Procrastination . Today I did a quick re-read of the main points of Neil Fiore's book about procrastination: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play. When I read it the first time, 2.5 years ago, I marked up the important sections with a pencil. With some help of the faster reading book I read a few weeks ago, the pencil marks allowed me to zip through it in 1.5 hours. Nice.
My goal: remind me of the important points of the book. The book gave me good input when I first read it, having been a procrastinator for a long time, especially during my studies. Well, time for a summary!
Procrastination is a defense mechanism. You're getting pressure from yourself; from a critical parent; from circumstances; whatever. When you can't cope with it effectively, procrastination is an (ineffective) coping strategy that's almost always available.
The goal of the book is to get you from procrastinator to producer. The number one strategy that helped me: change your language. Of all the characteristics that separate producers from procrastinators, none is more liberating than the producer's focus on "choice" and "choosing". So ring an internal warning bell every time you say "I have to" and "I must". Even if your boss is going to fire you right away if you don't do xxxxx, don't say "I have to do xxxxx", but say "I choose to do xxxxx". You are making a concious adult decision to do it, right? The number one tip.
For a productive life, you need guilt-free play. I'm going to a model train exhibition with my 5 year old daughter tomorrow. I have not a single doubt that that's a good and fun thing to do. And I've known that all week. Knowing I am going to do that tomorrow might have made me more productive. It will definitively recharge me for another round of productive work next week. Playing guilt-free is essential.
An example. Being a christian, the sunday theoretically "ought to be" pretty work-free. Halfway my procrastination-filled student days, I made the concious decision to treat the sunday as a gift: a really study-free day. It is intended that way. That made a difference in my weekly schedule: finally a day to recuperate without guilt! Time to hang out with friends after the morning service, sipping coffee. Having dinner at my place of at a friend's place in the evening and popping open a bottle of wine and having some great conversations. Guilt-free!
Another suggestion to overcome procrastination: paint a good picture of the current situation, the goal, the work involved, etc. An invaluable motivator in the last 1.5 years of my loooooooong study (it took me 9 years, 5.5 is about average) was a *full, online, public list of courses I still had to do. On my own website. And I kept it up to date: showing the courses that I made; the dates of the examinations; my plan on when to do them. A great motivator as I was getting credit for finishing off those courses. And it felt great to publicly check them off on the webpage when done. It forced me to make a plan, which made the whole daunting task of "finishing my study" much less threathening.
A final quote from the book: one of the best-kept secrets of succesful producers is their ability to let go of goals that cannot be achieved or started in the near future. Make choices. Make realistic choices. And don't be afraid to postpone something explicitly. But make sure you have a system that makes you re-view those choices at a later date.
If you're procrastinating, I highly recommend this book. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play
My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.
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