Switch to mobile version

How to work now and procrastinate later

Post image for How to work now and procrastinate later

October 14th, 2019 — Researchers discover the cure for procrastination. Tens of millions of stalled projects move forward at once. The economy explodes with productivity. Everyone finally learns Spanish and joins Crossfit. Publishers become inundated with manuscripts of brilliant novels. Facebook’s share price plummets. Humanity is saved.

Of all the topics I’ve written about, none created such an outpouring of “Oh my God that’s me!” emails as my experiment on procrastination. It seems like most people believe they have a particularly bad problem with procrastination. If a cure were introduced into the population, the release of pent-up personal energy might be more than the world could withstand. Imagine the shock wave of organized closets and used copies of War and Peace.

So I post this knowing there is a risk of bringing on a productivity apocalypse.

The experiment itself was actually disastrous. It peaked about twenty-four hours in. After what turned out to be a single day of ideal productivity, things began to point downhill, and my problem got steadily worse. My thirty-day campaign of improvement turned into a four-month debacle. It went so perfectly wrong, my progress report is hilarious to read.

Readers have been asking where I finally ended up with my procrastination issue. Ironically, once the experiment spat me out, I immediately began to improve. I had so thoroughly immersed myself in my bad habits that they became conspicuous to me whenever I was doing them, and today I’m about eighty times better.

During the experiment, and in the three years since, I’ve tried all kinds of things to overcome procrastination. Most of my strategies didn’t work, but some absolutely did and still do. In my experience, here’s what works. 

Stop waiting for your mind to get on board. Use your body.

Many of us career procrastinators believe that we can’t do something until our feelings let us. This is a myth. You don’t need the mind’s approval to get started. All you need is to get clear, on an intellectual level, what you want done, and then move your body until you’re in the middle of it.

The mind will object, but you don’t need to hear it out. Tune out its chatter while you continue with the physical motions of your task. Keep your body dialing, opening up the word processor, changing into runners, or whatever the first physical step of the task is.

It works because much of the resistance to doing something resides in the very beginning — the first sixty seconds or so. Your body can get you past that pretty quickly. The mind has a thousand tricks and lies, and will tell you anything to keep you from starting. Don’t even listen to its proposals.

Your body, quite reliably, does what you tell it. Your mind insists on deliberating and debating, consulting with a hundred trustees and boards. It draws up complex documents for you to sign, demanding feasibility studies, immunity from all liabilities and a guaranteed return on investment. Skip this meeting, it’s a trap.

I use this technique with my scheduled workouts. When my alarm goes off, I get up and change clothes and get on the floor, without consulting my mind. I know better than to appeal to it for encouragement, because it will usually give me the opposite. Give the mind a chance to talk you out of something, and it will.

See the value in shitty work.

The biggest reason many people procrastinate is that they’re afraid of being evaluated. Many procrastinators confuse the evaluation of their work as the evaluation of their worth as a person, and so they view finishing things as scary. To finish something is to create the risk that you will be found out as a hack and a wannabe.

Bad work, if it’s finished, is an excellent result compared to stalled or abandoned work, because it means you’re confronting this fear. And you can’t help but get better every time you complete anything, no matter how it compares to your standards or the standards of others. You get better at the specific task, and also better at the skills of finishing and delivering.

This improvement happens automatically. Each finished work, good or bad, moves all the rewards of doing great work closer to you. Delaying pushes them further into your future. Push often enough, and they fall off the far end and never arrive.

I’m not there yet myself, but I’m convinced that we can learn to be attracted to failing as if it’s just another form of success, and anyone who does that will be unstoppable. For a long-suffering procrastinator, finishing something is always an accomplishment and always leaves you more capable.

Remind yourself that you can procrastinate later.

“Procrastinate later” is not just a cheeky phrase, it’s a way of remembering that the act of getting down to work is always something small and manageable. For those of us who have spent years being whipped by procrastination, wrangling ourselves to our desks can seem like tackling a giant who’s beaten us every time. So we expect to fail, because it feels like we’re trying to reverse a lifetime of momentum in one morning.

You don’t need to worry about turning your life around, you only need to worry about this session right now. You can only ever act on that scale: what you’re doing this morning or this afternoon. Turning your life around is a side-effect of how you handle those small pieces.

Tell yourself you can procrastinate later if you have to. It’s reassuring to know that at no time do you have to conquer any great enemy, you only need to learn how to get your arms around the next hour or two. The best way I’ve found to do that is the Pomodoro Technique. Anyone can commit to 25 minutes of work. Repeat this small act and you gradually become a productive person with less internal resistance. No dragon-slaying necessary.

Always know what you’re currently trying to finish.

It is entirely possible to feel like you’re working hard on something without being aware of what finishing point you’re actually trying to get to. If you act on the vague idea that you want to organize your bookshelf, you’re liable to keep dusting, arranging and color-coding forever if you’ve never defined for yourself what the thing will actually look like when it’s done.

