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The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  857 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
DON'T WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK: The world's leading expert on procrastination uses his groundbreaking research to offer understanding on a matter that bedevils us all. Writing with humour, humanity and solid scientific information reminiscent of Stumbling on Happiness and Freakonomics, Piers Steel explains why we knowingly and willingly put off a course of action despite rec ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 28th 2010 by Random House Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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7th out of 37 books — 34 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,927)
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Kate
Oh my God do I need this book. I actually put off buying this book for a couple of weeks after seeing it in our local indie bookstore, and finally bit the bullet and bought it yesterday. Finished it today, proving one of the authors points--that we tend to dive into things that are relevant and of value to us. Once I got the book, I found it relevant and of value. The first six chapters of the book are all about the science behind the study of procrastination. It ISN'T about perfectionism--it ha ...more
Dave
Dec 13, 2010 Dave rated it it was ok
Would like to get to this book eventually....
Procrastinus
Jan 30, 2013 Procrastinus rated it it was amazing
With over 90% of "Good Reads" readers giving it a positive rating, it looks like I did well and, it being in the self-help category, I did good too. The ones who like it best turns out to be someone who is educated or at least appreciates that everything is scientifically backed, likes a wry sense of humour, and really wants to do something about their procrastination. They also don't hold my constructed characters, a vehicle to illustrate some techniques, to too high a literary standard; still, ...more
Ryan
Feb 28, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good. Seriously, halfway through reading this book I had a crazy burst of productivity. The action chapters are great, the science/history chapters somewhat less interesting, especially when you are reading the book to seek help!
Wanda
Jan 12, 2015 Wanda rated it really liked it
I was interested to learn that even pigeons and chimpanzees procrastinate. Somehow that makes me feel better, that I share this tendency with the entire animal kingdom.

The author also points out that nobody procrastinates in every facet of their life. There is always something that we do promptly and regularly without agonizing about it.

For me there are two factors: value and impulsiveness. I procrastinate about the things that I don't really value (e.g. housework). And I did learn a technique
...more
Sarah
Jan 29, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
So what does it say about me that I started this book and had to return it to the library before I got to chapter 3?

Okay, I finally finished this book. I think it helped that I listened to it. I really did like it, but I can't say it offered anything new or useful to me. Mostly it was a good reminder and motivator to procrastinate less. I like self help books and how they get me to reflect on how things are going.

I must say, I don't think I really cared for the author's style all that much. He s
...more
Marshall
Jul 20, 2014 Marshall rated it really liked it
Fabulous book on the psychology of procrastination, and tips for how to overcome it. This book explores how we're hard-wired to procrastinate, ways modern society exacerbates the problem, and the economic costs of it.

I was worried the "equation" part of it would prove to be a pseudoscientific attempt to make it sound like he's quantified procrastination. I was pleasantly surprised that it is merely a helpful tool for understanding motivation:

Expectancy x Value
---------------------
Impulsiveness x
...more
Pulkit
I really need to curb off my habitual procrastination. And I thought this book would do it for me. How wrong I was.

It starts off well by explaining what causes procrastination in psychological and evolutionary terms and I am glad to have gained that knowledge. The tendency that saved us ages ago has become risky in the modern world where we continuously need to control our urges and think on a long-term basis. Then there were a few chapters putting down the negative impact of procrastination on
...more
Elizabeth
Apr 22, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-audible
I loved this. This was by far my favorite book on this subject which is my largest personal challenge in life.

I have not researched any of his sources and the many studies the author cites, and I do not plan to, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his book in the sense of larger society or science. But he does reference a LOT of experts and studies in various fields including economics, sociology, psychology, biology and more. It appeared to me that this author was EXTREMELY well versed in th
...more
Kate
Jun 14, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
Having been personally shamed by the author into finishing the book, I upgraded my rating from three stars to four and my tagline from "less stupid than many self-help books" to "an intelligent self-help book." It gave me some good ideas, though I kept putting off finishing it for some reason. Ha! Procrastination joke! I recommended it to my shrink as a resource for people who want to read more about dealing with procrastination. I would read more books by the author.

Actually, I'd really like to
...more
Vuka :3
Aug 26, 2013 Vuka :3 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mind
This could possibly be the best self-help book I've ever read.

