Book Review: What’s Your Excuse for Not Being More Productive by Juliet Landau-Pope

If ever there was a book made for me, it was this. My procrastination has been a major flaw in my personality and has resulted in me leaving assessments to the night before it’s due, blog articles often put off until it gets to the stage where I can no longer put them off any further. The peak of my procrastination was a few years ago when I had a severe pain in my mouth assuming it was just toothache and I put it off for a whole week. As the week went on, the pain got worse, the more painkillers I consumed and my face ended up swelling up. It turns out I had an abscess in my mouth but I couldn’t get it drained then and there. No, because I had taken so many pain killers over the week I had taken so many that had equated to a “staggered overdose” which meant I had to get my stomach pumped and spend several days in one hospital before being transferred to another to get my abscess drained. Overall, I was in the hospital for just short of 3 weeks all because of my ability to procrastinate.

That’s just one example of how procrastination really affected me but then there are other ways such as the stress I feel leaving all my work to the last minute after having 3 weeks to complete it for the university. Even with my blog, I struggle. Looking at the never-ending list of emails becomes quite daunting and I’ll put it off to the day after and the day after and so forth. To me, this is a hobby I get paid for, not a job so I don’t have a P.A, a management team, a PR agency or even an agent or whatever else full-time bloggers use to stay on top of their blogging requests. Because of this, I’ve been late to reply to brand offers, collaboration requests and project enquiries. Although I still see this as a hobby, I have lost a decent amount of income due to my own procrastination. So, right away I’ve risked my physical health, worsened my mental health and lost out on money and decent career opportunities all because of my ability to avoid doing certain tasks.

Now, that I’m starting my final year at university, I would need a miracle if I was to survive if my procrastination has to have anything to say about it – and one happened. I was sent a book called “What’s Your Excuse For Not Being More Productive” by Juliet Landau-Pope. Now, I am truly one of the biggest skeptics when it comes to self-help books and a lot of it is justified. The vast majority have a couple of words written in them followed by 50 blank pages for you to fill in and I can confirm that this book is not one of them.

Since I finished the book 2 weeks ago, I wanted to test it out in real life before writing such a review to see if it would actually make a difference to my life. Since then, I have packed up my room, moved house in another city, unpacked, attended my first week of university, written more blog articles than I have all Summer, been to the gym more times than I’ve been all year, I have something that resembles a sleeping pattern while getting my recommended 8 hours of sleep a night and already I’m setting plans and executing them as I go along. I don’t feel stressed and I feel really good about myself right now.

But how?” I hear you cry. Well, this book looks at various excuses people use to procrastinate and then offers advice and solutions to help people like, well, like me. People who come up with an endless list of excuses to avoid doing things. I think that was the key part as to why this book has helped me and is due to be hugely successful simply because of its relatability. How many times have I delayed doing something because “I don’t have time” or “it’s ages away” and especially last year when I had deadlines coming out of my ears but somehow got struck down with a severe case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). That’s only 3 excuses that I told myself on a far too frequent basis. There are many others, and funnily enough, they’re also in the book.

Even if you can only relate to one of the excuses or all of them, that’s the best part. You don’t need need to read every single chapter, you can simply pick and choose which parts relate to you or even find out excuses that you never even knew you were using. Before I read the book, I often found myself going to every event, party etc. Friends would hit me up and ask if I want to go out knowing full well I had a class at 9 am the next day but somehow I still made it out to the club. What if something really cool happened? What if they bumped into Kylie Jenner and she was looking for a guy whose first name begins with the letter “J”? What if they end up replicating The Hangover series and go on an adventure that solidifies their friendship for life through a whole range of dangerous and hilarious scenarios? They can’t have that without me! But as everyone knows, you go out in Britain (it’s cold and wet), you pay £10 to get in some club that’s either empty or too busy or you find one that is busy, then you have an endless wait in the queue at the bar, where you sober up and spend £20 on 5 jagerbombs, the club smells of sweat, people keep bumping into you making you spill your drink over yourself, the girls are complaining about their feet and you go home alone and spoon a McDonald’s  at 4 am after a 5/10 night… And then we tell ourselves, we won’t fool ourselves again only to do it all again a couple of days later. That’s FOMO, I didn’t even realise that was even a thing, but hey, at least I know I’m not alone in doing this.  Not only did I realise I used that as a procrastination method, this book helped me realise it and offered great advice and as silly as it is, has gave me the ability to say “no”. This might sound silly to a lot of people but now I know I’m not the only one who struggles to say no to people and this book has given me the confidence to do that.

Conclusion

  • I’ve started using a diary plan and I’m organised for the upcoming week.
  • My plans for a hair cut is not as urgent as finishing a 3,000 report.
  • I’ve rejected several 5/10 nights out for an early/productive night
  • I’ve started making plans for my 4th-year dissertation.
  • I’ve met with my lecturer and sought advice for my dissertation, giving me the confidence to start planning.
  • I’ve got my to-do list on post-it notes, effectively ticking off most as I go along (after I post this, that’s another task completed. Believe me, it’s a great feeling knowing you’re being productive)
  • I’m drinking fewer energy drinks/caffeine and more water
  • I’ve started turning my phone off and putting it out of sight while I complete tasks, or if it’s a big task then I’ll often reward myself with a food and Netflix break.
  • Actually finishing & publishing blogs.

I understand a lot of people won’t think it is a big deal that I’ve started to have more structure in my life, that I’m drinking more water and getting a healthy amount of sleep a night or even the fact that a blogger is publishing blogs and that’s fine. However, to those people who are like me, who do find themselves doing anything and everything to avoid starting that report or filing your tax returns or even writing and publishing your blog. Then I highly recommend this book. It’s been less than a month so I can only comment on my current state, whether it lasts or not, time will tell. All I do know is in the space of 2 weeks, these little but significant changes aided by this book has already made a great impact on my lifestyle for the better.

At only 138 pages, it’s very straight to the point and I like that. It’s very direct, it offers a reason why people procrastinate followed up by advice and solutions to it and then moves on to another reason.  I’m sure the author could have milked it into a 1,000-page book, discussing various psychological issues ie childhood trauma etc but there’s no need. It does what it says on the tin and I like that. People will read this book to help them lessen their ability to procrastinate and not for some deep self-evaluation of their psyche. Procrastination doesn’t discriminate, I know, a lot of people who can relate to at least one of these reasons, fellow classmates who I’ve spent many a night with crammed in the library at 4 am on deadline day, musicians who leave rehearsals until the final week before a large tour or even my mum right now who’s put off moving house because she finds the deal overwhelming. You can bet your bottom dollar, my mum will be receiving a copy ASAP and I’m sure by next year I will have my degree and my mum will be in a new house, thanks to this book.

9.5/10

 

Jay Carrington

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