canadian, The Arts, aesthetics, UC values, British standards Canadian, British descent South African upper middle class, socially conserv. Politically liberal, education expected & important Canadian .^ English, of Canadian English descent Appendix D - Participant Demographics 8 females, 7 males, totaled 15 participants Haled from 4 continents. Age range: 19-49 years. Average age: 27.8 Ages: 2<20; 3<25; 6<30; 2<35; K45; K50. Degrees held:11- BA's, 4-Diplomas; Current Programs: 5 in M.A.; 2 in Arts; 2 in Engineering; 1 in Science; 1 in Commerce; 1 in Education; 1 in Teacher Ed.; 1 Unclassified; 1 UBC Employee. Employment: 15 were working. Marital status: 4 had partners, 1 had a dependant child. Average GPA = B+ 147 Appendix E In case participants needed to be encouraged to provide richer descriptions of their experience, I had prepared a list of alternate questions from my analysis of interviews conducted in pilot studies. There were few opportunities to resort to using them. In interviews, the questions chosen to pose to participants can be phrased in a number of ways, including: "What is your experience of procrastination?" "What are some of the (positive and negative) outcomes or consequences of procrastination as you perceive them?" "How did procrastination help and/or hinder you during the experience?" "What are some of the salient outcomes of that experience for you?" As the question evolved to its final form, I kept returning to the simple format: "What keeps you at it?" Here are several variations of questions I considered and occasionally used in the interviews. Each question has a slightly different emphasis: In your experience of procrastination, what positive and negative examples can you describe? What positive and negative events can you describe? What has procrastination done for you? What has it done to you? What sense do you make of your experience of procrastination? Please describe your experience of the functions that procrastination serves for you. What are the functions of procrastination for you? What are its outcomes for you? What is your experience of the functions of procrastination? What is it like for you to experience procrastination? Please describe what the experience is like, in terms of both its processes and its outcomes. 148 Appendix F Positive themes of what happened: Respondents frequently reported their awareness of the ( 1 ) avoidance of some unpleasant situation, condition, or circumstance, whether they avoided the task itself, an aspect of it, or some perceived future consequence (such as failure) of taking action. This includes reports of reducing stress. They frequently referred to sources of (2) immediate gratification and other payoffs which would likely be seen as reinforcing during the very behaviour. This ranged from finding "pearls" of expression prior to writing, up to having fun, a good time, accomplishing more, or even finding some positive aspect within the (overall unpleasant) work. While many were avoiding pressure or trying to do so, a few respondents noted the increase of tension and pressure and expressed an (3) enjoyment of the increased pressure, even to the point of feeling "excited" by it and the motivation that resulted from it. It provided an urgency that had been heretofore absent. They also referred to their ( 4 ) choices for the use of time, stating they would rather do the task "later", do something else "instead." Lots of rescheduling and planning and prioritizing was reported here. A common theme in these descriptions was the (5) reassurance that respondents gave themselves about either a) the outcomes and eventual task accomplishment expected, b) the process they expected to undergo, c) their reasons for doing the task in the first place, or d) the self-approval that respondents afforded themselves. A theme that was evident in these descriptions of "what happened" more than in the reported "outcomes" was respondents' frequent reference to (6) self care, protecting self, doing what they needed to do, management of self and the impression being made, and especially reducing stress. Respondents also reported (7) learning something in the process and valuing that. This often was said to occur instead of addressing the task. This does not include references to development of attitudes of self-approval: those are included in theme (5) above. Akin to the theme of accomplishment in the outcome phase is the theme of (8) taking action, usually positive, at the "what's happening" phase of procrastination events. A few respondents reported that they checked with peers to compare their progress. One conferred with friends before deciding to forego the "all-nighter" strategy they recommended. Another said he thought his friends appreciated hearing that all of them, himself included, were equally (not very) far along with task completion. A third did not resist the opportunity to gloat at his eventual accomplishments. 149 A theme that was exclusive to this phase of the process was that of (9) shifting and re-establishing expectations and standards. Clients reported that their strategies of temporarily "lowering the bar" did not seem to provide lasting results, since many respondents later reported berating themselves for their perceived failure to live up to original standards. Appendix G 150 Themes of Positive Outcomes: Each incident contains at least one theme, most contain several, sometimes as many as four, themes in one outcome. This reflects the rich level of detail on the interviews and is a further indication of the appropriateness of the critical incident methodology to this task. Several major themes are evident, recurring frequently in the outcomes of the incidents described: They include (1) achieving a sense of accomplishment of the task. In one case, this was described as partial accomplishment, in the balance of the other instances where it applied, it ranged from "task done" to "task done very well." It also includes accomplishment of other tasks instead of the avoided one. Accomplishment was also frequently and closely linked with the next common theme, namely (2) satisfaction with the results. A large number of respondents reported high degrees of satisfaction with the results of the experience. This frequently included getting high marks, (A's and A+'s, 85 , 92, even 100%), a few humble references to doing "quite well", and so on. This also included several terms relating to feelings, ranging from "feeling ok" to "glad" to "elated" A third theme was the (3) avoidance of some unpleasant aspect of the task, whether it be discomfort, conflict, failure, or other tasks in general. A fourth was (4) relief, most frequently from the stress of the experience, and including a sense of culmination, closure, and release, especially from guilt, "get it behind me" There were reports of numerous examples of (5) immediate gratification and positive payoffs or rewards, as in: a positive turn of subsequent events, time for relaxation and leisure, time for fun. Another theme was (6) learning of something important, often about oneself, as in: "listening to my natural rhythms" or about something one "valued" Yet another was the (7) efficient use of time, as in: condensing a task into the briefest possible time, thereby saving time for other activities and pursuits. Partly related to this was a report of (8) leaving oneself an out (self-handicapping), as in: doing only what was possible in the available time remaining. (9) Validation was another theme, mostly external validation as described by failure of professors to reduce grades for lateness or extensions granted, absence of other external penalties in general, social peers tolerating or expecting the behaviour and the late arrival, friends referring to the behaviour as "running on "their own" time". Such validation might also be characterized as "tacit" or not Appendix G 151 directly stated external validation. Validation also had an internal component, where respondents reported awareness of their ways of doing things and self approval of their abilities. Another theme was that of (10) power and control, chiefly reported by one respondent who's mother had scolded him for the behaviour. This also included reference to feeling safe, and to there being a predictability to the experience. I may delete this theme. 1 52 Appendix H Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 CC01 Doing chores Time suspensions, very economical with time, comical banter, cleaning while singing Use of time Immediate gratification CC02 Writing A paper Domestic errands all done, laugh at self, genial spirits sidelining, compounding activities: +procrastination +housecleaning, +singing, +thinking, more efficient, less official, in a fantasy world, find "pearls" of creative composition Taking Action Use of time by combining tasks Immediate gratification CC03 Creative writing No positive aspects mentioned CC04 Return phone calls Delay to protect self, feel good about resisting, "this is cool", I'm my own person, got the solitude I want, more important than calling them back, this is my right. Self care: Protecting self Reassurance: Immediate gratification CC05 Writing a paper No positive aspects mentioned Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 EE01 Writing grant proposal & paper on same weekend They will understand if you're stressed Reassurance EE02 Writing a paper walked away Self care to protect self Avoidance EE03 Applying for a job Self talk: don't have to take position, can refuse interview, still putting off, protecting self from hurt of rejection as previously felt, Friend said "just apply!" wrote cover letter & submitted completed application night before due; if no interview, can blame cover letter Reassurance Self talk reviewing options Self care Shift expectations EE04 Grad school applic-ations I have a shot, take a chance, risk, don't want to set up for failure, prefer knowing success is likely, don't know outcome, convince self no big deal Reassurance before Risk & take a chance Avoiding failure, minimizing its likelihood Shift expectations prefer knowing success likely; no big deal 1 53 Appendix H EE05 Writing a needs assess-ment Minimized importance of task: almost secondary, increased confidence to do it Shift expectations minimized importance Reassurance Increased confidence EE06 Writing a final report after job ended wanted to do it well, decided not to do it, no other way out, wanted to do it in a way that reflected how well I thought I'd done the job Took action decided not to do it to avoid negative outcome Shift expectations expectation of standard of achievement avoidance EE07 Filing Taxes 1ST thing on to-do list, it'll get done, had time to convince self about possible outcomes, Reassurance Self-talk, convincing about outcomes/result s, Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 GG01 Putting off working Noticed a strong nudge to respond to or not. Makes me pay attention to my disciplinarian voice, say I don't want to shut it out. It allows me more flexibility, I can screw around with something. It scares some sense into me. Cajoling self to be more rigorous, task oriented, disciplined. A predictable day, there was a possibility, a hope of starting Self care Reassurance GG02 Putting Stop to work Nicer sitting watching TV & eating (high standards, core issue to express??) Immediate gratification: nicer Avoidance GG03 Putting off assign-ment Lots of time, I'll pick study up in about an hour. Don't mind losing 2 hours sleep, a good sacrifice. Had quite a few laughs. Lingering. Use of time Immediate gratification GG04 Pressure study Bind anxiety to gratifying TV, avoid anxiety, displace it, project it; feel need to be vigilant, go, go, go, finding relief, this is only way I can cope Immediate gratification Temporary Finding relief Taking action Avoiding anxiety (reassurance) GG04A Pulling an all-nighter procrastinated 2 whole weeks prior??????? Pressure Immediate gratification 1 54 Appendix H GG05 Work on assign-ment I need to shop, in bookstore is constructive way to spend time, related to field: almost professional development, love thinking about it all, familiar, I know myself in it, something gratifying in it Learning: Familiar self knowledge & recognition, self approval Immediate gratification Reassurance (Shift expectations) Justifying behaviour & decision Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 UU01 Avoiding work tasks Shift focus, Walk around, clears head, step away, do something easy, read paper, radio, distract self, "this is my time", a bunch of little chunks of respite from old daily grind, Take action To clear head Reassurance Self talk: approval "my time" (Use of time) Avoid unpleasant (Immediate gratification) chunks of respite UU02 Studying Interested in different things, read for 6 hours about Russian art, do that type of thing on regular basis Reassurance Self-approval of Own style Learning UU03 painting Wouldn't have to work rest of summer when done; got all summer, what's another day? justify a few more hours, no deadline, open ended, easy to find other things to do, lots of time, will work harder tomorrow, avoidance easier than confronting Use of time: what's another day, justify delay, work harder tomorrow immediate gratification Other things to do plus fun Avoidance easier than confronting (Reassurance) (shift expectations) UU04 Return to work Completely different from day's work, enjoying one of my sojourns, get muffin, read notice board, peoplewatch: should go in a few minutes, get something out of this before returning; already 1 !4 hours, what's big deal of 10 more minutes? Immediate gratification: enjoyment, learning, stimuli Use of time: should go soon, what 10 more minutes (Shifting expectations) (Learning: Get something out of this) UU05 Moving equip-ment Curiosity, program's info could be interesting, I should listen, might miss something if I don't Learning curiosity Reassurance Might miss something FOMS UU06 Avoiding paper work Read paper to find out what's going on, sometimes unintentionally fall asleep in chair Learning avoid work, Rest UU07 Putting off food shop went about things slowly, checked more boats, why bother rushing? Cloud broke: amazing visual scene, mist on water, storybook Kodak Moment, amazing, exciting moment, this is great, like winning a prize, had camera: took picture, really happy Use of time: why rush? Big Immediate gratification: high stimulation high sensory reward, amazing, exciting, great, happy Took action to capture moment, reward enduring 1 55 Appendix H UU08 Joining track team Saw notices to join, wanted to try out, this is good, sense of security, would be nice, could I make team? Met coach: "everyone makes team, come on ouf, excited & calm, felt right, wasn't gonna be lost at school, sense it was going to be good, good stuff in future Reassurance for future, good & going to be good Immediate gratification Excited and clam, felt right UU09 Quitting basket-ballgame Count on positive payoff, benefit every time: workout immediate gratification Predictable UU10 Taking box to goodwill I easily walk by & ignore it Avoid task UU10A Leaving work Doodled around on campus all day Use of time Avoid task Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 FF01 Prepare lessons I should really get this done, (don't want to do it now, I'd rather not put in 4 hours,) I'll do it later, leave it for when I have no more time left, I'd rather do something else (less important or enjoyable), lots of options, run out of time to compare it to my standards, at last minute make a combination up to my standards, standard is good 'cos it keeps me challenged to produce extra use of time Choices, options Shift expectations Have an out (reassurance ) FF02 prepare a present-ation Challenged to get lots done, forced self, P. adds urgency, needfulness, energy value, drive, focus, need to be prepared, allow more time: get all these ideas, think of huge perspective: get it all in Press Provided urgency Use of time, condense huge perspective, Time to improve ideas (Immediate gratification: get all these ideas) (Took action) FF02A Thesis defense Ran through it twice, then defended Took action FF03 Putting Off Phoning back friends I'd rather read a book, clean my room, plan lessons. Sometimes think, if that bothers me that much, how can I be friends in first place, maybe I should not be friends. Time is paramount, and the lack of connection and maybe substance to it, is all. Use of time Avoidance of unpleasant aspects FF04 Project: write & publish family history Really want to do this Re-assurance 1 56 Appendix H FF05 Sleep Want time for life, a million things to do, even tired, mind alert, keeps going, should do this or that instead, do just a couple more things Use of time, time for life FF06 Leaving the house Next time won't take so long, gonna be on time, I'll pick up some seconds, it won't take long Use of time: pick up some seconds, won't take long, have options reassurance Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 KK01 Do final assign-ments Got all week, next week, rest of the week, know there's gonna be time, gonna have to be done, it's gonna be done, no sense of urgency, deadline: away in future; should really get that done, looking at percentages, how much is each worth? how important the class? more important first; got extension, won't hurt if done Sunday Use of time: all week, gonna be time, no urgency Shift expectations Prioritizing & higher order thinking, p-solving (Reassuranc e: won't hurt to do Sunday (ie, even later) (Taking action, weigh options) KK02 Ending Off-Road Biking I really wanted to do this, probably going to be pushing it, might get lost, into what I was doing, went ahead anyway, we can bike faster, would've made it if hadn't got lost, pushing something else off to do something I want to do more immediately, just go for it now, worry about other stuff later immediate gratification Use of time: we can bike faster, postpone worry (Reassuranc e foresaw possibilities, weighed options, chose) KK03 DNQ KK04 Driving friend's car Make sure I get the most or what I wanted out of experience before I do other thing, it's just something that happens, no great sense of intensity Immediate gratification Reassurance: Self Acceptance, minimize significance of actions KK05 Improve handing in assign-ment Still had a good time on sports team, there's a reason I didn't go thru with it fully, I don't feel quite as bad Reassurance 1 57 Appendix H KK06 Getting a jump on assign-ments Going to be one less thing to do, Something I was looking at getting out of the way, look at it for a few minutes before I go out, nice to be home visiting, Reassurance Anticipate future accomplishment Take action immediate gratification, Enjoy situation Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 AA01 Writing a report Gonna spend weekend writing, no time at all, hand in next week, great when it's out of my life; I squash pressure down, distract self for a time til it pops up, do it tomorrow for sure, did (uncredited) advance formulating of report Reassurance Anticipate results and timeframe Manage guilt, Distract self Use of time: tomorrow for sure AA02 Writin g thesis One piece at a time, almost don't want to get consumed by it yet, stay on the outside of it, not dive in, don't want that to happen yet, part of me wants to lie on couch & read a paperback, would be nice to have had a little bit done, hoping to get it done quickly, other mitigating factors happening, avoid being consumed in task Manage effort Use of time: quickly AA03 Writing a Paper very busy, justified, knew