Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Procrastination 101: The Unschedule

This week's Procrastinating 101 presents a tool which is at the heart of Dr. Neil Fiore's program for dealing with this pesky dysfunction, outlined in his book The Now Habit:  A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt- Free Play.

Using principles of reverse psychology, Dr. Fiore provides these instructions for employing his "unschedule"  to tackle an overwhelming (and previously procrastinated project):
  • Do not work more than twenty hours a week on this project.
  • Do not work more than five hours a day on this project.
  • You must exercise, play, or dance at least one hour a day.
  • You must take at least one day a week off from any work.
  • Aim for starting on thirty minutes of quality work.
  • Work for an imperfect, perfectly human first effort.
  • Start small.
In applying this approach, Fiore's readers are advised to follow these  11 "unschedule guidelines:"
 1.  Schedule only: 
  • previously committed time such as meals, sleep, meetings
  • free time, recreation, leisure reading
  • socializing, lunches and dinners with friends
  • health activities such as swimming, running, tennis, working out at the gym
  • routine structured events such as commuting time, classes, medical appointments 
2.  Fill in your Unschedule with work on projects only after you have  completed at least one-half hour. 
3.  Take credit only for periods of work that represent at least thirty minutes of uninterrupted work.
4.  Reward yourself with a break or a change to a more enjoyable task after each period worked.
5.  Keep track of the number of quality hours worked each day and each week.
6.  Always leave at least one full day a week for recreation and any small chores you wish to take care of.
7.  Before deciding to go to a recreational activity or social commitment, take time out for just thirty minutes of work on your project.
8.  Focus on starting.
9.  Think small.
10.  Keep starting.
11.  Never end "down."
The illustration above, reproduced (though not very well) from Dr. Fiore's book, shows one woman's "unschedule."  The shaded spaces represent times spent working on the troublesome project--filled in, as directed, after the fact.  

Fiore itemizes these five "major benefits [of the unschedule] that lead to greater enjoyment of guiltfree play and overcoming procrastination."
  1. Realistic timekeeping.
  2. Thirty minutes of quality time.
  3. Experiencing success.
  4. Self-imposed deadlines.
  5. Newfound "free time."
Personally, I am intrigued with Dr. Fiore's ideas, and inspired by his enthusiasm for his personally tested plan of attack.  (It helps that he developed his strategy in the "laboratory" of his own Ph.D. program, where he and his fellow dissertators displayed a shocking inability to apply what they had learned about emotions and behavior to their own difficulties with procrastination, as they struggled to complete the final task--the "Big D.")  

I am going to try to employ the unschedule, as soon as I figure out which of the overwhelming tasks on my plate at present is the real deal, the one whose completion I want to focus on.  I should probably read my own post from yesterday for a clue. . .

Click here for a printable blank Unschedule form from Dr. Fiore's website.

No comments:

Post a Comment