No? Here’s why not – Guess what’s due on April 15? A scientist is trying to figure this out why some people put off filing their taxes until the last minute.

Psychologist Joseph Ferrari says, “Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator. We all put tasks off, but my research has found that 20% of US men and women are chronic procrastinators. They delay at home, work, school and in relationships. These 20% make procrastination their way of life, so of course they procrastinate when filing their income taxes. We are a nation of ‘doers’ but we are also, like people from other industrialized nations, a people of ‘waiters.'”

What’s the difference between the 2 groups? Non-procrastinators focus on the task that needs to be done. They have a stronger personal identity and are less concerned about what psychologists call “social esteem” (how much other people like us) as opposed to self-esteem (how we feel about ourselves).

Ferrari says, “We hear that technology today makes it easier to procrastinate. Well, in 2006, a reporter phoned me and asked what I thought of the snooze button, which is more than 50 years old. The snooze button is one of the first technologies designed to give us more time, yet we have not gained anything. We still delay.

“Today’s technology can help us not procrastinate if we use it wisely. We don’t have to surf the Web for hours on irrelevant tasks. We can get systems that time us out after 10 minutes. We don’t have to have a Blackberry with us at all times. Use technology as a tool, not as a means of delay.”

And what would he done about late tax filers? “Most US post offices stay open later on April 15th. What is wrong with that picture? We are accommodating people who procrastinate. I think we have our priorities backwards. We should be celebrating the person who filed on February 15th or March 15th. In fact, if we want to stimulate the government with resources, there should be incentives for filing early. Perhaps, there can be a reduction, say 3%, off what is owed for those who file on February 15th. The government gets their funds two months early and the filer saves a little money. Instead, we punish for filing after April 15th. I say, reward for getting it done early.”

We appreciate our subscribers so much that we try to reward them all we can. For instance, we have a delightful chat with them every Wednesday. If you want to join the fun, don’t procrastinate a minute more: Subscribe today! And come talk to Whitley and Anne in person in June!

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