A link to the above blog post: Procrastination is Not Laziness
Resulted in the following overview of two books about procrastination. I’ve read the Now Habit, but this is an awesome overview worth keeping!
Let me second the OP and recommend Neil Fiore’s book “The Now Habit”.
There are lots of good strategies in that book, such as:
- a weekly calendar of committed recreational activities and breaks, meals, etc
- productive periods of work are recorded after they are accomplished
- encourages starting earlier on projects once you see how much time is already committed
- 30 minute chunks of productive work – too small to be intimidating
Leverage Reverse psychology:
- do not work more than 20 hours a week on this project
- do not work more than 5 hours a day on this project
- you must play or exercise at least one hour per day
- you must take at least one day a week off from any work
- do only 30 minute chunks without reward / break
- work for an imperfect, human, first effort
- start small
Builds up an unconscious desire to work more and play less
- previously committed time – meals, sleep, meetings
- free time, recreation, leisure reading
- routine events – commuting, classes, appointments
- Fill in periods of productive work only after completing a 30-minute chunk
- take credit only for 30 minutes of uninterrupted work
- reward each chunk with a break or a change to a more enjoyable task
- track the number of productive hours by day and week.
- always have at least one full day of recreation or enjoyable tasks
- before recreation, take time for one 30-minute chunk of project work
- focus on starting
- think small
- keep starting, finishing will take care of itself
- never stop when you are blocked or at the end of a section; push through a block or start a new section before stopping
- realistic timekeeping
- avoid feeling overwhelmed
- allows you to experience success
- deadlines are self-imposed
- new-found free time
I also recommend another book (by another psychologist): “The Procrastination Equation” by Piers Steel.
The second book is partly at odds with the first, so I leave it to you to see which better describes what you observe.
Summary of The Procrastination Equation:
Perfectionism does not lead to procrastination – this is well studied. It may be that they are thought to be linked because of the cases where there is this discrepancy in behavior. Procrastination is a result of impulsiveness. Self-control and delaying gratification are key to controlling procrastination.
Procrastinators suffer from
- weak impulse control
- lack of persistence
- lack of work discipline
- lack of time management skill
- inability to work methodically
Motivation can be modeled by
- (expectancy * value) / (impulsiveness * delay)
- The numerator is Expected Utility Theory in economics
- Expectancy is the perceived likelihood of reward or success
- Value is the perceived value of the reward
- Delay is the perceived delay in receiving the reward
- Impulsiveness is the tendency to (irrationally) pursue immediate reward instead
Expectancy – optimism, expectation of success
- too much pessimism causes procrastination – low expectation of success keeps us from starting
- too much optimism causes procrastination – unrealistic ease of success causes delay of starting until the last moment
techniques for improving optimism:
- success spirals – progressive series of successes build confidence (e.g. earning scout badges). regularly stretching your limits is important to teach yourself confidence in your ability to tackle something difficult
- vicarious victory – relating to someone’s success story, finding inspiration in books, movies, inspirational speakers, joining a group of inspirational people
- wish fulfillment – visualization of success and contrasting with where you are now. Visualization that only focuses on the goal may drain motivation to complete the necessary steps. As you visualize attaining the goal and then contrasting the current situation, maintain your optimism so that you can translate this visualization into a plan of action.
- Plan for the worst, hope for the best – develop strategies to recover from falling back into old habits. Anticipate temptations and find ways to counter them.