During this weekend, I was reading a book called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, which was recommended by a Coursera course Learning How To Learn. The book is aimed for curing depression, and it’s also very pragmatic for improving learning efficiency and stress handling.

A method called TIC-TOC (Task-Interfering Cognition, Task Oriented Cognition) for stopping procrastination is introduced in this book.

How to Use It

When you find yourself procrastinating on a certain task, for example, you have a report which is due next Monday, and you havent’t started writing anything until Friday night. You know you should spend the whole weekend writing this report, but the recent Netflix series attract you so much. And you spend the whole Saturday watching it. You are under high stress, and there is only one day left, but it’s too hard for you to get started. (I did this quite often (ノД`)ハァ )

Then you can using this simple technique:

  1. Drawing a table with two columns
  2. Writing down your negative thoughts that make you procrastinate in the left column
  3. Writing down your rational thoughts towards these negative thoughts in the right hand

Take the example of writing report, you may create a table like this:

TIC (Why you don’t want to get started) TOC (Rational Thoughts)
I don’t want to get started because I’m afraid of getting bad grades. The grade won’t be too bad due to my experience on writing reports. At least I won’t fail.
I don’t want to get started because there is no much time. Well, at least there’s still 8 hours writing it, it should be enough.
I don’t want to get started because I didn’t pay much effort in the class. Then focus more next time.

Hopefully this will make you relax, and go to write your report. ( ̄Д)=3

Finding Out Why You Procrastinate

The book also implied that there must be some reasons hidden behind related with your personal values. You should find these reasons out to prevent from procrastinating next time.

For example, the first reason I don’t want to get started because I’m afraid of getting bad grades. I will ask myself why I’m afraid of that.

I don't want to get started because I'm afraid of getting bad grades.

Why afraid of bad grades?

That reveals lack of ability.

If I should get a bad grades, does that prove my inability to study?

Probably won't, but I just hate failing, that makes me inperfect.

Then you’ll find out perfectionism probably is the reason that makes you procrastinate, not because Netflix series is so amazing. Next time, you will realize that perfectionsim is making you feeling stressful, it will be eaiser to get started.