Solving the Procrastination Puzzle - by Timothy A. Pychyl


Solving the Procrastination Puzzle - by Timothy A. Pychyl

Read: 2023-08-28

Recommend: 4/10

Not a very enlighting read. An OK book.


Here are some text that I highlighted in the book:

  1. All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.

  2. Procrastination is the voluntary delay of an intended action despite the knowledge that this delay may harm the individual in terms of the task performance or even just how the individual feels about the task or him-or herself. Procrastination is a needless voluntary delay.

  3. The key issue is that for chronic procrastinators, short-term mood repair takes precedence. Chronic procrastinators want to eliminate the negative mood or emotions now, so they give in to feel good. They give in to the impulse to put off the task until another time. Now, not faced with the task, they feel better.

  4. when faced with a task where our natural inclination is to say, “I’ll do this later” or “I’ll feel more like this tomorrow,” we need to stop and recognize that we are saying this in order to avoid the negative emotions we are feeling right now.

  5. although the dominant emotion at the moment may be fear—we may have fear—the key thing is that we do not have to be our fear. We can acknowledge this fear but choose to continue to pursue our goals working from some other part of our self.

  6. “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” We probably won’t. I think we all know this deep down. This is part of the strangely puzzling nature of procrastination. We have become our own worst enemy, and we even know how to lie to ourselves.

  7. “My current motivational state does not need to match my intention in order to act.”

  8. attitudes follow behaviors more than (or at least as much as) behaviors follow attitudes. When you start to act on your intention as intended, you will see your attitude and motivation change.

  9. the needless delay of a task that we defined as procrastination may in fact fill a need. It can protect self-esteem

  10. When our actions and beliefs or even two beliefs are in conflict, they are dissonant. Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance. Dissonance is uncomfortable. We want to alleviate this negative state. When we intend to act, when we have a goal toward which we have made an intention to act, and we do not act (voluntarily and quite irrationally choosing to delay action despite knowing this may affect us negatively), we experience dissonance. This dissonance is one of the costs of procrastination.

  11. Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think.

  12. “if . . . then” statements. The “if” part of the statement sets out some stimulus for action. The “then” portion describes the action itself. The issue here really is one of a predecision. We are trying to delegate the control over the initiation of our behavior to a specified situation without requiring conscious decision.

  13. Notice that we are not using the famous Nike slogan of “Just do it!” It’s about just getting started. The “doing it” will take care of itself once we get going. If we think about “just doing it,” we risk getting overwhelmed with all there is to do. If we just take a first step, that is much easier.

  14. “A job begun is a job half done.”

  15. You can remember the five traits with the mnemonic CANOE: Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness (to Experience), and Extraversion.

  16. only two of these traits have meaningful relations with procrastination—Conscientiousness and Neuroticism (which is also known as Emotional Instability).

  17. self-forgiveness for procrastination was related to less procrastination in the future. Specifically, when students in our study had procrastinated quite a bit on their preparation for an exam, if they self-forgave for this procrastination, they were less likely to procrastinate on their preparation for the subsequent exam.