Do you find yourself delaying or avoiding certain tasks or goals, then criticizing yourself for it? Contrary to common belief, procrastination is not a character flaw or a problem in itself. It is a coping mechanism can be unlearned and reprogrammed. In this book, Neil Fiore presents strategies and tools that can help anyone to overcome procrastination, improve your work quality, and free up guilt-free time to play and relax. In this free version of The Now Habit summary, we’ll explain the whys and hows of procrastination, and briefly outline several powerful tools that you can use to overcome procrastination and unlock your productivity.
The Now Habit: An Overview
Most habitual procrastinators are aware of their tendencies, but can’t break free from them no matter how hard they try. Why is that?
Common advice to “work harder”, “just do it” or “get organized” simply don’t work because they fail to address the root of the issue. Procrastination is a coping mechanism that we use to deal with the stress and anxiety associated with certain tasks and our self-image. The only way to eliminate it is to tackle the underlying fears and self-condemnation.
The Now Habit strategy help us overcome precisely those fears and insecurities, so we can harness the innate human drive present in all of us. It builds on a range of established psychological principles, such as positive psychology, the Maslow hierarchy of needs, and habit loops.
Aa you overcome your procrastination, you’ll not only enjoy greater productivity, but also free yourself from the guilt and shame of putting things off, improve your self-esteem, and have more time for guilt-free enjoyment while improving the quality of your work.
WHY AND HOW WE PROCRASTINATE
The truth is, no one is an absolute procrastinator. There are always activities that we willingly dive into with enthusiasm.
Habits are learned when an activity is instantly followed by a reward. Procrastination is rewarding because it provides temporary relief from our stress and anxiety. In particular, we use procrastination to achieve 3 things:
- Express resentment or resistance toward authorities and our sense of powerlessness.
- Avoid the fear of failure or disappointment, which often comes from perfectionism and self-criticism.
- Avoid our fear of success.
People who procrastinate habitually get stuck in a vicious cycle. They procrastinate because of certain fears or anxiety. The more they procrastinate, the more anxious they feel, and the more they criticize themselves and lose confidence. This leads to an even stronger urge to procrastinate. The cycle continues until they label themselves as a procrastinator, and can’t even enjoy their leisure time without guilt.
In our full version of The Now Habit summary, we’ll explain:
- Each of the fears/insecurities associated with procrastination; and
- How exactly you can start to identify your own procrastination patterns. When you understand when/how you procrastinate, and what are the attitudes, beliefs, self-talk and responses you use to avoid certain tasks, it’ll be easier to tackle and overcome them.
Become a Producer with The Now Habit Strategy
The Now Habit strategy comes with several powerful tools to help you overcome procrastination and reprogram your habits. Here’s a quick visual overview:
Let’s zoom in on one of our favorite tools–the UnSchedule–in more detail. It combines multiple behavioral/psychological principles to help you get moving and build confidence by (i) motivating you with short periods of focused work followed by immediate rewards, and (ii) showing a visible record of how much focused, uninterrupted work you’ve done daily.
Here are some simple guidelines to start implementing your UnSchedule:
- Start by filling your planner with nonwork activities (e.g. meals, exercise, traveling sleeping, meetings, recreation, socialization). You’ll realize that you have only a few hours a day for real work.
- Fill in the work hours only after you’ve finished 30min of uninterrupted work. Don’t record the time if you stop before 30 min, or step away for a snack/call.
- After each work period, reward yourself with a break or switch to a more enjoyable task. Before going for a recreational or social activity, take 30 minutes to work on a high-priority project.
- Add up the number of quality hours worked each day/week and give yourself a pat on the back. You may soon feel excited to see how many work hours you can clock each day.
- Devote at least 1 day a week just for rest and recreation (and perhaps some small chores). After a rest, you’ll feel more motivated to return to your high-priority projects.
- Focus on “when is the next time I can start?” and keep taking 1 small step at a time. Don’t try to finish an entire project, or work non-stop for 3 hours. Just aim for just 30 minutes of quality, focused work.
- Never end on a low note. If you’re stuck, use another 5-10 minutes to at least come up with a partial solution.
Within 2 weeks, you’d have established a rhythm and have a better sense of your schedule. You’re now ready to start refining your approach. Do check out our full version of The Now Habit summary for a sample UnSchedule and tips on how to personalize it.
Other Tools for Overcoming Procrastination
Feel free to get our full text, infographic and audio versions of The Now Habit summary, for more details on the remaining tools. Here’s a quick snapshot:
- Create a psychological safety net to reduce the perceived threat of failure or imperfection, and to help yourself bounce back stronger from your mistakes.
- Use positive self-talk to focus your energy constructively toward a desired outcome, shift from resistance to commitment, and reprogram your attitude.
- Replace habits: Use old habits to trigger new ones, or unlearn your procrastination in the same way you learned them.
- Use guilt-free play to inspire quality work
- Overcome the fear of being overwhelmed with Three-dimensional thinking and the Reverse Calendar.
- Overcome the fears of failure and imperfection by finishing the work of worrying.
- Overcome the fear of not finishing through persistent starting.
- Train yourself to get into the state of flow.
- Use controlled setbacks to train your responses and improve your resilience and focus.
- Learn to set effective goals that you can achieve and build your confidence.
In our full 14-page summary, we also explain how to apply these strategies and tools to manage procrastinators at work and at home. Do get the complete version of The Now Habit summary bundle now :)
Getting the Most from The Now Habit
In this article, we’ve briefly outlined some of the key insights and strategies you can use to achieve desired change. For more examples, details, and actionable tips to apply these strategies, do get our full book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 14-page text summary, and a 26-minute audio summary.
If you apply the Now Habit strategies and techniques, you’ll be able to eliminate procrastination and improve your overall quality of life. Experiment with the various tools and approaches, and tailor them to suit your preferences and lifestyle. This is an easy-to-read book with many examples, stories, exercises and references to other books, to help you understand procrastination and how to overcome it with the tools and strategies outlined above. You can purchase the book here for the full mojo, or visit www.neilfiore.com for more details.
About the Author of The Now Habit
The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play is written by Neil Fiore–a psychologist, lecturer, trainer and author, best known for his work on peak performance and productivity. He’s the president of his own business consulting and coaching firm, and has presented and trained clients around the world. Dr. Fiore previously served as a Lieutenant with the 101st Airborne Division, as a manager with Johnson & Johnson, as a Statistical Analyst for Shell Oil, and as a psychologist and career counselor at the UC Berkeley.
The Now Habit Quotes
“The skills and strategies of the Now Habit program will let you think of yourself as a producer, feel like a producer, and act like a producer.”
“People don’t procrastinate just to be ornery or because they’re irrational. They procrastinate because it makes sense, given how vulnerable they feel to criticism, failure, and their own perfectionism.”
“Procrastination has been learned, and it can be unlearned. You need to develop alternative tools for coping with your fears.”
“Keep on starting, and finishing will take care of itself.”
“Procrastination is an ineffective way to cope with worrying because it stalls action and simply piles up more worries.”
“The choice is not working or not working, but which type of work; even feeling guilty because of procrastinating takes some effort.”