The More You Do – The Better You Feel

How To Learn to Overcome Procrastination and Live a Happier Life

Author Q&A

  1. Why did you write this book?

    I suffered from severe mental depression and feelings of anxiety that began in my teenage years and continued into adulthood. Although I sought help from a wide variety of professionals and tried to obtain relief from prescription antidepressants and sedatives, nothing seemed to help. During a particularly prolonged and difficult bout of depression I recalled a suggestion a friend had made years before, when I had been experiencing similar feelings. He had said the one aspect of depression that seemed to bother him most was the way his mind constantly ruminated over his woes. To combat this, he had begun writing his feelings down in a sort of diary or feelings journal, because he found that by putting his thoughts down on paper, his mind slowed down and he felt calmer. Desperate for relief, I began keeping my own feelings journal as a way of tracking my moods from day to day.

    My book grew out of that feelings journal because it was through the act of writing, and then examining its pages, that I eventually discovered my problems with depression and anxiety were due to an entirely different malady: habitual procrastination. Not long after making that breakthrough, I began to work on finding a reason why I constantly put off dealing with my tasks, as well as a solution to that dilemma. Eventually, I developed my own solution, or technique, for overcoming my own habitual procrastination.

    I soon learned that the more I used my technique, the better I began to feel about myself. As time passed, I began using the technique on tasks that, up until then, I would have automatically put off without even a second thought. Usually, those were the tasks that had initially impressed me as being frustrating, complicated, or generally unpleasant in nature, and the thought of trying to deal with them would aggravate me to no end. I soon noticed that the tasks that used to make me feel cowardly had since become routine matters that I dealt with and then moved on from. Pretty soon, it became clear that the more I took care of my personal responsibilities, the less depressed and anxious I felt.

    I then began to wonder if other people habitually procrastinated like I had, and if so, whether they too suffered from problems with depression and anxiety? I discreetly began asking people I knew or bumped into if procrastination was a source of distress in their lives, and the response I got back was a very strong “Yes!” It was then that I decided to see if I could turn my experiences into a book that might benefit fellow sufferers of this condition. Having completed the process of writing and publishing my book, I have been gratified by the warm response it has received from the public. I’m proud to report many of my readers have told me that my book has helped them to overcome their habitual procrastination and, as a result, they now feel better about themselves, have higher self-esteem, and suffer less from depression.

  2. How did you discover the relationship between procrastination and depression?

    Here’s how I made the connection between procrastination and depression: remember that feelings journal that I mentioned? Before I wrote anything else in it, I would write the day and date at the top of each page. Since every page in my journal was marked that way, I soon noticed it was also a great place to write down notes, or reminders, about the various things I needed to do. So, I’d write down some of the things I needed to remember, like bills that needed to be paid, telephone calls I needed to make, and other similar and relatively simple tasks of daily living as side notes in the journal.

    As the days passed into weeks and then months, I kept on making daily entries into my feelings journal, and as I did, its pages began to grow. Every now and then I would review its pages to see how I had been feeling for the past couple of days or weeks. However, at those moments I would notice those reminders—reminders that I had written down but had not acted upon! I noticed that whenever I saw one of those reminders, I would immediately experience a flood of negative feelings directed against myself. For example, I might feel anger, shame, or bewilderment at myself for not having taken care of a task that I had written down a few days or a few weeks before. There were other times when I’d realize that my inaction on one of those reminders had resulted in my losing out on a good opportunity. It hardly seemed to matter what the task was or which negative feelings I had experienced. What was important was that I realized that every time I made a decision to put off action on a personal responsibility, that decision was eventually followed by a negative emotional consequence; and those consequences usually took form in feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Suddenly, I had an answer for why I always seemed to be asking myself or a therapist, questions like: “Why am I such a screw-up?,” “Why does this always happen to me?,” and “Why can’t I do anything right?”

    You might think that as soon as I realized many of the depressive feelings I experienced were actually caused by my own procrastination that I would have immediately put my nose to the grindstone and begun taking care of whatever undone tasks I had left in my journal. Well, I’m sorry to inform you that I still had a lot more suffering I needed to put myself through. You see, my realization and awareness by themselves did not do the trick to stop me from discontinuing my procrastinating ways. In fact, in some ways it actually made me feel a bit worse, because in the past I could always blame my depressive episodes on a wide assortment of possible causes. There was a history of depression in my family, so maybe my genes were at fault. Or, perhaps it was an aftereffect from all the stress of living in a big city. However, now the blame was squarely on my own two shoulders—yet in spite of what I discovered, I continued to avoid my tasks just as much as I ever had. Can you guess why?

