Hardly is there an adult person who has not indulged in procrastination at one time or the other. We put off tasks for later times (does ‘I’ll start doing it on Monday’ sound familiar to you?), under various circumstances, for multiple reasons. Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year, and consider the goals that you’ve put off for so long. The goals in question are likely a list of plans you jotted down during moments of excitement.
Many people are finding it difficult to break their routine of chronic procrastination. It is likely you often question your inability to keep true to schedules.
But before we start exploring the nature and algorithms of this unproductive state, let’s get to know the 10 best books on procrastination that will help you always stay resourceful.
The top 10 self-help books for procrastination
1. Eat That Frog! 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy
There is hardly a more impressive title to open our top books to help with procrastination. After all, Eat That Frog! has been translated into 23 languages, and it offers not just a couple but 21 actionable ways to say goodbye to procrastination and finally be as productive as you’ve always wanted.
2. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, And What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
Our willpower is even stronger than we tend to think about it. Yet, it is crucial to learn how to control and use it properly. The Willpower Instinct is an excellent overcoming procrastination book. Why is that so? Because it breaks down the anatomy of willpower and teaches you how to be in charge of your life where there is no place for laziness. Simple!
3. How to Stop Procrastinating: A Simple Guide to Mastering Difficult Tasks and Breaking the Procrastination Habit by Steve Scott
This title is not just one of the procrastination books. It’s an actual map that will navigate you on your way to spending your days as motivated and fulfilled as possible. It is a practical guide for anyone who admits that procrastination is just a bad habit that must be defeated.
4. Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield
Procrastination itself is not that powerful if we don’t feed it. However, it means that in many ways, we are our biggest enemies who hold us back from what we truly want. To stop being in your way and finally find out how to focus on what matters, you need to read Do the Work. It is one of the most remarkable books on procrastination psychology, so there is no chance it will leave you with zero insights to implement into your life.
5. Exceptional: Build Your Personal Highlight Reel and Unlock Your Potential by Daniel M. Cable
At first, it’s not apparent why this title is on the list of books on overcoming laziness. But trust us, the lessons from it are beneficial to anyone. It’s not enough to understand how to overcome procrastination. You also need to learn how to work with your potential and never let it go dull under the spell of idleness. And to master this skill, it’s crucial to arm yourself with knowledge from Daniel M. Cable’s book Exceptional.
6. 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs by Kevin Kruse
The time management skill is the greatest nemesis of procrastination. After all, if you plan everything efficiently and with a sense of purpose, laziness has no chances to mess it up. That’s why this international bestseller has all rights to claim a prize-winning place among the best books to stop procrastinating. 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management has already become classic and gained dedicated fans worldwide. So now it’s your turn to become a time management ninja!
7. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Do you often look at your to-do list and get so overwhelmed that procrastination covers you like a wave right away? That’s okay; it’s only a defensive mechanism that turns on when we are scared of the number of tasks to complete. But what if there is a way to be productive while staying stress-free? Do you still doubt it’s possible? Then Getting Things Done by David Allen will prove you wrong for sure! This worthy representative of procrastination books can show you tons. From how to get a brand-new productive lifestyle to forgetting about procrastination once and for all!
8. Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction by Chris Bailey
Our modern world is filled with noise and distractions — no wonder why it’s so easy to lose tunnel vision and fall for procrastination. But if you get your attention under control and train your focus to stay on essential things, you will become laziness-bulletproof. So, do you feel like it’s your weak spot? Are you already intrigued about how to achieve the maximum concentration? Then this overcoming procrastination book is the perfect choice for you! Multiple insights from Chris Bailey’s book will help you develop hyperfocus and witness every day to be even more productive than the previous!
9. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
Sometimes it seems like motivation and inspiration are twins. You never know when they are going to visit you. And every single time, you turn out to be unprepared for them to leave out of the blue. Well, the truth is that the mystery of motivation can be decoded, and Drive by Daniel H. Pink will tell you everything about it. Does this knowledge help with remaining motivated? Yes. Can we call Drive one of the best books to stop procrastinating based on this fact? Definitely!
10. The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma
The way you spend your morning sets the mood and vibe for the whole day. So if you don’t feel like doing anything 24/7, then it’s time to revise the routine you have after waking up. The 5 AM Club has already changed millions of people’s lives for the better and turned them from master-procrastinators into high-achievers. Ready to try out the magical power of mornings? Then be quick to join the 5 AM Club and read this influential work from the best books to stop procrastinating!
Now, let’s move to exploring everything about the procrastination monster and get prepared for fighting it back.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the act of unnecessarily postponing decisions or actions. A good example is: having plans to clear your workspace but succumbing to reading comics. You’re well aware that allowing your workspace to remain in disarray will negatively affect your productivity. Nonetheless, you opt for indulging in unnecessary activities that supply immediate gratification.
Though the underlying consequences of postponing may not be immediately apparent, procrastination leads to many harmful effects. For example, low self-awareness, poor physical and mental health, poor grades at school, and occupational delays could result from the procrastination habit.
However, the list of these unpleasant side effects is much longer. And trust us, you will be surprised after reading some of them in Brian Tracy’s procrastination book Eat That Frog!
