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The Procrastinator's Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now

The Procrastinator's Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now

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by Rita Emmett

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Almost everyone procrastinates. For some it causes problems and strains relationships at home and at work. For most people, though, procrastination is a frustrating or troublesome habit we would like to overcome. Rita Emmett will inspire you to get started. With humor and with advice drawn from her own triumph over procrastination and that of people she has met


Almost everyone procrastinates. For some it causes problems and strains relationships at home and at work. For most people, though, procrastination is a frustrating or troublesome habit we would like to overcome. Rita Emmett will inspire you to get started. With humor and with advice drawn from her own triumph over procrastination and that of people she has met at her acclaimed seminars, she gives you proven tips and techniques for:
- identifying how and why you put things off
- motivating yourself to begin-and finish-unpleasant tasks
- organizing your time and efforts to achieve your goals
- developing strategies to move forward when stuck or reverting to old procrastination patterns

Filled with useful advice and real-life stories of people who have overcome procrastination, and written with a winning touch, The Procrastinator's Handbook is as entertaining as it is helpful and rewarding. After reading it, you'll find that your self-esteem and your productivity grow.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rita Emmett's light-hearted book is the kind you should have by the bedside as you await the arrival of a tardy lover.  For anyone like me, addicted to punctuality, you'll find The Procrastinator's Handbook an enticing piece of work." - Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes (which took 22 years to complete) and 'Tis

"Don't put off reading this book." - Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
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Barnes & Noble
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3 MB

Read an Excerpt


Do you put off doing things that are really important to you? Do you sometimes feel anxious or guilty because you just can't get yourself to do what you need or want to do? Is your procrastination driving your family, friends, and/or coworkers crazy?

Procrastination can take a surprisingly high toll on your life, causing stress, illness, and low self-esteem. It keeps you from attaining your goals and fulfilling your dreams. If you're a procrastinator, you might answer yes to one or more of the following questions:

—Do you pay fees for bounced checks, late payments of bills, or high-interest credit card balances because you put off routine personal finance chores? As a result, are you paying so much money to "catch up" that you can never get ahead?

—Do you want to start an exercise program, or begin other healthy habits, or set up an appointment with your doctor or dentist, but you never do?

—Are you losing the battle against clutter on you desk, dining room table, counters, closets, or floors? Does the chaos in the space around you seem to create chaos in your mind and your spirit, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, out of control, and exhausted?

Well, there is hope. In this book about the frustrating, fascinating, and-yes-funny subject of procrastination, I will show you how to stop putting off things, become more productive, and develop priorities that reflect your personal goals and values.

As a professional speaker, I give presentations all over the United States, teaching principles and strategies for conquering procrastination. Years ago when I was presenting Time Management seminars, I heard several people saying they didn't sign up for Time Management "because none of that stuff ever works for me." After talking with them, I discovered that they were all procrastinators whose unique needs were not being addressed by time management books and seminars.

People who benefit from time management are like a group that has decided to go on a bicycle journey. They know where they want to go; their bikes are all ready, and time management principles are like the map or directions they need to set off on their adventure.

Then along comes the group of procrastinators meandering down the road. They haven't decided yet where they want to go, and they've forgotten to bring their bikes, which don't work anyway because they haven't gotten around to fixing the flat tire. Maps and directions (time management principles) are of little use to this group. They need something different, so for them I developed my Conquer Procrastination seminars and wrote this book.

When people take my seminars, often the first questions they ask are: "Can a person really stop procrastinating?" "How can people expect to change their basic personalities or characters traits"?

Procrastination is not an inherent part of your personality or character; it is simply a habit, an attitude. Can people change habits? Of course they can! Millions of people have stopped smoking, even though that habit is extremely hard to break. Can people change attitudes? Sure. Do you know anyone who used to think owning a VCR or sending E-mail was unnecessary, yet now - several years later-can't imagine living without either?

I speak about procrastination from personal experience because I used to put off everything. This is the book I wish I'd had when I was struggling to conquer my own procrastinating ways, and when I was designing those early seminars. The only "conquer procrastination" books back then were written for psychologists and tended to be quite dry.

For as long as I can remember, I practiced every delaying, guilt-producing procrastination tactic imaginable. When I was a college student many years ago, I married, got a job, and continued college part-time. But after our son, Robby, was born, I decided to interrupt my studies and my career and become a stay-at-home mom. I had only one semester to complete, so I was certain I could finish my degree fairly quickly as soon as he was older. However, being a confirmed procrastinator, I did not take even one class during the seven years I stayed home to raise Robb and his younger sister, Kerry.

Then I was hired for a job that required a college degree. The time to register for my last semester came-and passed. I did nothing. . .except wallow in guilt and make excuses to my boss.