I'd get to it eventually, trying & not able to, appealing aspect of working under pressure, tormented artist, everything flowing, late night alone, "wow, this is kinda fun", . procrastination as old friend, romantic quality about situation, everything's fine, an appeal to that, kind of neat, can't do unless procrastinating, familiar, soothing, liked topic: exciting, kept interest re-assurance: Foresaw results, knew I'd get to it, everything's fine pressure, exciting, kept interested Immediate gratification: fun & image of self as tormented artist, romantic quality, procrastinatio n as old friend, familiar, soothing, neat Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 LL01 Writing Lab reports Did some research, compared progress with fellows, asked TA about late marks off Took action Compared progress with others LL02 First Break up Didn't want to hurt his feelings, had enough and it's not worth my time, thinking of ways to tell nicely, asked friends for opinions, do this before I drag it longer Self care: not worth my time Use of time: avoid dragging longer Took action: Asked for opinions (avoidance) LL03 Quitting my first job Good part-time job, liked customers, something to do, enough $, good experience, good for resume, should help boss avoid hassle of hiring another, he'd done a favor hiring me without experience, Reassurance Aware of future impact Shift expectations: Gradual, considering alternatives & options (Taking action: Thinking of others, help boss avoid hiring) 158 Appendix H constant on & off, gradual, considering alternatives LL04 Quitting a job Pretty interesting job, stopped meeting quotas, glad we did it over the phone, avoided his persuasiveness, Took action, Indirect by missing quotas, & by phone Avoid his persuasiveness LL05 Writing lab report Compared notes with fellows, I'm not staying up all night, asked for extension, experiment & research results are interesting Took action: Compared with fellows, asked for more time Self care: Chose not to do an all-nighter (learning) Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 BB01 avoiding home-work skimming main points got thru it, anything over a pass is a bonus, touched on everything, saw advisor, changed major Shift expectations and adjusted standards Took action: Sought second opinion from advisor BB02 studying for the LSAT Decided to study extra, then talked self out of it, better than forcing & burnout, doing everything in power, no point in doing so much extra, so cut it out, to avoid burnout shifted (reduced) expectations and standards Self care: Avoided burnout, Self talk BB03 Study for GRE Discussed with friends realized I was letting others control me, wasn't controlling self. Wanted to prove I can do this, but don't need to prove it, okay not to do as well as you wanted. Needed permission. Needed to hear "it's no big deal" Learning Shifting expectations Reassurance BB04 studying for an exam Wanted to know him better, resisting talking to him, I've got to go, I'll stay 1 hour, knew I had time to read & prepare for exam, no panic enjoy immediate gratification of wanting to know him use of time, Adjusted 1 hour became 2 (Reassurance Knew had time, no panic) Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 CC01 Looking for other work Avoiding premature calls and hard feelings with current employer, keep current focus, prioritize, sometimes it's good, learn pretty quick, it's really delicate, deal with it better when relaxed, think of options, time to reflect, a list helps Avoided negative Immediate gratification: intermittent positive payoff (Learning: deal better when relaxed, Time to reflect, think of options, list helps) (reassurance) 1 59 Appendix H CC02 Doing chores as a student When I'm employed, chores are good "down time" for relaxing, leisure Self care (Immediate gratification: leisure) CC03 Putting off wedding plans When I decide to get married, that's it, it's gonna be one time, eliminating things from my life that are distracting me from my main goal Took action: Eliminate distractions Reassurance about goals (use of time) CC04 DNQ NN05 Putting off home-work I need that pressure to sit and focus, otherwise a million things to do. I'm curious, keep going, enjoying getting sidetracked very much. Immediate gratification Learning Enjoying increased pressure Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 PP01 Putting off eating at home Sometimes I sit down and do work, don't want to eat and ruin it, don't want this to stop, want to keep this going, do more. Try for another 34 hour. Extremely careful Taking action Immediate gratification PP02 DNQ PP03 Self care Now I can stop myself beforehand, say no, say important to take self care before giving to others, speak mind & risk losing other, getting easier to go thru, feeling reasonably optimistic Self care (learning) PP04 Putting off projects I get really involved, I stay into it until I finish. One project at a time, through cycles of intensity. I need to be immersed. Enjoying increased pressure Taking action PP05 Putting off therapy Maybe it's not quite time, maybe I shouldn't push so hard, something saying "you shouldn'f, baby's fast asleep & maybe we should let it, it's serious, want to tell therapist "I want to do this, I must be holding back," makes me feel better, control is a big thing for me Use of time Learning: Self knowledge Immediate gratification: Feel better (reassurance) 1 60 Appendix H PP06 Havin ga baby No positive aspects mentioned PP07 sleeping Payoff: maybe I'll get a little more done, have production time. Have to deliberately make self turn off light & relax Immediate gratification: get more done Self care: Self control Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 RR01 Saying good bye to sister & getting into the car I know what needs to happen, taking my time about it, getting my way, just want to hang on, never been my way of doing things, the way things have been for 23 years Use of time Learning: Self knowledge RR01A Going To a movie No positive aspects mentioned RR02 Putting off making a decision Good opportunity, try something different, big step, lot of responsibility. Mentor believed in me, girlfriend supportive, intuition saying I could pull it off, be ok at it, don't know if I've got all the data, if I feel right about it yet. Gathering info, biding time, feeling safe, going with my intuition, Pros & cons, not going anywhere now, let's do it! Reassurance Self care RR03 Writing a paper Do second best, pretty good grade in circumstances, meanwhile mulling over, developing concept to write about in head, work well under pressure, motivated, creative account sense of urgency, "it's now or never" gets juices flowing, my style, the time will be right, accept rhythm & knock off paper, no problem, doesn't bother me, past hump: this is ok, just get into it Press: Work well under pressure (enjoy), gets juices flowing (Reassurance: My style, my rhythm: self knowledge, acceptance, approval, this is ok, just get into it) RR04 Meeting friends No positive aspects mentioned RR05 Confront a fellow teacher if angry, could get ugly, so avoided, firm believer in stirring things up, now is not the time, not prepared to address it now, maybe never; just do job well enough, how much effort am I willing to put in? decided, chose not to confront, work good Avoid unpleasant Shift expectations not the time, avoid change, Consider standards & evaluate effort Self care: self-preserving, no risks 1 61 Appendix H enough more or less, maintain status quo, not prepared to put much into it, not my job; I'll play by rules, take no risks, self-preserving, choose fights carefully, is it worth it? RR06 Going to church, age 11 2 minutes later I get into nice warm car, hunky- dory, no waiting for anyone else, have the power Immediate gratification: nice warm car RR07 At the mall in Florida, age 11 Found the supermarket toy aisle, played with all the toys, had lots of fun, looked for them, Immediate gratification: fun Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 SS01 Writing a paper With deadline helps focus, without: easier to put off, didn't let big task get to me, procrastinating makes that a little easier, knew it would be all-nighter, a lot of work & a lot of fun, nap at 11 p.m. to work longer straight thru, felt tired & kind of pretty good, I like feeling excitement of working all night, feels like working, done all at once really motivated me Self care Stayed calm, avoided stress immediate gratification Expected all-nighter, satisfying work and fun Press Feeling good and excited Use of time nap at 11 p.m. to work longer straight thru SS02 Wood-carving not tired, resisted temptation to work on carving, put it off, then a bit more, taking my time, telling myself it's not a bad thing to put it off for a while, nothing wrong with picking it up, doing a little bit and putting it down Reassurance Self control to resist temptation Self talk about evaluation (Use of time) SS03 Judging time to get here Thinking about how much time it will take in all to get here, realized I needed to add extra time for parking, try to be early for important events and exams, noting ways to improve Use of time: how much will it take, add more time Learning Improving SS04 Post-ponin ga com-plaint felt obligation to friend who'd been wronged Reassurance Obligation SS05 Buying Xmas gifts Similar tastes, shouldn't be too hard, not bothered or concerned about it, knew I would find something in the end, confident, just taking it easy, not letting things get to me, keep it in mind until done, doesn't bother me, makes it a bit exciting, try to enjoy the tension Reassurance Not bothered, knew it would work, confident, Press A bit exciting, enjoyed tension (Avoiding pressure) 1 62 Appendix H SS06 Put clock radio beneath bed, Took action Waking have to get out to turn it off To avoids up problems of oversleep Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 ZZ01 DNQ ZZ02 Weeding Consciously thought "that's something for Mom to do, she likes digging in the dirt" Reassurance mom likes digging ZZ03 Dress-making (& insight) I even straightened it out, thinking I was gonna do it, maybe tomorrow, later, on floor to remind me, out of sight would never do, kept thinking "you're gonna do if Use of time, later (Reassurance : gonna do it) ZZ04 Catch up with studies Took books home every weekend, knew gaps in knowledge and picked it up as I went, I could cope by myself. Just leave it, take the safe route. Play it safe, use the time for other things, (non-productively) avoid unpleasant/ unsafe, took safe route, Use of Time for other things ZZ05 Marking 4 days of leisure, whatever I feel like for pleasure, escape from task at hand to things that interest & inspire me: wondering, comparing, rationalizing, enjoyable, gain knowledge, learn stuff, important to me Immediate gratification: high interest things, leisure, important inspiration Avoid task (drudgery) Learning ZZ06 Work week prep Feel great responsibility to students, used weekend time for own pleasure, justified 'cos worked hard all week, sleep, you need this time, (squishing work into least amount of time possible) immediate gratification Justified pleasure, Reassurance Self approval: deserved Use of time: squishing Self care ZZ07 Overdue assign-ment Once deadline is past I have nothing official making me do it, off the hook but not completely, "you've come this far, you want to graduate, have to do it, what's one more day? Use of time: one more day? Shift expectations Passed deadline relieves necessity: off the hook (Reassurance : come this far) ZZ08 Washing dishes Already had reward watching TV, awareness of dishes getting moldy quickly fades away, what the hell, past deadline, let's see how furry the plates can get Immediate gratification: had reward Avoid: awareness fades Shift expectation s: Past deadline reduces necessity Use of time: how furry can they get? ZZ09 Paying bills Tell myself I don't have to get stressed over it, can still make ends meet, juggling. Reassurance: Self talk: reduce stress 1 63 Appendix H ZZ10 Putting Gas in car I can get one more day out of this. Come on old car, you can do it, you need to get us there. We're just gonna have to make it. I just wanna go home. Reassurance Use of time Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 ZZ11 Sending out resume By not handing out resumes, I don't have those negative feelings Avoid negative unpleasant ZZ12 Assign-ment due No positive aspects reported ZZ13 Sending cards Written, not addressed or posted, need stamps & good handwriting for nice appearance on envelope, like to do writing perfectly, organization with duration Reassurance Approval of self: own way ZZ14 Seeking job inter-views No positive aspects reported ZZ15 Paying tuition fees Let's do it all in one shot, we'll find the money, things will work out, Use of time: all at once Reassurance: find money, it'll work out ZZ16 Proof-reading Did part of project ahead, unusual, thinking what's the point, this is crazy, making a difference? Voice said "somehow it will be done tomorrow", deadline seemed too far away to be urgent, expected time during class, there's always later; today: "let's do it quickly, edit & hand in on time, would be pity, tarnish it to give in late," hurrying only 'cos I'd met prior deadline, didn't want to waste that, "I must now finish this" "why waste what I've done?" Reassurance: somehow tomorrow, why waste what I've done? Use of time: there's always time, later, quickly ZZ17 Letter writing No positive aspects reported ZZ18 Waking up Press the snooze button 6 times, get 48 minutes extra sleep, re-evaluate every 8 minutes, maybe just stay there a bit longer Immediate gratification: extra sleep Use of time: reevaluate every 8 minutes, maybe stay longer (shift expectations) reevaluate 1 64 Appendix H Event Positive Happened Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 TT01 Leaving room-mate finally, I have to look after myself, can't afford to put up with this, let's get out now, probably better, rather than "bitch, can't stand you" more difficult to think about confronting that to continue procrastinating , healthier to get out Self care, look after self, healthier Avoid unpleasant conflict (reassurance) TT02 Moving out no mice for a while after place fixed up, relief, happy to stay, nice apartment, I can stay here, enjoy view, choose to move later, see no mice: everything fine; take giant jump & e-mail UBC housing Reassurance: I can stay Use of time Move later, Delay move TT02A Getting a cat "what am I gonna do over Christmas for 3 weeks with a cat?" Deliberately waiting, wait a bit longer, pick one up on Island, know Victoria SPCA location, hate driving in Vancouver, bring it back after holiday Use of time: Wait, get cat later after holiday TT03 Writing a Paper One of those perfectly clean apartment times: let's make sure everything looks nice. I couldn't really start some of it until the last week of class, true to some extent that I work really well under deadlines. Project thoughts forward to think back on task, how nice it would feel to know it's behind me. Need a break. Paper seems quite trivial when there's so much more out there. Asked for an extension. It'll get done. Taking action Enjoying increased pressure Reassuranc e TT04 My health Feeling pretty good about putting it off, not rushing under the knife, seeking another way to handle the problem, pleasing in a way, couldn't eat much, didn't have to worry about gaining weight, good figure without exercise, avoiding $5000 cost immediate gratification Enjoy delay: Reassurance Self approval: figure w/o exercise (Avoid worry about weight gains or figure) TT05 Grad school Applic-ations if I'm gonna get same profs to write same recommendations, at least send to different institution Shift expectations to manage Impression, strategize 165 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 CC01 Doing chores Avoiding doing something else, I do a thorough cleaning, enjoy singing, generated high, feeling really good, more energy and enthusiasm, borrowed cheerfulness, get it done, a lot happier, feeling good about meeting external standards, feel respectable, decent, better as a person, apartment looks neat Accomplished task: chores done Avoids other tasks Immediate gratification: energy enthusiasm, borrowed cheerfulness Satisfaction with results: Feeling good self-validation : feel decent, respectable external validation: Good meeting external standards CC02 writing a paper Look what I've done! "cool poem", creative, glad other things are done, acute mental clarity, focus, plow thru weeks' worth of work, different passage of time, feel really good about self, smart, wicked, genius, athletic achievement, "accomplished-task high", elated, "the most pristine sentence in the paper could've been achieved while procrastinating," paper done on time. Satisfaction with results: Proud of results, other accomplish-ments "accomplished task high" Use of time Efficient time use: plow through work, different time perception, paper on time Accomplished task: two good products, poem and paper completed, self-validation: wicked, genius CC03 Creative writing Writing leads to big changes, "writing storm engages the pen". Become really alive, feel fantastic, great, pretty good at worst, feel really good that I did it, greater emotional clarity, brings it all together, it's really good, happy, ego-high, proud of self, elated, cheerful, witty, mentally sharper, time to think up neat things to add to story improves results Satisfaction with results: Feeling really alive, happy, good that I did it, completion Accomp: I did it Process "comes together" Self-validation: ego-high, proud of self, sharp CC04 Return phone calls I make calls, I feel great, happy to connect, alive, confident, picks me up, starts extraverted phase, more bubbly. Satisfaction with results: Feeling great, happy, pick-me-up, bubbly Self-validation: Confident & extraverted Accomp: made calls CC05 Writing a paper No positive aspects mentioned 166 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 EE01 Writing grant proposa l& paper on same weeken d Employer was grateful, Got the grant, got extension, got an A, tremendous sense of satisfaction, Everything worked out Accomp: wrote proposal and paper Satisfaction with results: Good results, got an A, everything worked out external validation: got an extension, employer grateful EE02 Writing a paper Payoff, played the game right, got extension, pretty lucky, feel extra % marks coming, feels really good Accomp: wrote paper Satisfied with results: feels good, improved marks e-val: got extension EE03 Applyin g for a job Got hired, good to know I got hired even though I almost didn't want it anyway, glad friend convinced me, really happy, a great job for me Accomp: applied, got hired Really happy Satisfaction with results: got hired Leave an Out: almost didn't wantit External validation : friend convinced me EM04 Grad school applic-ations Learned I'm better at success, hardest thing I did this year Accomp: applied to several schools Learning: I'm better at (planning for a) success EM05 Writing a needs assess-ment I did it, they loved it, turned out fine, really simple, very pleased, felt trusted to do this work, didn't have to do what I didn't feel comfortable doing. Accomp: I did it External validation: they loved it, well received, felt trusted Avoided unpleasant: didn't have to do what I didn't feel comfortable doing Satisfied with results: fine, very pleased EE06 Writing a final report after job ended Took so little time, did a really good report, got received