Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review: Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It NOW by Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen

You can find out more about this book by going to its Amazon page.

I mentioned this book in my post but it started to spawn a life of its own. When I hit paragraph three, I realised that perhaps it deserved a post of its own. 

The book is split into two sections: the first section discusses factors and behaviours behind procrastination, whilst the second section offers practical tasks aimed at breaking the procrastination cycle. For many years I have been rather snotty about self-help books, seeing them as a sign of weakness rather than a useful tool (and, as I discovered, this attitude is one of the factors that contributes to my procrastination). When my procrastination began to seriously impact on my day job, I swallowed my pride and looked around for some advice. On my travels, I stumbled across this book. 

Thank you so much to Jane and Lenora for writing this book. As I read through the pages I kept thinking "That's me! Oh so that's why I behave like that." I wish that I had read this book when I was at university - it might have helped me get a better mark for my degree. Working through the exercises in the book I realised that I have a small problem with time mangement, a common trait amongst procrastinators. For some reason I find it hard to judge how long a task will take or how much time has passed. In other words, my relationship between objective time (fixed by a clock, calendar etc.) and subjective time (your own sense of time passing) is a little out of step. At the moment I'm trying to keep track of how long tasks take me at work to help improve this relationship. It's getting there, slowly but surely, and I feel like I am improving. 

Another method that has been helping me is the "15 minute approach" recommended in the book. I find myself putting off tasks because I think I don't have enough time. My current means that I assume I need a block of two hours to write that report. Researching a certain topic will take me all day. To be honest, that is time I am never going to have and I need to get out of that mindset. When I look at a task, I say to myself "I will work on this for 15 minutes and see how far I get." It has been really surprising how far I have been getting on with work using this method. Bit by bit, I am getting things DONE.

I cannot emphasis how much this book has changed my life. Over my extended Christmas break, I devoured its pages and felt so inspired to change my approach to work. At times I seriously considering handing in my notice because I didn't feel good enough to do my job (again, another trait of the procrastinator as highlighted in this book). This book helped me to realise that I am good at my job, I can work well and that it was easy to change my behaviour.

Fellow procrastinators, the best thing you can do is read this book. You will not regret it.

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