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Recommended Reading: The Now Habit

Since this month is all about getting into action on your big goals, I want to share one of my favorite resources to help you break through action’s archenemy (dun dun dunnnnn!): procrastination.

If you identify as a procrastinator, you are not alone. Like those who can’t get out of bed in the morning, most people who are intense procrastinators feel deep shame about their habit—and have no idea how large this club’s membership truly is.

I’ve found The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, Ph.D. to be a phenomenal resource for many clients who struggle with procrastination. Fiore helps you figure out why you are procrastinating and offers concrete exercises and strategies to overcome the most common blocks to getting started.

Many books on this topic merely echo the “Get it together!/What’s your problem??” messages that, I’m guessing, you’re already pretty good at giving to yourself. The Now Habit is a welcome departure from this mentality, and, in my experience, Fiore’s approach is much more effective for people who are great at beating themselves up but still aren’t getting into action. The Now Habit helps take the shame out of procrastination. As you build your awareness of why and how you procrastinate, shift your language from that of a procrastinator to that of a producer, and practice Fiore’s strategies for breaking through your typical patterns, you may find yourself surprised at what’s really going on behind the scenes of your procrastination, and relieved to find that there are ways to change your habits that don’t rely on self-punishment and berating yourself into action.

As a coach, I see again and again how changing the language we use with ourselves can create powerful shifts in our feelings and behavior, so I love Fiore’s scripts for turning negative (and counterproductive) self-talk into empowering language. Beyond that, The Now Habit offers insights into the sometimes-subconscious rewards you get from procrastinating. Fiore’s approach emphasizes the need for guilt-free play, and his counter-intuitive “unschedule” can help you get at time management in a new way. There’s also a chapter for people who live with or manage procrastinators. Stories of chronic procrastinators Fiore has worked with help to contextualize the patterns and strategies he presents.

Of course, actually making changes will take time, commitment, and follow-through, making this a fantastic book for you to work through with your coach or counselor, or to work through on your own. Regardless of whether or not you follow Fiore’s recommendations, though, just reading the book can heighten your awareness of why you procrastinate and alleviate the shame that you may feel. So get reading…NOW!

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There are 4 comments. Add yours.

  1. Rachel

    This seems like a catch-22. The people who need this book the most aren’t going to be able to make themselves read it until they make the change that reading this book would enable then to make!

    I consider myself a procrastinator, but it’s not really because I favor things that I would rather do over the things I really need to do, but more because, like many people, I have a hard time getting motivated unless I feel the pressure of a deadline. So I generally don’t do anything until the last possible moment. Do you think those are two different kinds of procrastination?

    • Rachel, interesting point! Part of what I find so powerful about this book is how rather than try to throw people immediately into producer mode, Fiore meets people where they are and builds gradually–so those people who need it most can access it from right where they are. The book starts just with helping people understand why they procrastinate, and the techniques start in a place where chronic procrastinators can just take that first little step and then move through it bit by bit. It’s not a book that needs to be read all in one go, but, rather, worked through over time. So some of the changes are already happening by the time the reader is well into the book.

      As to your question–without knowing more about your situation, I can’t say for sure, but at first glance I’ll venture that there may be different underlying *causes* beneath the two choices to procrastinate that you describe. The first can commonly be related to a feeling of a lack of leisure/enough “guilt-free play,” feeling generally overburdened, or a resistance to authority/feeling of being a victim (THEY are making me do this–I HAVE to, I never have time to do what I want to do, etc.). The second is more commonly related to perfectionism (some of my clients are very surprised to learn that perfectionism is at work in them), fear of failure, and/or fear of success. Both involve lots of overwhelm and stories/procrastination-inducing thoughts.

      So to help you answer your question, my questions for YOU would be:
      What are the thoughts behind your choice to procrastinate? When you try to sit down (or think about sitting down) to do a task well before the deadline, what thoughts/feelings come up for you? I’m curious about what you get out of the pressure of a deadline. What does waiting till the last minute do for you? (Fiore talks a lot about both the thoughts and beliefs underneath procrastination, and also about the hidden rewards–every choice we make has some rewards.)

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I’ll be really interested to hear what you get out of the book if you decide to read it.

  2. Rachel

    I thought of this post when I read this article in the New York Times on procrastination this morning (when I should have been doing WORK!).

    • Thanks for sharing!

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