What We Are Reading Today: ‘Think and Grow Rich’

If you are a procrastinator, this book might help ease you out of the shame and guilt of procrastinating. It will leave you feeling slightly smarter and like you understand yourself a bit better.

Written by psychologists Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen, “Procrastination: Why you do it, what to do about it now” attempts to define and tackle this behavior.

Burka and Yuen were the creators of the first “procrastination treatment” group in the US, which was headquartered at the University of California at Berkeley. They have studied procrastinating for many decades.

The book, originally published in 1983, has sold over 150,000 copies. I read the updated version that was published in 2008, with entirely new information dedicated to how technology and the 24/7 news cycle contribute to our current collective procrastination.

The authors state: “Over the years, there has been an increase in avoidance behavior, with the Internet as the single most powerful cause. Now, information is both limitless and instantaneously available; there is far more information than we can manage, let alone use. Too much information, too many decisions, too many options — this overabundance of information leads many of us into procrastination paralysis.”

The introduction continues: “As we write today, we see that procrastination is even more complex than we once thought — an interweaving of not only individual, psychological, behavioral, and emotional issues, but also social, cultural, and technological dynamics, biological and neurological predispositions, and universal human tendencies.”

Part one of the book focuses on understanding procrastination, with chapters covering fear of both failure and success, and how one turns into a procrastinator in the first place.

Part two looks at ways to overcome procrastination and includes chapters dedicated to setting and achieving goals, learning how to “tell time” and living and working with other procrastinators.

The authors quote a UC Berkeley student, who at their very first workshop said: “Procrastination is like a dandelion. You pull it up and think you’ve got it, but then it turns out the roots are so deep, it just grows back.”

The book is based on research and data with some humorous anecdotes and helpful tips. But much like picking a dandelion, it is such an easy read that you can almost feel good about procrastinating while reading it.

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