Ironically, I’ve procrastinated in regards to writing this review… Nevertheless, while I’m not generally a fan of the self-help genre, there were a couple useful insights I gleaned from this book.
Most of us have, at times, struggled with procrastination. While this can certainly be attributed to laziness, laziness is not sole cause, or even the primary cause of procrastination. Simply telling ourselves to “try harder” does not produce the results we desire. Rather, as psychologist Neil Fiore points out,
Procrastination is a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.
There are several self-preservation techniques our minds employ that result in our procrastination. Therefore, we need to think differently and act differently to convince our minds to overcome these fears and anxieties that paralyze our productivity.
First, we need to get a handle on how we actually spend our time. Fire suggests keeping an hourly log of our activity for at least one week to get a better idea of where our time is spent.
Next, we need to stop talking like a procrastinator and start talking like a producer. Rather than saying, “I don’t have time to relax because I have to much work to do,” say, “I must take one hour a day to relax, and I must take one day off of work each week.” This self talk puts relaxation as a priority in y0ur mind.
To do this further, Fiore advocates for something he calls the “unschedule’. This is a weekly calendar where you put in all of your life obligations such as eating, sleeping, family time, exercise, as well as scheduled times of relaxation. The rest of the calendar is filled out during the week after certain duties and tasks are actually completed. For example, instead of scheduling “9am – 12noon finish the Johnson proposal”, you should schedule, “9am begin the Johnson proposal” and the you should only record when and what was actually completed.
Finally, Fiore’s suggestion to do a backwards calendar was perhaps most beneficial to me. In this way, you schedule backwards the various steps of completing a project. In my case, preparing and delivering sermons are very labor intensive with several steps along the way. If I begin with the end (preaching) and work my way backward in my work week, I will have a realistic idea and timeframe for each step of the process (practice, outlining, illustrations, reading commentaries, studying the passage, etc.)/
If you ever struggle with procrastination, and you know it isn’t because you’re lazy, give this book a quick read… you may find a helpful insight or two as I did.