Impatient people are actually the biggest procrastinators

A Columbia study found that people who opt not to wait for a reward can end up delaying it themselves

Man tying a hammock between two saplings

(Illustration by Kagan Mcleod)

That impatient coworker who always wants things done yesterday? Research suggests they may actually be one of the most prone to procrastination.

According to a study in the Journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics, researchers from Columbia Business School designed an experiment where they gave cheques to MBA students and tracked how long they took to cash them. Students were given the options of either receiving a smaller cheque they could cash right away, or wait a couple of weeks for a larger cheque.

It turns out that nearly 60% of those who took the smaller cheque held on to it for more than two weeks anyway before cashing it (30% waited more than a month and 15% never cashed it at all). They could have earned more money (up to $100 more) if they’d chosen to wait from the start.

So the next time you get a pushy email in your inbox with a little red exclamation mark meaning “urgent,” and looking for the latest version of that spreadsheet now now now, you can probably pause to take a breath. Probably.