John Perry’s insights and laugh-out-loud humor bring to mind Thurber, Wodehouse, and Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit. This charming and accessible audio educates, entertains, and illuminates a universal subject. Procrastinators will be relieved to learn that you can actually accomplish quite a lot while procrastinating. In fact, the book itself is the result of Perry avoiding grading papers, refereeing academic proposals, and reviewing dissertation drafts. It also has a practical side, offering up advice that listeners can put to use. Who knew that placing "Learn Chinese" at the top of your to-do list would inspire you to get the less monumental tasks below it done?
Witty, wise, and beautifully written, The Art of Procrastination will make the perfect gift for the untold number of lollygaggers out there.
©2012 Original material © 2012 John Perry. Published by arrangement with Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (P)2012 (p) 2012 HighBridge Company
My brother once said, "Did you ever notice how everything is more interesting when you have homework looming? Even bad TV?" Well this short book discusses why that is. It will get you thinking about your procrastinating and when you are likely to do it.
You know better. Still you persist.
I found this discussion of putting-things-off humorous, honest and real. It does not make lists of helpful tools so you can cure your bad habit. Instead the author just assumes that you procrastinate and will continue to do so. And the discussion goes from there. For some reason that works for changing my habits more than those hokey "you should" books. This book is as long as a movie. Once started, I didn't procrastinate. I listened to the entire book in one evening. It was fun and thought provoking and I think helpful.
Lighthearted, but actually dispensing real and good advice on time management, Perry lays out a method for getting stuff done while procrastinating (“structured procrastination”). For $1.95, a real bargain and not bloated in the way an actual self-improvement book, presumably written by a non-academic philosopher, would be. There’s some great insights here. E.g., a short to-do list is a bad idea for the procrastinator; with so few options to put off, the procrastinator ends up doing nothing. But with a thick and detailed to do list, the procrastinator has the option of putting off the first few items in order to accomplish other items on the list.
Self-improvement books about time management are one of my guilty pleasures. I also have a background (long ago) in academic philosophy. Probably not a surprise, then, that I was really tickled by Perry's short book. This is a great starter on the topic and not much of a time commitment.
Some quick thoughts about other treatises on this topic:
*Tony Robbin’s Awaken the Inner Giant. Clearly, if you’re going to read this, you’ll need to hide that fact from your friends and family and strangers on the bus. This book ought to be made with a fake War and Peace cover. While you keep telling yourself that you’re only reading it ironically, you’ll quietly be admitting that there’s fantastic advice. Robbins is probably the best on techniques to transform the procrastinator’s proclivity for avoiding the top of the to-do list (whereas Perry simply concedes that procrastination may be a fact of your nature). Having said that, I’m not admitting I’ve ever read any Tony Robbins.
*David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s probably the best with an ultra-detailed information, task, and time-management system. Unlike Perry, Allen is a bit soup-nazi-esque.
*Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, etc etc. This book often appears on Amazon or Audible as recommended if you like David Allen. It’s really junk. Short little essays and, for the bigger names, Q and As, that all are little more than advertisements for other books, blogs, and the like.
*How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day. Written like a hundred years ago, but you wouldn’t realize that from just reading it. And you can read it in an hour.
*Josh Kaufman’s the First Twenty Hours. Kaufman and Perry, though from different angles, show you how the desire for perfection can lead to procrastination. If you want your output to be perfect, it can paralyze you from ever starting the project. But Kaufman’s thesis is that it only takes 10 – 20 hours of deliberate practice to become enjoyably competent at a new skill. By the way, I really do not recommend Kaufman’s book.
*The Spirit of Kaizen. Perry references this one. I don’t recommend it because its 180 pages that repeat the same core idea. But, that core idea is helpful – small changes can have huge effects; make the smallest possible change that will improve a process. Then repeat.
I loved this audiobook. The information presented is humorous, but practical. I loved the personal stories as they served to remind me, 'Hey! I'm not THAT bad!'. Even while dealing with procrastination in a funny way, Mr. Perry still managed to help you see how you can move your projects along and that you still might be doing productive things...maybe just not THE thing you need to do. It's a nice way to make you feel good about yourself when you're beating yourself up for not being as busy as you'd like to be.
The narrator did a great job and it was a pleasure to listen to him.
I will look for other works from both author and narrator.
I never write reviews but this is one of the most entertaining books I've heard (and writing a review is a nice way to avoid doing other things :); I LOVE Perry's sense of humor and self-effacing honesty. This is a great read/listen.... I also suspect it will be incredibly helpful (still listening to the book).
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
I think many of us are sometimes either encouraged to purchase or dissuaded from reading a book by a publisher’s summary. I know that I can be influenced by them. Like most things in life we are trying to decide about, we search for support of our position to do something that we are leaning toward such as purchasing a book. We use these summaries as well as the reviews of others to give us that little extra nudge to hit that “Add to Cart” button. In deciding to purchase The Art of Procrastination..., I believe that I was totally misled by the summary and in disagreement with most of the reviewers. This book was one of the smallest wastes of time I can imagine.
