My sabbatical ended June 30th. It was a wonderful year for reading and writing. Among my writing projects was a short book—The Procrastinator's Digest: A Concise Guide to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle. This blog post includes the introductory chapter of the book. It provides an overview of my approach and what you can expect.
Below is an excerpt from the book. It's the introductory chapter. You can learn more about the book at amazon.com.
In preface to the information below, I just want to add that I wrote this book in the spirit of public scholarship to share what I have learned. I have intended it to be an eBook, as it is short, and eBooks are much less expensive to produce and disseminate (no printing costs and shipping, although I have provided for a print-on-demand option for those who want a softcover copy of the book). I have kept the purchase price very low (as low as $2.99 for the ePub version) just to cover my own expenses related to editing, the art work and the online publishing costs. I welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Procrastinator's Digest:
A Concise Guide to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle
If you are reading this, it is probably because you are bothered by procrastination.
You may be even be reading this because you are procrastinating right now. You are avoiding some other task. I want to make the time you spend off task, right now, worthwhile.
That is the purpose of my writing. An hour from now, you will be prepared to act differently. You will be prepared to be more successful in your goal pursuit.
Are you ready to get started? That is one of my most basic strategies: just get started. In this book, I explain why this works and summarize the research evidence for such a simple, practical strategy.
About this book
This is a short book - practical and no-nonsense. Although as short as possible, each concept, topic and issue presented has been carefully researched.
I have been researching and writing about procrastination for 15 years. You can learn about my research at procrastination.ca. This Web site provides access to my research group and academic publications as well as my iProcrastinate Podcasts and Don't Delay blog for Psychology Today. I have had hundreds of thousands of downloads of my podcasts and blog entries. Like this book, these resources are research-based, but meant to be very accessible for people who do not normally read psychological research.
The key difference between my blog or podcast and this book is the organization of the ideas. The blog and podcast cover a wide variety of important topics, but you would have to spend days reading or listening to get it all. The value of this book is that it is a digest of my research and, most importantly, this book provides a concise summary of key strategies to reduce procrastination in your life.
Why is the book so short?
Too often, we start books, read the first chapter or two, and never pick it up again (although we intend to finish it!). Among procrastinators, this is a terrible risk. In fact, procrastination is defined by this intention-action gap. I do not want to contribute to this, so I have written a short book. It is possible to read the whole thing in a few hours (fast readers may get through the main ideas and key strategies in an hour in fact).
Most importantly, I have written a short book because I believe that "less is more." It is quite possible for me to write hundreds of pages about this topic. I have in my blog and research, for example. My graduate students regularly write lengthy theses on the topic. However, when it comes to learning strategies for change, a few key ideas are what is required. Working with these ideas in your own life will make a difference. Your reading can make a difference in your life right now - if you want it to.
"If you want it to." This idea is very important to understand. No technique on its own will ever work without a firm commitment to a goal. If you are committed to change, I know what you will learn here will make a difference. I have received emails from people from all walks of life (e.g., lawyers, students, homemakers, consultants, medical researchers, and even other academics) from all over the world that attest to the difference that these strategies are making in their lives.
How the book is organized
I have structured each chapter in a similar way so that the book is easier and quicker to read. You know what to expect in each chapter.
First, I begin each chapter with a key phrase that may become your "mantra" for change. A mantra is an often-repeated expression or idea. It is commonly associated with meditation as the focus of your thoughts. I think the first sentence of every chapter can serve you best as a daily focus as you work towards change in your life.
When you read a chapter that really "speaks to you" in terms of your own procrastination, memorize the opening mantra for change, post it on your fridge or on your computer as a screen saver. In short, make it your own and reflect on it often.
Second, I offer an example through a short story that highlights a common problem with procrastination. These stories are based on lived experiences shared with me by research participants, as replies to my blog postings and podcasts, as well as through people I have met at invited talks, workshops and even at social gatherings (these are people who tell me that they would be "the perfect subject for my studies"). I hope these stories help situate the issue in lived experience for you.
Third, I summarize the key issue(s) illustrated in the story. Here, I draw on research, but I do not quote dates, names or other details like I do in my academic papers, blog or podcasts. I write about the issue and research in simple terms to keep the concepts clear. When I do introduce a term from research, some psychological "jargon," I explain what it means.
Fourth, based on the research, I present strategies that you might use to facilitate change in your life. These strategies flesh out the mantra at the beginning of the chapter, linking the issue and what we know from research to things you can do to reduce your procrastination. These strategies are the practical things that you can do to solve the procrastination puzzle in your own life.
As appropriate, I also provide a place for you to rephrase the key ideas in relation to your own life. This is where you make the concepts your own in the context of your own life. This is where you do your first bit of personal work and goal setting.
Finally, you will find at least one of our comics in each chapter. Paul Mason (an artist, creative genius and all-around great guy) and I created this series of comics together.
In the comics, we embrace the notion of "carpe diem." The Latin expression Carpe Diem (meaning literally "seize the day") has been used for centuries with contrasting meanings. For example, it has been used to celebrate and defend procrastination with a focus on enjoying the moment - "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die" - and, it has also been used as an admonition, scolding ourselves to focus on the pressing task at hand with expressions such as "make hay while the sun shines."
Our comics allow us to laugh at our propensity to put it off, while lamenting the tragedy of our inability to seize the day and accomplish our goals. Laugh or cry, we hope you will enjoy the situations we portray. Although the context for these comics is college or university life, I think you will find the themes applicable to other life domains.
Ok, enough by way of introduction. Let's just get started.
What is procrastination?
Learn more or purchase the book at amazon.com.