Likewise, it’s easy to work on something that does have a defined outcome somewhere, yet lose track of the fact that there’s a finish line at all. This happens more often with big projects that consist of a lot of separate actions. You start “working on it” without a clear idea of where you’re trying to get to right now, in this session. Four hours later you’ve done a lot of moving but the end isn’t meaningfully closer.

Get clear on what the finish line looks like to avoid creating these treadmills. If I’m having trouble remembering what finish line I’m trying to get to right now, I write it on an index card. Ninety percent of the time that’s the best range of focus anyway: a very-short-term to-do list with a single item on it.

For bigger projects, it’s helpful to actually sit down away from your desk, close your eyes and picture what life will be like once you’re past the finishing point. This is called creative visualization. It can be an immensely satisfying activity, and it almost always makes it clearer what you ought to be doing right now.

Use attacks of dread to remind you to think about the rewards.

How much you accomplish during a day — or during a lifetime — depends on how much of that day or that lifetime you spend thinking about what you want compared to how much time you spend thinking about what you don’t want. I’m not talking about the law of attraction or any kind of mystical forces. Very simply, thinking about what you want makes you want to move forward into your life, while thinking about what you don’t want makes you avoid moving forward. That is procrastination.

When I look at my to-do list, I sometimes get a feeling of dread — of having to risk failure, embarrassment, lost time, awkwardness, or disappointment. These feelings can be so strong they make me forget why those items are on the list in the first place. They’re all there because inside I know they’re rewarding to do. They pay more than they cost.

When you’re stuck, it’s almost always because you’ve slipped into thinking about what you don’t want instead of what you want. These thoughts are reflexes you can retrain. Once you learn to recognize the symptoms of dread when they come on, you can use them as a trigger to consciously remind yourself what is to be gained. Every item on your to-do list implies prizes you’re on the verge of winning.

It can actually be fun to look down your list, picturing the difference in your life each item will make when it’s done. It’s like a enjoying a buffet of fantasies, except that you know how to make them real.

***

 Photo by 10ch
Jonny Hung February 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm

To recap:

1. Physically Automate Your Habits – fits perfectly with your last post of keeping your doing and deciding seperate.

2. Good Beats Perfect – because perfect is anxiously neurotic and never ships.

3. Reward Your With Procrastination – Your emails and Facebook notifications aren’t going anywhere, but your life should be.

4. Clarity – Law of Power #47: Stop at the mark that you aimed for, otherwise you risk disheartening burnout

5. Mindfulness – The realization that every moment of life is treasured gift that can be taken from us in an instant; knowing death is knowing life, conversely, fearing death is fearing life.

Personally, I find that a Daoist systemless flowlike life suits me better and makes me more “productive”. After all, you can’t procrastinate if there’s nothing that needs to be done….

David Cain February 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Pretty much, although I don’t think taoism precludes goals or the use of systems. It’s more of a different way of relating to the content of your awareness, but as far as I know it doesn’t make prescriptions of what the content of your life ought to be.

Jonny Hung February 24, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Absolutely agree, it imposes no regulations on what should be and what shouldn’t. As long as you don’t place contrived meaning and importance on your life (ie job title prestige, material wealth comparisons), and keep it natural it’s all gooooooood.

Meaning if you feel like goals and systems go for it, but if you’re not feeling concrete tasks and deadlines it’s totally okay. That doesn’t immediately made you a lazy unproductive bum…. okay it might, but those are abstract, external labels and names that you don’t need to adopt.

Jonathan February 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

These are all great strategies, and the thing that makes them great is that they don’t try to address the superficial problem of the ‘outcomes’ of the procrastination as much as address root causes. So many of my personal issues with creative stagnation related to point two – too often I felt caught up in how good I expected myself to be at something that it didn’t make sense when I did something merely ‘good’. I felt like I had natural ability at something and ended up convincing myself that if I didn’t make something great, I’d failed. But ‘natural ability’, if that is even a real thing, is only enough to get you to the starting line sometimes. It’s the grind, showing up, that actually makes for great work.

I love the point about ‘one objective at a time’. It’s closely related to Getting Things Done, obviously, but it’s a powerful idea. Too often we define tasks in ways that are not specific enough, not actually related to a physical action, which I suppose relates to point one as well.

I would say that in terms of my experiments with GTD I was not able to stick to the system in a pure form but I learnt so much about my work habits and strengthened so many of the productivity muscles that is was extremely beneficial to me.

David Cain February 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm

From other peoples’ accounts it sounds like everybody eventually adapts the GTD framework to their own lives before they get it to work for them. It sure does shine the spotlight on your habits though.

Aditya Thakur February 23, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Great article. Too bad it’s going to be banned on Facebook coz if a lot of people on Facebook read it, Facebook will lose serious money.

David Cain February 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Please share this post on facebook

tigerlyly February 24, 2014 at 1:51 am

Hi, I de-lurked to say how happy I am you wrote this for today. As a lifetime procrastinator and too-much-in-mind person, this was very well timed. I am working from home for the last year and my laptop/ spot on my couch have been may way of living for all this time. So I decided to start doing some exercising every day, no matter how much/long/intense. But is true, my mind talks me out of it every time I think of doing it right now. No more. I a taking your advice and getting off it now and the heck with perfection (ouch, I felt a little pang of shock ;). Well, it is Monday, is relatively early for me so today and now is as good as any time.