The book was one of the smallest wastes of time only because it was so short. I finished it in one round trip drive to and from a work assignment. Thank goodness I didn’t waste that time doing something that required my full attention... or... maybe I did. There’s continuing debate about whether we can safely multitask while driving. Though the book certainly was not so profound as to draw my attention away from the road. It was not so laugh-out-loud funny as to cause my eyes to tear up and obstruct my vision of the road. It was not so wise as to cause me to ponder and plumb its depths and unconsciously and dangerously change lanes. Not once did I think of Thurber, Wodehouse, or Harry Frankfurt’s *On Bullshit* though there was plenty of dung to conjure those thoughts and be analogous to the contents of this book along the country roads of my drive. The book was not for me at all insightful, charming or witty. It did not entertain, educate or illuminate.
I can only conclude that the author is, as he claims to be, the consummate procrastinator: Anything else the author might have had to do and that he put off doing, had to be more important than writing this book. If you are looking to procrastinate, justify and avoid doing something else more important then read or listen to this book. But I can promise you that almost anything else that you do instead will be more rewarding. If your wish is to discontinue your procrastinating, you will find no insights here: avoid it.
My 3rd grade teacher wrote on my report card I was a procrastinator - John Perry finally made that okay for me. Thank you Mr. Perry. I am proud to be a "Structured Procrastinator".
I can not think of one. The author is an accomplished professional. He is realistic and takes a humorous approach to solving by normalizing what for many has been a life long struggle.
He slips in a few helpful hits and good ideas. I have already signed up for LazyMeter.com. I do wish they would change their name - but I love their simple approach and visual graphs that shows you really aren't lazy - which is after all the whole idea.
Great voice, lovely pace and humor.
Structured Procrastinators Unite and Create a Horizontal Filing System!
It was a wonderful book. I have already recommended it to several others.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
This isn't worth the time. I found it unhelpful. Was hoping to find some solace for clients who wrestle with procrastination. Didn't find any.
I did find a few statements disturbing. Being late in submitting an article the author informs us that 'everyone is months late' on article submissions. I see this as a failure to honor commitments. Sure, maybe it's true that authors are always late. But shouldn't we keep our deadlines that we agree to? I just don't go with the philosophy that it's okay to do things your way when other people are involved. I tire of waiting for things that people promise me. Sure, there are times when we get behind. That's time to step up and own up, no time to adopt a 'me centric' attitude that you can just wait.
To me, there is a distinction between raking the leaves and doing a work project on time. One doesn't really matter, the other is a commitment to a person. So put off reading this but do get that report in on time.
I'm sure the author is a good guy. You can deduct that from the writing. But I also find working with people who justify bad habits to be annoying in the long run.
Save your credits. Better to focus on getting better than accepting a bad habit.
This is a fun book about procrastination, but not really a guide. As a structured procrastinator, the author actually accomplishes quite a bit... just not the most important thing he was supposed to have done at the moment. It is an entertaining and witty way of looking at the weakness of procrastination. After all, the author wrote this book to avoid doing something else. His stories are amusing, like a "to do" that starts off with waking up, don't press the snooze button, and getting out of bed... which he happily crosses out each item with a red pen. By the time he has his cup of coffee in the morning, he had already completed seven things on his list.
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
John Perry's "The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing" (2012) is a fun little listen - if you get around to it (Imagine a winking emoticon here).
Dr. Perry (he has a PhD) is a philosopher and is on the faculty at Stanford and the University of California, Riverside. Unlike a psychologist, Perry takes what is (procrastination, in this essay) and looks at it a different way. A psychologist would take what is (a bad habit) and try to change it. In Perry's philosophy, have something you keep putting off? Put something more daunting on your "to do" list, like learning Ancient Latin; don't do that; and do what you've been putting off instead.
Perry was awarded a 2011 Ig Nobel for his work in this essay. "To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even more important." The Igs are awards for real research that "first make people laugh, and then make them think."
What I really, really liked was Perry's suggestion to put a "don't do" on the "to do" list. It works like this: Suppose that you normally hit the snooze on the alarm a couple of times. Or six. Put on your "to do" list, "don't hit the snooze button". And when you get out of bed the first time, there's a check mark on the "to do" list. It's a 'Not to Do' To Do List. That works for me.
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I'm sure I'm not saying anything other reviewers haven't already, but I am truly glad I purchased this audiobook. I have spent years agonizing over my inability to use any sort of filing system regularly, no matter how organized and easy to use, never realizing that piling papers (I swear I know where most things are) makes me a horizontal organizer. Also, I have come to accept that a lot of the tasks I complete while procrastinating are, in fact, productive! I only wish I had found this book sooner.
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