ok, no big deal, felt unusually good, really happy to have it done, I could let go of the guilt Use of time: took so little time Accomp: done Satisfaction with results: really good report, really happy to have it done, felt unusually good External validation: report got received ok Relief: let go of guilt EE07 Filing Taxes Made time to convince self about possible outcomes, a different perspective to fear and rejection, other excuses for why it might not work, enjoy other stuff more: not taxes. Relief when you stop procrastinating Avoid unpleasant: develop alternate perspective to fear & rejection Immediate gratification: Enjoy other stuff more (meantime) Relief when you stop Leave on out: convince self about possible outcomes, excuses for why it might not work 167 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 GG01 Putting off working Sometimes a happy "what's the point?" Just do what you want to do, a positive thing. Give self a lot of permission, it's fine, not much remorse at all. I'm gonna have my fun. Allows me a lot more flexibility, I can screw around. It scares some sense into me, to pay more attention, say I'm not going to allow self to dismiss task. Buy into procrastinator identity: what can I really expect? What's the point? Resignation, surrender, just do whatever I feel like, hope it's productive enough. Immediate gratification self validation Leaving oneself and out Accomplished task GG02 Putting Stop to work A breath of relief from pressure, enough, avoided a failure experience, avoided sitting in self-doubt before big damage, done lots of other things instead Relief from pressure Avoided failure Immediate gratification: other things done GG03 Putting off assign-ment went back to study, just "went to it." Now glad I put off study at the time, I remember the social times. Giving in & procrastinating helped me maintain balance of social life, academic, relationship & athletic. Often a sweet sacrifice, saying study is priority but relaxing standard for a time. Work on hurry-up mode, think a lot more quickly. Never missed a deadline. Also say who really cares anyway, it was all worth it, look what I got to do instead, have a fun time. Cost attached to revising: I really hate sitting with it, working on it further when I know I could be free. Such an aversive feeling to me to be stuck in that muck Satisfaction with results Accomplished task Control Avoidance of unpleasant aspects Use of time Leaving oneself and out Immediate gratification GG04 Pressur e study Heightens performance, keeps me awake, finding relief, binding anxiety, sense of controlling it, got 90% (- 6) pleased with performance, little post-exam remorse, revel in the masochism of it, pleasure in pain, especially if showing off to others, some self-satisfaction, process is worth it Relief: by binding anxiety, finding relief Power & control: Controlling anxiety (accomp) external validation: showing off to others Satisfaction with results: 90%; heightened performance, process is worth it, revel in masochism GG04A Pulling an all-nighter Doing really well, can do that, self-satisfaction, whole process of procrastination is worth it, got 100% once, gloated, felt incredible pride, pleasure in pain, especially if showing off to others Satisfaction with results, good mark, pride, Process is worth it external validation: showing off to others GG05 Work on assign-ment Pacifies & satisfies disciplinarian voice to some degree, getting results that way, some sense of balance, get to have fun accomp: Got results Immediate payoff: have fun, Satisfaction with results: balance 1 68 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 UU01 Avoidin g work tasks Don't feel for that brief moment something's pushing me, things I'm pressured by are displaced for that little while, feel relaxed for a little while, works out in a strange way; & pretty up to date on current affairs Avoid: displaces pressure Satisfied with results: works out Leave an Out: (in a strange way) Relief: relaxed Learning: Up to date on current affairs UU02 studying I know something about Russian art, have a wider view of world than otherwise, value that, gained a lot from time outs, and diversions from task people are amazed "how do you know that?" Learning: something about Russian art (Accomp) (satisfaction with results: gained a lot) External validation "how do you know that?" Self-validation : I value that UU03 painting Banged it off, did good job in end, customer happy with result, earned a lot of money Accomp: banged it off Satisfaction with results: good job external validation: customer happy with job (immediate gratification: made money) UU04 Return to work Looking at housing board, picked up local knowledge, met woman, spoke later, now live together as partners; major benefits to it, a really beneficial day, what could've been waste of hour became really positive, if not wandering, would've lost opportunity Satisfaction with results: major benefits Learning: Gained local knowledge (Accomp): (immediate gratification: girlfriend) UU05 Moving equip-ment Go for something that's interesting, payoff is a gamble, could be really big, could be risky Immediate gratification : something interesting (FOMS) Leave an Out: Payoff is a Gamble, risky UU06 Avoidin g paper work Taken time out, physical benefit, feel more relaxed, more awake, more focused when I come back Immediate gratification: physical benefit, relaxed, awake, focused UU07 Putting off food shop Positive benefit: one of best shots ever taken, stock photo, very satisfying image, wouldn't have happened if I'd rushed, no one else saw, just lucky, pleasurable way to brighten up day, extra special payoff, little surprises are why we pursue sport, Immediate gratification: extra special photo, brightened day Satisfaction with results; satisfying image UU08 Joining track team Immediate payoff: felt happy, be part of team, ran track thru out school, quite good at it, made many friends on team, peer group, excellent coach, iong term payoff: shaped everything doing now, led to interest in sport & coaching, career choice, moment pivotal to where I am now, extra benefit of what I do with accidental opportunity Immediate gratification: making team, Self-validation: felt empowered Accomp: ran track thru high school Satisfaction with results: good at it, made friends Learning: led to interest in coaching: Pivotal long term payoff: influenced career choice 169 Appendix I UU09 Quitting basket-ball game Good workout, fun, daydream back to game, slowly back into rhythm of work 3-4 hours later Immediate payoff: fun & good workout (accomp: went back to work) UU10 Taking box to goodwill No positive outcomes reported (Hasn't crossed my mind or affected me until now) (avoid unpleasant) (leaving an out) UU10A Leaving work We could be together, girlfriend would be happier, good for relationship to be together Immediate gratification: be together, enhance relationship Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 FF01 Prepare lessons The lesson is ok, a good lesson, no bad lessons, I'll be fine, students will have a good time, I'm saving time; avoid until little time left so that's all I can do; gaining time to do other things, not missing out on the "completely, completely enjoyable" things I wanted to do Accomp; lesson done. Satisfied with results: ok, fine, good time. Leaves an out:, avoid until little time left. (Power & control?) Efficient time use: saving time, time for other things (external validation : students have a good time) (Immediate gratification: not missing out on other enjoyable things I wanted to do) FF02 prepare a present-ation Satisfied, given time available, did best I could in time I had, spend 13 hours in one day prior, it's perfect, looks good, is done, I'm happy, met standards, do whole thing in one big take, had time to develop and connect ideas. Satisfied, happy, if s perfect, looks good, met my standards Accomp: is done Leave an Out: did best in time available Efficient time use, 13 hours in one day, whole thing in one big take, connect ideas FF02A Thesis defense It was fine, worked out really well, wasn't unhappy with presentation Satisfied with results: fine, worked out really well Accomp: defended FF03 Putting off phonin g back friends I'll eventually get around to it, call 6 people back, hope their answering machines are on. It's the time factor, don't worry about quick conversations. When I have to do it, call them, listen to their story, "good ! I've done that!" I should just not call, eliminate that source of things. Suffer with their talking or suffer with guilt, guilt seems to be winning out, it's not as much for me, so in that case it would be a positive. Accomplished task Use of time Avoidance of unpleasant aspects FF04 Project: write & publish family history No positive outcome reported 170 Appendix I FF05 Sleep Getting more things done, tired but ok, it'll pass, doesn't get that bad, I do it again Satisfaction with results : things done, tired but ok Efficient use of time: get more things done (accomp) FF06 Leavin gthe house Being 10 or so minutes late is expected by all my friends External validation: expected by friends Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 KK01 Do final assign-ments Finished Sunday evening, done, no marks off, now I am more careful, sense of what I can put on my plate, not that hard on myself, there was a good reason why I didn't meet goal, doing "half a pretty good job" for what I'm putting into it Accomp: done (satisfaction with results) Learning: more careful, sense of what I can put on plate external validation : no marks off Leave an Out: not that hard on myself, had a good reason, doing half a pretty good job. KK02 Ending Off-Road Biking Rode really cool trails, had fun Immediate gratification: rode cool trails, had fun KK03 DNQ KK04 Driving friend's car Girlfriend accepted, referred to it as being on "(KH)" time external validation: girlfriend accepted, named it his time KK05 Improve handing in assign-ment Prof respected me, let me go, no marks off, reasonably good mark external validation prof respected, let me go, no marks off Satisfaction with results: Good mark KK06 Getting a jump on assign-ments Get to do things that are more fun in the meantime, immediate gratification, don't look at it until it absolutely has to be looked at Immediate gratification: more fun in meantime Leave an Out; didn't look at it until had to 1 71 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 & 4 Theme 4 AA01 Writing a report Almost relief to meet person who needed report, someone else involved, had no choice, did it on weekend, in pieces, had formulated & mapped out in advance, long before, ready to proceed, pulled together quickly, glad to have as much done, a relief, no one bothered by late report, great to be out of my life, good product Relief Accomplished quickly Satisfaction with results Good product Leave an out Choice removed AA02 Writing thesis No positive outcome reported AA03 Writing a paper Less anxiety than preceding weeks, acceptance about why I'm at this place, once I get into it, I really get into it & enjoy it Self acceptance: why I'm in this place (Relief: less anxiety than previous) (Immediate gratification: once I get into it I really enjoy it) (Learning: once 1 get into it, 1 enjoy it) Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 LL01 Writing Lab reports Got extension, felt relieved, got it done Relief: felt relieved Accomp: got it done external validation : got extension LL02 First Break up Afterwards glad I did it, don't have to talk to him again, wasn't really compatible, just not my type Accomp: broke . up Satisfaction with results: glad I did it avoid unpleasant: didn't have to talk to him Leave an Out: wasn't really compatible, not my type (self-validation / self acceptance: not compatible, not my type) LL03 Quitting my first job Told him I didn't want job, but would come back whenever he needed someone, still have uniform; in a way don't regret good experience; felt relieved, glad not to have to do this anymore, it's over, I won't think about it anymore Accomp: quit Relief; felt relieved (not to have to do anymore or think about it) (Satisfied with results: good experience, in a way don't regret) (leave an Out: would come back if needed, kept uniform) LL04 Quitting a job Felt ok, glad he never called back, talked to a friend, felt better Relief: glad he never called back Satisfaction: felt ok, felt better External validation: talked to friend LL05 Writing lab report Turned it in, did ok, 77%, know how to proceed next time and time management stuff, I'd rather do a summary Accomp: turned it in Satisfied with result: did ok,77% Learning: how to proceed next time about time management stuff, I'd rather do summary (self-validation: I'd rather do a summary) 1 72 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 BB01 avoiding home-work, exam prep Relieved, grateful exams were done, ended up in area I enjoy, tough year ended up being positive academically /personally, reevaluated, improved task handling, not beat up self, procrastination can be good for me, learned to relax, good learning year Relief: relieved, grateful exams were done accomp: studied for, wrote exams Satisfied with results: ended up in area I enjoy, positive Learning: to relax, not beat self up, procrastination can be good (self-validation: procrastination can be good for me) BB02 studying for the LSAT Relaxed, taking his advice helped a lot, wasn't focusing on exam or working self into panic, avoided burnout, I got thru it, felt I did ok. Accomp: got thru it Avoided unpleasant: burnout and panic Satisfaction with results : felt I did ok, Relaxed (external validation : taking his advice helped) BB03 study for GRE Thought about it, decided okay, change the date. Worked out okay, really well. Had five day break to focus and prepare. I like having control of things, knowing if I can control something or not, controlling my own time. I did okay, but alright in the end. Satisfaction with results Control Use of time self validation BB04 studyin g for an exam Stayed 2 hours, a lot of fun, a bit of work done, befriended his girlfriend, too, she's now my boss, work together really well, friends with them both, a good thing, now one of best friends, exam mark good: 85 Accomp: studied, a bit of work done Satisfaction with results: 85% & two friendships Immediate gratification : a lot of fun, a bit of work Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 NN01 Looking for other work Sometimes good, relaxed, see options, getting some breathing room, helpful, employed, when you do it, it feels great, "yeah! totally!" info from call could put you on a good high, waiting and proper timing: always employed, Relief: breathing room, relaxed Satisfaction with results: feels great, totally, see options, on good high. (Accomp: get employed, do it) (immediate gratification :feels great, totally) NN02 Doing chores as a student No positive outcomes mentioned NN03 Putting off wedding plans Positive, able to focus on schooling not on full time job to support settled family, can avoid adult responsibilities right now, don't have to quit school, procrastination has helped, willing to give up anything in my life to get a degree avoid unpleasant: adult responsibilities, quitting Power & control Focus on priorities, willing to give up anything (satisfaction with results: positive, procrastination has helped) NN04 DNQ 1 73 Appendix I NN05 Putting off home-work I guess I work better under pressure. There's a post-positive (not immediate) positive outcome, a safety feature: down time, relaxation. Learning Immediate gratification Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 PP01 Putting off eating at home Working with a doctor, have more confidence, could actually increase energy. It's getting better, can feel an energy increase that doesn't go away. Outcomes can be very good. I can really produce. Feel stronger, reason to believe, moments when my body will do what my mind can conceive Satisfaction with results Learning self validation PP02 DNQ PP03 Self care A big lesson, learning to procrastinate the care of others, not procrastinate self care, feel stronger than I did, some moments when my body will do what my mind can conceive Learning: self care & priorities Satisfaction with results: Feel stronger, my body will deliver results PP04 Putting off projects End up doing a massive amount of very concentrated work, get an extremely good mark. Mostly no marks off. Still gonna get 80 something, so what the hell!?! Wasn't that unhappy, thought I did very good work in that time. Been told I do it successfully Use of time Accomplished task Satisfaction with results external validation Leaving oneself and out PP05 Putting off therapy I'm going to do this when I'm ready, I have to it, the quality of my life depends on it Power & control: do this when I'm ready Learning: I have to do it, the quality of my life depends on it PP06 Having a baby Did best I could with what I knew, Could have activity oriented contact with kids, have the best of it without the rest Leave an Out: best I could with what I knew, best of it without the rest Satisfied with result: best I could PP07 sleeping It's what I need to do: take care of self & sleep when relaxed not exhausted, next day might feel better, need to say it's ok to take care of self, fairly well for 2 years, significant health results: enormous gains Learning: what I need to do: self care Satisfaction with results, fairly well for 2 years, enormous health gains Self acceptance: need to say it's ok to take care of myself 1 74 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 RR01 Saying good bye to sister & getting into the car Took in & processed mom's statement about delaying to control. Life goes on, got insight, I drag my feet on purpose, gives me covert negative way of exerting control over others, theme of my life in general, having control is feeling safe and comfortable, I know what's happening with me, prepared to honor my different rhythm, get to call the shots & determine the situation Learning: got insight, having control is feeling safe, I know what's happening Self-validation / Self-approval: Honor my own rhythm, theme of my life Power & control: I drag my feet on purpose, exerting negative control, call shots, determine situation (immediate gratification: got insight) RR01A Going To a movie have power and control in the situation, avoid upset of waiting for others to arrive, I waltz in: ShowTime! I get my way, it works, I'm like this & I think it's funny Power & control, I get my way Avoid unpleasant upset of waiting for others Self-validation self-acceptance : I'm like this and I think it's funny (immediate gratification: it works and it's funny) (efficient use of time: I waltz in: showtime) RR02 Putting off making a decision Said I'm in with my girlfriend, then "this wasn't so bad!" a really great experience, super great, learned so much, about ropes, camp, sports, kids, self, & procrastinating, decision-making. A lot of fun, great summer, paid, got training, awesome, just ideal, good money, good experience. Got old job back right after. Later decided to move more quickly (finger snap). Definitely really positive outcomes. Satisfaction with results Accomplished task Immediate gratification Learning RR03 Writing a paper Get it out well, knock paper off, get A's, even last minute, more or less satisfied given circumstances, if less so: turn around & claim little effort, always have an out in case it's not so good; I pulled it off, motivates procrastinating, actually do quite well, feeling great, good grade, respectable Accomp: knock paper off Leave an Out: always have an out, even last minute, more or less satisfied Satisfied with results: done quite well, get A's, feel great, I pulled it off (Efficient use of time: knock it off, last minute, Utile effort) RR04 Meeting friends & going to a show Walk briskly, arrive, friends make joking comment, may be angry with me, "I feel bad, sorry," everyone tolerates, it's over, life goes on, goto show, get adequate seat, don't have to wait 20 minutes in stupid theatre, & I maintain control, it serves me, smiling, I thinks it's funny, about negative ' confirmation of self, where I lose I win accomp: arrive, get to show, get seats external validation: friends make joking comment, tolerate Satisfied with results: adequate seats avoid unpleasant don't have to wait Immediate gratification: where I lose I win (It serves me, think it's funny) Power & control: I Maintain control Self-validation: It serves me, think it's funny, RR05 Confron ta fellow teacher Relationship came to head, needed to be dealt with, went for beer, put cards on table, honest, smoother from then on, easier to work with; had good impact on kids, more safety, felt supported, took more risks, would do it again same, it worked out ok Accomp: put cards on table Satisfied with results: smoother, easier, safer, good impact, felt supported, worked out ok 1 75 Appendix I RR06 Going to church, age 11 Took responsibility, rode bike thru snow to church, they couldn't get angry, got some power back, it's predictable: a certain weird safety in terms of control, at the same time, I won Accomplished task: got to church Satisfaction with results: I won, predictable weird safety Power & control: got power back, . safety in terms of control, I won (self-validation Took responsibility) (Avoided unpleasant: they couldn't get angry) RR07 At the mall in Florida, age 11 Found pop bottles, traded for a dime, called the motel: "where are you?" example of just following my own natural rhythms, having a good time, learned how to dissociate from my family, at age 11: very resourceful Power & control: following natural rhythms Self-validation: resourceful Learning: to dissociate from family (Satisfied with results: Followed natural rhythms, good time) Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 SS01 Writing a paper Finished 8 a.m., assignment still warm from printer, looks so good, worked pretty hard, all night, results sitting there, all crisp, edges are straight, 10 hours later & not tired, satisfying, to be proud of, not so bad, polished a little, felt alright about it, rates about a 7, written all at once, paper is more consistent Accomplished task: finished Satisfied with results, looks so good, crisp edges straight, not tired proud, felt alright Efficient time use: all at once & consistent, 10 hours later & not tired SS02 Wood-carving It was fine, I avoided making any stupid mistakes, it's fun to do something well & slowly & it turns out ok, felt ok about putting it down Accomplished task: done well satisfied with results: fine, turned out ok, felt ok Avoid unpleasant stupid mistakes SS03 Judging time to get here Getting better, something I'm working on, most people don't get too upset about a few minutes either way External validation: most people don't get upset about a few minutes Learning: getting better (Satisfied with results: getting better) SS04 Post-poning a com-plaint Good job I held off, allowed me to cool down, better that I didn't snap at them, avoided uncomfortable, nasty situation, a good thing I put it off, probably good the way it was, hasn't happened again Avoid unpleasant: uncomfortable nasty confrontation Satisfied with results: allowed cool down, I didn't snap at them, good the way it was self-validation : good thing I put it off, good job I held off SS05 Buying Xmas gifts Found pretty good, cool gift on the 23 r d, well-made knick-knack, we both appreciate, turned out a heck of a lot better not letting pressure get me Accomplished task: got a gift Satisfaction with results: cool gift, both appreciate, turned out a heck of a lot better Power & control: not letting pressure get to me (avoid unpleasant): pressure SS06 Waking up ???? That wakes me up, I usually stay up, can also set it again, give myself another hour Out: can set it again, give myself another hour (Power & control: give myself another hour) 1 76 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 ZZ01 DNQ ZZ02 weeding Mom weeded the garden & didn't complain, I don't do gestures: I do the real thing or nothing, I guess I don't really want to spend that time alone with her Accomplished task: garden weeded by Mom Power & control: I don't really want to spend time alone with her Learning & self acceptance: I don't do gestures, I do the real thing or nothing ZZ03 Dress-making (& insight) I became conscious of "procrastinating," helpful to know what causes me to put things off Learning: I became conscious of procrastinating ZZ04 Catch up with studies Being comfortable, not delving too far to find out exactly how much work there was I needed to catch up. If it works ok, why do you have to know? avoid unpleasant :not find out how much work there was to catch up, why do you have to know? Leave an Out: Comfortable not delving too far to not find out how much work there was to catch up ZZ05 marking Felt good when finished, usual quality, got satisfaction in finishing, leisure time while others worked butts off all stressed out, I can do it when I like, efficient use of time, what's the big deal, I can condense it Satisfied with results: felt good, usual quality Immediate gratification: Had leisure time Efficient time use, condense time (power & control: 1 can do it when 1 like) ZZ06 Work week prep I coped, as I always do, always managed task in context of time available, gradual steps, can't say I could've done better, did my best, wasn't able to do more with my knowledge & experience, satisfied it was the best I could do, squishing work into least amount of time possible satisfied with results: best I could do Accomplished task: managed task, did my best Use of time: squishing work into least amount of time Leave an out: did best in context of time available Self acceptance: coped, always do ZZ07 overdue assign-ment Churned it out the night before, in 8 hours, more than acceptable, can do things speedily Satisfied with results: more than acceptable Efficient use of time: churned it out in 8 hours Self acceptance: do things speedily Accomplished task: churned it out ZZ08 washing dishes They get done, satisfaction doing in them, it looks nice, makes me happy, "I have a nice home". Save it all up to do in one shot, compressed time and use balance for leisure Accomplished task: dishes get done Satisfaction: looks nice, makes me happy Efficient time use: do it in one shot, compressed time ZZ09 Paying bills" Not knowing the bank balance is my reward, reduces stress, as long as you haven't written cheques you can withdraw, makes life easier, husband took it over Avoid unpleasant reduces stress (Relief: reduces stress) Satisfied with results: Makes life easier Leave an Out: as long as you haven't written cheques you can withdraw, not knowing it my reward External validation: husband took over task 1 77 Appendix I ZZ10 Putting Gas in car And It made it to the gas station. I always do get gas. I've won a victory, a little battle, I'm the victor, against the car, or fate, "phew, you got home! 25 minutes on reserve tank, light flashing, satisfaction when I got into the carport at home, you made it, you must be a good judge of that little needle. Accomplished task Satisfaction with results Immediate gratification self validation Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 ZZ11 Sending out resume I'm not having to face up to the stress; if I wait longer I might be lone applicant, noticed in a smaller wave or as individual Avoid unpleasant stress Out: if I wait I might be noticed ZZ12 Assign-ment due Out of the way, date's passed, don't have to think about it Relief: Release from stress (Avoid unpleasant don't have to think about it) ZZ13 Sending cards Delegated posting task to Dad, he does it and loves it, thrives on it, like I'm doing him a favor. Recipients won't complain Accomplished task: Dad does it external validation recipients won't complain (satisfaction: doing him a favor) ZZ14 Seeking job inter-views Not doing it is freeing me up to be free; I'd rather not expect something than expect and not get it; if get job: that'll be sweet by skin of teeth, "gee, I did it!" it'll all come together, or there'll be another job Immediate gratification: freeing me up Self acceptance: I'd rather not expect than not get (Anticipated Satis: it'll all come together, sweet) (leave an out: I'd rather not expect than not get) ZZ15 Paying tuition fees Without it happening it's quite restful. And still pay by the deadline Avoid unpleasant stress Accomplished task: paid ZZ16 Proof-reading Had free night off last night, uninterrupted by damned assignment, completed assignment, managed quite fine except for one typo Accomplished task: completed Satisfied with result: managed quite fine Immediate gratification: free night off (Avoid unpleasant damned assignment) ZZ17 Letter writing By not writing, I don't have to analyze what's happening in our life, what the future holds, or face reality, remember moments that weren't the happiest Avoid unpleasant; analysis of what's happening in life or memories ZZ18 Wakin 9 up Get essential rest, really means something, makes a difference in tiredness in my day Imgrat: essential rest, Satisfied with results: get essential rest, reduces tiredness makes a difference (Learning: makes a difference in tiredness) 1 78 Appendix I Event Positive Outcomes Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3 Theme 4 TT01 Leaving room-mate Within 2 weeks, everything started to turn up positive since, nice to have own place, glad it's over with, learned things, she can never do that again, won't let her take advantage of my good nature Satisfied with results: own place, everything turned positive Relief: glad it's over Learned: about self, good nature, she can't do again Power & control: won't let her take advantage TT02 Movi ng out applying to UBC housing didn't hurt landlord's feelings, left on good terms, admitted to UBC housing in 24 hours, got organized, finished papers, moved at month end, didn't care if mice on floor, because of procrastinating I am where I am now, it's been wonderful, know I made the right move, no regrets Accomplished move Satisfied with results: wonderful, right move, no regrets (Avoid unpleasant conflict, hurt feelings, hassle free) TT02A Getting a cat Never go around to getting a cat, glad I put it off, horrendous snowfall, left car behind, no way to get cat back by bus, when returned landlord had changed his mind Satisfied with results: glad Out: glad I put it off, he changed mind TT03 Writing a paper Got extension, no marks off. Finished paper. Thank god it's finished, as long as I get 68% I don't care, it's out of the way, I don't have to do it again. Just want a break. I don't really think it has harmed me in any way, I always pick up the old boot straps and say "that's it." I always manage to come up smelling like roses. Got 92%, there was something in it. Accomplished task Satisfaction with results external validation self validation Leaving oneself and out TT04 My health Decided to do something about getting rid of pain, surgery went well Relief Satisfied with results: went well Accomplished task: had surgery TT05 grad school applic-ations Glad I procrastinated, UBC is a much better institution than Concordia Satisfied with results: glad, at better school 179 Appendix J Q3: what participants would miss if they could no longer procrastinate Sorted by participant C C Q3 My creative control over my environment Control C C Q3 Doing things simultaneously Use of time C C Q3 the un-flatness of existence, the thrill and excitement of creative writing Stimulation & excitement C C Q3 Getting as much done as I do Satisfaction with results EE Q3 The ability to choose between doing different things, things I like doing Control EE Q3 The coping mechanism, a power & control thing, you feel sometimes like you're out of control. Control G G Q3 My love for life that let's me get out in the sunshine to feel life and be myself Stimulation & Excitement G G Q3 Avoiding burnout Relaxation UUQ3 The gamble, the sense of luck, something good that might happen today Unpredictability UU Q3 The unpredictability of incidents, it's more fun than knowing what's going to happen Unpredictability UUQ3 Being able to shift focus away from a task, putting yourself in neutral, idling for a while before getting back to full gear, full speed Relaxation FF Q3 The extra time that I gain for something else I valued more. Time to do things that are more pleasurable Use of time FF Q3 Time to relax, downtime to relax, the doors it would open to relaxation Relaxation KK Q3 The way it keeps having to get things done ahead of time from becoming too overwhelming too overpowering, so that it overpowers my personality. Control KK Q3 The allowance for straying Spontaneity KK Q3 The shortcuts you can take Use of time 180 Appendix J Q3: what participants would miss if they could no longer procrastinate A A Q 3 The spontaneity of putting things off when I wanted to, wisely, when I need to Spontaneity LL Q3 To really be spontaneous and do other things, not robotic Spontaneity BB Q3 The ability to relax, the chance not to be tense, not to be on the go all the time, downtime Relaxation BB Q3 Meeting a lot of good people, the friendships that can result Satisfaction with results NN Q3 Not being totally busy Use of time N N Q 3 Being easier to live with Social harmony PP Q3 Control over the choice of what I do in the time, of what I in fact do Use of time PP Q3 Being as possessed as I can about what I choose in and what I want to do Control RR Q3 The element of spontaneity, fun, passion, living on the edge, going with the flow Spontaneity RR Q3 Unpredictability Unpredictability RR Q3 The (positive) stress of doing things at the last minute, living on the edge, doing a lot of things at one go. Stimulation & Excitement S S Q3 Doing things in a focused way, all at once Use of time S S Q3 The excitement and fun that go with that focus Stimulation & Excitement Z Z Q 3 Not having to test myself Stimulation & Excitement Z Z Q 3 The little rewards along the way, a little bit of light in my life Satisfaction with results T T Q 3 Reflectivity, time to think before speaking Control T T Q 3 Social harmony, I'd become a social outcast, saying things that would upset others Social harmony T T Q 3 My best work, I'm brilliant under pressure Satisfaction with results T T Q 3 I'm focused under pressure Use of time 181 Appendix J Q3: what participants would miss if they could no longer procrastinate sorted by theme Control My creative control over my environment C C Q3 The coping mechanism, a power & control thing, you feel sometimes like you're out of control. EE Q3 The ability to choose between doing different things, things I like doing EE Q3 The way it keeps having to get things done ahead of time from becoming too overwhelming too overpowering, so that it overpowers my personality. KK Q3 Reflectivity, time to think before speaking TTQ3 Being as possessed as I can about what I choose in and what I want to do PP Q3 The way it keeps having to get things done ahead of time from becoming too overwhelming too overpowering, so that it overpowers my personality. KK Q3 Use of time Doing things simultaneously C C Q3 Control over the choice of what I do in the time, of what I in fact do PP Q3 The extra time that I gain for something else I valued more. Time to do things that are more pleasurable FFQ3 doing a lot of things at one go RR Q3 Doing things in a focused way, all at once SS Q3 I'm focused under pressure TTQ3 The shortcuts you can take KK Q3 Not being totally busy NNQ3 Relaxation Being able to shift focus away from a task, putting yourself in neutral, idling for a while before getting back to full gear, full speed UU Q3 The ability to relax, the chance not to be tense, not to be on the go all the time, downtime BB Q3 Time to relax, downtime to relax, the doors it would open to relaxation FF Q3 Avoiding burnout G G Q3 182 Appendix J Stimulation & Excitement Not having to test myself ZZQ3 the un-flatness of existence, the thrill and excitement of creative writing C C Q3 The (positive) stress of doing things at the last minute, living on the edge, doing a lot of things at one go. RR Q3 The excitement and fun that go with that focus SS Q3 My love for life that let's me get out in the sunshine to feel life and be myself G G Q3 Spontaneity The spontaneity of putting things off when I wanted to, wisely, when I need to AAQ3 The allowance for straying KK Q3 To really be spontaneous and do other things, not robotic LL Q3 The element of spontaneity, fun, passion, living on the edge, going with the flow RR Q3 Unpredictability The gamble, the sense of luck, something good that might happen today UUQ3 The unpredictability of incidents, it's more fun than knowing what's going to happen UUQ3 Unpredictability RR Q3 Satisfying results Meeting a lot of good people, the friendships that can result BB Q3 The little rewards along the way, a little bit of light in my life ZZQ3 My best work, I'm brilliant under pressure TTQ3 Getting as much done as I do C C Q3 Social harmony Being easier to live with NNQ3 Social harmony, I'd become a social outcast, saying things that would upset others TTQ3 Appendix K Table of Respondents Positive Experience Process Themes 1 83 Theme CC ee gg uu ff kk aa II bb nn PP rr ss zz tt total 1 Reassurance 1 5 2 4 2 3 2 1 1 1 1 3 7 3 36 2 Choices for use of time 2 1 4 5 2 2 1 1 1 1 2 9 2 33 3 Immediate gratification 3 5 5 3 1 1 2 3 2 1 4 30 4 Avoiding unpleasant aspects 2 1 5 1 1 1 1 1 4 2 19 5 Taking action 1 1 1 2 1 1 4 1 1 2 1 1 17 6 Shifting expectations 4 1 1 1 3 1 2 1 14 7 Self care 1 2 1 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 1 15 8 Learning 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 10 9 Enjoying increased pressure 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 9 Total * 8 14 13 23 11 10 7 10 10 8 9 10 11 28 11 183 Appendix L 184 Table of Participants' Positive Outcome Themes: Participants Theme cc ee gg uu ff kk aa bb nn pp rr ss zz tt total 1 satisfaction with 4 5 3 5 4 1 1 3 4 1 5 5 4 8 6 59 the results 2 accomplishment 4 6 3 2 4 1 of the task 3 leaving oneself an out 4 external validation 5 Learning 6 unpleasant aspects avoided 7 Immediate gratification 8 Self validation & 4 self acceptance 9 use of time 10 Relief 11 power & control Total 1 1 1 1 4 3 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 5 1 2 1 3 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 4 6 1 2 2 2 1 1 3 1 2 14 1 1 5 1 1 1 13 16 25 21 25 16 10 6 15 14 6 16 28 15 44 17 274 1 5 4 7 3 48 2 1 1 4 2 22 1 1 1 2 1 21 1 4 3 1 2 1 20 2 2 5 2 1 4 1 1 4 19 23 1 4 2 3 1 20 15 *order is by number of participants Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes CC01 Doing chores Avoiding something else, feeling less hygienic, unclean, sub-human, irritation, self-annoyance, "I hate living here now" distracted, disturbed, less attention to larger activities, undermining Time suspensions, very economical with time, comical banter, cleaning while singing Bothersomeness in thoroughness, low from doing the activity, depressing Avoiding doing something else, thorough