• 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. (loc. 146-47)
  • Procrastination is a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. (loc. 170)
  • One explanation is offered by Denis Waitley, the author of The Psychology of Winning and The Joy of Working, who defines procrastination as “a neurotic form of self-defensive behavior” aimed at protecting one’s self-worth. That is, we procrastinate when we fear a threat to our sense of worth and independence. (loc. 307-10)
  • The fear of judgment is the key fear that stems from over-identifying who you are, your worth as a person, with your work. From this fear follows the counterproductive drive toward perfectionism, severe self-criticism, and the fear that you must deprive yourself of leisure time in order to satisfy some unseen judge. (loc. 323-26)
  • Procrastination reduces tension by taking us away from something we view as painful or threatening. The more painful work is for you, the more you will try to seek relief through avoidance or through involvement in more pleasurable activities. The more you feel that endless work deprives you of the pleasure of leisure time, the more you will avoid work. (loc. 431-34)
  • If you believe that a judgment of your work is a judgment of yourself, then perfectionism, self-criticism, and procrastination are necessary forms of protection. (loc. 454-55)
  • Perfectionistic demands lead to → fear of failure → PROCRASTINATION → self-criticism → anxiety and depression → loss of confidence → greater fear of failure which leads to → stronger need to use PROCRASTINATION as a temporary escape. (loc. 459-61)
  • If you are in a one-down position—a student, a subordinate, a private in the army—procrastination may be the safest way to exercise some power and control over your life. (loc. 480-81)
  • Perfectionism and self-criticism are, in fact, the chief causes of fear of failure. (loc. 515)
  • The first major step out of procrastination is to become aware of how fear leads to your old patterns and how creating safety leads to productivity. (loc. 772-73)
  • In most cases you are the one who confuses just doing the job with testing your worth, where one possible mistake would feel like the end of the world. (loc. 803-4)
  • Procrastination and Anxiety Work in Five Stages (loc. 830-31)
  • First, you give a task or a goal the power to determine your worth and happiness. (loc. 831-32)
  • Second, you use perfectionism to raise the task 100 feet above the ground, so that any mistakes would be tantamount to death, and any failure or rejection would be intolerable. (loc. 837-38)
  • Third, you find yourself frozen with anxiety as your natural stress response produces adrenaline to deal with threats to your survival. (loc. 844-45)
  • Fourth, you then use procrastination to escape your dilemma, which brings the deadline closer, creating time pressure, a higher level of anxiety, and a more immediate and frightening threat than even your fear of failure or of criticism for imperfect work. (loc. 849-50)
  • Fifth and last stage, you then use a real threat, such as a fire or a deadline, to release yourself from perfectionism and to act as a motivator. (loc. 853-54)
  • While it is common practice to try to motivate ourselves with statements such as “I have to do it” or “I should do it,” such statements loudly communicate to the mind, “I don’t want to do it, but I must force myself to do it for them.” (loc. 913-15)
  • And your body, being a faithful servant, reacts to this “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” message with either the stress response (by providing high energy for “fight or flight”) or the depressive response (by conserving energy for survival). But your energy can’t go in two directions at once, nor can your mind focus on two problems. (loc. 943-46)
  • Since you have made a mature commitment to the task, rather than arguing against it, you might as well be self-nurturing enough to make it as pleasant as possible. Even when the choices are rotten ones, you can exercise your power of choice and learn to embrace the path that makes the most sense to you. And precisely because you have chosen to do it, it becomes less difficult, less painful, and more quickly accomplished. (loc. 1078-81)
  • Whenever you catch yourself losing motivation on a project, look for the implicit “have to” in your thinking and make a decision at that moment to embrace the path—as it is, not the way you think it should be—or let go of it. It’s your choice. (loc. 1081-83)
    1. Negative Thinking of “I have to.” (loc. 1113)
  • Replace “I have to” with “I choose to.” (loc. 1117-18)
  • Replace “I must finish” with “When can I start?” (loc. 1128-29)
  • Replace “This project is so big and important” with “I can take one small step.” (loc. 1141-42)
