0334 – procrastination pt 2


1- Find out why you procrastinate.

Is the task:

  • Unpleasant? Boring? (Low value)
  • Difficult/Frustrating/Overwhelming? (Low expectancy)

Had to review 200 page document – procrastinated every day. Problem: Was looking at the whole task, instead of breaking it down into little tasks. (Expectancy hack)

2– Salami-slice your task

Break big things into little tasks. You start cleaning your house with one room, and one room with one desk.

3– Structure your tasks

Don’t “write a book”, break it down into chapters, define the order of chapters, make a plan. Easier then to focus on the first step and the first page, because you have the whole picture in mind and clarity on the outcome. Write it down.

4– Define the cost of procrastination

“Visualise the outcome that isn’t happening because of your inaction.” – losing money, ruining relationships with people, letting people down, etc.

5– Limit your time

“Someday is not a day of the week.” Schedule a few minutes at a time. (Hyperbolic discounting?)

6– Don’t try to be perfect

Done > Perfect. Perfect is a trap. Prototype > 1000 meetings. Cost of doing too much research/planning/deliberating.

7– Focus on the first 5 minutes

Don’t think about the big task. Get started.

8– Commit

Use commitment devices.



5:30 min video about using stakes and commitment devices. He didn’t get fit until he paid $$ for a personal trainer, and didn’t finish his webinar slides until he announced the date and couldn’t back out.

Pick one simple small goal you want to accomplish. $50 to a friend if you don’t reach this goal in X amount of time. Write 3 blogposts in the next 3 weeks. Lose 2 pounds in 2 weeks.



1– Start with a todo list– things you can check off. (Dishes. 20 maths questions. 5 pages of english lit.) Suggestion: Put 10 pieces of paper in a box, and do one at a time. Easier to deal with, less overwhelming.

2– Calendar. Schedule specific times to do things, rather than “someday”, or “later”.

3– Micro goals. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Schedule mini-assignments under a specific hour and day, preferably same time every day. Set a timer for 1-2 hrs and do nothing else. Then reward yourself. (Damn, I NEVER did this in school.)

4– Call yourself out. Recognize when you’re doing it. (Pay attention to unhealthy patterns you have established. For me it’s reddit/imgur + 1000 tabs)

5– Backup plan. This is a little strange… something like have 3-5 little tasks you can do (cleaning your room, doing the laundry, clearing out old documents) to get into the productivity zone. This probably wouldn’t work for me– I’d spend the whole day on tangential tasks that emerge from the earlier tasks.

6– Unplug. Create distraction free environment, no Facebook when working

7– Get Inspired. Music tutor, when lazy, goes to concerts– sees great musicians, feels inspired, feels compelled to work hard. Watch documentaries, read biographies, learn about the effort of others. (Increase value/motivation)



Review of one of the best books on procrastination.

  • Low Expectancy Eddie (I’m surely going to fail),
  • Valerie Without Value (I don’t do what I don’t like doing),
  • Time Sensitive Tom (I think I have time… until I don’t)

Motivation is key to limiting procrastination. More delay, less motivation. We trade short-term pleasure for long term gain. $1000 cash in your hands vs a cheque for how much a year from now? Most people want $2000 to $3000.  (The higher the amount, the more impulsive you are.)

SMART goals– specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely.

  • Instead of “Do my expense report tomorrow”, it should be “Gather all my receipts, itemize them and record them by lunchtime tomorrow.”
  • Instead of “Lose weight this year”, it should be “Limit my calories to 1,700 per day by eating a set menu for each meal and exercising for one hour at 4:30pm each day.”

Visualize and contrast – don’t just visualize the positive outcome, compare it in detail with the present. The idea is to get motivated by the process.


– Hire people who are focused/disciplined at good at doing the things that you don’t like doing (not always an option…)

– When bored, switch to doing to another important task. That way, you accomplish something. No zero days.

– Try doing X for 5 minutes before deciding if you don’t want to do it.

http://www.fluent-time-management.com/opposite-of-procrastination.html – Interesting to me how this person has a very different “energy”. Sounds legitimately motivated.

The opposite of procrastination is being proactive. Traits: Persistence, Motivation and ambition, enthusiasm, ergency, hard-working, resilience.

Action is the result of choice (do now vs do later). Later seems more pleasant, but you’ll miss out on the learning experience of solving the problem, the end result of the solved problem, and you’ll still have to do it later. So do it now.

Making the choice takes discipline, which is a learned skill. A disciplined person has learned and internalized that a little pain now = more pleasure later. Also that it takes less energy to do it now than later.

“But I don’t want to do it now, I don’t feel so good”– If you only do important stuff on the days you feel good, then you won’t do very much at all. If you do it now when you don’t feel good, you can spend your good times doing fun stuff.


Don’t plan 16 hrs of work in a single day– you’ll get demotivated and procrastinate harder. Plan your play time. Do some fun stuff everyday. Plan your work around your leisure activities.

Work as little as possible, but make the hours (or half-hours) you do count. Then reward yourself– drink a cup of tea, go walk a little, then work another half-hour non-stop (pomodoro).

Reverse psychology– limit of not working more than 5 hours a given day, or less.


Be precise (measurable), write it down, deadline, list of all requirements, plan of action, take action immediately, do something every day


1– Fear of losing spontanity – unorganized people let life confront them. Schedules can and should allow flexibility, anad eventually more than randomness

2– negetive affirmations from the past– “I’m a lazy person”. Always be doing.

3– Self-limiting beliefs. Some things I can’t do. Lack of practice, belief = reality.


– tend to your physical needs– water, toilet, window, heating

– eliminate simple distractions (close your email client, put away your phone, close FB, chat, etc). Declutter your desk. Change location if you can’t concentrate. Consider working at library.

Distractions when working– a single task at a time, finish it. you lose 20+ minutes every time youswitch tasks. When you get distracted, write down what distracts you and handle it later.

Increased focus and self-control: sleep, eat, meditate. relax. Go for a walk, go chat with someone, etc.


have a limited list. if new todos come, add to a different list. if emergency comes along, no choice– deal with it. if emergencies seem regular, put an item on next list to figure out the causes and reduce that.


Look for patterns in undone items– figure out what’s stopping you. do you need motivation? do you need assistance?

schedule, delegate, group, prioritize


Delaying is rewarding– other people do it, or you don’t get punished, or you avoid arguments, and things either solve themselves or get rendered moot

Rebelling against authorities – to indicate you’re not agreeing with the options in the no-win situation. You can’t openly rebel… procrastination might even be the only option that makes you feel like you have some control over your life

Diminishing fear of failure– domain of perfectionists. High standards, expert in self-criticism, subconscious tries to protect self from failure

Defense against fear of success– fearing extra responsibilities, wanting to be in stasis where you are


1- pomodoro technique 25/5, 25/5, 25/5, 25/15

2– browser extensions

3-Chindogu clock– sets your time ahead by up to 15 minutes, but you’ll never know by how much


overestimate work required – induces paralysis. Focus on doing one small chunk at a time

fear of failure – tie your self-esteem to process, not outcome

focus on the beginning– you don’t have to finish it right now, just reward yourself for chunks of work done

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