Why It's Not Your Fault That You're Such A Procrastinator

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Desk_Wide1_SaraHailePhotographed by Sara Haile.
Ah, the Internet — a world of endless wonder, a treasure trove of awesome. Countless heartwarming, hilarious, mind-blowing, terrifying (and, of course, completely adorable) bits of media lurk around every corner of the Web. Really, it's all any of us can do to stay on task and resist the urge to watch YouTube videos called "Bath time for baby sloths" or "The cutest puppies compilation."

If you succumbed to the procrastination-bait above, don't be ashamed, reader. Not only do you demonstrably have a human soul, but your little P problem might not actually be your fault. New evidence suggests that the tendency to procrastinate is at least partially due to genetics.

In the new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder surveyed 181 pairs of identical twins (who have identical genetic markers) and 166 pairs of fraternal twins about their procrastination tendencies and their impulsivity. The scientists found that the identical twins were similar in their ability to set and meet goals as well as their propensity to procrastinate and act impulsively. Based on how close these responses were, the researchers concluded that a person's tendency to procrastinate and their impulsiveness are not only tightly linked to each other, but both are at least partly linked to their genes — that is, they're both heritable traits.

Previous research has already established the connection between these two characteristics, which is thought to have developed as an evolutionary advantage, helping our ancestors adapt to a number of different situations. In the modern era, though, it makes sense that impulsivity might be a contributing factor to procrastination — instead of being able to focus on one large task at a time, the impulsive among us are more likely to be sidetracked by our minute-to-minute desires. But, as researchers learn more about the mechanisms behind our complete inability to stay on task, maybe they'll come up with a way to help you fight the urge to watch a cat snuggle with a puppy. (Sorry, we'll let you get back to work now.) (Motherboard)