cleaning, enjoy singing, generated high, feeling really good, more energy and enthusiasm, borrowed cheerfulness, get it done, a lot happier, feeling good about meeting external standards, feel respectable, decent, better as a person, apartment looks neat CC02 writing a paper Just do it, can't you? lots of tension, like ADD it's bad, distracting self, rigmarole, quirky Domestic errands all done, laugh at self, genial spirits sidelining, compounding activities: +procrastination +housecleaning, +singing, +thinking, more efficient, less official, in a fantasy world, find "pearls" of creative composition Get on with what you didn't do, there's a limit, can be sluggish, back and forth, brain not working, annoying, bad session: bare minimum done, shortcuts, cheating, icky, dumb, wasting time, sloughing it off, wipes me out, sleep or go do fun, non-productive, less enthusiastic, "pearls" are accidental, paper in a little late. Look what I've done! "cool poem", creative, glad other things are done, acute mental clarity, focus, plow thru weeks' worth of work, different passage of time, feel really good about self, smart, wicked, genius, athletic achievement, "accomplished-task high", elated, "the most pristine sentence in the paper could've been achieved while procrastinating," paper done on time. CC03 Creative writing "desert of inner liveliness" very sluggish, slump, emotions confused, wishy-washy logic, no recording of ideas, insurmountable obstacle, derailing, it all falls apart, feel flat, generic, really, really annoyed, bothers me a lot, laziness, don't know why and I hate that, disruptive negativity in my life, horrible, feel grouchy, nothing's any good, not great company Deplore the procrastinating activities, they annoy me, why do I wait for the window? I know it can be arrived at spontaneously. Nothing to gain. Writing leads to big changes, "writing storm engages the pen". Become really alive, feel fantastic, great, pretty good at worst, feel really good that I did it, greater emotional clarity, brings it all together, it's really good, happy, ego-high, proud of self, elated, cheerful, witty, mentally sharper, time to think up neat things to add to story improves results Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes CC04 Return phone calls Rude to others, introverted, isolationist phase: spells of not wanting to talk, waiting for bouncier mood, resent "having to" do it. Delay to protect self, feel good about resisting, "this is cool", I'm my own person, got the solitude I want, more important than calling them back, this is my right. If they're not home, that's rude, feel lonely, restless, really weird, shifted moral ground, feel obligated and annoyed with self, extra guilty, beating self up, my fault, my rudeness, should've called earlier I feel great, happy to connect, alive, confident, picks me up, starts extraverted phase, more bubbly. CC05 Writing a paper Shouldn't postpone, question of integrity, wallowing, not arriving at breakthrough conclusions, stopped editing, distractions I had months, really annoys me, should've been operating in comfortable timeframe, could've gotten it done, mark in the 60's, writing shoddy, really bad, what was I thinking, pretty pathetic, like a big idiot, what's teacher gonna think of me? EE01 Writing grant proposal & paper on same weekend Totally stressed, tried to get both done, worked on one all weekend, Big trouble with paper, cried & apologized They will understand if you're stressed Caused additional stress Employer was grateful, Got the grant, got extension, got an A, tremendous sense of satisfaction, Everything worked out EE02 Writing a paper Didn't know how I felt on subject that mattered, trouble balancing, unclear, really stressed, hard time getting clear, put it off, walked away walked away Feels like con game, like I didn't deserve it, playing game & getting away with something, didn't get act together Payoff, played the game right, got extension, pretty lucky, feel extra % marks coming, feels really good EE03 Applying for a job Turned down the year before, totally crushed, put it off, should I bother? Not gonna deal with it today, don't want to decide whether to apply yet; do I even want this job? due next day, go thru whole process to be disappointed? almost didn't apply, fear of rejection, afraid I wasn't gonna get hired again Self talk: don't have to take position, can refuse interview, still putting off, protecting self, from hurt of rejection as previously felt, Friend said "just apply!" wrote cover letter & submitted completed application night before due; if no interview, can blame cover letter Did it so last minute, procrastinated wholeheartedly Got hired, good to know I got hired even though I almost didn't want it anyway, glad friend convinced me, really happy, a great job for me EE04 Grad school applic-ations Fear, uncertainty, rejection, lost motivation, very upset, really stressed, feeling so small, frightening process is easier to put off, put off painful things I'm I have a shot, take a chance, risk, don't want to set up for failure, prefer knowing success is likely, don't know outcome, convince self no big deal Ridiculous, did at last minute, night before due, minimizing risk, reducing importance of task, reducing threat, totally stressed, up all night, so frightening, big panic each time, Better at success, hardest thing I did this year Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes afraid to do, possibility of rejection or failure or not sure how to do EE05 Writing a needs assess-ment Afraid of being called incompetent, didn't know what 1 was doing, put it off for a long time, Minimized importance of task: almost secondary, increased confidence to do it No clue whether done right 1 did it, they loved it, totally on wing & prayer, turned out fine, really simple, very pleased, felt trusted to do this work, didn't have to do what 1 didn't feel comfortable doing. EE06 Writing a final report after job ended Low priority, stressed, busy, last thing on my mind, unpaid, piddley detail, avoided them, felt horrible, longer wait/harder to start, felt so bad, it was daunting, didn't know how to set it up and do it wanted to do it well, decided not to do it, no other way out, wanted to do it in a way that reflected how well 1 thought I'd done the job report was late, so pathetic, didn't get my ass in gear, felt & seemed like a big thing, felt badly, should've done it, it was stupid of me to get so stressed & freaked, felt absolutely pathetic for not having done it before. Took so little time, did a really good report, got received ok, no big deal, felt unusually good, really happy to have it done, 1 could let go of the guilt EE07 Filing Taxes Busy time, intimidating, complicated, not sure how to do, might owe, didn't want to deal with it, arduous, such a pain, feeling guilty 151 thing on to-do list, it'll get done, had time to convince self about possible outcomes, last minute so not so well done, got different perspective to fear and rejection, other excuses for why it might not work, enjoy other stuff more: not taxes. Relief when you stop procrastinating Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes GG01 Putting off working Starts as great day to do something, really serious about getting back into thesis, then no follow thru, undercut at outset: "yeah right." I dismissed it, fucked around. Spent day doing virtually nothing, busy things. Does that mean I'll founder for a month? feel anxious, say I can't let that happen. Extend experience of time, lingering, rationalize reasons, aware that time is passing & how much I had let task fade. Sense of urgency started, feel guilt, anxiety Noticed a strong nudge to respond to or not. Makes me pay attention to my disciplinarian voice, say I don't want to shut it out. It allows me more flexibility, I can screw around with something. It scares some sense into me. Cajoling self to be more rigorous, task oriented, disciplined. A predictable day, there was a possibility, a hope of starting What's the point of setting up agendas for the day? Getting to the doing is the problem, entire day doing nothing. A lot of remorse, almost a resignation, a surrender, not getting closer to what I need to do. No follow through. Become harshly self-critical. Feeling cruddy about it all. In a rut, undermining belief in myself that I'll get it done, that I can be productive. Almost into identity of "a chronic procrastinator is all I'll be." Sometimes a happy "what's the point?" Just do what you want to do, a positive thing. Give self a lot of permission, it's fine, not much remorse at all. I'm gonna have my fun. Allows me a lot more flexibility, I can screw around. It scares some sense into me, to pay more attention, say I'm not going to allow self to dismiss task. Buy into procrastinator identity: what can I really expect? What's the point? Resignation, surrender, just do whatever I feel like, hope it's productive enough. GG02 Putting Stop to work Felt anxious, pressure of important article, writing wasn't going well, high standards: core issue unexpressed, never felt satisfied, all very futile, can I get it right? Unpleasant, doubt, frustrating, blatant avoidance, should work on it more instead of avoiding Nicer sitting watching TV & eating Didn't get back to it, doesn't clear anxiety, anxiety waiting when I return to task, getting back is gonna be tough A breath of relief from pressure, enough, avoided a failure experience, avoided sitting in self-doubt before big damage, done lots of other things instead GG03 Putting off assign-ment Know it's gonna be a late night, goofing around in lounge with roommates. Mind isn't in study anymore. After laughs, nagging voice says you shouldn't be here anymore, get back. Alarm bells start. Being there doesn't feel helpful anymore, reprimand. Strong alarm bells, but I stay anyway, not wanting to leave or get back. Feel tense, bells setting off bit of panic in me. sitting with the panic, I'll go any minute now, but just not going. Lots of time, I'll pick study up in about an hour. Don't mind losing 2 hours sleep, a good sacrifice. Had quite a few laughs. Lingering. All panicky, whoa, 'way too much time that went by. Working quickly, don't do quite as good a job or proof read. Would have been quite a bit better. Guilt ridden after paper is returned: geez, why did I allow myself to do that?" Not in accordance with my standards. Let self down. Could have gotten closer to what I wanted.. went back to study, just "went to it." Now glad I put off study at the time, I remember the social times. Giving in & procrastinating helped me maintain balance of social life, academic, relationship & athletic. Often a sweet sacrifice, saying study is priority but relaxing standard for a time. Work on hurry-up mode, think a lot more quickly. Never missed a deadline. Also say who really cares anyway, it was all worth it, look what I got to do instead, have a fun time. Cost attached to revising: I really hate sitting with it, working on it further when I know I could be free. Such an aversive feeling to me to be stuck in that muck Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes GG04 Pressure study Night from hell, trouble understanding concepts, "can't stand it," anxiety level severe, had to leave, body buzz, caffeine, tired, can't go back, doing o/c cleaning; kicking & screaming & dragging to get me back, so tired: adds to panic, desire to flee, time getting thin, anxiety in gut, chastising self: completely stupid Bind anxiety to gratifying TV, avoid anxiety, displace it, project it; feel need to be vigilant, go, go, go, finding relief, this is only way I can cope Leftover panicky feeling, Unhealthy, sleep loss, almost kills me, (don't cope with difficult exam questions, more panicky: mental block, no reward other than coping, could've studied longer, not better, more time could've prepared me more for exam, performance could've been better if I'd slept heightens performance, keeps me awake, finding relief, binding anxiety, sense of controlling it, got 90% (- 6) pleased with performance, little post-exam remorse, revel in the masochism of it, pleasure in pain, especially if showing off to others, some self-satisfaction, process is worth it GG04A Pulling an all-nighter Studying, relishing it, boasting to friends, procrastinated 2 whole weeks prior, "pulled an all-nighter" again Could've done it in a more pain free way Doing really well, can do that, self-satisfaction, whole process of procrastination is worth it, got 100% once, gloated, felt incredible pride, pleasure in pain, especially if showing off to others, GG05 Work on assign-ment What are you doing? Don't do that today, get to it, this is the plan, my ritual: choose familiar over comfortable, beating self up, often panic I need to shop, in bookstore is constructive way to spend time, related to field: almost professional development, love thinking about it all, familiar, I know myself in it, something gratifying in it Intensifies procrastinating voice: "you've been too focused & dogmatic lately," set up for more pressured task, frantic, not helping me out in what I want, if I'd followed through prior: no panic, a crazy ritual, I set myself up, would've done a better job, wasn't enough, better rely on familiar is like returning to abusive partner, self-battle, never guilt free fun, big cost, did not enjoy o/c stuff happening Pacifies & satisfies disciplinarian voice to some degree, getting results that way, some sense of balance, get to have fun AA01 Writing a report Chore, each day more anxious, looking at material on desk made me sick, scared not gonna be good enough, so don't even want to do it, not today, put it off, not happy with it in back of mind, bugging me, "you should be doing this," pressure increased gradually each day until not so ok anymore Gonna spend weekend writing, no time at all, hand in next week, great, out of my life; I squash it down, distract self for a time til it pops up, do it tomorrow for sure, did (uncredited) advance formulating of report Knot in stomach, shoulders around ears, become frantic worker at computer for long stretches, not best product, some anxiety, maybe report not ok or as good as it could be, lose perspective; didn't give advance formulating credit 'cos wasn't doing the work, wasn't good enough, just reinforced procrastination, only helps if I acknowledge thinking time while non-productive, doesn't make process ok Almost relief to meet person who needed report, someone else involved, had no choice, did it on weekend, in pieces, had formulated & mapped out in advance, long before, ready to proceed, pulled together quickly, glad to have as much done, a relief, no one bothered by late report, great to be out of my life, good product Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes AA02 Writing thesis Much tension, tired, no energy to put in, keep putting it off, task so big & overwhelming, a fear thing, more than I can handle (I don't believe that) trying to figure out why, what could be hard about doing it? Are reasons good enough? "No, you should be able to do this" not meeting my new schedule, unshifting template One piece at a time, almost don't want to get consumed by it yet, stay on the outside of it, not dive in, don't want that to happen yet, part of me wants to lie on couch & read a paperback, would be nice to have had a little bit done, hoping to get it done quickly, other mitigating factors happening, Sense of failure around the whole thing, only ok to revise template to speed up not slow down, not as generous with self, started to realize template is not do-able, making me more anxious, feels like some sort of second best kind of thing I've got to adjust template, way more realistic, it'll be fine once I give up old template AA03 Writing a paper Doing an all-nighter, late into the night, procrastination put me in position where I'm frantic, preceding weeks anxiety-provoking & stressful, throws me off, not comfortable, much bigger part is I'd rather go to bed, waken in morning, read it over rather than this, need to have it fit certain form & fear it won't very busy, justified, knew I'd get to it eventually, trying & not able to, appealing aspect of working under pressure, tormented artist, everything flowing, late night alone, "wow, this is kinda fun", procrastination as old friend, romantic quality about situation, even/thing's fine, an appeal to that, kind of neat, can't do unless procrastinating, familiar, soothing, liked topic: exciting, kept interest negative thing, bad thing, putting it off when I could do it, could do very well without dream scenario of middle of the night worker, don't want to do that anymore, want to be able to put things off not to point of anxiety and dread Less anxiety than preceding weeks, acceptance about why I'm at this place, once I get into it, I really get into it & enjoy it FF01 Prepare lessons Avoid until last possible time, 1 hour left and best I can do, why am I putting unnecessary pressure on self? Why didn't I do it sooner? feeling guilty for treating self in way adding extra pressure, never gets around to it, looms over my head all week, builds a bit each day, huge task, too big to meet standard, avoid until I have to now!, I should really get this done, don't want to do it now, I'd rather not put in 4 hours, I'll do it later, leave it for when I have no more time left, I'd rather do something else (less important or enjoyable), lots of options, run out of time to compare it to my standards, at last minute make a combination up to my standards, standard is good 'cos it keeps me challenged to produce extra would really feel good about self if done in advance, could've been better if I'd prepared more, never do 'cos too much time & not enough money, why didn't I do it before, why put self thru pressure? Let myself down, angry for letting it get to that point, losing good feeling about self & feeling prepared in enough time, dissatisfied with having put self thru pressure, tired: better delivery if more sleep, could've slept & made it a good lesson, would make life easier without pressure The lesson is ok, a good lesson, no bad lessons, I'll be fine, students will have a good time, I'm saving time, avoid until little time left, so that's all I can do, gaining time to do other things, not missing out on "completely, completely enjoyable" things I wanted to do Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes FF02 prepare a present-ation pecking away doesn't work but still expect to do it that way, could've started 'way before, some pressure: not huge, avoiding starting, should read more books: ugh! Don't want to bother Challenged to get lots done, forced self, P. adds urgency, needfulness, energy value, drive, focus, need to be prepared, allow more time: get all these ideas, think of huge perspective: get it all in Theory: doing it in pieces makes sense, no worry, maybe I could've added more, made it better, I'm always out of time Satisfied, given time available, did best I could in time I had, spend 13 hours in one day prior, it's perfect, looks good, is done, I'm happy, met standards, do whole thing in one big take, get ideas. FF02A Thesis defense Writing for 12 hours, wanted 2 days prep, took longer to get all organized Ran through it twice, then defended Why didn't I prepare more? It was fine, worked out really well, wasn't unhappy with presentation FF03 Putting off phoning back friends Don't really want to talk to those people, obligated to return calls, not interested in conversing, if I can avoid it, I will. Talk about nothing, on and on, tedious, hard to do, how