Ignoring the adage “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” is all too easy. Gal Zauberman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and John G. Lynch, Jr., of Duke University may have found out why: people idealize the future, expecting they will be less busy then. In surveys of 900 volunteers, they found that respondents could not gauge their future supply and demand of time as well as they could of money. If they lack knowledge of upcoming specific tasks, people act as if new demands will not inevitably arise that are as pressing as those that currently exist. When tomorrow changes into today, people discover they are too busy to do everything they promised. The findings were finished in time for the February Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
This article was originally published with the title "Procrastinate Later" in Scientific American 292, 4, 32 (April 2005)