  • Replace “I must be perfect” with “I can be perfectly human.” (loc. 1158-59)
  • You need self-compassion rather than self-criticism to support your courageous efforts at facing the unavoidable risks of doing real, imperfect work rather than dreaming of the perfect, completed project. (loc. 1161-62)
  • Replace “I don’t have time to play” with “I must take time to play.” (loc. 1174-75)
  • “I choose to start on one small step, knowing I have plenty of time for play.” (loc. 1185)
  • The three major fears that block action and create procrastination are the terror of being overwhelmed, the fear of failure, and the fear of not finishing. (loc. 1475-76)
    1. What is the worst that could happen? (loc. 1645-46)
    1. What would I do if the worst really happened? (loc. 1647)
    1. How would I lessen the pain and get on with as much happiness as possible if the worst did occur? (loc. 1651)
    1. What alternatives would I have? (loc. 1656)
    1. What can I do now to lessen the probability of this dreaded event occurring? (loc. 1659-60)
    1. Is there anything I can do now to increase my chances of achieving my goal? (loc. 1663)
  • Prepare Challenges to Negative Statements and Attitudes (loc. 1718-19)
    1. “I need to do more preparation before I can start.” (loc. 1719-20)
    1. “At this rate I’ll never finish.” (loc. 1731)
    1. “I should have started earlier.” (loc. 1738)
    1. “There’s only more work after this.” (loc. 1744)
    1. “It’s not working.” (loc. 1751)
    1. “I only need a little more time.” (loc. 1757-58)
  • Use tools such as three-dimensional thinking, the work of worrying, and persistent starting to prepare yourself to deal with anticipated criticism and necessary corrections, but get your work out there—out of the fantasy stage and into the real world. (loc. 1773-75)
  • Keep on starting, and finishing will take care of itself. When you’re afraid of finishing, keep asking, “When can I start?” (loc. 1779-80)
  • Neither procrastination nor playing will take away your anxiety when there is something difficult to face. The only thing that really helps is to start working. (loc. 1788-89)
  • The Unschedule asks you to aim at starting for just thirty minutes. (loc. 1795-96)
  • The important thing is that you got started. When you’ve overcome inertia, you’ve gotten yourself beyond the most difficult part. (loc. 1801-2)
  • The Unschedule and the guilt-free play system help you to put more time into your leisure and more quality into your work. It tells you to make sure you’ve scheduled enough time for high-quality, guilt-free play. It says: • Do not work more than twenty hours a week on this project. • Do not work more than five hours a day on this project. • You must exercise, play, or dance at least one hour a day. • You must take at least one day a week off from any work. • Aim for starting on thirty minutes of quality work. • Work for an imperfect, perfectly human first effort. • Start small. (loc. 1863-71)
    1. Schedule only: • previously committed time such as meals, sleep, meetings • free time, recreation, leisure reading • socializing, lunches and dinners with friends • health activities such as swimming, running, tennis, working out at the gym • routine structured events such as commuting time, classes, medical appointments (loc. 1917-22)
    1. Fill in your Unschedule with work on projects only after you have completed at least one-half hour. (loc. 1929-30)
    1. Take credit only for periods of work that represent at least thirty minutes of uninterrupted work. (loc. 1933-34)
    1. Reward yourself with a break or a change to a more enjoyable task after each period worked. (loc. 1938-39)
    1. Keep track of the number of quality hours worked each day and each week. (loc. 1942)
    1. Always leave at least one full day a week for recreation and any small chores you wish to take care of. (loc. 1945-46)
    1. Before deciding to go to a recreational activity or social commitment, take time out for just thirty minutes of work on your project. (loc. 1951-52)
    1. Focus on starting. (loc. 1959)
    1. Think small. (loc. 1961-62)
  • Aim for thirty minutes of quality, focused work. (loc. 1962-63)
    1. Keep starting. (loc. 1963)
  • If you must worry, worry about starting. In order to finish, all you have to do is to just keep starting! (loc. 1965-66)
    1. Never end “down.” (loc. 1966-67)
  • You’re probably busier than you thought. (loc. 2023)
  • Certain days are less productive than others. (loc. 2027)
  • Other days are so busy that you need to lower your expectations about getting started on a big project. (loc. 2031)
  • Even a half-hour of work on your project is enough to maintain momentum and avoid the extra burden of having to overcome inertia tomorrow. (loc. 2035-36)
