Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Now Habit

As you may know at least since my September post, I am often a procrastinator nowadays, and not too happy about it. The cause of that has largely been a mystery for me. I would take umbrage at anyone suggesting it was because of plain laziness — after all, as (I think) most human beings, I like being productive and useful and making a difference, and there are areas in my life (music for instance) where I do not procrastinate at all as a rule.

Enter The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, which I came across by way of an MP3-music and audiobook web shop the other day. According to its subtitle, it's "A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play" and it seems to be just the thing I need. There is a summary with a very good, comprehensive mindmap on Litemind, and another good review on Life Optimizer.

I've been listening to about half the book so far and I'm about to read the book, which I've also bought. Apart from some parts being a bit long-winded (in the verbatim interpretation of "tell them what you're gonna tell them, tell them, tell them what you've told them" frequently encountered in American articles and books), I appreciate it very much. Thanks to Fiore's description, I've found myself able to recognise much of my procrastination as a response to anxiousness caused by my perfectionism. I've been aware of the latter for a very long time, but had not really drawn this very important connection between the two phenomena yet. Very helpful indeed.
I'm starting to profit from the book also on the part of handling the issue. The two key ideas that are most present in my mind for now are these:
  1. Stop worrying about the end of the project and how you don't know how to do everything needed on the way — start taking a little, perfectly managable step NOW (and so on).
  2. Stop talking to yourself in terms of "I have to do this or that (although I don't want to)", that just fuels inner resentment against the task and causes procrastination of the second type (or the 1st in Fiore's order), which is "as an indirect way of resisting pressure from authorities" (the authority in this case being part of yourself). Consider the task and make a conscious choice, either wholeheartedly to commit to it — or not to tackle it and to bear the consequences. The words of Yoda in Star Wars come to mind: "Try not. Do, or do not — there is no try."
Finally, on a related website I found this saying, a wonderful antidote to my perfectionism:
"Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first."
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