“Solving the Procrastination Puzzle” by Timothy A. Pychyl

1 Line Summary

“Solving the Procrastination Puzzle” is a book that provides a concise summary of key strategies to reduce procrastination in your life.

What Will You Learn

By reading this book, you will:

  • understand procrastination,
  • know about self forecasting fallacy,
  • know about L.E.A.R.N Technique
  • understand the strategies to overcome procrastination.

Best Quotations from the Book

  • All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination
  • Procrastination is failing to get on with life itself.
  • I won’t give in to feel good. Feeling good now comes at a cost.
  • I need to be aware of my rationalizations. (Rationalizations are thoughts that help justify procrastination in a seemingly logical way to the delayer. Some common rationalizations are:
  • I still have plenty of time.
  • I work better under pressure.
  • I need to be in the mood.

To overcome rationalizations, one needs to recognize, argue against and defeat them.)

  • IF I say to myself things like “I’ll feel more like doing this later” or “I don’t feel like doing this now,” THEN I will just get started on some aspect of the task.
  • I need to be prepared to deal with distractions, obstacles, and setbacks.
  • “It will only take a minute” puts me on a slippery slope toward procrastination.
  • Self-change is a journey I take daily, and I will persevere patiently as I take two steps forward and one step back.

Book Summary

Procrastination is putting off things until the last minute, knowing it’s bad effect. It’s a common problem that most people have at some point in their lives.

Procrastination is harmful because it can negatively impact performance, mental and physical health, relationships and self-esteem.

Bad Effects of Procrastination

  • Performance: When you procrastinate, you are more likely to rush through tasks or turn them in incomplete. This can lead to lower grades, missed deadlines, and negative feedback from your professors, colleagues, or supervisors.
  • Mental Health: Procrastination can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. This is because procrastination often involves putting off difficult or unpleasant tasks, which can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and overwhelm.
  • Physical Health: Chronic procrastination can lead to physical health issues like insomnia, immune system disturbances, and gastrointestinal problems. This is because stress and anxiety can take a toll on your physical body.
  • Relationships: Procrastination can jeopardize both personal and professional relationships. For example, if you are constantly late to meetups or deadlines, your friends, family, and colleagues may start to lose trust in you.
  • Self-Esteem: Chronic procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. This is because procrastination can make you feel like you are not living up to your potential.

Costs Associated with Procrastination

Procrastination has a number of costs, both tangible and intangible.

Tangible Costs

  • Lower performance: Procrastinators often do not have enough time to complete tasks to the best of their ability, which can lead to lower grades, missed deadlines, and negative feedback from others.
  • Financial costs: Procrastinating on important sales or purchases can lead to paying more money in the longer run.
  • Delayed health care: Procrastinating on doctor’s appointments or medical procedures can lead to more serious health problems down the road.

Intangible Costs

  • Increased stress: Procrastination often leads to stress and anxiety, as procrastinators worry about the tasks they are putting off.
  • Health issues: The stress associated with procrastination can lead to physical health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia.
  • Reduced well-being: Procrastinators often feel guilty and ashamed about their procrastination, which can lead to low self-esteem and decreased happiness.

How Our Thinking Contributes to Procrastination

  • Discounting Future Rewards: We often prioritize instant gratification over long term goals, this leads to delaying significantly important tasks at the present moment.
  • Underestimating Time: There often occurs an error of judgment in estimating actual time in required for task completion, which leads to last minute rushes and incomplete submissions
  • Preference for Tomorrow: Thinking of not feeling good in the present moment, we delay over a task to be completed tomorrow.
  • Absurd Thinking: Thinking groundlessly about the task and our abilities, we tend to avoid or delay tasks.
  • Mood Repair: Avoiding a task in the present moment creates a feeling of short term gratification, this eventually leads to lack of focus and delays

Power of Getting Started

  • Overcoming Inertia: Starting a task is always the hardest phase, once started the progress becomes easy.
  • Task Management: Starting begins with breaking down large goal into smaller manageable tasks, making it less overwhelming.
  • Momentum: Starting and breaking large goal into smaller chunks helps in building momentum and easier continuity.
  • Feedback Loop: Building momentum and completing smaller tasks infuses energy, improves confidence and reduces anxiety associated with the goal.

Why Getting Started is Not the Only Solution

  • Incomplete Tasks: Simply starting a task doesn’t ensure its completion, is is quite possible to start multiple tasks and leaving all of them incomplete.
  • Lacking Planning and Persistence: Persistence is more important than just getting started, lack of planning and organization will lead to mistakes, inefficiencies or incomplete submissions.
  • Time Management: Even after getting started, proceeding with the plan and clock is important. Poor time management will lead to anxiety and stress.
  • Distractions: Failing in managing distractions is the biggest cause of procrastination, as distractions lead to reduced focus.
  • Lack of Motivation: Starting a task doesn’t ensure the presence of motivation, persistence combed with motivation guarantee completion.

How Cyberslacking Infuses Procrastination

  • Distraction: Cyberslacking, or wasting time on the internet, can be a major distraction that pulls us away from our tasks.
  • Immediate Gratification: The internet offers immediate gratification, which can be more appealing than working on a challenging task that offers delayed rewards.
  • Escape: Cyberslacking can be a form of escape from tasks that we find boring, difficult, or anxiety-inducing.
  • Lack of Structure: The internet lacks the structure of traditional work environments, making it easier to lose track of time and procrastinate.
  • Overwhelm: The vast amount of information and options online can be overwhelming, leading to decision paralysis and procrastination.
  • Social Media: Social media platforms are designed to be addictive and can easily lead to hours of wasted time.

Apps to Manage Procrastination

There are several apps designed to help manage procrastination by regulating internet use. Here are five of the best:

  • Freedom: This app blocks irrelevant apps, websites and schedules work sessions.
  • Forest: This app manages screen time by planting virtual trees, they grow as you stay off the phone.
  • Rescue Time: It provides a report on how you spend your time on the the web.
  • Stay Focused: It is a simple chrome extension which lets you set up a blacklist for a specific period of time.

These apps offer various features like time trackers, scheduling features, reminders, the ability to block distractions, to help manage procrastination effectively.

How to Manage Procrastination

  • Self-Care: Taking care of physical health through proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep can help replenish willpower.
  • Breaks: Taking regular breaks can help prevent willpower depletion.
  • Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness can help manage stress and maintain focus, preserving willpower.
  • Goal Setting: Setting clear and achievable goals can help direct willpower effectively.
  • Prioritization: Prioritizing tasks can ensure that willpower is spent on the most important tasks.
  • Implementation Intention: Make implementation intention as a part of action plan to fight procrastination, impose strict self regulation over yourself.

L.E.A.R.N Technique

The L.E.A.R.N. technique is a strategy to help manage emotions leading to procrastination. Here’s a brief explanation:

  1. Label: Recognize and label the emotion that’s causing you to procrastinate. This could be fear, anxiety, or boredom.
  2. Exhale: Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. This helps to calm your mind and body.
  3. Accept: Accept the emotion you’re feeling without judgment. It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling.
  4. Reflect: Reflect on why you’re feeling this emotion and how it’s affecting your behavior.
  5. Nurture: Nurture a sense of self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and understand that it’s okay to struggle sometimes.

By following above mentioned steps, procrastination can significantly be managed.

Do you want to stop wasting your precious time and start living your life fully? Read “Solving the Procrastination Puzzle” and discover the practical strategies to overcome your procrastination habit.

Click To Read “5 Most Effective Time Management Strategies to Enhance Personal Productivity

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