Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The More You Do, The Better You Feel (Book Review)

I know I've blogged about perfectionism, but I don't think I've written about its cousin, procrastination.  I don't procrastinate about everything, but as I tell friends, housecleaning is not my spiritual gift.

Don't get me wrong:  it's only certain tasks that I avoid.  Our kitchen and bathrooms are clean, the hard floors are swept, and the laundry is done.  Vacuuming is a whole other story.

This is part of the reason I accepted a copy (at no cost to me) of The More You Do, The Better You Feel:  How to Overcome Procrastination and Live a Happier Life by David Parker.  The other part is the author's premise that habitual procrastination leads to depression and anxiety.  I've tried just about everything else in the battle against those, and I decided that this approach was definitely worth a try.

First, let me give you the text from the back cover:
Are You A Human Ostrich?

Do you stick your head in the sand at the thought of dealing with a task that seems boring, complicated, or unpleasant? Do you pay your bills late because the last time you balanced your checkbook was more than six months ago? While working on a task do you keep thinking you should be dealing with a different task?
  • Is your living space messy and your life unorganized?
  • Do you clean up only when family or friends will be visiting--only to let your place fall back into untidiness after they've gone?
  • After you've cleaned for visitors, do you tell yourself "it doesn't count!" because you weren't doing it for yourself?
  • Have you stopped having visitors over because you're ashamed of your mess?
  • Do you worry you'll feel embarrassed if the landlord, a plumber, or a repairperson needed to visit your place?
  • Do you constantly compare yourself to people who seem to "have it together?"
  • Does your habitual procrastination leave you feeling depressed and anxious?
  • Do you know the 25 characteristics and behaviors of the human ostrich?
  • Are you concerned that your child or someone you care deeply about is becoming a habitual procrastinator?
The Solution To Your Habitual Procrastination Is Here!
  • Learn the golden rules of overcoming procrastination.
  • Stop falling victim to the downward cycle of procrastination and depression.
  • Stop feeling overwhelmed and immobilized with fear by learning how to effectively cope with your tasks and responsibilities.
  • Become a "do"-er by learning easy to use and highly effective new tool - The J.O.T. Method™.
Much of this book is based on the author's own experiences.  For example, near the beginning of the book he tells about reviewing his journal.
It became clear to me that I was on to something:  there was a definite relationship between my problem with procrastination and the depression that I suffered from.  Oddly enough, while procrastination is usually seen as a symptom of depression, I observed that procrastination was causing my depression.  As I began thinking about this relationship, I realized that I needed to look a bit more closely at procrastination itself.
I could definitely relate to this next passage.  When I put off the vacuuming, it's usually because I feel as though it's going to take an hour--though I know that it really takes ten or fifteen minutes.  When I look at a messy room, I'm overwhelmed with the thought of cleaning the entire room.
In the past, my mind filled with gross distortions that usually involved how much time and energy my tasks would take to accomplish.  These distortions were comparable to large and seemingly unmovable mental boulders that I'd placed in my path.  How could I get past that first boulder?  It seemed impossible!
By gathering information from other habitual procrastinators, Parker gives a broader description of the problem and its symptoms.  Then he presents the method that worked for him and that I think will work for quite a few of us.

The J.O.T. Method (J.O.T. stands for Just One Task) starts at the very, very starting point.  Its baby steps allow even the worst procrastinator to get started on "recovery."  I think that getting started in itself brings a sense of accomplishment and hope, and those encourage us to continue.

I didn't start the J.O.T. Method at its most basic, but based on a few days' trial, I found that it worked.  I also noted the time next to each item, so I could see just how I was spending my time.  (We do the same sort of thing for financial expenses, so we can see where the money is going.)  That helped me to see how much time I "wasted" in front of the computer--not checking and answering email or blogging, but playing games in excess.  It also helped me to see that some things interrupted my to-do list and delayed my progress, but were actually more important than anything on my list.  For example, I'd never taken into account the little things that sometimes take half the day:  making important phone calls, writing cards to friends in hospitals, and so on.  I'd also never taken into account the non-work things that are the most important:  spending time with my son, for example, isn't on my to-do list, but it's a tremendously valuable use of my time.

I thought that The More You Do, The Better You Feel got a bit wordy at times.  But you can skim or skip the first five chapters if you're not interested in the psychology, then jump directly to Chapter 6, which begins the "Into Action" section.

The end of the book includes a chapter about how to help a procrastinating student.  I think this would be very useful for parents who are frustrated with a child's habitual procrastination!

For more information, see the website for The More You Do, The Better You Feel.  You'll find information about procrastination, an author bio, a book preview, a link to purchase an autographed copy of the book, and more.

The following Amazon link is my affiliate link.  If you click through it and complete a purchase, I will receive a small commission.  Thanks!  Note that books purchased through Amazon will not be autographed.

2 comments :

  1. Oh, I am very much a procrastinator... in some things... in others I am always on top of it.
    I do hate cleaning, so that is always a big one ;)

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    Replies
    1. It must be common to procrastinate in some areas but not others. I don't procrastinate on doing laundry or cleaning bathrooms--maybe because the results are clear. I told my husband this week, "If you don't notice when I clean a room, I must be doing it too often." He did not agree. :)

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