    My problem wasn’t just that I habitually procrastinated, it was that I didn’t know any other way of life. In other words, it’s not just that I didn’t take action when I saw one of those reminders in my feelings journal—it’s that I didn’t know how to take action. It hardly mattered what the task was or what I needed to do in order to complete it. It didn’t even matter that I now knew I would experience terrible feelings of depression and anxiety after I eventually rediscovered that undone task! All I knew was that every time I attempted to take care of a task I had put off, I experienced so much anxiety that I had to back away from it then and there. As a result of this habitual way of life, I never acquired a successful track record of accomplishments that I could fall back on, which might have given me the courage to carry on and deal with a stubborn or complicated task until its completion.

    I had to find a way of learning how to deal with the tasks I most often put off, one that worked for me. In order for that solution to help me, it had to work with the tasks that I most frequently put off—those that I found tedious, complicated, or downright boring. That’s when I came up my technique, which I named, “The J.O.T. Method™.” The letters “J.O.T.” are an acronym for “Just One Task,” and you can learn about “The J.O.T. Method™” by going to this website’s FAQ. Of course, “The J.O.T. Method™” is discussed in great detail and used in wide variety of life situations in my book, How Many Procrastinators Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?: Take Control of Your Life and Defeat Immobilizing Depression!

  3. Are you a doctor, or a medical or psychiatric professional?

    No, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional. I’m just someone who’s suffered a great deal with depression, and by means of self-exploration and determination, I found a way out of it that works for me.

  4. How bad a procrastinator were you when you were at your worst?

    For many years I lived in absolute misery; my habitual procrastination had me constantly behind in almost every way that I could be. I often filed my income tax returns under extended deadlines. I also paid my bills late, but I had a very good reason. You see, I never got around to reconciling my checkbook against my bank statements, so I was never absolutely certain of what my bank balance was. So, how could I pay my bills? Of course, the bills still needed to be paid, so I would go down to the bank and obtain a mini-statement from the automatic teller machine. However, because a mini-statement is not a full account statement, I didn’t have anything to go on except for the balance that the ATM printed on the small slip of paper. As a result, I would worry to myself: “What if the bank made an error? What if they incorrectly charged fees to my account? I could be unjustly cheated out of money without knowing!” Perhaps my greatest fear was if the bank had made an honest mistake and I hadn’t spotted it, the error would have been my own fault, and I knew it.

    If that weren’t enough, although I lived in a small studio apartment, I could never find important papers when I needed them because I was completely disorganized. With all that against me, do you think that was enough for me to change my procrastinating ways? Nope! I kept procrastinating because it was the only way of living I knew. Is it any surprise to learn I suffered from depression?

    If you require more evidence of how much I procrastinated, then I invite you to read Science Experiments in the Kitchen, which appears in Chapter One of my book, which you can read for free on this website.

  5. If you were such a bad procrastinator, how did you finish your book?

    The process of writing, editing, and publishing my book was a remarkable achievement in my life. Finishing the book was a labor of love and the fact that I did it shows just how much people are capable of changing if they put their mind to it. Almost as soon as I began working on my personal transformation from a depressed procrastinator into a “do”-er, I wanted to find out if other people felt the same as I had in the past. Significantly, it didn’t take me very long to confirm that a great many did. It then occurred to me that if I organized everything I had learned, the material might become the basis of a self-help book that could help people who suffered from depression that occurred as a result of their habitual procrastination.

    Unlike most authors, I never aspired to being a writer or dreamed of coming out with a book. Instead, my book was something that just had to come out of me, based on the experiences I had personally gone through. I had no formal training as a writer, which explains why it took me six years to complete my book from start to finish. During that time, I went through several periods of writer’s block and various crises of confidence. In time, I learned all writers go through such periods of despair, and after a while I began to see my periods of writer’s block more as a positive sign that, indeed, I had become a writer. I joined writer’s groups for the camaraderie of fellow struggling writers and, as time went on, I frequently called the reference desks of local libraries as I battled with words and sentences until my work was completed. In short, I am not only proud of my achievement in having published my book, but I’m also proud of the positive feedback I have received from sufferers of procrastination and depression who have said they benefited from reading it.

  6. So, are you saying you never procrastinate?

    No, there are times when I have a legitimate reason for putting something off. The only thing is, I now know that if I don’t quickly return to a task I’ve put off, I will soon begin feeling a little bit odd, then a bit bewildered, and then, finally, a bit low and depressed. That’s how it goes with me. I know that if I procrastinate for too long on any one thing, or if I wind up putting off too many things, I will be at risk of falling into feelings of despair. It’s for that reason that each day I make an effort to stay on top of things.

