The Now Habit Summary Review PDF

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The Unschedule

The unschedule is reverse psychology which focuses on putting more time in play and more quality in work. Aim for doing quality work for only thirty minutes. 30 minutes are enough to break the inertia of starting.

Do not work for more than 5 hrs/day on this project.

You must exercise, play or dance at least 1 hr a day.

Unscheduling gives immediate reward and sense of achievement after working 30 quality minutes, breaking anxiety related to a task.

Special tips

  • Keep a day at leisure to enjoy all free time or small tasks or party
  • Start the work without worrying about how & when to finish it!
  • It takes a while to form any habit. Don’t stop in-between. When you feel blocked & that feeling to give-up kicks in, hold on for the next 5 mins to let it pass. You will indeed find a solution later!

What is Unschedule?

It is a drastic shift in thinking from how we generally schedule & plan our work. Rather than filling the calendar with the activities you want to do, you add only the pre-planned or commitment related tasks

  1. Schedule only fixed commitments & play
    1. Previously committed tasks such as meetings, lunch plans, etc.
    2. Time for all leisure and personal activities 
    3. Health-related tasks such as swimming, exercise, yoga, etc.
    4. Routine tasks such as commute time to work or medical appointments
    5. Socializing plan with family & friends
  2. Fill in your Unschedule, only when you finish 30-minutes of uninterrupted work
  3. Reward yourself with a break or more exciting work after each period you work

Lesson 3: Note down your distractions to block them and evaluate their importance later

If you’ve read Getting Things Done, then this will sound very familiar. Fiore says that we let little interruptions take over our attention and day because we deal with them instantly.

When you remember you have to buy paper towels, have a great idea you need to talk to a colleague about, or they remind you about a request, it seems to make sense to take care of it right away. In reality, this just distracts you from the important thing you’re currently working on.

To take care of these things before your focus shifts, keep a piece of paper or little notebook with you at all times and instantly note down potential distractors. This resembles the collection bucket from GTD, but Fiore adds an important twist.

Not only will doing this allow you to stay focused, it also gives you a chance to evaluate these tasks again later. At the end of your day, take a look at that day’s list and ask yourself for all items on it: is this really that important? Do I have to do this at all?

You’ll often see things aren’t nearly as urgent or important and save yourself a lot of time!

Why We Procrastinate

Procrastination: “A mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision”

Warning signs of procrastination:

  • Life feels like a long list of obligations that cannot be met
  • Being unrealistic about time. For example, saying that I will start the project sometime next week instead of being specific
  • Being vague about your goals and values
  • Feelings of frustration, unfulfillment, and depression
  • Being indecisive
  • Low self-esteem and assertiveness

One of the reasons why we procrastinate is to protect our self-worth. Procrastination helps us temporarily relieve our deeper inner fears. These fears include the fear of failure, the fear of being imperfect, and the fear of impossible expectations.

The fear of judgment stems from over-identifying who we are now with our work. Because of this fear, people engage in a counterproductive drive towards perfectionism.

Working in The Flow State

A flow state is a state that is intensely focused and also calm.

Learning to work creatively will increase your level of excitement as you work.

“Peak performers in sports, music, medicine, and business have these experiences when they are fully absorbed with almost effortless attention in a challenging task. Psychological and physical health benefits, invigoration, and relaxed alertness have been attributed to these states.”

Performing relaxation exercises can make you focus at work. Breathing exercises in which you focus on your breathing are especially helpful when it comes to building focus.

“Working in the flow state or in the zone removes the emotional need to procrastinate and accelerates your progress toward your goals.”

Become a Producer with The Now Habit Strategy

The Now Habit strategy comes with several powerful tools to help you overcome procrastination and reprogram your habits. Here’s a quick visual overview:

The Unschedule

The Unschedule

Let’s zoom in on one of our favorite tools–the UnSchedule–in more detail. It combines multiple behavioral/psychological principles to help you get moving and build confidence by (i) motivating you with short periods of focused work followed by immediate rewards, and (ii) showing a visible record of how much focused, uninterrupted work you’ve done daily.

Here are some simple guidelines to start implementing your UnSchedule: • Start by filling your planner with nonwork activities (e.g. meals, exercise, traveling sleeping, meetings, recreation, socialization). You’ll realize that you have only a few hours a day for real work. • Fill in the work hours only after you’ve finished 30min of uninterrupted work. Don’t record the time if you stop before 30 min, or step away for a snack/call. • After each work period, reward yourself with a break or switch to a more enjoyable task. Before going for a recreational or social activity, take 30 minutes to work on a high-priority project. • Add up the number of quality hours worked each day/week and give yourself a pat on the back. You may soon feel excited to see how many work hours you can clock each day. • Devote at least 1 day a week just for rest and recreation (and perhaps some small chores). After a rest, you’ll feel more motivated to return to your high-priority projects. • Focus on “when is the next time I can start?” and keep taking 1 small step at a time. Don’t try to finish an entire project, or work non-stop for 3 hours. Just aim for just 30 minutes of quality, focused work. • Never end on a low note. If you’re stuck, use another 5-10 minutes to at least come up with a partial solution.

Within 2 weeks, you’d have established a rhythm and have a better sense of your schedule. You’re now ready to start refining your approach. Do check out our full version of The Now Habit summary for a sample UnSchedule and tips on how to personalize it.

Get our full summary and infographic for more tips and examples!

Feel free to get our full text, infographic and audio versions of The Now Habit summary (get the complete summary bundle here), for more details on the remaining tools.  Here’s a quick snapshot:

• Create a psychological safety net to reduce the perceived threat of failure or imperfection, and to help yourself bounce back stronger from your mistakes. • Use positive self-talk to focus your energy constructively toward a desired outcome, shift from resistance to commitment, and reprogram your attitude. • Replace habits: Use old habits to trigger new ones, or unlearn your procrastination in the same way you learned them. • Use guilt-free play to inspire quality work • Overcome the fear of being overwhelmed with Three-dimensional thinking and the Reverse Calendar. • Overcome the fears of failure and imperfection by finishing the work of worrying. • Overcome the fear of not finishing through persistent starting. • Train yourself to get into the state of flow. • Use controlled setbacks to train your responses and improve your resilience and focus. • Learn to set effective goals that you can achieve and build your confidence.

In our full 14-page summary, we also explain how to apply these strategies and tools to manage procrastinators at work and at home. Do get the complete The Now Habit summary bundle now 🙂


Besides Getting Things Done, The Now Habit is the best productivity book I’ve read so far. Procrastination is one of the worst productivity pitfalls and The Now Habit presents a ground-breaking way to view and solve it. I must admit that I was a victim of the old definition of procrastination (which says that procrastination is the problem) and this book opens my eyes to see procrastination differently.

While reading the book, I also applied the technique of having positive self-talk to handle my procrastination problems and I’m happy with the results. I can now see the tasks I’m procrastinating on in a positive way and I’m more eager to start.

Since I’ve been applying the principles in Getting Things Done for about two years, the next step for me is to apply the principles in The Now Habit.

This article is part of June 2008 theme: Productivity

The Now Habit Review

Well, I think this book is a proper guide to understand why we procrastinate and help to overcome it. So, this book is for everyone who wants to understand procrastination.

With this, we come to the end of the now habit summary written by Neil Fiore. I recommend you buying this book.




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