Neil FioreThe Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play
The entire self-help genre is plagued by some pretty cheesy writing, but if you look past that this isn’t a bad book at all. Indeed, I wish I’d read it a long time ago, especially when I was working on, and putting off working on, my dissertation.
Fiore thinks that human beings are creative and productive in nature. But when they are beset by anxiety, or self-doubt, or resentment, they begin to procrastinate. This procrastination often leads to more work and more pain than it otherwise would, but procrastination is nevertheless a strategy that makes a certain amount of sense as a response to that anxiety and self-doubt. Unfortunately, once a pattern of procrastination has set in, it can easily become entrenched. If procrastination has left me with little time to complete a task, I’ll end up working very hard on it at the last minute and/or canceling periods of rest that might refresh me and that are an important part of restoring creativity and drive. Sapped of creativity and drive, I am then led to further procrastinate, resenting my situation, and anxious about its outcome.
Fiore has a lot of suggestions about overcoming this problem. One interesting one is simply to put a bunch of fun, relaxing things in your schedule. Watch the schedule fill up with those fun things. Commit to them. Now look at how little time you have. The chronic procrastinator, accustomed to wiping the slate clear to complete a long overdue task, may well overestimate how much time she has to get things done because she’s not mentally used to accounting for time off. But we need those breaks to restore us, so that we can work well and productively again. Other suggestions include tips on how to approach work that go a bit beyond the whole “break it down” routine you’ve probably heard before.
Anyway, if you’re a chronic procrastinator you might well find this book worthwhile.