If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’re procrastinating. Even if the exact science and etymology of procrastination itself is above your head, we all know what it’s like to get behind on stuff.
For many of us, the feeling of putting off goals, errands, or activities until as late as possible is common; so much so that it’s a part of our daily routines. Despite procrastination being so relatable, it is strange how everyone does it. After all, if we waste time on deadlines down to the last minute, are we all doing something wrong? Is there anything that can be done to stop this unproductive habit?
These are important questions, and the answers can reveal shocking truths about the nature of human psychology. But in order to find those answers, we have to get a little background on what exactly procrastination is.
What Is Procrastination?
Procrastination can be defined as the act of delaying things we want or need to do. This can be any activity, from cramming for a test the night before after ignoring it to postponing a medical appointment until after you’re due for a checkup.
Many of us have learned the hard lesson that this kind of behavior has dire consequences. From getting low marks in school to missing out on major life opportunities like jobs and important errands, the effects of procrastination can be dire. So what is the underlying menace that causes us to harm ourselves for seemingly no reason?
Psychologists have a number of ideas about the cause. Let’s have a look at a few common hypotheses.
We Work Well Under Pressure
For a lot of people, working on a task isn’t efficient unless they know they can do it as fast as they can. When does that happen? Right when it needs to be done by.
While this sort of behavior seems risky, it becomes understandable when we’re presented with a lot of different tasks. Some of us focus more when we know the deadline for a task is right around the corner.
It’s a Response to Being Overwhelmed
Another common reason to procrastinate is just because we find our work overwhelming. This isn’t to say that it means we are doing it to work faster. Rather, many people just freeze up and ignore a problem if they feel like they can’t get it all done.
You Underestimate How Long a Task Will Take
To understand this, think of a task you need to complete and ask yourself how long it will take you to do it. When it actually gets to be time for doing that task, compare the amount of time it takes against your estimate. Were you right?
Many of us picture the amount of time it takes to complete a task without thinking about what working on something actually looks like. How long will you spend browsing social media, checking your phone, or staring off to space? For many people, the answer is “more than we realize.”
Something Else Is on Your Mind
No matter how much you want to get something done, you won’t focus on it unless it’s your top mental priority. For example, if you really need to study for a test tomorrow but you’re going on vacation the day after that, your thoughts won’t be as centered toward the test. As a result, it will take you longer to actually complete the studying required to get a good score.
You Don’t Enjoy the Work
Frequently, people have some tasks that they complete swiftly and as soon as they can do them, while having other tasks that seemingly never get done. If this sounds like you, you may have noticed that this might be a result of the content of the task itself.
Simply put, if you don’t like the task you have to do, you won’t get it done as efficiently. We don’t do things we don’t like doing.
Dealing With Procrastination: Read a Procrastination Book
Now that we understand why we procrastinate, how do we get ourselves to stop? As it turns out, the answer might not be so simple. This is because the barriers to procrastination are often part of the tasks themselves, or the work done to finish them.
Like all skills that have to do with discipline and motivation, procrastination doesn’t have any easy fixes. However, by focusing your brain on getting work done, you may find that you can procrastinate less and less over time.
So how do you focus your brain? One great option is through the reading of books about procrastination. They’re a great choice because not only do you get to read about ideas that reinforce staying on task, but you get words of encouragement about getting things done.
Books on procrastination can really help, because it’s almost like having a few hundred pages of a personal life coach cheering you on. Plus, many books are written by professionals who have spent years dealing with the problem of procrastination.
Now it’s only a matter of finding the right book for you. Let’s look at the top 10 best books on procrastination to help you kick your bad habits!
Instead of just offering you words of encouragement without sound advice, this procrastination book actually teaches you to systematically organize your life in a way that’s conducive to productivity.
The book itself is centered around a system of organizing your goals ahead of time and accomplishing them based on their importance. This is great because it doesn’t just preach buzz words like “self control” or “laziness”.
Another main idea of the book is that the human brain is great at thinking creatively and actively, but lacks strong memory storage. This is great for art and quick problem solving, but not great when you have many things to do. A lot of us go from one task to the other, forgetting the relevance of anything else.
To combat this issue, author David Allen recommends this 5 part strategy to thinking about the relevance and importance of the tasks you need to get done:
- Capture - First, record every task you can think of that needs to get done. Maybe this is as simple as writing down a “to do list” on a piece of paper or in the notes app of your mobile device.
- Process - Think about how the task fits into your short term and long term goals. You might have something that needs to get done in 6 months, or you might have a household chore that shouldn’t be waited on. One great rule is: If you can get it done in two minutes do it right now.
- Organize - With a rough idea of when and how something should be done, you can plan it in accordance to other tasks. If step 1 is a notepad, step 3 is a calendar. Make a specific time to do each task.
- Reflect - Examine your plans and calendar as thoroughly as possible. This is arguably the most important step because it takes consistent effort. Anyone can spend an hour or two going through a self help kick, but being able to actually check and revise your calendar on a routine basis is a skill most of us lack.
- Engage - Start doing the tasks! Words without action are meaningless.
Overall, this book will help you if you need a way to organize your life without having to listen to all the typical self-help jargon that many of these books on procrastination have.
Do you feel like your goals (and even everyday tasks) feel more like a burden than an excitement? Do you dedicate time to get work done only to spend the majority of it on your phone, or looking at other distractions?