  7. What might a first-time reader of your book find surprising?

    Having worked as a typesetter in the past, I used my old job skills while designing my book’s interior to make it as inviting to read as possible. I kept in mind that part of my own procrastinating behavior in the past included the tendency to skim and miss important details while reading. To help procrastinators who tend to read like I did, I placed some of the more strategic passages in my book within lightly shaded grids to help keep readers’ attention focused. It seems like things worked out well because I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten some very nice compliments on how the interior of my book looks.

  8. You mentioned you struggled a bit with writer’s block. Is writer’s block the same thing as habitual procrastination?

    While writer’s block and procrastination seem like similar conditions, they’re actually quite different from each other. Generally speaking, procrastinators tend to put off a wide variety of tasks for as long as they possibly can, even though they know they may suffer unpleasant consequences due to their inaction. On the other hand, while writer’s block can seem equally frustrating, it’s a lot more specific to a particular situation (sitting down to write or edit one’s copy) than to life in general.

    Here are a few tips on overcoming writer’s block based on my first-hand experience:

    • First, it must be said that no book ever wrote itself. I was fortunate to live in New York City while I was first getting serious about writing and I went to book signings in order to glean a little information about the experiences other authors went through. On one of those occasions I saw Walter Mosley talk about his book, This Year You Write Your Novel. During the question and answer session, it seemed like no matter what question he was asked, the answer always began the same way: “You need to begin devoting three hours a day to writing.” While this may seem like a lot of time to devote to writing, it’s quite similar to developing an exercise regimen; you start slowly and gradually increase your endurance and stamina.
    • If you find yourself at a complete standstill, force yourself to sit at your keyboard or writing pad in complete silence—no radio, no television, and no distractions allowed. Sit in the silence and do nothing. Let the silence envelop you. Allow your mind to wander over to your manuscript or story and picture it in your mind’s eye. If you find yourself unable to come up with any new material, think about how you might like the design of your book’s front cover to look. Don’t be afraid to sketch it out on a legal pad—you’ll have to think about it sooner or later, so give it some thought. Or, if you’ve already planned out the design of your book’s front cover, then work on its rear cover or its spine, or try working on your book’s Table of Contents. Run a stopwatch while you’re doing that because if you’re going to try for an eventual three hours of work per day, you might as well see what you’re initially capable of.
    • By the way, if you’d like to learn more about using a stopwatch to help overcome writer’s block or procrastination, just click on, “Five Tips to Stop Procrastinating!”
    • Another cause for writer’s block can come from the unrealistic expectations of a writer who thinks he should be capable of writing a perfect sentence, paragraph, or even a full page on his first attempt. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. I once read a bit of very good advice: “Never forget that first drafts are supposed to look crappy.” Unrealistic expectations are a sign of perfectionistic thinking. My book concludes with “25 Suggestions to Help Make Your Life Procrastination-Free.” Let me share suggestion number ten with you: “Perfect doesn’t exist. For a recovering procrastinator, good enough is great!
    • Lastly, beware of the two fatal fears of all writers: the fear of failure and the fear of mediocrity. We give in to fear of failure when we allow our worries and anxieties to rule our thinking. You give in to fear of failure when you stop writing and, instead, you question why you ever started your writing project. Instead of questioning yourself as to why you decided to start, look over your work and ask yourself how you might make it a more enjoyable and interesting read. Other writers become stopped by fear of mediocrity. For them, their biggest worry isn’t that they won’t be published, but rather, that their work will be passed over and ignored by the public. This is a practice that Granddad would have called, “Putting the cart before the horse!” Remember that while getting word out to the world about your book is important, you won’t have anything to tell the world unless you first finish writing it.
  9. What’s surprised you the most since your book was published?

    What’s surprised me most has been the warm reaction that I’ve received from readers of my book. I’m sincerely gratified by the responses of my readers and the impact my book has made in many of their lives.

  10. Is there any one kind of person who has bought your book?

    Not really. While self-help books have traditionally been bought more by women than by men, I’ve noticed that men and women have purchased my book in equal amounts.

    In addition, half of those buying my book in person mentioned that they were buying it as a gift, purchased out of concern for someone else’s struggle with habitual procrastination or depression.

  11. How can I discover if a particular aspect of procrastination or depression that I identify with is covered in your book?

    My book includes a comprehensive seven-page Index of all relevant terms and keywords.

  12. Do you ever conduct public speaking events?

    Yes, I do. If you’re a member of an organization that might like to have me speak, feel free to send an e-mail to me with your contact details via this website’s contact page and I’ll be sure to get back to you promptly.

If I can answer any questions that you have about procrastination or about the relationship between procrastination and depression, feel free to send me an e-mail via this website’s contact page. I’ll be happy to hear from you.