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Procrastination, the "Unschedule," and re-learning how to walk

How to Unschedule your work and enjoy guilt-free play

Chanpory, over at LifeClever, has a useful piece on what Neil Fiore calls "The Unschedule:"

According to Neil Fiore and 30 years of research, procrastination isn’t the result of laziness. Rather, procrastination is a symptom, a way of coping with deep psychological self-criticism and fear. It’s because we’re taught to believe that working is good and playing is bad. To reverse this unhealthy model, Neil proposes a tool: the Unschedule.

The Unschedule looks like a normal schedule, but with a twist. Instead of scheduling work you have to do, you fill in everything you want to do.

Like a couple of the exercises in Fiore's book (Oy, vey, who actually keeps a "procrastination diary?"), I think the Unschedule is best seen as a fascinating way to think about thinking.

The Now Habit
by Neil Fiore

For me, though, stuff like a procrastination dash is where it's at for actually getting things accomplished. Although I'm the last person in the world to begrudge anyone a brain trick that works for them, I think I've become pickier about any kind of metawork where the ramp-up and prep time overshadows the time devoted to pure action.

That said, I can't think of a better book to pick up whenever you feel like you just can't work -- that you're so mired in your own sick failure that it seems pointless to even try. If you've gotten to that point, you may find, as I often do, that reading a few pages of The Now Habit is just the tonic. And, if that's not enough? Heck. I guess I can see making an Unschedule. But, for one day, and just to get back on track.

Crutches are awesome, but only as long as you use them to walk -- not just to afford the process of thinking about walking.

drifting's picture

rehab mode?

I'm still at the crawling stage of my GTD implementation, but I've used a few of the Now Habit tools (particularly the Unschedule) on and off for a number of years. I tend to view the Unschedule as a slightly more granular take on the hard landscape, so I don't think of it asmore scheduling or rehab mode.

Granted, I tend not to schedule new 'play dates' with myself, but I do cement into the hard landscape the reality of the time I take for things other than work (i.e. I know I'm going to watch Heroes at such and such time, so have it down there on the calendar as time I won't be unconsciously and unsuccessfully trying to cram some work into). On that front it seems like more realistic scheduling to me.

I've found it particularly useful in making sure I meet the commitments to myself that tend to get blown off first when two hours worth of work gets procrastinated into twelve. Need to lose that extra thirty pounds? I put the runs in the unschedule/hard landscape and don't figure that time into my procrastination 'I've got lots of time' fantasy. Also, as Fiore points out, the better I get at keeping those other commitments, the easier it seems to get down to work.

As far as GTD goes, having the clearly delineated windows of cranking opportunity in a fairly bricked-up hard landscape helps me get to the widgets quicker and with more focus, and helps me better estimate how much cranking I can expect to get done. To my way of thinking, GTD and the Unschedule mesh quite nicely.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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