How many of us, when faced with a daunting or dreaded task, will continually put it off? Instead of diving in and getting the odious chore off our to-do list, we put ourselves through the anxiety and guilt of procrastinating. But why do we choose to vacuum the furniture instead of start that writing assignment; why do we bathe the dog instead of create the business plan? That’s the topic of a fascinating new book, Beyond Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing Your Life, by life coach Renate Reimann, Ph.D.
In Beyond Procrastination, Reimann addresses the many reasons that we put things off, and maps out practical techniques to “move from stuck to finished,” as she writes. She details the reasons for procrastination, from practical to psychological to socio-cultural, and offers a number of strategies for overcoming all manner of roadblocks. She also includes useful checklists and self-administered exercises throughout the book, all of which help the reader understand and work through various stalling tactics.
Changing self-defeating behaviors may be as simple a matter as taking a small action or making a basic, momentary commitment, Reimann’s book shows. One example is her “5 minute rule,” which addresses the common hurdle of just getting started. If you’re facing an onerous task, promise yourself you’ll devote five minutes to it before you make the decision to continue it or stop. There are times when just taking a short step past inaction may be all you need.
In her career as a successful, certified life coach, Reimann works with individuals who are held back by their habit of procrastinating. She’s uniquely qualified to offer penetrating insights on the subject, along with common-sense tips and tricks. The book is filled with her entertaining anecdotes, which put a welcome human face on the issue, and remind us of just how universal procrastination is. She even describes her own struggles with procrastination during the process of writing the book. Among the ways she overcame it, she reflects, was to admit that it’s sometimes necessary to give oneself a “deliberate time-out.”
As Reimann points out, delaying one’s responsibilities is not always a self-defeating tactic: procrastination can actually be a valuable tool for those moments in a project when the timing isn’t right for moving forward. Perhaps there isn’t enough information or support, she notes, or something else needs to be resolved first. In such instances, as she writes, procrastination can act as a “naturalistic filter.”
And for those 20–25% of the population who consider themselves chronic procrastinators, this is an undeniably useful book: it will help readers uncover their own delay patterns and develop effective coping mechanisms. In Beyond Procrastination, Reimann has created a positive and tangible approach toward that will leave postponements and excuses behind, and help us accomplish tasks, however trivial or meaningful. For it’s in that sense of accomplishment itself that we often find immense satisfaction.
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