Why you procrastinate
“I think the basic notion of procrastination as self-regulation failure is pretty clear…, You know what you ought to do, and you’re not able to bring yourself to do it. It’s that gap between intention and action.” –
There are several reasons why people procrastinate. And every single title from the best books on procrastination will have something new to reveal. However, the deepest roots of it are usually the same. Years of empirical research identify the psychological mechanism behind procrastination. The said psychological mechanism is the common thread of actions among procrastinators; they are:
- Each time we decide to engage in an activity, self-control is essential to transform the intention to action.
- Self-control is, however, dependent on another factor – our motivation. It is the motivation that initiates long-term activities that keeps it going, even when no obvious reward is in sight.
- In the process of actualizing the proposed goal, things seldom turn out as exactly planned. The bottlenecks which we encounter during the actualization phase may lead to a reduction in our morale.
- When the bottlenecks overshadow our initial level of self-control or motivation, procrastination automatically sets in. And we find ourselves compromising about the timing of the activity at hand.
Based on the psychological mechanisms explained earlier, we shall touch on the common causes of procrastination. Not all items in the following list may apply to a single person. However, these causes of procrastination are often valid for a broad spectrum of people.
Low grasp of self-control
Every living human possesses a level of control over their decisions and activities. But, letting ourselves off on far too many occasions is likely to breed the habit of procrastination. Self-control is a reflection of how well you can regulate your actions in light of future benefits. Any productive activity requires work, and work doesn’t come easy. Forthwith, anyone who plans on achieving a goal must be willing to work. Now, willpower is the ability to exercise self-control.
That’s why if you feel like fixing the issue of willpower should be the first step for you to take, don’t dive into all the best books to stop procrastinating. Instead, start with the most relevant for you at the moment. And in this case, the go-to choice is The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal.
Impulsivity when drafting goals may be a factor that sabotages the completion of the activity. Making impulsive decisions about a particular plan would probably make the intended goal abstract. Hence, as time goes by, the zeal for getting things done loses its potency. In some cases, being undecided about which of several activities to pursue may cause stalling in all of them.
This cause of procrastination is more ubiquitous among introverted individuals. Daydreaming about the future outcome of a project might prevent the convener from even starting. In some cases, activities with rewards that take a long period to materialize may also lead to procrastination. For example, working out and not getting direct evidence of weight loss could discourage some gym-goers.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that affects the brain. It prevents an individual from being able to concentrate on a single activity for a long-time span. Persons who have ADHD find themselves abandoning commitments before completion.
Is there anything good about procrastination?
“The truth is: If you’re someone who procrastinates, then this bad habit is limiting your success in a variety of ways. If you don’t address this issue, then you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll achieve your major goals.” –
Steve Scott in How to Stop Procrastination
Researchers widely agree on the fact that, more often than not, procrastination has unpleasant consequences. But, are there exceptions to situations where procrastination is meritorious?
Joseph Ferrari is a professor of psychology at DePaul University. And from his extensive research on procrastination, he thinks not all categories are unhealthy. Ferrari posits:
“What I’ve found is that while everybody may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator.”
Chronic procrastinators often feel bad about their lack of self-control and willpower. They end up loathing the unhealthy trend with absolute disdain. Brian Tracy, however, recommends what he calls ‘Creative Procrastination‘ in his book – Eat That Frog. He quips,
“One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that needs not to be done at all.”
Proven ways of stopping procrastination
Dr. Kelly McGonigal dwells extensively on practical tips for building your willpower in her book: The Willpower Instinct. She sees willpower as
“the mind-body response that can influence all areas of your life, from physical health to relationships, to professional and educational success.”
Planning our activities well (not to the point of overthinking) is also necessary. Hence, Brian Tracy’s 6-P mantra–”Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance” is an excellent guide to follow.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the following five strategies should help procrastinators break the vicious chain.
Reverse the procrastination triggers. Check for the likely motivations of procrastination in an ongoing project. Is it the work volume, absence of immediate reward, boringness of the task, or signs of impending failure? After identifying the root cause of procrastination, manipulating it to work in your favor becomes easy.
Work within your resistance level. If a particular task triggers procrastination in you, let’s say because it’s boring, you may want to find ways of tweaking the job and making it less boring. At the right level of interest, you’ll become able to overcome the resistance posed by the boringness of the task.
Do something – anything – to get started. Yes – Just Do It! Brian Tracy agrees with this. He says in Eat that Frog!:
“The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you seem to be naturally motivated to continue.”
List the costs of procrastination. Dare to be frank with yourself. List a draft of all negative implications of procrastinating on a task. Thus, each time you feel like stalling, steal a glance at the list. That should be enough mojo to help you revert previous intents of procrastination.
Disconnect. When you find that activities like abuse of technology trigger procrastination. Promptly disconnect from social media, texting, and other forms of distracting notification.
Close – morph into an achiever
“Whether you’re someone who lets the occasional task slip the cracks or you always do things at the last minute, you’ll discover an abundance of information to overcome your procrastination tendencies” –
With this extensive list of procrastination books, we are sure that you will no longer spend your time in lazy mode. And if you can’t wait to read them all, the Headway app library has a 15-min summary of every one of them. Now there is no reason to delay becoming a better version of yourself!