What makes it so great is that it isn't just a self-help book, it's a rich journey through the efforts put into understanding procrastination as a part of human nature and the results of those efforts.

This is NOT your average The Guide to Perfect Life supported by "I promise this will help you", ancient mystical techniques or anecdotal evidence.

This... is science... and Steel's integrational and inter-disciplinary approach to this sub
...more
Russ
Feb 25, 2015 Russ rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Procrastinators everywhere!
It's embarrassing how long it took me to get through this book, especially given the title! It shows I started about a month ago, but it really was a couple times before that where I'd check out the book and then never get around to actually reading it. But it does have a lot of good insight and ideas on how to stop procrastination. But just like any habit it takes time to get out of the habit of procrastinating - continuing to find ways to do things NOW, in every aspect of your life definitely ...more
Byron Wright
Jul 20, 2012 Byron Wright rated it really liked it
This similar to another book that I recently read on willpower. However, I much preferred the style of this book. That said, my wife read about 20 pages and was bored to tears.

This book really grabbed me because the early chapters talk about the ways that we procrastinate and why. In the midst of these examples, I saw a few that described me exactly.

The end of the book focuses on ways to prevent procrastination. I'm sure you will have heard of every technique listed there. However, seeing them i
...more
Ian Burrell
I bought this book on impulse at a train station on the commute to work. Since reading the book I have learned that impulsiveness is a cause of procrastination.

The book it an interesting read, exploring the psychological, cultural and social origins and causes of procrastination.

Through understanding how and why we procrastinate, with a few helpful tips, the book arms us to deal with our excessive procrastination.

It's early days, and I still procrastinate, but now I know I'm procrastinating and
...more
Hannah
Jan 01, 2015 Hannah rated it liked it
I'll have to report back on whether I manage to implement any of my learning from this book!
April
Aug 12, 2014 April rated it it was amazing
The author seeks to provide a unified theory of procrastination and does an admirable job of it. I would give it a 4.5 stars if I could. I knock a half point off because he gives some very useful techniques only a brief mention and also fails to mention the person who created the ideas except in the footnotes. However, this is a book I would recommend to everyone, because it describes something that is part of the human condition so well.

The other procrastination book I highly recommend is The N
...more
Jonah Ardiel
Apr 02, 2016 Jonah Ardiel rated it really liked it
I read this book for a course on rational thinking, taught by the author himself. Despite this, I'm glad I read the book anyways as it's full of practical application and is clearly well-researched. The first few chapters focus on the 'equation' which involves three central dimensions and then the focus shifts to the pervasiveness of procrastination in modern society. He also discusses the origin and associated impact (economically calculated to be trillions of dollars in lost productivity based ...more
Jane
Feb 12, 2015 Jane rated it it was amazing
I've read a few (not too many, just a few) books on procrastination, starting with Rita Emmett's The Procrastinator's Handbook, which was the first book to get me off my ass and developing a few good habits. However, self-help books tend towards navel-gazing extremes, making you fill out endless lists and diary entries to analyse your way out of a problem. I can see why someone added this book to a list called "Productivity Porn."

This book was different. The equation part of it helps you, if yo
...more
Larissa
Oct 29, 2015 Larissa rated it it was amazing
Erster Satz:

Aufschieben ist das Thema meines Lebens, beruflich wie privat.

Meine Meinung:

