Looking to crush your procrastination habit but not sure where to start? Here’s our suggestion: Delve into one (or more) of the best books on procrastination out there.
The awesome thing about the books on this list is that they don’t just explain the science of procrastination and why we do it, they equip you with the tools and strategies to actually stop stalling and get stuff done.
One caveat: Read them with purpose. If actually reading the books is a way for you to procrastinate doing some other work, that would, you know, kind of defeat the purpose. Just saying.
The Best Books on Procrastination to Permanently Kick the Habit
And now, ready to jump in? Let’s take a look at eight must-read books on procrastination.
No, you don’t have to leg it to your nearest French restaurant. “Eating the frog” is (thankfully) a metaphor for tackling the most challenging thing on your to-do list. Says Tracy, we should start every day by doing just that.
Eating the frog forces us to prioritize what’s important — and gets the worst out the way so we don’t end up putting it off.
Of course, there’s more to the book than that. Tracy offers 21 highly actionable strategies for beating procrastination, from using the 80/20 rule to leveraging your best skills. Each chapter contains frog-eating activities you can try for yourself. It’s an easy read, and one of the most well-known books on procrastination for a reason.
Bonus quote: “The law of Forced Efficiency says that ‘There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.’”
Why do we put off doing what’s important? In tackling that question, Steven Pressfield puts a sword in our hand and stands us face to face with the demon he calls “Resistance”: a universal force that sabotages creativity and keeps us locked in the status quo.
Pressfield examines the ways in which we let Resistance impact our work, and not only gives us the tools to beat it, but also the inspiration to do so.
Bonus quote: “Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”
Piers Steel, Ph.D, is one of the world’s foremost researchers on procrastinating — though we bet he doesn’t do too much of it himself, ironically, or he never would have earned that title. In any case, this book uses his groundbreaking research as the basis for explaining the causes of procrastination, including cultural, psychological, and biological factors, as well as how to overcome them.
P.s. Don’t be deterred by all the science. Steel writes in a way that’s accessible, down to earth, even humorous. So it’s not only one of the best books on procrastination but possibly one of the most enjoyable, too.
Bonus quote: “You could put [this] book aside, but relevance keeps you reading. This is equally true for other actions and tasks: the risk of procrastination diminishes when tasks are relevant, instrumentally connected to topics and goals of personal significance.”
Professor Pychyl knows all about procrastination. So much so that he made this book super-short so you wouldn’t put off reading it.
And once you do jump in and get reading, you’ll find that Solving The Procrastination Puzzle is clearly laid out with descriptions of common problems followed by strategies you can use to solve them. Pychyl covers topics like how and why we deceive ourselves, the power of getting started (but why getting started isn’t everything), and how to strengthen our willpower using motivational strategies.
Bonus quote: “We only have a finite amount of time to live. Why waste it?”
We know what you’re thinking. Yet another book that promises to overload you with dry, sciency information about the psychology of procrastination. So what sets this book apart?
Partly it uses lots of analogies and stick-figure diagrams to explain stuff. But the main reason it makes the list of the best books on procrastination is its inclusion of unique, practical, and easy-to-use tools. Eight of them to be exact. Things like worksheets, to-do lists, and questionnaires with tick boxes. Because nothing makes you feel more accomplished than putting a big old tick in a tick box. Best of all, these tools are actually helpful. So for that, it’s worth the read.
Bonus quote: “Creating habits isn’t about quantity; it’s about small steps and regular repetition. By taking small steps, you can make big changes.”
Procrastination is persistent desire, says Sam Bennett. It’s genius in disguise.
Bennett’s positive outlook is like a breath of fresh air in the procrastination book space. If we change our mindset, we can see the act of procrastination as a guidepost pointing us toward what’s most important in our lives.
And then, using case studies and practical exercises, she helps us understand our procrastination habits, work with them, and, ultimately, overcome them.
Bonus quote: “Once you let your idea out of the hermetically sealed vault of your brain and out into the fresh air, it will immediately start to evolve.”
This is another one of those procrastination books that offers clear-cut strategies and methods for changing the way you approach tasks. Dr. Fiore’s approach is unique in that it seems counterintuitive. Deliberately worrying? Scheduling play before work (a time-management method he calls “The Unschedule”)? These techniques and more aren’t delivered in isolation; they make up a detailed plan geared toward giving you more time and less stress in life.
Bonus quote: “Whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed by the large, grand project that looms before you, remind yourself, ‘I can take one small step. One small step; one rough, rough draft; one imperfect sketch; one small hello. That’s all I need to do now.'”
You might recall that one of the ways to stop procrastinating is to change the nature of the task at hand. In other words, make a task less tedious and you’re more likely to get it done. Well, this book by Steve Kamb, while not explicitly a book on procrastination, teaches you how to do precisely that. In fact, it’ll teach you how to make your whole life less tedious.
Kamb’s book is based around the Hero’s Journey story structure and uses popular video games, books, and movies as inspiration for turning every aspect of life — even the most boring and mundane ones — into adventures. Feeling like James Bond or Lara Croft when you get to the office? Way to get your butt into gear.
Bonus quote: “Every day we have two options: we can choose to believe life is a series of random coincidences that are mostly out of our control, or we can choose to believe the world in which we live is full of secrets, that everything is epic, and that we are playing the role of a character in a massive world built around us, as characters who are on their own Hero’s Journey or are helping us with ours.”
Your turn: Have you read any of these best books on procrastination? Tell us your favorite in the comments.
Need more help taking on your procrastination? Our complete guide shows you the way.
Author: Tania Braukamper
Tania Braukamper is an Australian-born writer and photographer. She believes in curiosity, kindness, and adventure as a state of mind.