People offered advice. I listened. Still I did nothing.

During this period of my life, I read a time management book, which said that we procrastinate for one of two reasons: because we are overwhelmed, or because the project is unpleasant. But I didn't consider one semester to be overwhelming, and I didn't find college unpleasant. From my own experience, I realized that there are many other reasons we procrastinate, starting with fear.

I was terrified of going back to school. And when I started to explore my fears, I realized I was scared of many things: Failure. Rejection. Looking foolish. Competing with nineteen-year-old students. Discovering my brain had turned to mush and that I was now stupid. Facing my kids if I received an F in a class. Having to find time to do my homework. Neglecting my children to make time for my classes and homework, and becoming a rotten mother.

These fears were a huge, unknown force that had the power to immobilize me until I started to identify them. Then I could sort through them, talk about them, face them, wrestle with them, come up with some answers, and ultimately move on with my life. I began to practice all the principles you'll read about in this book (including a whole chapter on fear).

Did it work? You bet! About a year later, I proudly joined my classmates walking across the stage to receive my bachelor of arts degree. Five years after that, in addition to raising a family and working, I earned a master's degree. Once you begin conquering procrastination, the sky's the limit.

Now I'm a recovering procrastinator and have been for decades. When I first started using the principles in this book, my only expectation was that they would help me stop putting off tasks, errands, chores, and maybe a few goals. But as I began to convert from my old procrastinating ways, over the years I started to make more and more substantial changes in my life. Eventually, my whole life turned around.

Yours can, too.

This book will enable you to:

-understand and modify some of your unproductive ways of thinking
-identify the games you play and behavioral styles you use for putting things off
-apply proven antiprocrastination tips
-develop strategies to move forward when you're stuck or reverting to your old procrastination patterns
-design your own personal action plans

You will recognize yourself in the real-life stories of people who worked through their procrastination tendencies. Each chapter also has quotes to inspire and motivate you. When a particular saying seems tailor-made for you, copy it and put it where you can see it often.

The "Extra Credit" section at the end of each chapter helps you take the information you've read and personalize it by applying the book's principles to your life. If you like answering questions and measuring your progress, this section is for you. If you'd rather skip the exercises, you don't need to do them; but at least look at each exercise. You might find them interesting, perhaps even fun.

Whether you procrastinate all the time, most of the time or only occasionally, this is the right book for you and the right time for you to be reading it. You're on the verge of climbing out of the procrastination pit. Let's get started . . .right now.

Meet the Author

Rita Emmett is a professional speaker who leads workshops on clutter and procrastination. Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook (more than 150,000 copies sold) and The Procrastinating Child, Emmett has dispensed advice on NBC's "Today Show" and in Time, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, and Parents. She also publishes a monthly online "anticrastination."
Rita Emmett leads productivity and self-improvement workshops. She is author of The Clutter-Busting Handbook, The Procrastinating Child and The Procrastinator's Handbook. She has appeared on "Talk of the Town" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in Time, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, and Parents.