can I get off the phone? Messages pile up, they call again. I don't have time, don't want to talk to them personally or on the phone. Feel obligated, maybe I should not be friends. I oscillate, what is it gonna take out of my schedule if I see them? Nice people, kind to me. Feel guilty for not having contacted them earlier. I really should, but don't want to get involved. Or else call them and suffer the listening to their talking. I'd rather read a book, clean my room, plan lessons. Sometimes think, if that bothers me that much, how can I be friends in first place? I try to figure when they won't be home to leave a message. Time is paramount, and the lack of connection and maybe substance to it, is all. Have to explain why I haven't called back. Making excuses. Feel horrible about it. Can't say "I like you but don't want to talk on phone to you," that's offensive. I'm really bad, call them when it's absolutely to that point where if I don't call them they're gonna be furious. I'm selfish, a bad friend I'll eventually get around to it, call 6 people back, hope their answering machines are on. It's the time factor, don't worry about quick conversations. When I have to do it, call them, listen to their story, "good ! I've done that!" I should just not call, eliminate that source of things. Suffer with their talking or suffer with guilt, guilt seems to be winning out, it's not as much for me, so in that case it would be a positive. FF04 Project: write & publish family history Task became much bigger, so avoiding it, a huge thing, dread, urgency, pressure: increases over time, feel guilty, task seems so big, taking much longer, feeling really bad, do insignificant things instead, letdown Really want to do this Pressure about avoidance of task, guilt for not doing what I set out to do, haven't come through with it for self, don't understand why I haven't started, besides bigger size & longer time it'll take to do Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes FF05 Sleep Sleep is a waste of time, life is too short, there's not enough time, eyes sore, body tired, I need more time, already tired at 11, never go to bed then Want time for life, a million things to do, even tired, mind alert, keeps going, should do this or that instead, do just a couple more things Really exhausted, can't stay up, have to go to bed, should get more sleep, nothing happened while asleep, could've been busy, how to get rid of need for it? Why didn't I go to bed a 11? Getting more things done, tired but ok it'll pass, doesn't get that bad, I do it again FF06 Leaving the house Always underestimate judging time, ends up taking longer, too long, feel badly, say that's the last time, unaware of how much time it's taking, time disappears somehow, you can bet I'll be late Next time won't take so long, gonna be on time, I'll pick up some seconds, it won't take long How to improve? Fix? Improvement doesn't happen, don't like it, wanna change, end up being late, what happens to the time? Being 10 or so minutes late is expected by all my friends UU01 avoiding work tasks pile of tasks to accomplish, take a long time, drudgery aspect, feel helpless in office, don't feel like pushing self hard, focus continually drifts, walk around, puts me further behind Shift focus, Walk around, clears head, step away, do something easy, read paper, radio, distract self, "this is my time", a bunch of little chunks of respite from old daily grind Do it too often to be effective at some things I should be doing, then the pressure's back on in even greater proportions, end up having to do stuff later in day Don't feel for that brief moment something's pushing me, things I'm pressured by are displaced for that little while, feel relaxed for a little while, works out in a strange way; & pretty up to date on current affairs UU02 studying Should be studying for an exam, when I need to be focused, something else is drawing my attention, difficulty being immersed or focused on just one thing Interested in different things, read for 6 hours about Russian art, do that type of thing on regular basis Anatomy mark wasn't as good as it should've been I know something about Russian art, have a wider view of world than otherwise, value that, gained a lot from time outs, and diversions from task people are amazed "how do you know that?" UU03 painting bored after 2 weeks, end isn't near, lost momentum, started later, wouldn't show up, forget, took liberties, worked 4 hours & do something else, unhappy with delay & time slipping by & self, customer getting unhappy, so stretched out, annoyed to be there, monkey on back, not hammering it out Wouldn't have to work rest of summer when done; got all summer, what's another day? justify a few more hours, no deadline, open ended, easy to find other things to do, lots of time, will work harder tomorrow, avoidance easier than confronting took 2 months, could've finished sooner & same money or another job & more money in time, customer teed off with process, wasted time, worked all summer, could've had month off, wasn't very satisfying, customer would've given good recommendation, shot self in foot Banged it off, did good job in end, customer happy with result, earned a lot of money Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes UU04 Return to work Too busy with work to look for apartment, suffocating in office, wandered, push-pull: stay few more minutes, make it up later by work longer; battle positive vs. negative, when negative overwhelms positive (longer stay: starting to waste time) return to work Completely different from day's work, enjoying one of my sojourns, get muffin, read notice board, peoplewatch: should go in a few minutes, get something out of this before returning; already 1 Vi hours, what's big deal of 10 more minutes? Diminishes good feeling of time spent there, maybe I could take shorter breaks, by extending them I cut into the positive benefits Looking at housing board, picked up local knowledge, met woman, spoke later, now live together; major benefits to it, a really beneficial day, what could've been waste of hour became really positive, if not wandering, would've lost opportunity UU05 Moving equip-ment Sit in the car listening to radio for 20 minutes, the "peanut butter effect" spreading self too thin Curiosity, program's info could be interesting, I should listen, might miss something if I don't Why did I do that? should've just gone & done what I had to do, wouldn't have missed anything, dissatisfaction, not as big payoff as if focused on something else Go for something that's interesting, payoff is a gamble, could be really big, could be risky UU06 avoiding paper work Too tired to focus on work, if nothing interesting in paper, think "could've done something else" that would've been useful, maybe not Read paper to find out what's going on, sometimes unintentionally fall asleep in chair Taken time out, physical benefit, feel more relaxed, more awake, more focused when I come back UU07 Putting off food shop Not a lot of bright moments in training conditions, cloud & rain, cold, facing traffic, need breakfast food, didn't want to shop, put it off went about things slowly, checked more boats, why bother rushing? Cloud broke: amazing visual scene, mist on water, storybook Kodak Moment, amazing, exciting moment, this is great, like winning a prize, had camera: took picture, really happy • Positive benefit: one of best shots ever taken, stock photo, very satisfying image, wouldn't have happened if I'd rushed, no one else saw, just lucky, pleasurable way to brighten up day, extra special payoff, little surprises are why we pursue sport, accidental UU08 Joining track team Fear, from different part of town, didn't know anyone, thought hard to fit in, doubt on arrival, held up talking to teacher, friends left, just dawdling, no rush to leave, avoid long dull walk home alone, postponed inevitable, more interesting looking a notices, felt nervous about qualifying Saw notices to join, wanted to try out, this is good, sense of security, would be nice, could I make team? Met coach: "everyone makes team, come on out", excited & calm, felt right, wasn't gonna be lost at school, sense it was going to be good, good stuff in future immediate payoff: felt happy, be part of team, ran track thru out school, quite good at it, made many friends on team, peer group, excellent coach, long term payoff: shaped everything doing now, led to interest in sport & coaching, career choice, moment pivotal to where I am now, extra benefit of what I do with accidental opportunity Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes UU09 Quitting basket ball game Only gonna stay 90 minutes, play hard & leave, game gets going, put it off, stay 3 hours, never able to leave in middle of good game, "this is too good," be over in 10 minutes, keep playing til win, can drag out too long, already late, stay for another game Count on positive payoff, benefit every time: workout Returning to work not as fun, tired, hard to concentrate, can't focus, slower getting going, shuffling paperwork I could do later, left feeling in neutral Good workout, fun, daydream back to game, slowly back into rhythm of work 3-4 hours later UU10 Taking clothes to goodwill not hard task or hassle, just don't wanna go do, put it off, box isn't even in car yet, feeling guilty, should've done that, bugs girlfriend daily, all month: I easily walk by & ignore it Box is still sitting there, if I hadn't delayed, it wouldn't be there now, a sense that I shouldn't have put it off, gonna try to do it today, hasn't crossed my mind or affected me until now UU10A Leaving work to Go home had to stay late to finish work as result, home 9 p.m., too late, girlfriend annoyed: "haven't seen you since breakfast, you could've been here, what's your problem?" If I could've just gotten things done, combine all the little time outs Doodled around on campus all day now there's a problem, pressure to not work so late, to get home earlier, even to do nothing special We could be together KK01 Do final assign-ments Should start soon, it gets pushed off, "too bad that's not done yet, it'd be nice to get it out of the way," a bug that keeps flying around your head, you keep swatting at it, kinda sucks it's not done, lots of pressure, forced all-nighter, stuck here, half dead, everyone else having fun, it got dragged 'way out Got all week, next week, rest of the week, know there's gonna be time, gonna have to be done, it's gonna be done, no sense of urgency, deadline: away in future; should really get that done, looking at percentages, how much is each worth? how important the class? more important first; got extension, won't hurt if done Sunday Wasn't best ability, missed out on big important party day, too many activities on plate for the year, would be nicer & less stressful to have it done beforehand and laugh at last minute scramblers, should've got it done, I had my fun before, I'm screwed in the end Finished Sunday evening, done, no marks off, now I am more careful, sense of what I can put on my plate, not that hard on myself, there was a good reason why I didn't meet goal, doing "half a pretty good job" for what I'm putting into it KK02 Ending Off-Road Biking Be safe & go home or check out cool trails, have fun and back in plenty of time, explore uncharted trails (more fun) and still slide to dinner on time, "probably shouldn't go here: got lost, didn't I really wanted to do this, probably going to be pushing it, might get lost, into what I was doing, went ahead anyway, we can bike faster, would've made it if hadn't got lost, pushing something It wasn't good enough, back 1 hour late, friend's girlfriend really mad, sarcastic: "a record, only one hour late," pissed off that I wasn't considerate enough, wouldn't talk to me. I felt pretty bad, Rode really cool trails, had fun Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes know exact time, put off coming home and making sure I'm on time, didn't put much emphasis on getting there on time or how host would feel else off to do something I want to do more immediately, just go for it now, worry about other stuff later hadn't respected her feelings, wouldn't want to happen again, especially with her, definitely "pushing it 'way beyond the edge" KK03 DNQ KK04 Driving friend's car don't want to lose out on what I'm doing right now just to meet deadline, "it's getting late, I should probably get going," "I want to finish this up first and then take off Make sure I get the most or what I wanted out of experience before I do other thing, it's just something that happens, no great sense of intensity I was late Girlfriend accepted, referred to it as being on "(KK)" time KK05 Improve handing in assign-ment Tired & run down, kept pushing it ahead, tired and still had to do it, forced into it, hellish Still had a good time on sports team, there's a reason I didn't go thru with it fully, I don't feel quite as bad Two days late, school did suffer, Not good enough job, missed stated goal, not even close to stated objective, nothing positive came of it, could've done better Prof respected me, let me go, no marks off, reasonably good mark KK06 Getting a jump on assign-ments All task-related stuff sitting there, reminding me, I don't want to work on it, TV is a trap, go upstairs and it's still there, set myself up, pretend to put in good effort, by the time I can do anything I have to leave, I just don't want to deal with it Going to be one less thing to do, Something I was looking at getting out of the way, look at it for a few minutes before I go out, nice to be home visiting, Time to go and haven't even looked at it, my own fault, task gets pushed away Get to do things that are more fun in the meantime, immediate gratification, don't look at it til it absolutely has to be looked at, LL01 Writing Lab reports I really left it, still iffy about what I had to do, last minute, didn't sleep the last night, stayed up til 6, really tired, couldn't stay awake, felt panicky Did some research, compared progress with fellows, asked TA about late marks off It was horrible, told self I'll never do that again, did it all again; a negative experience, should've done parts sooner, could've got more sleep, would've felt less panicky, could've reviewed work, Got extension, felt relieved, got it done LL02 First Break up First boyfriend, wanted to break up but didn't know proper way, wasn't compatible, didn't tell him til last minute, should do this before I drag it longer Didn't want to hurt his feelings, had enough and it's not worth my time, thinking of ways to tell nicely, do this before I drag it longer Got really boring, should've done it sooner, saved each other time & effort, shouldn't have been so abrupt, felt really bad for him, like I did something to him, could've remained friends, lost Afterwards glad I did it, don't have to talk to him again, wasn't really compatible, just not my type Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes touch LL03 Quitting my first job Didn't like job, location, long shift alone, thinking about quitting, maybe I shouldn't; told friends I didn't know how to quit, couldn't quit & walk out on boss, how to say it? How long is long enough to claim experience? "Why am I still here?" vs. "I should stick with this commitment longer" Good part-time job, liked customers, something to do, enough $, good experience, good for resume, should help boss avoid hassle of hiring another, he'd done a favor hiring me without experience, constant on & off, gradual, considering alternatives Could've ended it earlier, regret how it went in a way: lasted too long, didn't really like job, could've moved on, found another job, could've used "school's starting" excuse Told him I didn't want job, but would come back whenever he needed someone, still have uniform; in a way don't regret good experience; felt relieved, glad not to have to do this anymore, it's over, I won't think about it anymore LL04 Quitting a job Affected school work, isn't job for me? How to tell boss? Uncertain, delayed, was persuaded to stay, can't do anymore, too much for me Pretty interesting job, stopped meeting quotas, glad we did it over the phone, avoided his persuasiveness, Felt bad because it was over, Felt ok, glad he never called back, talked to a friend, felt better LL05 Writing lab report Really complicated, didn't know what I was doing, left it, tired and too straining, felt pressure, I can do it, leave it, do things later, I'd rather do something else, research is tedious, Compared notes with fellows, I'm not staying up all night, asked for extension, experiment & research results are interesting up all next night, zombie like, needed more time, could've spread it out more, checked with TA, got more sleep, less pressure, not something to repeat, dislike doing whole report & discussing details Turned it in, did ok, 77%, know how to proceed next time, time management stuff, I'd rather do a summary BB01 avoid home-work Boring reading, longer to get thru, I hate physics, really behind, little catch up time, read and fall asleep, slow timeframe, struggle for bare minimum, all-nighters, sick, stressing, pacing, scramble, panic attack, what-ifs & wishes skimming main points got thru it, anything over a pass is a bonus, touched on everything, saw advisor, changed major Barely sufficient, exhausted, self-defeating thoughts, guilty, nervous, doing poorly, disappointed, I hate this, failed by 1%, scared I'd have to drop out, if I'd started a week earlier, wouldn't be scrambling, could've relaxed & done better Relieved, grateful exams were done, ended up in area I enjoy, tough year ended up being positive academically /personally, reevaluated, improved task handling, not beat up self, procrastination can be good for me, learned to relax, good learning year Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes BB02 study for the LSAT Really tired of study and exam prep stuff now, needed to relax, no time for anything else, Decided to study extra, then talked self out of it, better than forcing & burnout, doing everything in power, no point in doing so much extra, so cut it out, took advice to avoid burnout Relaxed, taking his advice helped a lot, wasn't focusing on exam or working self into panic, avoided burnout, I got thru it, felt I did ok. BB03 study for GRE No way to be ready to write in October. Parents say: you better do well, me putting pressure on self. No way I can't do well. Parents say just do whatever you can. Doing bare minimum prep. Scared of screwing it up, didn't think I could do so well, didn't want to disappoint self and others. Feeling pressure of people waiting for me to fail, Discussed with friends realized I was letting others control me, wasn't controlling self. Wanted to prove I can do this, but don't need to prove it, okay not to do as well as you wanted. Needed permission. Needed to hear "it's no big deal" Didn't do as well as I wanted Thought about it, decided okay, change the date. Worked out okay, really well. Had five day break to focus and prepare. I like having control of things, knowing if I can control something or not, controlling my own time. I did okay, but alright in the end. BB04 Study for an exam Don't really want to go & finish reading article, friend asked for company, avoiding reading article Wanted to know him better, resisting talking to him, I've got to go, I'll stay 1 hour, knew I had time to read & prepare for exam, no panic Stayed 2 hours, a lot of fun, a bit of work done, befriended his girlfriend, too, she's now my boss, work together really well, friends with them both, a