Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength - by Roy F. Baumeister, John Tierney

Public accountability: Public information has more impact than private information. People care more about what other people know about them than about what they know about themselves. A failure, a slipup, a lapse in self-control can be swept under the carpet pretty easily if you're the only one who knows about it. You can rationalize it or just plain ignore it. But if other people know about it, it's harder to dismiss.

When people in laboratory experiments exercise mental self-control, their pulse becomes more erratic; conversely, people whose normal pulse is relatively variable seem to have more inner energy available for self-control, because they do better on laboratory tests of perseverance than do people with steadier heartbeats.

Monthly plans > Daily plans

Closing a door on an option is experienced as a loss, and people are willing to pay a price to avoid the emotion of loss.

The Zeigarnik effect: Uncompleted tasks and unmet goals tend to pop into one's mind. Once the task is completed and the goal reached, however, this stream of reminders comes to a stop. The unconscious is asking the conscious mind to make a plan. The unconscious mind apparently can't do this on its own, so it nags the conscious mind to make a plan with specifics like time, place, and opportunity. Once the plan is formed, the unconscious can stop nagging the conscious mind with reminders.

Once you make that plan--once you put the meeting memo in the tickler file for Wednesday, once you specify the very next action to be taken on the project--you can relax. You don't have to finish the job right away.

The more competing demands you face, the more time you spend contemplating these demands. You're beset by rumination.

People who think more about their goals replace action with rumination.

People with clear, unconflicting goals tended to forge ahead and make progress, but the rest were so busy worrying that they got stuck.

People with conflicting goals reported fewer positive emotions, more negative emotions, and more depression and anxiety.

The best results came from the group working on posture. That tiresome old advice--"Sit up straight!"--was more useful than anyone had imagined. By overriding their habit of slouching, the students strengthened their willpower and did better at tasks that had nothing to do with posture.

Make highly specific plans for automatic behavior in certain situations. If x happens, I will do y. The more you use this technique to transfer the control of your behavior to automatic processes, the less effort you will expend.

The more carefully and frequently you monitor yourself, the better you'll control yourself.

Telling yourself I can have this later operates in the mind a bit like having it now. It satisfies the craving.

The Nothing Alternative is a marvelously simple tool against procrastination. Two very simple rules, a. you don't have to work. b. you can't do anything else. The rest comes of itself. That's the seeming effortlessness that comes from playing offense.