Guilt-Free Play, Quality Work
This chapter could be summarized like this: Play hard, work hard. Focus on playing hard first. Schedule your play, leisure and time for friends first, and start scheduling your work only after that.
This might seem counter-intuitive at first, but it works for multiple reasons:
- First, it is an excellent reverse-psychology trick. Before you know it, whenever some of your leisure activities gets cancelled for some reason, you will be relieved and thinkingGreat! I can work instead!
- Second, you need the extra stimulation, socialization, relaxation and exercise for high-quality output. No one can live in a bubble and come up with creative solutions. Additionally, exercising will give you more energy.
- Third, because the time when you can work will become limited, you will automatically have a tendency to make the most out of it. You will eliminate distractions. When you work, you really work.
- Fourth, you can achieve genuine and lasting motivation only through abundant rewards. Make the periods of work shorter, but make them count.
Procrastinators have many things common with workaholics. But both of them should realize that you do not need to put of living.
Overcoming Blocks to Action
The Now Habit offers three tools for overcoming blocks to action. The tools are:
Three-dimensional thinking and the reverse calendar
Any large task can easily overwhelm you without the proper perspective. You need to consider the size, length, and breadth of your task. You need to divide the work in time. Divide and conquer :-)
Reverse calendar helps you to schedule your work realistically. You start with an ultimate deadline, and then work your way with smaller deadlines up to the present moment. All these deadlines are within your control.
The work of worrying
You should respect your ability to worry as a means to alert you of a potential danger. Whenever you worry, figure out a plan for alleviating your worries. Establish a plan how to cope with any potential danger. This will give you a true peace of mind. Constant worrying can drain your energy quickly.
Summary of this passage of The Now Habit is simply “Keep on starting.” Do not think about finishing. Think about starting. Always be starting. The finishing will take care of it itself. You can start many times every day. Always focus on what you can do next. One little step.
The unschedule is a weekly calendar of your recreational and non-work related activities. Personal organizer software comes in handy for that. If you fill your weekly schedule with all your daily chores, committed activities, and a scheduled leisure time, you will see that you can’t realistically work 12, 8, or maybe even 6 hours a day on your task.
The unschedule uses reverse psychology to spring you into action. You can give yourself restraints like these:
- 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, dance at least one hour a day.
- You must take at least one day a week off from any work.
- Aim for only thirty minutes of quality work.
- Work for an imperfect, perfectly human first effort.
- Start small.
With those restrains in place, you will have a strong unconscious desire to work more, play less, and resist the “authority” of your unschedule
Keep track of every uninterrupted 30-minute block of work that you’ve done during the day. Log how many hours you have worked every day and week.
Working in the Flow State
You are most productive when you can fully focus. Distractions, intensive emotions and concerns undermine your focus and productivity. You need to deal with them before you start your work session.
Even a simple 2-minute relaxation can work wonders. Just close your eyes, breathe, and empty your mind. It’s as simple as that.
(My own suggestion is that you can also simply write your worries and “stuff” on paper, and get to them later. Your brain will let go once you write it all down.)
Fine-Tuning Your Progress
One of the techniques described in The Now Habit is called “Planned setbacks”. This could be summarized as observe and optimize. Consciously choose projects/tasks that you are most likely to procrastinate on, and observe your thoughts and feelings. This will point out the areas where further development is needed.
Another thing you can do is to develop resilience. Failing is okay. In fact, if you are fully committed to anything, you will encounter many setbacks and failures. But that’s not a bad thing. The more you fail, the closer to success you are. There are no perfect paths. Even if there are setbacks and failures, it doesn’t mean that you’ve made any mistake!
Make commitment only to goals that you fully embrace. Do not set goals that you simply do not care about. It’s a waste of time that will lead only to unhappiness.
The Procrastinator in Your Life
Until you understand procrastination yourself, you will probably reinforce procrastination patterns in the people around you. Successful leaders communicate in a way that makes people commit, not comply. They state priorities clearly, and give rewards and praise frequently.
Successful managers invite commitment. For example, “What can you get to me in a rough form by noon?” instead of “You’d be better finished by noon.” They also place emphasis on starting, not finishing. They are clear about where to start. They never criticize the person, but only their output, and they never hesitate to give praise when it’s appropriate.
When dealing with your family members, always make it your fault, not theirs. Use sentences like “I’m so obsessed with being there early! I simply have to leave on time, so I’m leaving in 20 minutes. It would be great if you could join me, but it’s up to you.”
If you apply the techniques and methods presented in The Now Habit, not only you will eliminate procrastination, but your overall quality of life and happiness will permanently increase. Not many books can have so dramatic impact on your permanent happiness.
I can recommend The Now Habit to anyone, not just people that are dealing with procrastination.