4 Procrastination Books to Help You Get Moving on What Matters Most

4 Procrastination Books Cover

Do you find yourself avoiding, putting off or actively ignoring a task that needs doing? Do you struggle to get started on a project? If so, you are likely to struggle with procrastination – and you’re not alone. It’s been estimated that 95% of us struggle with procrastination to some degree. Procrastination is a common human experience, but research shows that some people are more likely to procrastinate than others.

If you’re living with (diagnosed or not) ADHD, you are likely to be no stranger to procrastination. If you have a low sense of your own self-efficacy – that is, you don’t believe yourself to be effective – then procrastination is more likely. We know that some situations increase the likelihood of procrastination. We’re more likely to procrastinate if we have a long deadline and/or see little value in a task, for example.

So, if you struggle with procrastination – what works? What can reduce the risk and impact of procrastination, so you are able to tackle the things you need to, when you need to? There’s plenty of self-help books on the subject that provide a range of tips and techniques. However, getting started on a large pile of self-help books can feel daunting – particularly when you tend to procrastinate.

So, I’ve gathered here a short selection of the books I’ve found helpful when working with clients around issues connected with procrastination. Here, I share with you three of the books that provide accessible tips for managing procrastination and suggest brief summaries of the book – so you can get started on implementing the tips without delay.

1. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

Now regarded as a classic book on how to tackle procrastination, Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! covers 21 tips on how to maximize your time. Based on the saying, “if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day”, Tracy uses the eat that frog metaphor to help us prioritize the critical tasks of the day. In getting the worst “over and done with”, we’re then free to engage with other tasks that are more enjoyable and engaging, reducing the likelihood of procrastination.

In my psychotherapy work, I support clients to consider and explore what their own “frogs” are in their life, and what happens for them when they contemplate or face their own frog. So, I wonder what your frog is? How does the idea of facing that impact you? These questions are helpful in getting to know and understand yourself better. Once you’ve identified what you find hard to swallow, then you can begin to consider techniques that make that process more bearable.

Tracy’s book recommends the importance of self-awareness and recognizing what your own needs, preferences, strengths, and challenges are. The book encourages readers to identify recurring unproductive time within your typical routine so you can adapt and become more productive as a result. This really helps in tailoring your own daily schedule around what works for you.

So, if you would like to benefit from the 21 tips within Tracy’s book – try starting with our simple summary of Eat That Frog!

2. Start With Why and Find Your Why by Simon Sinek

Perhaps you’ve watched Simon Sinek’s famous 2009 Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action? With more than 60 million views, this powerful message has plenty to teach us about procrastination. Sinek focuses on the importance of knowing your “why?” – understanding what it is that makes a given task or project important?

Why does it matter? People respond to a powerful why over and about a how or a what. Consider your own to-do list – the things we tend to feel more energized about are the things we perceive as important and having value – their “why” matters to us.

Research shows us that we are more likely to procrastinate when we perceive a task as of low value. Considering why something matters to you, and why it is important is likely to support you in talking your own procrastination.

The message of Sinek’s original talk became the focus of his 2011 book, Start With Why. Since then, Sinek has released Find Your Why as a practical, step-by-step workbook towards purposeful action. You can read our simple summaries of Start With Why and Find Your Why as first steps towards implementing Sinek’s approach. 

3. The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective. The Pomodoro Technique is deceptively simple and remarkably effective at helping to support and improve focus. It’s a handy technique for anyone that struggles with procrastination. Originally developed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo to stay focused on his university studies, the technique involves the use of a timer to provide a fixed-time frame for a series of periods of focused work, followed by short breaks.

The technique is so called because Cirillo used a manual kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (the Italian word for tomato is “pomodoro”). Since its original conception, Cirillo has honed and adapted the original technique. His book, The Pomodoro Technique: The Life-Changing Time-Management System, recommends 25-minute intervals of focused work interspaced with 5-minute breaks to keep the mind alert and engaged.

Chunking your time in this way can support a sense of feeling a task is manageable – so that your time becomes a resource rather than something you’re up against. Cirillo recommends a physical timer over and above digital methods. A simple summary of Cirillo’s book The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to begin to utilize this easy to apply technique for tackling procrastination.

So, whilst procrastination is a common human experience, it need not be inevitable. Eating the “frog”, knowing your why and utilizing simple and effective strategies such as the Pomodoro technique can put you in the driving seat of taking control over your time and focus. Consider which of these approaches feels doable for you to experiment with today.

Last Updated on February 22, 2024

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Claire Law

Claire is a Qualified and Accredited MBACP (Accd.) Registered Integrative Psychotherapist. She has a background of almost 20 years of teaching experience. She now works as a relational psychotherapist, writer and trainer. Claire is passionate about supporting children's and young people's mental health and wellbeing.