I’m skimming through a section of “The Now Habit” loaned to me by a friend, and while parts of it do resonate quite well with me there are sections that I receive in a vaguely repugnant way:
Jeff was stuck. He felt guilty about not making a contribution to his field and was feeling pressure from his colleagues to publish. But he was unwilling to make the commitment to the long hours of solitary work that were required to read professional journals and to write.
“He was unwilling” to do these things? That doesn’t strike the right chord with me. I’m perfectly willing to commit myself to my thesis. I just happen to break that commitment rather more frequently than I should.
As an aside, I can’t stand this style of self-help writing in which a supposedly-true pithy anecdote is given that fits the relevant points being made. What was Jeff’s solution, by the way? To spend two months acting in a play and then using the empty hole left after he no longer needed to spend twenty hours a week rehearsing to write. Well, not exactly a general solution, but the idea seems to be to spend time in concentrated pleasure and you’ll balance your life out enough to stop procrastinating.
What did I like about the section of the book? Here’s a quote of what sounded true to me:
The promise of future rewards for hard work has little control over what we choose to do now. Instead, the more immediate and definite rewards of life, such as leisure, seeing friends, and eating ice cream, are immediately and definitely followed by tangible pleasures and have, therefore, a higher probability of occurring.
This sums up the exact feeling I have towards procrastination. It’s not an anxiety thing or a fear of failure thing, or whatever of the explanations given in this book; it’s just that there are so many short-term fun and rewarding things to do. It’s a hard habit to break doing them.