good thing, now one of best friends, exam mark good: 85 NN01 Looking for other work Putting off preparing for the future, put off finding next job until end of current contract, preoccupied with work, adding to a growing monster, can't deal with it now, makes grey hair, loose a lot of sleep, exhausting, Gotta deal with it at night, every step there's more doors, sometimes it's bad: they need me now, & I'm not available = bad, limits options, a numbers game, they always need you less than you need them Avoiding premature calls and hard feelings with current employer, keep current focus, prioritize, sometimes it's good, learn pretty quick, it's really delicate, deal with it better when relaxed, think of options, time to reflect, a list helps, First one to take me would get me, It's bad, more doors to open, sometimes bad, (timing) ruins day, missed prospect of better offer. Wonder why you didn't do it sooner? Info from call could disrupt whole day, change attitude, put you down low, make rest of day total shit if not results wanted, might miss more beneficial offer, higher pay or longer duration, Sometimes good, relaxed, see options, breathing room, helpful, employed, when you do it, it feels great, "yeah! totally!" info from call could put you on a good high, waiting and proper timing: always employed, getting some breathing room Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes NN02 Doing chores as a student What's due first? feels pretty interminable, spread self thin, takes a lot of energy out of you, If it can't be done in 5 minutes, 1 put it off, chores wait, get heavier, more shit gets added, by end of week: Blah!, want to retreat but can't, couldn't do smallest simple things, can't relax doing menial chores, mind is still involved elsewhere When I'm working, chores are good "down time" for relaxing, leisure, Exhausting effects, It's not satisfying, homework is due, this is bad, I don't need this, distraction, no life as a student, NN03 Putting off weddin g plans Until 1 achieve degree, don't wanna think of marriage, not sure, need more info, general fear, is she even the right one? are we compatible? Feel uncertain about self & own future, many different pressures, anger isn't helping, not as optimistic about it as she, marriage is just a bad thing here, pessimistic, not sure it's a good idea under pressure, don't want to hear about it, a big problem When I decide to do it, that's it, it's gonna be one time, eliminating things from my life that are distracting me from my main goal We have a rocky, up & down relationship, very unsatisfactory, negative Positive, able to focus on schooling not on full time job to support settled family, can avoid adult responsibilities right now, don't have to quit, procrastination has helped, willing to give up anything in my life to get a degree NN04 DNQ NN05 Putting off home-work Reading other stuff, not satisfied with amount of material in my head yet, don't give 100% to problem. I get sidetracked, until "wait a minute, I should be doing this" a cycle, a lot of late nights. Should be efficient, a little easier, info relevant to understanding but not to productive outcome. Not giving 100% hoped for. Falling short, not achieving expected results, not first class. My fault. Results aren't satisfactory. I need that pressure to sit and focus, otherwise a million things to do. I'm curious, keep going, enjoying getting sidetracked very much. done at last pressured day or hour before due. Is it because of pressure I work? Skip class to complete task. Why not sooner as supposed to? Promise to refrain but cycle repeats. Pressure. Just feel negative outcome, guilty, neglecting work. Don't get full satisfaction from it when done. Constant weighing, double-edged trade-offs and choices, tough decisions. Is it my methods or my abilities? I guess I work better under pressure. There's a post-positive (not immediate) positive outcome, a safety feature: down time, relaxation. Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes PP01 Putting off eating at home Don't feel like eating. If I don't eat, I lose energy, if I eat, I have allergic reaction and lose energy. Mostly I sit and do nothing, sleep again, feeling depressed, a cycle. Start to lose it, get brain fog, flip flop, not good for health, need to get things done, adds stress. Sometimes I sit down and do work, don't want to eat and ruin it, don't want this to stop, want to keep this going, do more. Try for another Vi hour. Extremely careful Can't know outcomes as I eat. Generally what I can conceptualize is miles ahead of what I can do with my body. Working with a doctor, have more confidence, could actually increase energy. It's getting better, can feel an energy increase that doesn't go away. Outcomes can be very good. I can really produce. Feel stronger, reason to believe, moments when my body will do what my mind can conceive PP02 DNQ PP03 Self care Lose myself, always putting everybody else's needs first, the more you take on the less time you have, afraid of losing someone, avoid upsetting them, generally what I can conceptualize is miles ahead of what my body can sustain Now I can stop myself beforehand, say no, say important to take self care before giving to others, speak mind & risk losing other, getting easier to go thru, feeling reasonable optimistic A big lesson, learning to procrastinate the care of others, not procrastinate self care, feel stronger than I did, some moments when my body will do what my mind can conceive PP04 Putting off projects Feel intimidated, task is quite big amount of info, not confident that I can really handle info in an adequate way. Feeling not competent, questioning own ability. I don't give myself the opportunity to do my best work that would make the edge. Not enough time or leeway, no comfortable revision room. Try to encompass too much, create too mush work for myself I get really involved, I stay into it until I finish. One project at a time, through cycles of intensity. I need to be immersed. Work on it including an all-nighter, handing it in late. Sometimes marks knocked off: A+ becomes A-. If I'd done my best work, then a little bit more research. If I'm gonna do it, why not do it properly? Been told I take on an awful lot. If in my own timeframe, wouldn't take such a toll. End up doing a massive amount of very concentrated work, get an extremely good mark. Mostly no marks off. Still gonna get 80 something, so what the hell!?! Wasn't that unhappy, thought I did very good work in that time. Been told I do it successfully PP05 Putting off therapy Some stuff that might make me extremely uncomfortable, I've been blocked, keeping it repressed inside, creates things that aren't good for me, stagnates, to maintain status quo absorbs energy that could've been used elsewhere, don't know why, scary like critters under the Maybe it's not quite time, maybe I shouldn't push so hard, something saying "you shouldn't", baby's fast asleep & maybe we should let it, it's serious, want to tell therapist "I want to do this, I must be holding back," makes me feel better, control is a big thing for me It's been debilitating to my energy I'm going to do this when I'm ready, I have to it, the quality of my life depends on it Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes bed, don't know if it's gonna be ok, if outcome will be fine PP06 Having a baby Conditions didn't seem to be right, kept putting it off, driving self harder to make relationship work, more years: less chance, don't want to go into poverty, forbidding, heartbreaking Only if financially viable, vision of a child, a wonderful experience, emotional, spiritual, & biological drive, something perfect & awe inspiring, Profoundly sad, why did 1 spend so much time with a jerk? waste of time, missed the boat, dunno if 1 could handle it full time, golden opportunity procrastinated into non-existence Did best 1 could with what 1 knew, Could've activity oriented contact with kids, have the best of it without the rest PP07 sleepin g could do something else, if pressured: do what 1 know, feeling guilty about sleeping, like malingering, hedonistic, irresponsible, ought to be more productive, Payoff: maybe I'll get a little more done, have production time. Have to deliberately make self turn off light & relax Sometimes upsets schedule, what 1 need to do feels like downside It's what 1 need to do: take care of self & sleep when relaxed not exhausted, next day might feel better, need to say ok to take care of self, fairly well for 2 years, significant health results: enormous gains RR01 Saying good bye to sister getting into the car Acting as if I didn't know doors were closed, ignore the situation, pretend it's not there, don't do what I know I should be doing, just under the wire, how can they complain? Minimizing, rationalizing it, justifying black & white into shades of grey, if I knew it was bad, I'd stop probably, it's not so good but it's not so bad I know what needs to happen, taking my time about it, getting my way, just want to hang on, never been my way of doing things, the way things have been for 23 years Mom blasted me: always dragging feet, something to do with control, got me where I live, pissed me off, shocked at her over-the -top reaction, sat in silence, doubting self. Don't know what need it fulfills or why I do it, a negative experience, feel upset, bugs me about self, caught heat for it, catch self, feel guilty, badly for holding people up, should do better, next time I'll be on time, but still 5 minutes late, a thing to self criticize about Took it in & processed it, life goes on, got insight, I drag my feet on purpose, gives me covert negative way of exerting control over others, theme of my life in general, having control is feeling safe and comfortable, I know what's happening with me, prepared to honor my different rhythm, get to call the shots & determine the situation, Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes RR01A Going To a movie Slow getting out the door, consistent, even today, I should be going now, then I do something else It bugs other people, they get pissed off & upset, don't think it's funny, not very nice to others, sometimes I do miss the boat, not so often as worth changing for, get heat from others and self, really criticize self: way to go, dummy, you did it again. have power and control in the situation, avoid upset of waiting for others to arrive, I waltz in: ShowTime! I get my way, it works, I'm like this & I think it's funny RR02 Putting off making a decision Quite hesitant, doubted my ability & skill level, able to succeed at fulfilling job requirements? Can I have a couple more days to decide? Making up excuses that I could not go, fence satisfaction for 4 days, then 6 more. My emotion casting doubt on the situation, won't be able to do it. Think about it some more, obsessed, worried, really stuck in anxiety, doubt. Never felt right about it Good opportunity, try something different, big step, lot of responsibility. Mentor believed in me, girlfriend supportive, intuition saying I could pull it off, be ok at it, don't know if I've got all the data, if I feel right about it yet. Gathering info, biding time, feeling safe, going with my intuition, Pros & cons, not going anywhere now, let's do it! Feel a bit of sadness for myself that at the time I had so much insecurity. Learned about my darker side as well. In positive light, that's where I was at. Decided to accept job offer. Said "I'm in with my girlfriend" then "this wasn't so bad!" a really great experience, super great, learned so much, about ropes, camp, sports, kids, self, & procrastinating, decision-making. A lot of fun, great summer, paid, got training, awesome, just ideal, good money, good experience. Got old job back right after. Later decided to move more quickly (finger snap). Definitely really positive outcomes. RR03 Writing a paper Putting off what I needed to do, last minute rush job, anxious, get darn thing finished, what if 100% effort & well prepared = bad grade? Afraid to find out, confirm negative introjections, waver, fence sit, avoiding responsibility & having to do something about it, wishy-washy, pulling hair out, grueling, anxiety, crying at computer: why do I do this to self? Nothing down on paper = procrastinating, should've been doing this & that Do second best, pretty good grade in circumstances, meanwhile mulling over, developing concept to write about in head, work well under pressure, motivated, creative account sense of urgency; "it's now or never" gets juices flowing, my style, the time will be right, accept rhythm & knock of paper, no problem, doesn't bother me, past hump: this is ok, just get into it Postpone self into doing mediocre job, satisfied with bare minimum, best effort is minimized, isn't 100% or to full potential, opportunity to self-sabotage, guilt returns after submitting paper: not best effort, not as should've, guilty, what I could've done if full effort? way to be hard on self, why do I continue if guilt feelings, judgmental, doubt? Don't like that, either drop emotions & accept style or change. I can really do without losing that energy Get it out well, knock paper off, get A's, even iast minute, more or less satisfied given circumstances, if less so: turn around & claim little effort, always have an out in case it's not so good; I pulled it off, motivates procrastinating, actually do quite well, feeling great, good grade, respectable, RR04 Meeting friends Ample time. Minority opinion, but manipulate & control, don't wanna arrive to sit for 20 minutes prior to show, unaware of procrastinating, do chores instead of prepare, squeeze in more, "I'll be ready, just another minute", After I'm late, I feel bad, say "sorry," must've procrastinated again, had I been more aware of whole thing: could've been on time; if unaware, feel stuck; making everyone upset, failing to keep commitment to people, they don't think it's funny, may be angry Walk briskly, arrive, friends make joking comment, everyone tolerates, it's over, life goes on, go to show, get adequate seat, don't have to wait 20 minutes in stupid theatre, & I maintain control, it serves me, smiling, I thinks it's funny, about Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes franticness, leave house half dressed, untied & unzipped, arrive, do tie up, typical story of my life: wife feels letdown, upset, I should change with me, feeling guilty about being late, feeling manipulative & underhanded, possibly selfish, people negative confirmation of self, where I lose I win RR05 Con-front a fellow teacher Little safety, new guy, put it off, felt pressure to deal with it, should've confronted, expedient, assert self, get it out there; riff developed, no relationship, difficult working environment; avoiding inevitable, be direct, confront, then what? doubted her abilities to deal in adult way; angry, disappointed with her & program; anxious, job not what expected, hummed & hawed, not going the way I wanted; confront it all or let it go? Wanna rock boat much? Feeling I'd failed self, kids & program; not encouraged, why should I bother? if angry, could look ugly, so avoided, firm believer in stirring things up, now is not the time, not prepared to address it now, maybe never; just do job well enough, how much effort am I willing to put in? decided, chose not to confront, work good enough more or less, maintain status quo, not prepared to put much into it, not my job; I'll play by rules, take no risks, self-preserving, choose fights carefully, is it worth it? Not super deep relationship, still could've challenged self more, would like to have, might have been preferable, could've had more impact on group, aspect of sadness over what I might have had, what was lost Relationship came to head, needed to be dealt with, went for beer, put cards on table, honest, smoother then on, easier to work with; had good impact on kids, more safety, felt supported, took more risks, would do it again same, it worked out ok RR06 Going to church, age 11 Brush my teeth a bit longer, last one to the car, where is that boy? Be there in 1 minute 2 minutes later I get into nice warm car, hunky-dory, no waiting for anyone else, have the power Once they left without me, lost some power, stroking the fact that this is who I am in a negative way, passive aggression, I'm such a rotten guy Took responsibility, rode bike thru snow to church, they couldn't get angry, got some power back, it's predictable: a certain weird safety in terms of control, at the same time, I won RR07 At the mall in Florida, age 11 Family thought I was dilly-dallying again instead of toeing the party line, said they looked for me, then left Found the supermarket toy aisle, played with all the toys, had lots of fun, then looked for family They deserted me! Found pop bottles, traded for a dime, called the motel: "where are you?" example of just following my own natural rhythms, having a good time, learned how to dissociate from my family, at age 11: very resourceful SS01 Writing a paper Thought was leaving plenty of time, wrote 1 sentence, went to sleep, spent all day trying to find books, I should've known, frustrating, later I typed a paragraph, getting discouraged, getting nowhere, feeling tired again, drank coke, I know I can do it, so put it off more, that's bad, reassure self too With deadline helps focus, without: easier to put off, didn't let big task get to me, procrastinating makes that a little easier, knew it would be all-nighter, a lot of work & a lot of fun, nap at 11 p.m. to work longer straight thru, felt tired & kind of pretty good, I like feeling excitement of working all night, Not something I would choose to do, not something I'm proud of, don't let it get to me, realize it's not the best way to do it, would be happier if same process two weeks earlier, would benefit from time to review, resulting in a better paper, it would be nice to push myself hard enough to do it sooner, Finished 8 a.m., assignment still warm from printer, looks so good, worked pretty hard, all night, results sitting there, all crisp, edges are straight, 10 hours later & not tired, satisfying, to be proud of, not so bad, polished a little, felt alright about it, a 7, written all at once, paper is more Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes much, feels like working, done all at once really motivated me consistent, SS02 Wood-carving After 1 left workbench, 1 couldn't taste the construction anymore, 1 can get kind of excited & really focused, thinking how nice it's gonna be when finished, can't stop myself, make some sort of minor mistake not tired, should be reading, resisted temptation to work on carving, put it off, then a bit more, taking my time, telling myself it's not a bad thing to put it off for a while, nothing wrong with picking it up, doing a little bit and putting it down Not sure if it's going to work out or not until it's finished It was fine, I avoided making any stupid mistakes, it's fun to do something well & slowly & it turns out ok, felt ok about putting it down SS03 Judging time to get here Usually I'll continue what I'm doing for a few more minutes, put off the leaving. How important is my appointment? with friends often Vz hour late, don't take too long, judge incorrectly Thinking about how much time it will take in all to get here, realized I needed to add extra time for parking, try to be early for important events and exams, noting ways to improve I'm not often on time, a bit of a problem trying to set & meet specific goals Getting better, something I'm working on, most people don't get too upset about a