By David Parker
I’m David Parker and I’ve suffered with severe depression and anxiety since I was a young child. Fifteen years ago I was living alone in London having separated from my then wife, and I was suffering through an extreme bout of depression.
I recalled a friend’s advice that if bad thoughts were overtaking in my mind, I should write them down because that would reduce their intensity. I tried it and found that it worked. I then began carrying a spiral notebook with me, and eventually, I began using its margins for task reminders and “to-do lists.”
Sometimes I would flip through its pages and I’d see those reminders for tasks still undone. Then I’d berate myself with, “Why didn’t I take care of that?” But, did I ever deal with them? No, I didn’t.
In time, I observed that just the sight one of those undone task reminders set-off symptoms of depression and anxiety in my mind and body. I noticed that there was a connection between the low feelings I felt and the habitual procrastination that was causing them.
One might think that after discovering this cause-and-effect condition, that I would immediately commence action on my undone tasks. I soon learned that procrastination was an extremely difficult habit to break.
Without ever realizing it, I had become an expert at the art of diverting my attention and distracting myself from tasks that I felt were too complicated, or too boring to deal with. I also mentally lumped together all of my unlikeable tasks, which made them seem like an impenetrable wall.
I realized the only way forward was to trick my mind into accepting them. I taught myself to focus my attention on just one task. That meant that I had to deliberately ignore everything else, distractions included. Through trial and error, I devised an effective technique. First, I wrote down one simple task. Then, I immediately took action on it. Lastly, I put a thin line through the task I had written down. No more endless “to-do” lists, and now I could see instant results! I then noticed that the better I took care of my tasks, the less depressed I felt.
After divorcing, I returned to New York with the determination to write a self-help book about the relationship between habitual procrastination and depression. Seven years later I published “The More You Do The Better You Feel: How to Overcome Procrastination and Live a Happier Life,” and my procrastination-fighting technique had a name: “The J.O.T. Method™” (the acronym “J.O.T.” is for: “Just One Task.”)
From reading its reviews on Amazon, I know that my book has helped a lot of people. At health expos roughly one-third of the copies sold are bought as gifts for friends and loved ones.