Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

OK, I know it's not a 'procrastination book' but contrary to my expectations it has already helped me with several major anticrastination projects at work and I'm only on Chapter 2!

Likeability Factor

A book similar to How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Part 1: Chapter 3

Principle 3: Arouse in the other person an eager want

This is it! This was the surprise anticrastination thing!

There are some projects I'd like to get off the ground in my payroll job. I've been tinkering about with them for months, and they've been pipe dreams. I've made some attempt to address them at work, but been met with pacifying responses that just gave me more work and didn't progress the actual project. So I tried to think about them not in terms of what I wanted, but in terms of what my boss wants (we both want the best for our clients - so I just had to find a way for us to meet in the middle).

Yesterday I was at a meeting which gave me a little insight into what her visions were for development in the future. They fitted in to a certain extent with what I'm doing right now! I just needed to show what I was doing, and put my proposals for development together with it to show how it met her goals. In one morning I outline planned two courses, and filled in some of the detail for the first six weeks of the course. I then took my plans to show her, and talked about my proposals in light of what I was already doing, and how we could use the expertise we already have to deliver something akin to her vision in the not-to-distant future, with a view to possible expansion later. So now I've got two courses outline planned (usually takes me ages, as you all know), and three of my proposals (which were previously not even considered, and which I subsequently had stopped working on) have been accepted. AND I was also offered an additional piece of work which I otherwise wouldn't have had (seems I'm proving to be a thourough and pro-active member of the team - definitely not the image I had previously!).

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working with others

I don't work with others so this isn't my issue, but I happen to be reading about this in "First Things First" by Stephen Covey. He talks about the importance of a shared vision in an organization, and how this can spark a win-win attititude.

Working with others

Includes working with clients, customers, anyone else who might be involved in your product or service.

(I love Covey's stuff, BTW. I've not read First Things First but I had the audiobook, and I've got 7 Habits).

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Part 1: Chapter 2

Principle 2: Give honest and sincere appreciation

This isn't the one that did the anticrastination thing either - I've read more than I thought.

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Part 1: Chapter 1

Principle 1: Don't criticize, condemn or complain.

I've been trying to work with this in a way which still allows me to give honest feedback, ask for assistance when needed, and not be a doormat. So far I've managed three days in a row ;) It's tough!

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Flaming letter

There was some talk in another forum about writing a scathing letter and not sending it, and I mentioned I'd just read about doing this in this book, and pro asked me to post about it, so here it is. (This isn't the bit that helped me anticrastinate, BTW, but I'll post that as well in a separate post).


The Battle of Gettysburg was fought during the first three days of July 1863. During the night of July 4, Lee began to retreat southward while storm clouds deluges the country with rain. When Lee reached the Potomac with his defeated army, he found a swollen, impassable river in front of him, and a victorious Union Army behind him. Lee was in a trap. He couldn't escape. Lincoln saw that. Here was a golden, heaven-sent opportunity - the opportunity to capture Lee's army and end the war immediately. So, with a surge of hope, Lincoln ordered Meade not to call a council of war but to attack Lee immediately. Lincoln telegraphed his orders and then sent a special messenger to Meade demanding immediate action.

And what did General Meade do? He did th very opposite of what he was told to do. He called a council of war in direct violation of Lincoln's orders. He hesitated. He procrastinated. [Hey, I hadn't realised that was going to be in the bit I was posting!]He telegraphed all manner of excuses. He refused point-blank to attack Lee. Finally the waters receded and Lee escaped over the Potomac with his forces.

Lincoln was furious. "What does this mean?" Lincoln cried to his son Robert. "Great God! What does this mean? We had them within our grasp, and had only to stretch forth our hands and they were ours; yet nothing that I could say or do could make the army move. Under the circumstances, almost any general could have defeated Lee. If I had gone up there, I could have whipped them myself."

In bitter disappointment, Lincoln sat down and wrote Meade this letter. And remember, at this period of his life Lincoln was extremely conservative and restrained in his phraseology. So this letter coming from Lincoln in 1863 was tantamount to the severest rebuke.

My dear General,

I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within our easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so south of the river, when you can take with you very few - no more than two-thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect and I do not expect that you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably becuase of it.

What do you suppose Meade did when he read the letter?

Meade never saw that letter. Lincoln never mailed it. It was found among his papers after his death.


(Vermillion edition pp 33- 35)

Carnegie then goes on to say why he thought Lincoln never sent the letter - that Lincoln considered the situation from Lee's point of view and understood the reasons for the procrastination, and he realised that although writing the letter would help relieve him of his feelings, it would impair Lee's further usefulness as a commander.

So sometimes it's worth writing the letter to work out your feelings (in our case, those feelings leading to procrastination), but if you send it you won't be winning any friends or having a positive influence!

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I remember this now

I remember the Lincoln letter now - and the whole discussion about how Lincoln used to write scathing letters that he DID send when he was younger.

This isn't quite the same thing as I was talking about with TodayFirst - I don't have a criticism of my clients that I'm trying to phrase tactfully. But I guess the venting part is the same.


I think for me it is partly about venting and partly about brainstorming. By giving myself permission and even urging myself to write really silly stuff that I would never send, I seem to break through the writer's block. I'm not writing anything useful but somehow by writing what I shouldn't say in real life helps me to crystalize what I SHOULD say and the real task becomes that much easier.

breaking writer's block

I see what you're saying. I've done that when I'm writing articles for magazines. I get all hung up on where to start, so I tell myself to just write "junk" and I can fix it up later - just do a brain dump and not worry about how inarticulate it sounds. That gets me started, and of course what comes out is quite articulate.

I do that

For writing essays.

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