Aufschieberitis (oder aktuell genannt: "Prokrastination") kennt jeder, manche mehr und manche weniger - aber ich würde behaupten, dass es immer mal eine Situation gibt, die man vor sich herschiebt. So auch bei mir, wobei ich schon eher zu denjenigen gehöre, die einiges aufschieben, wenn ihnen etwas unangenehm ist. Weil mich das selbst stark belastet und ich etwas dagegen unternehmen wollte, habe ich mir diese
...more
Eric
Mar 01, 2015 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eric by: Luke Meuhlhauser
Shelves: self-help
This is a book about procrastination, and I suppose not a bad one. Only about a third of the book is actually about the techinques the tagline promises and the rest of the book is about procrastination as a subject, or how procrastination evolved, its place in society, and other such facts which wasn't especially interesting, unfortunately. I came for the techniques. And the techniques are fairly good, but if you've read many self-help books before you'll soon realize there's not much new here. ...more
Crispy
Jun 15, 2014 Crispy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I picked this up with high expectations because Dan Ariely gave it a positive review. The key ideas are worthwhile, but Steel's laboured explanations are tedious and his tone is sometimes irritatingly smug. The studies in the references sound interesting, but sadly, they're barely glossed over in the book.
Ed
Jun 06, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
Now if I could only use the techniques in my life.
Meredith
Aug 20, 2014 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Page 97
Whether your procrastination lies in the Success, Self-development, or Intimacy cluster determines the price you pay for procrastination, as these three areas translate into three major costs: your wealth, health and happiness. Naturally, those who put off the Success cluster and its career or financial aspects will be less wealthy. Those who procrastinate on Self-development will experience poorer health, both of body and spirit. And though happiness is affected by the previous two clust
...more
Dharma
Aug 01, 2014 Dharma rated it liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
Sigh. The opening chapters on the brain and how it works, how it programmed towards procrastination is very good, but could have been seriously condensed. Chapter 5 & 6 (Personal and Economic cost of procrastination) are annoying, unnecessary and overly long. I skimmed the end of chapter 6 because seriously, it's obvious information and had been covered in 5 and the beginning of 6 more than enough.

I am cautiously hopeful that Steel will have *something* useful to say in the remaining 100 pag
...more
Ralph
Dec 09, 2012 Ralph rated it liked it
Well, this book was not the Silver Bullet I had hoped for, since it did not cure me of the procrastination curse.

I am writing this review a year or so after reading the book, and my main takeaway was that the author blames impulsiveness for procrastination. That is an intriguing new thought that I had never had before, but in the end it didn't do anything to help me to stop procrastinating. But like all good ideas and insights, hopefully it is fermenting (not rotting!) in my brain on a slow boi
...more
Jonathan Widell
Aug 29, 2012 Jonathan Widell rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
The author, Dr Piers Steel, takes good care of the reader right away. You know, it would be so easy to get bogged down in making jokes, just as I was: for instance, I kept telling myself to get that book instead of putting it off any longer etc. etc. Luckily, I did get the book. The author is wise enough to go through the motions and indulge in those self-deprecating jokes, just to get them out of the way. But then we are down to business. If you are too lazy to take the quiz in the first chapte ...more
Allison
Oct 20, 2013 Allison is currently reading it
10/20/13 - I checked this book out of library because of this sentence on the book jacket - "...or if you think you procrastinate because you're a perfectionist -- you're wrong." I'm a horrible procrastinator. Currently, I have a test tomorrow that I'm not fully prepared for and a paper due tomorrow that I've not completed. I chronically have a list of projects/chores/errands to complete that I put off for trivial reasons. I'm never happy with the current state of my (1) home, (2) school-work, ( ...more
Anneke
Aug 18, 2014 Anneke rated it really liked it
This book was, to my surprise, very readable for me. While I normally never read non-fiction, let alone self-help, 'The Procrastination Equation' was able to keep me interested. The tips and methods that the author recommends look useful, although I haven't tried them out yet (which proves that simply reading this book won't end your procastination habit, unfortunately). I thought the last chapter, in which we see some character by the names of Eddie, Tom and Valerie, use the strategies felt a b ...more
Dogsandbooks
Jun 10, 2016 Dogsandbooks rated it liked it
Shelves: read-self-growth
Read because highly recommended by author of Learning how to learn. Somewhat disappointing no magic answers! (That's certainly an impulsive desire!). Biggest insight is from the beginning---because I expect to be criticized/judged/other bad things when finish something, my graph starts out upside down. Finishing=dread so procrastination makes more sense. Also reading wait but why blog--his monkey analogy is helpful esp if apply the acceptance not fighting principal. DPL 155.232 S
Fatima
Oct 22, 2013 Fatima rated it liked it
I skimmed this book and thought it was moderately interesting. I have always been curious about procrastination because I am at heart a planner and only rarely procrastinate (but when I do, it's always in the same areas). It turns out that procrastination is about impulsivity. Things I get really impulsive about: not sticking to a diet (I.e. bingeing on chocolate or bingeing on coffee/caffeine), letting myself get ridiculously behind on laundry that needs to be hand washed, and not finishing art ...more
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“Materialism and consumerism are merely emergent properties of our neurobiology given free rein in a free market.” 1 likes
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