Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change – Timothy A. Pychyl Book Summary

Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change – Timothy A. Pychyl | Free Book Summary

Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change – Timothy A. Pychyl

Most of us sit in inaction from time to time. This book gets us into action, fast!

Procrastination Defined

Procrastination is the voluntary delay of an intended action despite knowing such delay can cause harm in terms of task performance and even to one’s self-image.

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Procrastination undermines the pursuit of our goals. Compared to their peers, people who procrastinate achieve less in life, report more negative feelings and have greater health problems.

How To Recognize and Prevent Procrastination

To prevent procrastination, start by categorizing the delays in your life. Identify the delays that are voluntary and that undermine your performance and well-being.

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Create a list of the things that you tend to procrastinate on. You may find that the tasks have something in common or elicit a common feeling.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to effectively identify and utilize emotions to guide behaviour.

If you are likely to procrastinate, use the if X then Y format of an intention.

For example:

If I feel negative emotions when doing a task, THEN I will commit to finishing the task rather than abandoning it.

Just Not Feeling Like It!

We tend to focus too much on our current situation without regard for how future events will make us feel.

Focuslism: “The tendency to underestimate the extent to which events will influence our feelings and thoughts in the future”

Presentism: “Putting too much emphasis on the present in the prediction of the future”

Overcoming Presentism

To overcome presentism, you can forecast the future and try to imagine how you will feel at the time. Another strategy is to accept that you will be wrong.

If you think you will feel better doing a task tomorrow, tell yourself that you are probably wrong and that it won’t be any better.

You need to build momentum.

Excuses and Self-Deception

Following are the biases in your thinking that contribute to procrastination:

  • You tend to discount future rewards in relation to short-term goals
  • Underestimate how long things will take and how much you can do
  • Prefer tomorrow over today
  • Self-handicap to protect your self-esteem

Excuses and Self-Deception

Think irrationally about the task at hand and your ability to accomplish the task

Manufacture happiness that is consistent with your behavior.

Identifying that you have these biases is an important step in addressing the reasons why you procrastinate. Write down the typical excuses leading to needless delays.

Well Begun is Half Done

Once you get started on a task, it is often not as bad as you think. Starting a task demonstrates progress towards your goals, which makes a very big difference in your life.

When you feel like putting off a task for tomorrow, get started on some aspect of the task.

Breaking The Tasks

If the task feels overwhelming, break it into subtasks.

Getting started is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving procrastination. You must also recognize the points at which you are likely to abandon your goals.

Willpower And Procrastination

Our willpower is a limited resource. If you are constantly fighting off the temptation to do one thing over another, you will likely give up.

Ways to boost your willpower:

  • Exercise your self-discipline by holding out longer than usual
  • Sleep and rest well
  • Take strategic naps during the day
  • Boost your positive emotion. Find people or events that make you feel good about yourself
  • Use implementation intentions to boost your willpower
  • Keep a piece of fruit to restore your glucose level
  • Be aware of the social situation and interactions and how they erode your willpower
  • Cultivate your motivation.

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