Book Review: The Science of Getting Started by Patrick King

What do you do when you are procrastinating doing your book review?  You read a book about procrastination of course!  I have to say for a book that I chose at the last second, I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  It was a fast read, that contained some good content and since you are now reading this book review it accomplished its goal by getting me to stop procrastinating and get started reading.

The first two chapters of the book focus on the cycle of procrastination and why people procrastinate.  The author discusses several different reasons here and encourages the reader to try to find themselves in one of the procrastination profiles so that you can begin to understand why you procrastinate. King describes 5 types of procrastinators: thrill-seeker, avoider, indecisive, perfectionist and busy. He then tells us that these can be broken into two procrastination triggers: action based or mental-emotional based.  

The rest of the book looks at ways to overcome our procrastination tendencies. His first premise is we just need to start doing something.  “Motion follows action, yet most of us are seeking motivation that creates action. We are doing it backward and just need to get started to feel better.”  He spends a chapter exploring ways to trick yourself into doing things that you don’t want to do.  Visualizing the end result, starting small and focusing on the process not the end result, remembering the negative consequences of not completing your task, are just a few of the ideas that he discusses.

King then gives the reader ideas on how to plan to avoid procrastination. One of the ideas that he presents in this section is the STING method.  STING stands for Select one task, Time yourself, Ignore everything else, No breaks, Give yourself a reward.  From here he goes on to talk about how to structure your day to avoid procrastination.  My favorite idea from this section is the “no zero days”.  A “zero day” is a day that you let go by without doing anything to achieve your goal.  You can determine how much time to spend each day on your goal and it may vary by day, you just need to something each day to help you achieve your goal. Another part of this section that stood out to me is taking the time to schedule your day.  Really looking at every hour of the day can help you find time to devote to whatever that task is that you are avoiding. 

The title of the last chapter is “Get Off Your Butt”, which really could have been the title of the book.  The author gives some more ideas here about getting started. Starting small is a theme that is mentioned more than once in the book. He also gives the reader ideas on how to dispel the excuses that often come with procrastination.

This book is written in a style that makes it very easy to read and comprehend.  Each chapter ends with a brief summary of the major points of the chapter and the last chapter includes a summary of the whole book.  When reading a book like this I find it helpful to have those major points more than one time.  The book includes examples of the ideas presented but it doesn’t get bogged down with stories about how people have used the ideas to improve their lives. 

I found it interesting that King mentions James Clear and his work with habits several times in the book.  It makes sense that building good habits would eventually help you overcome procrastination tendencies. Breaking big tasks into small manageable ones is one of the ideas that he gets from Clear.  At the end of the book King, discusses the energy pyramid.  This is from “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz which is a book that I reviewed a few years ago. 

I have just highlighted a few of the ideas from “The Science of Getting Started” that stood out to me as ideas that might help me with some of my procrastination issues.  There were many other ideas in the book that might resonate with you more.  With a book like this there are going to be ideas that will be more meaningful to you than others. There were definitely sections of the book that I didn’t find relevant. But overall, I think this book has enough to offer that makes it worth reading, especially if you have a task looming over you that you are having trouble getting started or finished with. 

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