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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.

jamiegrove's picture

Three other books on idleness... if you've nothing else to do

Last year, I started picking up books on laziness. I've always been a bit fond of idleness (oh, who am I kidding, I'm a bum). Anyway, there were three books in particular that I enjoyed...

From the France, Bonjour, Paresse (Hello, Laziness) by Corinne Maier was at the top of the French bestsellers list a year ago. With clinical cynicism, Mme. Maier provided a methodology of sloth geared toward corporate executives. It was a runaway success, perhaps due to the fact that the book stood in stark opposition to the leading political party stance that the population is tired of only working 35 hours per week, as currently mandated by law.

Not to be outdone, the Germans offered their own vision of faulheit. Utterly lacking in cynical charm, the wholly clinical Joy of Laziness by Peter Axt and Michaela Axt-Gaderman quantified the benefits of doing nothing. The Professors Axt set out a very precise regimen of physical inactivity, record the results, and prove empirically that one will live longer and be happier if one does nothing {and eats nothing}. Personally, I think Epicurus did it better, and with style.

But my favorite was the British ideal - How to be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson, of The Idler. His take was more mystical, spiritual, and frankly impractical. His website is a veritable shrine to the outlandish extremes people will go to do nothing. For example, though an American one, the website highlights Paul Bowles. Tangiers is a long way to go to do nothing. Why not simply plop down where you are? But no, there must be some sense of romantic wandering...

I couldn't find a standout American book though. Americans (IMHO) tend to be less interested in humor, philosophizing, or rigorous study than in selling twelve-step programs designed to promote a better sense of self-worth. This is also known as sacrificing great sums of paper in the hopes of deifying gossip merchants and charlatans.

whew! That was longer than I expected. Enjoy!




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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