(Cover picture courtesy of Amazon.)
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?
[Full disclosure: I received a free paperback from the author at Book Expo America 2015 in exchange for an honest review.]
I am a habitual procrastinator. I have been since I was in middle school because I could always get away with a good mark despite doing my work late the night before (especially essays for English). And I never really grew out of that habit. Instead, it’s migrated to take over other things in my life like cleaning and other generally unpleasant tasks. So when I met David Parker at BEA offering a copy of his book, I was quite willing to give it a try. And I did, several months ago.
So why didn’t I review it until now? Surprisingly, the answer is not procrastination.
The answer is that I’ve virtually cured my procrastination since reading it in beginning of June. Of course I’m not perfect (and this book does not expect perfection) but I have really, really improved from where I was. It was especially helpful while I was preparing for my big move in the middle of August and needed to do an insane amount of inventory and cleaning. I’m not the sort of person that believes powerfully in self-help books, but this one is definitely one that worked for me.
David Parker starts the book describing his own procrastination and habitual procrastinators will end up nodding along. “Yes, I definitely do that…I also think [x] negative thing whenever I don’t get things done”, etc. He then describes how procrastination becomes a habit and then how it absolutely takes over your life. Then in the second section of the book he goes on to describe how to take steps toward curing your procrastination using his J.O.T. Method™ (Just One Thing Method).
I didn’t follow the instructions exactly but the idea of writing done just one thing, doing it and then crossing it off appealed to me. I’m sure it seems so simplistic and ridiculous to people who don’t sufer from procrastination but for me it really did help. I could see what I was doing and I finally had motivation to do it just so I could cross off that item. As time moved on, I made longer and more sophisticated lists where I was doing several things every day in order to get my life back together. For example, I began vacuuming every Friday night before I went online so that I didn’t keep leaving the vacuuming until someone was coming over or until it was so filthy I couldn’t stand it. Again, this may seem very simplistic but I can’t describe what a relief it was to finally be doing something—and to have the motivation to do that thing.
Of course your procrastination won’t disappear overnight and it may take several months like mine did but it is such a relief to act like a normal adult now. I’ve finally said goodbye to my awful middle school habits and have taken responsibility for my life. It’s easy to fall back into the trap of procrastination, but Parker also deals with that in his book. If you fall off the horse, get back on again and don’t beat yourself up about it. He has very practical solutions for dealing with the negative self-talk all of us procrastinators have. And if you’re someone who is close to a procrastinator, there’s also a chapter for you to better understand and support them on their journey to ending procrastination.
Basically, this is a pracitcal no-nonsense approach to ending procrastination. It’s written in clear language that everyone can understand and it actually helped. I think that’s really all you can ask for in a self-help book, right?
I give this book 5/5 stars.