Then Dopamine Detox is a great choice. The thesis of the book is that we live in a fast-paced, technological world with more distractions than ever. While work used to mean sitting down at a quiet desk, there’s now a million other things that can grab our attention.
Thus, we need a dopamine detox. What is dopamine? It’s the chemical in your brain that rewards you for getting tasks done. With so many flashing screens, random tasks, and other distractions, our dopamine receptors are always being overstimulated to the point where sitting down and doing nothing feels just as rewarding as completing a meaningful task.
The solution? “Detox” your brain by getting rid of these distractions. Read the book to find out how!
This list would not be complete without the productivity magnum opus that’s sold over a million copies: Atomic Habits. This is the procrastination book that all others look up to. It’s got everything: practical tips, science, personal advice, graphs, charts, interesting anecdotes, and more!
It’s especially great for people with ADHD or depression, because it doesn’t try to be preachy about being as productive as possible. The book emphasizes that being productive starts with putting your well being first.
This is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a little bit of everything. It’s especially helpful if you want a mixture of “self-help” style advice and practical tips. Moreover, the book gives a variety of explanations for beating procrastination, so you can choose what routine works for you.
We promise that this book does not recommend the actual consumption of frogs (or any amphibians for that matter). Eating a frog is a metaphor for that one terrible task you don’t want to do. It’s the nastiest, worst thing you want to avoid.
The advice of the book? Eat the frog first thing in the morning. Once you’ve done that, the rest of the day gets easier.
Author Brian Tracy is a prolific author for all things self-help and productivity. He’s got a really good voice and everything he writes is always engaging. Eat That Frog! is no exception. The wording is simple and easy to read. It’s a fantastic option for something you can easily review or give to someone young.
The book doesn’t have any cheap gimmicks or magic tricks. Instead, it offers practical advice in a similar step-by-step fashion as The Procrastination Cure. It’s a must-have to change your mindset and deal with unpleasant tasks.
Author David Parker believes that some of us are human ostriches: we stick our head in the sand at unpleasant tasks and avoid anything we don’t like doing. According to the book, the negative consequences of this behavior can quickly snowball into a mess where every part of your life is cluttered and disorganized.
Parker recognizes this, and goes on to discuss 25 characteristics that all “human ostriches” share. He then builds on these characteristics to describe how to beat procrastination once and for all, and take back the organization of your life.
Parker’s masterpiece is a perfect option if you’re feeling down, and you need a total mindset makeover in addition to some great advice for stopping procrastination in its steps.
#6 - The Perfectionism Workbook: Proven Strategies to End Procrastination, Accept Yourself, and Achieve Your Goals
Do you struggle with procrastination because you don’t want to do any part of your task wrong? Do you think to yourself “I can’t start because I’ll probably fail right at the beginning?” Would you consider yourself to be a perfectionist?
This is the book for you. The Perfectionism Workbook gives you real life exercises you can actively practice to stop being a perfectionist and start accepting yourself and accomplishments. The book also features:
- A list of unhealthy habits that perfectionists frequently have, and how to get rid of them.
- Stories from former perfectionists and real people who have been in your shoes.
- A broad look at perfectionism, why we do it, and how it’s toxic.
This is an interesting read because the topics are more of what’s seen in a “self-help” style book instead of specifically on procrastination. Yet, we had to include it on this list because of the practical nature of the writing: it details more than 40 ways people engage in self-defeating before and goes over methods for dealing with all of them.
This is the perfect book for you if your procrastination is a symptom of a greater problem. Maybe you are going through a mental rut, don’t like your position at work or in life, or you simply can’t seem to focus on what’s important. Whatever it may be, this book has real answers; practical tips that actually describe how to change your behavior.
#8 - Stop Procrastinating: A Simple Guide to Hacking Laziness, Building Self Discipline, and Overcoming Procrastination
If we could describe this book in two words, they would be: science & strategy. Not only does Stop Procrastinating detail the science of willpower and research behind procrastination; it also gives you actionable tips on how to improve.
Overall, this is a great book if you need that “awareness adjustment” but don’t like the spacey, vague nonsense that even the best books on procrastination preach.
#9 - The Procrastination Cure: 21 Proven Tactics For Conquering Your Inner Procrastinator, Mastering Your Time, And Boosting Your Productivity!
In this masterpiece study of procrastination, author Damon Zahariades presents a holistic depiction of what procrastination really is. Of all the books on procrastination you can read, this one is probably the most well researched.
The book includes:
- A detailed breakdown of all the reasons people procrastinate, and how to go about solving them.
- The productivity habits of famous writers, from Mark Twain to Victor Hugo.
- A formula for prioritizing tasks in a way that’s relevant to you.
- Advice for stomping out your inner critic and being productive.
- 21 clear steps for beating procrastination.
Authored by two psychologists, this book is about as close as you can get to an academic study without reading a scientific journal. Moreover, it’s witty, humorous, and gives great advice. This book is consistently rated highly by book critics and everyday readers alike.
The book reframes procrastination as a psychological response rather than simply being “lazy”. On the other hand, it’s not too scientific; the advice is clear and consistent. Like the subtitle, the book refrains from any filler and gets straight to the point.
We hope that you’ll enjoy reading any of these ten best books on procrastination procrastination tips. They’re all the best in their topic, and that’s really saying something. There are thousands of works that can be called a “procrastination book”, and these are only the very best. We hope you choose one that’s relevant to your specific needs and issues with the subject. Good luck!