few minutes either way SS04 Post-poning a com-plaint Ticked off, pretty upset, thinking of things 1 should say, kept putting it off, doing something else, a little bit nervous about what to say, who to say it to, when to say it, getting all angry, wouldn't be the place for that, nervousness quite a bit of it, "just a kid," what good would it do? would be futile anyway felt obligation to Norm, Not such a good thing, didn't end up saying anything, should've made a bigger deal, there was more I could do Good job I held off, allowed me to cool down, better that I didn't snap at them, avoided uncomfortable, nasty situation, a good thing I put it off, probably good the way it was, hasn't happened again SS05 Buying Xmas gifts Don't know what to get, so put it off, father tough to buy for, everyone's going to try and pressure me, Similar tastes, shouldn't be too hard, not bothered or concerned about it, knew I would find something in the end, confident, just taking it easy, not letting things get to me, keep it in mind until done, doesn't bother me, makes it a bit exciting, try to enjoy the tension Hope I'm not being irresponsible Found pretty good, cool gift on the 23 r d, well-made knick-knack, we both appreciate, turned out a heck of a lot better not letting pressure get me, SS06 Waking up made decision the night before and set alarm, sleep an extra 10 minutes, not consciously saying "I'll sleep a bit longer" but still putting off getting up, got a bit crazy Put clock radio beneath bed, have to get out to turn it off A pain to get back to bed That wakes me up, I usually stay up, can also set it again, give myself another hour Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes pressing the snooze button too much. ZZ01 DNQ ZZ02 weedin g Every week, "I must do it," then "Ugh! not today, I'll do something pleasurable," laziness, didn't care enough to do it, set a deadline: gotta do it, night before: not gonna do it after all, deadlines over, so forget about it Consciously thought "that's something for Mom to do, she likes digging in the dirt" It would've been a nice gesture to do some bonding together for the relationship. Every time I open my mouth I feel like opening my heart ready to be stabbed Mom weeded the garden & didn't complain, I don't do gestures: I do the real thing or nothing, I guess I don't really want to spend that time alone with her ZZ03 Dress-making (& insight) Fabric on hallway floor, I walked on it to go to kitchen, wondering when it was gonna get up and move itself, a good chance I might mess it up, count week by week til really big week 6: "lazy you-know-what, you slob", angry at self, began to hate self, so lazy, why not put away & forget it? I even straightened it out, thinking I was gonna do it, maybe tomorrow, later, on floor to remind me, out of sight would never do, kept thinking "you're gonna do it" A negative incident, mum made the dress, I never really liked it, it didn't sit right, I don't have it anymore, very disappointed and upset, a dress was a big thing I became conscious of "procrastinating," helpful to know what causes me to put things off, like kind of an affliction ZZ04 Catch up with studies Opened them once or twice in all, berated self: should've learned this yesterday, gonna/gotta learn it tonight, afraid to find out how far behind I was, "maybe there's this huge gap, & you won't be able to succeed", use the time for other things, non-productively Took books home every weekend, knew gaps in knowledge and picked it up as I went, I could cope by myself. Just leave it, take the safe route. Play it safe, use the time for other things, non-productively Being ignorant & thinking I was ignorant, with an unpleasant future possibility, it could work out really badly Being comfortable, not delving too far to find out exactly how much work there was I needed to catch up, if it works ok, why do you have to know? ZZ05 marking Could've got halfway thru, it's always in the back of my mind, tainted pleasure, feeling of guilt 4 days of leisure, whatever I feel like for pleasure, escape from task at hand to things that interest & inspire me: wondering, comparing, rationalizing, enjoyable, gain knowledge, learn stuff, important to me I've got to finish or big trouble, can't take this feeling of guilt, it was torture, same satisfaction if done over longer time Felt good when finished, usual quality, got satisfaction in finishing, leisure time while others worked butts off all stressed out, I can do it when I like, efficient use of time, what's the big deal, I can condense it ZZ06 Work week prep Spent a lot of energy telling self I should do prep for next week, will I make it thru week? Do everything? How will I manage heavier load? Fear of letting students down, lazy, why didn't you do it before, stupid, Feel great responsibility to students, used weekend time for own pleasure, justified 'cos worked hard all week, sleep, you need this time, squishing work into least amount of time possible, Couldn't make self do it, Wouldn't have produced any better 'cos at certain level, would've had more mid-week leisure time, would've been nice, I coped, as I always do, always managed task in context of time available, gradual steps, can't say I could've done better, did my best, wasn't able to do more with my knowledge & Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes putting self under pressure, would've shown industry, could've spread work out over weekend, had normal bedtime, experience, satisfied it was the best I could do ZZ07 overdue assign-ment Every night busy, stuff to do, kept thinking of task, of teacher's impression, 3 weeks late, couldn't force self, fear made me do it, uncertainty, uncertain acceptability Once deadline is past I have nothing official making me do it, off the hook but not completely, "you've come this far, you want to graduate, have to do it, what's one more day? It's not acceptable, know I could do better, not sure how Churned it out the night before, in 8 hours, more than acceptable, can do things speedily ZZ08 washing dishes Dislike situation, task has to be done, hate the sight, not the deed, this is so easy, why don't I just do it? Tell self too tired: feel tired. Another day's gone, totally unacceptable. How much worse can it get? It is work Already had reward watching TV, awareness of dishes getting moldy quickly fades away, what the hell, past deadline, let's see how furry the plates can get would rather do it nightly with satisfaction of knowing it's "the way your home should be" not forego satisfaction of hygienic acceptability, benefit would far outweigh daily little tainted instant rewards They get done, satisfaction doing in them, it looks nice, makes me happy, "I have a nice home," save it all up to do in one shot, compressed time and use balance for leisure ZZ09 Paying bills Rather awful, I'd rather not know how little money is left til payday, bills force me to know & suffer doubly, feels like a waste of time, ongoing Tell myself I don't have to get stressed over it, can still make ends meet, juggling, Realize the reality after you've paid, benefit is very limited, sometimes emotionally I can't face it Not knowing the bank balance is my reward, reduces stress, as long as you haven't written cheques you can withdraw, makes life easier, husband took it over ZZ10 Putting Gas in car Will not go to gas station until really have to, in danger of actually stopping. Red dash light goes on, first time terrified, learned about huge reserve tank, such an unworthy task, unpleasant, so pointless, unnecessary, why can't car just go? what a waste of time! Invent a car that doesn't need petrol. That's just bad luck for the car, I've no control (facetiously) over that. I can get one more day out of this. Come on old car, you can do it, you need to get us there. We're just gonna have to make it I just wanna go home. I know that inconvenience will be so great that it would really be stupid, should have spent 10 minutes getting gas. Breaking down is just the worst thing. I would be really pissed off, but I don't think of it, I'm not going to dwell on that. Car made it to the gas station. I always do get gas. I've won a victory, a little battle, I'm the victor, against the car, or fate, "phew, you got home! 25 minutes on reserve tank, light flashing, satisfaction when I got into the carport at home, you made it, you must be a good judge of that little needle. ZZ11 Sending out resume Was going to be ready last Monday, almost ready, every day almost ready a little bit more, keep hearing that people in program are going for interviews & getting jobs, not looking forward to interview process, painful By not handing out resumes, I don't have those negative feelings Not taking affirmative step of handing in applications, I'm losing out by not doing it now I'm not having to face up to the stress; if I wait longer I might be lone applicant, noticed in smaller wave or as individual Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes always humiliating, negative memory, like you're on trial ZZ12 Assign -ment due Another thing I have to do, dreading, make a big thing in my head about it, I can't do it, ok, now I can. Can't find material, I'll find something, can I even do it? Totally parallel, simultaneous, I can + I can't = equilibrium Threat or fear breaks equilibrium, overrides it: "if I don't do it I won't pass or graduate: that's ridiculous" Advantages diminish, deadline not gone away, you still have to do it, realization creeping up Out of the way, date's passed, don't have to think about it ZZ13 Sending cards Haven't sent mother's day or brother's grad cards, sick of writing "sorry it's late", hate buying stamps, boring, small, trivial task, holds up the main event; Dad interrupted my resume writing with offer to address cards in horrible handwriting, "just write address on," I said I'll do, take a while to get organized for it, distractible Written, not addressed or posted, need stamps & good handwriting for nice appearance on envelope, like to do writing perfectly, organization with duration A big thing to be interrupted from chore of resume, "you should be grateful I'm doing this, don't you know how hard it is for me in first place?" Late cards have lost impact Delegated posting task to Dad, he loves it, thrives on it, doing him a favor, recipients won't complain ZZ14 Seeking job inter-views Fluctuates between visualizing entire job seeking process projecting what might happen, & blank screen; go days without thinking about interviews, getting more pressurized, beating self up "should've sent resumes", risky, what could go wrong? If to be tested in interview, do high mental preparation: feel confident, imagine interview scenario, including early morning forage for prep material, last spurt of energy, getting self calm, & post interview exhaustion, takes effort, "Gee, I did if If did best & no job, hard to say why didn't I get it ? Fear of being disappointed Not doing it is freeing me up to be free; rather no expect something than expect and not get it; if get job: that'll be sweet by skin of teeth, it'll all come together, or there'll be another job ZZ15 Paying tuition fees I only work out how to get the money together on the due date, not easy to face reality of money, watching $400 fly off is not pleasant Let's do it all in one shot, we'll find the money, things will work out, Pay either way, would still have to scrounge, what's the difference if you pay sooner or later, why rush? Without it happening it's quite restful. And pay by the deadline ZZ16 Proof-readin g Should work, could if I have to, Tired last night, to bed early, couldn't sleep, Written portion due today, awoke today thinking big part done, must do mini part in < 1 hour, leapt out of bed, taking Did part of project ahead, unusual, thinking what's the point, this is crazy, making a difference? Voice said "somehow it will be done tomorrow", deadline seemed too far away to be urgent, expected time during class, there's always later; today: "lef s do it What a bloody effort (laffs), now thinking "Gee, what if instructor doesn't like it, if not acceptable, different from & more work went into it than everyone else's, how will she react? Had free night off last night, uninterrupted by damned assignment, completed assignment, managed quite fine except for one typo Appendix M Event What Happened Negative What Happened Positive Negative Outcomes Positive Outcomes out of travel time, knew for days, a necessity, no snoozing quickly, edit & hand in on time, would be pity, tarnish it to give in late," hurrying only 'cos I'd met prior deadline, didn't want to waste that, "I must now finish this" "why waste what I've done?" ZZ17 Letter writing Takes 2 to 3 hours to write a good letter, in enough depth, I must get down and write, it's no big deal that you're at school, gotta make time to write, I feel bad, I have to work on it as though it's an essay, Don't even want to share it with myself basically, don't even want to look at it, By not writing, I don't have to analyze what's happening in our life, what the future holds, or face reality, remember moments that weren't the happiest ZZ18 Wakin g up Don't want to face the fact that actually I'm gonna get up 50 minutes later than I should've Press the snooze button 6 times, get 48 minutes extra sleep, re-evaluate every 8 minutes, maybe just stay there a bit longer Feel I can't forego it, I have to have that sleep Get essential rest, really means something, makes a difference in tiredness in my day TT01 Leaving room-mate Should be doing something else, but not, Resentment building up, trying to put off moving, miserable whole time, really tough, try to last to April, feeling so horrible about life, putting self in her position, don't wanna do to somebody else, too much hassle,; disrupts her, puts her in difficult situation, why am I wasting money helping her? Shouldn't put self in her shoes anymore, don't like confrontation, difficult, makes me feel rotten, trying to stop procrastinating, January getting critical, don't be so sensitive, don't act too quickly, only 3 more months, trying to get over it, frustration, resentment that I couldn't say to her "enough" finally, I have to look after myself, can't afford to put up with this, let's get out now, probably better, rather than "bitch, can't stand you" more difficult to think about confronting that to continue procrastinating , healthier to get out Couldn't last, moved in February, end of friendship, communicated once since, call her "roommate from hell", would've gotten pleasure out of being able to last, get it done & behind me Within 2 weeks, everything started to turn up positive since, nice to have own place, glad it's over with, learned things, she can never do that again, won't let her take advantage of my good nature TT02 Moving out Looked for other places, maybe I should take them, putting it off; mice returned, "they're back!" must get rid of them, tremendous let down, never ending problem, waves of considering another place, felt guilty to tell landlord no mice for a while after place fixed up, relief, happy to stay, nice apartment, I can stay here, enjoy view, choose to move later, see no mice: everything fine; take giant jump & e-mail UBC housing Them or me, mice won, I'm out of there, id tried sooner, housing might not have been available, would've been nice living on campus earlier, paid double rent, was a nice big place, miss the view applying to UBC housing didn't hurt landlord's feelings, left on good terms, admitted to UBC housing in 24 hours, got organized, finished papers, moved at month end, didn't care if mice on floor, because of Appendix M Event What Happened What Happened Negative Positive Negative Positive Outcomes Outcomes moving due to his mouse problem, too much to handle, reached a limit, "can't take it anymore" procrastinating 1 am where 1 am now, it's been wonderful, know 1 made the right move, no regrets TT02A Getting a cat landlord okayed getting cat for mouse problem, kept putting it off, Mom kept asking "did you look for one yet?" I'll do it tomorrow "what am I gonna do over Christmas for 3 weeks with a cat?" Deliberately waiting, wait a bit longer, pick one up on Island, know Victoria SPCA location, hate driving in Vancouver, bring it back after holiday Never go around to getting a cat, glad 1 put it off, horrendous snowfall, left car behind, no way to get cat back by bus, when returned landlord had changed his mind TT03 Writing a paper Played computer games, feeling mighty guilty with self, kicking self, should be working on term paper. Let all deadlines pass. Could not bring self to do it. Trying to justify that 1 work really well under deadlines. Paper not relevant to my degree, just want it to be over, don't like not being motivated, not having enthusiasm. Like hoop jumping. Motivation dissipated. Procrastinating on everything. It was like pulling teeth. One of those perfectly clean apartment times: let's make sure everything looks nice. I couldn't really start some of it until the last week of class, true to some extent that I work really well under deadlines. Project thoughts forward to think back on task, how nice it would feel to know it's behind me. Need a break. Paper seems quite trivial when there's so much more out there. Asked for an extension. It'll get done. Not the best paper. Didn't come together quite as well as I wanted it to, wasn't my most creative writing style. I could do even better if I don't have that deadline. Difference between A & A+. If I hadn't procrastinated, I wouldn't have needed extension. Don't feel I'm getting any rest, not relaxing for me, feeling guilty about the time, always thinking there's something I have to do. Got extension, no marks off. Finished paper. Thank god it's finished, as long as 1 get 68% 1 don't care, it's out of the way, 1 don't have to do it again. Just want a break. 1 don't really think it has harmed me in any way, 1 always pick up the old boot straps and say "that's it." 1 always manage to come up smelling like roses. Got 92%, there was something in it. TT04 My health Didn't matter what 1 ate, still uncomfortable, agony for next 12 hours, not getting any better, might as well get something done, now I have to do it, first hospitalization Feeling pretty good about putting it off, not rushing under the knife, seeking another way to handle the problem, pleasing in a way, couldn't eat much, didn't have to worry about gaining weight, good figure without exercise, avoiding $5000 cost Didn't help in long run, easy weight gain followed surgery, weight skyrocketed, problem ever since, regretted that for 6 months afterwards; Japanese medical didn't pay, had to fork out the cash myself Decided to do something about it, surgery went well TT05 grad school applic-ations Admitted to Concordia, deferred start, kept putting it off; By time I wanted to attend, wouldn't accept me unless I re-applied, whole procedure, didn't want to do that paperwork if I'm gonna get same profs to write same recommendations, at least send to different institution Glad 1 procrastinated, UBC is a much better institution than Concordia Appendix N Q3: what would you miss if you couldn't procrastinate? 209 Theme CC ee gg uu ff kk aa II bb nn PP rr SS zz tt tote/ Use of time 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8 Control 1 2 1 1 1 6 Stimulation & Excitement 1 1 1 1 1 5 Relaxation 1 1 1 1 4 Spontaneity 1 1 1 3 Unpredictability 2 1 1 4 Satisfying results 1 1 1 1 4 Social harmony 1 1 2 Themes identified 4 2 2 3 2 3 1 1 2 2 2 4 2 2 4 36 

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