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Procrastinator's Handbook 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who would put off writing a review of this book? Not me - I don't procrastinate. If you believe that, there's a bridge I can let you have for next to nothing. Truth is, I'm the world's worst at putting things off, especially what I don't want to do. But, I'm getting better, much, much better. All thanks to the good natured, pragmatic advice from Rita Emmett. A recovered procrastinator she knows of what she writes and speaks. She delves into the reasons why we procrastinate, and helps us change that behavior. We learn how to establish goals and more importantly how to attain them. All of this is delivered with humor and understanding. We hear such nuggets as 'God created company so that the hou se gets cleaned.' and 'If certain things in your life are always hard to find, it's probably because they don't have their own special place to be put.' Which naturally leads to a discussion of our spaces, both at work and at home. How can we arrange that space so it is most helpful to us? Emmett doesn't claim to be clairvoyant but when she discussed a procrastinator's behavioral patterns it felt as if she had a direct line to me. There's a lot of good information in this three hour audio, so don't put off listening. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not what I expected. When I picked up this book, I was prepared for some generic time management principles surrounded by some motivational hype that would pump me up and then leave me flat a short while later. I'm not quite sure why...I suppose I just thought that procrastination was more of a built-in character flaw than a lifestyle choice. Am I glad that I was wrong! In the introduction, Rita Emmett explains that procrastination is not part of your character. Rather, it is a habit that can be changed. Using plenty of real-life examples, Emmett helps us identify areas of procrastination in our lives, discover their source, and apply proven strategies to overcome them. This book helps you get right down to business. The format is very friendly, with quick tips, top ten lists, quotes and illustrations scattered throughout. It even has a few 'extra credit' questions and activities to help you start applying what you have learned right away. I opened this book as a skeptic. After reading it cover to cover, I'm a believer! My basement is the cleanest it has been in over ten years, my kitchen sink has a new fixture, and today I'm going to fix that annoying drip in the upstairs bathroom. What have you been putting off? Follow this handbook and get it done! Larry Hehn, author of Get the Prize: Nine Keys for a Life of Victory
Claudantus More than 1 year ago
I don't have an issue with procrastination (I'm an anticrastinator, as she put it), but I found this book in my sister's library and decided to give it a look out of curiosity. It really gets to the source of procrastination and gave valuable examples which would save many people headaches and stress. If you want to take control over your life and begin accomplishing your dreams and becoming a better you, this is the first step. The book is small, if you have read a novel in the past then you have no excuse. She was rather humorous at times, I laughed out loud twice, although her constant "Let me tell you about this one person I met/knew from [insert place here] who [insert problem here] and then [insert solution here] and later [insert their results here]" can get quite exhaustive. None the less, just pick up the book and read it. It's worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is what impressed me in my first encounter with Rita's book. She is on board with the procrastinator to get the job done, not 'fix' the procrastinator! Rita Emmett is part of the solution, not another aspect of the problem.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rita Emmett's first offering is a wonderful collection of simple wisdom, logic and helpful tips that can make a huge difference in the life of any kind of procrastinator. The reader can find out which type of procrastinator he or she is, forgive him/herself for being one, and then learn how to overcome this habit. The book is laced with suggestions and ideas, of course. What really makes it succeed, however, are the real-life stories of procrastinators Rita has met in her life, and the wisdom that helped them climb their own mountainous To-Do lists. Rita's style is very natural and friendly. Procrastinators never feel talked down to or criticized for even their most irrational choices. Instead, Rita speaks frankly and clearly about where our thinking gets in our way, and how we can change the rules of the game by changing our view of what we face. The Procrastinator's Handbook is a very easy read, and a very apt, astute and succinct way to address some of the multitude of frustrations that we all encounter in our busy world. Buy a small stack of these little gems as holiday gifts. Don't 'put it off!'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone procrastinates. Some of us are more prone to putting things off than others, but procrastination is a common human behavior. So, why a book for procrastinators? Who will read it? The people who really need such a handbook will put off reading it anyway, so what's the point? I began this book with a skeptical attitude. I read introductions. I often find some interesting gems in those opening pages. It happened with The Procrastinator's Handbook. Did you know that procrastination is a habit? And habits can be broken, changed? Hmmm. Procrastination thinking can significantly alter my performance and get in the way of my success without my even realizing it. I had never thought about procrastination that deeply. Part One was fascinating. The author explores a variety of types of procrastination. On almost every page I found myself nodding with an attitude of 'yes, I can see that.' And I'm starting to collect some tips about how to conquer the tendency to put things off. The vignettes are supporting my learning. This book is comfortable, easy to read. It's sort of like a friend telling you things you sort of know, but never really examined. New, acceptable information and insight. Learning. That's what this book is about. Yeah. And that sense is reinforced by the 'extra credit' assignments at the close of each chapter. I remember extra credit work from school; most of the time the tasks were fun and more educational than I would want to admit. Same thing here. I like the quotes at the end of each chapter, too. They sort of underline the message of the chapter. Author Rita Emmett gives seminars on procrastination and the productive use of time. I felt like I was sitting in one of her seminars-gaining knowledge, insight, and inspiration in every chapter. She was talking to me. The tone of the writing gave me the warm, included feeling of sitting in a small seminar with Rita (see, I'm already talking as if the author is a personal friend who cares about me and my procrastination problem. Uh, oh. Folding down pages. And I feel myself making commitments to complete some of those unfinished tasks that I conveniently add to my to-do list so I can get them out of my face. Oops. She caught me. How does Rita know so much about what I do? Gotta keep this book at arm's length or this stuff will affect my thinking and even behavior. Too late. I'm into Part Two: Why We Procrastinate. Boy, does this sound familiar! By the time I get to the chapter entitled, 'Help! I'm overwhelmed!', I'm eager for answers. I feel like I've joined Procrastinators Anonymous. I need answers. Solutions. Ideas for changing my behavior. Part Three: Proven Strategies for Conquering Procrastination. Hungrily, I move through 75 pages of techniques, highlighting, turning pages, making a few notes. Some of this material is not new, though maybe packaged differently. Most of what I'm reading, though, is fresh, focused ideas. This information and advice will help improve my life. I can feel it. The last paragraph of text in the book tells the story. 'You can change your old procrastinating ways. Don't forget Emmett's Law: The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself. So go ahead and get started creating the life you want. You deserve a great one!' Works for me! It's time to make a difference in my life.
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I'dreally love to get this book but just can't seem to find the time.
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