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Too often, academics’ research stays within the ivory tower. Not so for behavioral economist Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab. Not only did Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational become a bestseller, but highlights of his research have recently been published in a venue few would have predicted: Oprah Winfrey’s magazine O. Ariely, who has published in a range of scholarly journals, such as the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making and Pyschological Science, is featured in the September 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine based on a survey he did of almost 3,000 visitors to the Oprah.com site. The topic? Procrastination.
What did the participants in Ariely’s survey procrastinate most about? Given a list of 12 activities, respondents said exercising, beginning a diet and reviewing their retirement plans were the things they put off most. Work duties such as responding to voicemails they did more promptly. Favoring short-term wants over longer-term goals is a “major source of human misery,” Ariely told O. How to battle it? Ariely’s advice: Outsmart your short-term temptations (say, don’t let the waiter show you the dessert menu) and translate strategies you use successfully in one area of your life into other areas. In this video, Ariely discusses procrastination further: