Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Dansa på deadline (Dancing on deadline) by Alexander Rozental and Lina Wennersten

Dansa på deadline is a book about procrastination, written by psychologist (Alexander) and journalist (Lina). A very interesting book, especially if you are a master of procrastination! When I started the book, I was a little bit surprised. How come these people, which I do not know personally, have been writing a book about me? Everything I read could be directly related to my own life. After the first initial chock, I realised it probably means I am not the only procrastinator in the world.

The book is very well written. Very pedagogical and it speaks directly to you. After each chapter there are exercises and good advice to help you in the right direction. I have not yet done the exercises, but will do those which seem most applicable to myself.

Here are a few things to consider.
  • Impulsive persons have the biggest difficulties with procrastination. They have no patience or disciplin to wait for the reward. They choose the easiest and least satisfying tasks first and the more troublesome tasks at the end, when there is no more time to deal with them. We use self control to deal with impulsiveness. Self control makes us work towards the goal, even if it lingers in a rather far distant. Lack of self control makes you distracted and you probably turn to tasks that give you the reward sooner. Therefore the more complicated tasks, the more they are delayed until the very last minute. 
  • Lack of self confidence is another culprit and makes it more difficult for us to reach the goal we are aiming at. It goes hand in hand with self-efficacy, that is; confidence in your own ability to act towards a set target. Self confidence and self efficacy are developed depending on experiences during our childhood. To challenge ourselves will take us in the right direction. To set up goals and manage to fulfil will boost our self confidence.
  • It seems people doing sports normally are less prone to procrastination. This goes hand in hand with the fact that to be a good sportsman/woman you have to have discipline. 
  • For the more complicated tasks, and where there is a deadline, we do the first part of the task using 80% of total time. The other half is done during the last 20%. 
  • A good way to reach a satisfactory achievement is to set smaller goals along the way. If we see the very big mountain in the end, we tend to turn to other tasks more easily to fulfil and finish. If we just look ahead for the next 400 metres, it is easier to reach this level and from there take another small step. 
  • It is also important to take breaks from time to time. Take a 5 min break; take a small walk, get some coffee or tea or speak with a colleague. 

The book contains a lot of interesting research, statistics and advice how to get around procrastinating. It is easy to grasp, and while it is in Swedish, I am sure there are many books out there in English tackling the problem. A lot of the research come from US universities. I hope, with the help of the exercises and all the good advice, I will be able to find a good routine so I can put procrastination behind me.  Having said that; you can imagine my procrastination before finalising this post!

What about you? Are you prone to procrastination? Or are you digging straight into a difficult task, plan it accordingly and finish it a little bit ahead of the deadline?

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