  • Using the Unschedule provides five major benefits that lead to greater enjoyment of guiltfree play and overcoming procrastination. (loc. 2058-59)
    1. Realistic timekeeping. (loc. 2060)
    1. Thirty minutes of quality time. (loc. 2063-64)
    1. Experiencing success. (loc. 2069)
    1. Realistic timekeeping. By first recording all your committed time—such as sleep, meals, exercise, classes, meetings, laundry, and reading—you become acutely aware of how much time is really left for working on your stated goals. (loc. 2060-61)
    1. Thirty minutes of quality time. By aiming at starting (rather than finishing) for just thirty minutes, there is a greater likelihood that you won’t feel overwhelmed. (loc. 2063-65)
    1. Experiencing success. By recording time worked, you see your progress rather than your failure to meet an unrealistic schedule. (loc. 2069-70)
    1. Self-imposed deadlines. Deadlines often create a certain amount of productive pressure, but they’re usually too late to allow for quality work. (loc. 2072-73)
    1. Newfound “free time.” One of the many fringe benefits of pre-scheduling your leisure activities is that, when one of them is canceled, you can suddenly find yourself thinking with relief, “I have free time; I can work.” (loc. 2079-81)
  • Focusing is a two-minute procedure for shifting rapidly to the flow state by replacing guilt and stress with a stress-free focus on the present. (loc. 2174-75)
  • Letting go of the past. With your next three slow, deep breaths, tell yourself to let go of all thoughts and images about work from the past. (loc. 2207-8)
  • Letting go of the future. And with your next three slow, deep breaths, let go of what you anticipate happening in the “future”—a constructed concept of a time that really doesn’t exist. (loc. 2212-13)
  • Centering in the present. With your next three slow, deep breaths, notice—just notice—that it really doesn’t take much energy to just be in the present. (loc. 2216-17)
  • As management consultant Michael Durst says, “You may not be responsible for causing what happens to you, but you are responsible for what you do to correct it.” (loc. 2419-20)
  • This powerful message contains a crucial concept that many people miss: let go of worrying about the initial cause of the problem so that you can direct your energies to where they can do the most good—on the solution. (loc. 2420-21)
  • Sticking with the mission while adjusting to negative feedback is an essential skill in the repertoire of the long-term performer. (loc. 2433-34)
  • Dr. Martha Maxwell, in her book Improving Student Learning Skills, tells us that there are at least five types of distractions: (loc. 2528-29)
    1. Strong Emotions. This is the one type of distraction that deserves your immediate attention. (loc. 2530)
    1. Warnings of Danger. Real or imagined threats will interrupt your ability to concentrate by stimulating an adrenaline reaction. To (loc. 2535-36)
    1. Warnings of Danger. Real or imagined threats will interrupt your ability to concentrate by stimulating an adrenaline reaction. (loc. 2535-36)
    1. “To-Do” Reminders. While you’re immersed in a difficult project, that quart of milk you have to buy or some other “to-do list” item will suddenly haunt you for no apparent reason. (loc. 2539-41)
    1. Escape Fantasies. If you anticipate long periods of deprivation, you can expect an increase in fantasies about food, sex, and vacations. (loc. 2544-45)
    1. UFOs—Unidentified Flights of Originality. Creative and often seductive thoughts that cannot be fathomed at this time may fly through your mind while you are working on a project. (loc. 2547-49)
  • Remember, you are the master of your goals; don’t let unrealistic goals be used as an occasion for self-criticism and for lapsing into identifying yourself as a procrastinator. (loc. 2623-24)
  • These three steps will apply Now Habit techniques to the task of setting goals effectively. (loc. 2631-32)
  • Step 1: Recognize the work of procrastinating. Let go of the fantasy that you can escape work by procrastinating. (loc. 2633)
  • The choice is not working or not working, but which type of work; even feeling guilty because of procrastinating takes some effort. (loc. 2635-36)
  • The choice is not working or not working, but which type of work; even feeling guilty because of procrastinating takes some effort. When you commit to a goal, you’re committing to a form of work that brings ongoing rewards. When you procrastinate, you’re choosing a self-punishing form of work. (loc. 2635-37)
  • Step 2: Freely choose the entire goal. State your goal in the form of a choice or decision: “I freely choose to work on . . .” or “I will work on . . .” (loc. 2640-41)
  • Step 3: Create functional, observable goals. Vague goals must be translated into something tangible you can do. (loc. 2657)