Before I do that, just wanted to wish you a great week and thank you for this little nuggets of pleasure when I have time to read them. And – btw re:link on FB few couple of days back – that I am from Romania, so anytime you want to visit let me know. Not that I am that much the rough it to experience it type, but still… I would be delighted to have a nice coffee and discuss life at street level :D

David Cain February 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Thanks for de-lurking.

I wish you luck with exercising. I have a long history of struggling with it but having a decision-less routine (same exercises, same time of day, pre-determined target) has finally made it consistent for me. See my last post.

I am up for coffee anytime!

Zaire February 24, 2014 at 2:25 am

Great piece, as usual! I especially like the part about getting your body to do whatever you want instead of letting your mind convince yourself out of it. It just becomes easier whenever I push myself a little more and end up in the midst of the action/activity I dread. My desire for completeness kicks in and I finish up whatever I want to get done :D

Kabamba February 24, 2014 at 3:26 am

“Stop waiting for your mind to get on board. Use your body.”
also known as “putting your ass where your heart wants to be.” It works.

Kabamba February 24, 2014 at 3:40 am

Reminded me of an article i read by Steve Pavlina concerning how to delegate activities from mind to body. It a nice read.

http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-get-up-right-away-when-your-alarm-goes-off/

“This is going to sound really stupid, but it works. Practice getting up as soon as your alarm goes off. That’s right — practice. But don’t do it in the morning. Do it during the day when you’re wide awake.

Go to your bedroom, and set the room conditions to match your desired wake-up time as best you can. Darken the room, or practice in the evening just after sunset so it’s already dark. If you sleep in pajamas, put on your pajamas. If you brush your teeth before bed, then brush your teeth. If you take off your glasses or contacts when you sleep, then take those off too.

Set your alarm for a few minutes ahead. Lie down in bed just like you would if you were sleeping, and close your eyes. Get into your favorite sleep position. Imagine it’s early in the morning… a few minutes before your desired wake-up time. Pretend you’re actually asleep. Visualize a dream location, or just zone out as best you can.

Now when your alarm goes off, turn it off as fast as you can. Then take a deep breath to fully inflate your lungs, and stretch your limbs out in all directions for a couple seconds… like you’re stretching during a yawn. Then sit up, plant your feet on the floor, and stand up. Smile a big smile. Then proceed to do the very next action you’d like to do upon waking.”

David Cain February 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I would like to do an experiment of that one. I’ve been thinking about it for years.

Graeme March 14, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I tried this technique a couple of times. I couldn’t get it to stick until I filled my waking up routine with things that encourage me not to crawl back into bed: I turn the lights on, change into my workout clothes, and do twenty jumping jacks. At that point I’m awake enough that the haze is gone and getting back in bed is pointless.

Chris @ Flipping A Dollar February 24, 2014 at 5:24 am

This about sums up my feelings when I started my blog. I’m definitely not as life altering as you, but I still felt that I could add value to a lot of peoples’ lives financially and from a decluttering aspect. Instead of just tinkering with my future website, I got started on blogspot in the meantime which gave me the push to actually update mine to word press and self hosting. This post would have helped me understand what I was feeling!

Kabamba February 24, 2014 at 10:03 am

Thanks for sharing your blogging story.

1. “I will wait until I can have my own custom domain and self hosting site before I can start blogging”
2. “I will wait until a get a good premium theme before I can start blogging”
3. “I will wait until I have something compelling to talk about”

All the above have one thing in common. They are just excuses. They are as good as saying, “The Dog ate my homework”. :-)

Gael Blanchemain February 24, 2014 at 8:37 am

There’s the illusion of fear, my guts are soaking into it.
And there’s the illusion of pain, the pain of doing the job, struggling and failing in the process. Maybe.
No wonder my mind can’t agree with any action roadmap when it perceives the future as an enemy!

I didn’t manage to cure procrastination by envisioning a dream land of achieved tasks, let alone a “better me”. Things always seem stuck in the moment, a moment full of anticipation. Thinking ahead only gets things worse.

Just as you said, my mind is no help when it comes to starting anything, so I impose my diktat, I take my keyboard and I freaking type. All there is then, is the act of writing, and fear shuts up for a while. The outcome matters less than the process, I guess.

It’s great you’re sharing your failures, gives so much value to your successes. And it makes a difference to me, to know that someone, somewhere went through that and creates, despite the constant warnings of fear and insecurity.

Vilx- February 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

Interesting, how life sometimes gives you several pieces of information on the same topic at the same time but from completely unrelated sources. Just today I found this link on Facebook:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2014/02/the-powerlessness-of-positive-thinking.html

Which just goes to show once more – always keep things in moderation. Even positive thinking and positive fantasies can be overdone by the careless.

I too often experience the effect that simply enough daydreaming about something nice that I could do gives me all the satisfaction that I want, and I no longer set out to do that thing. Visualize too much, and you’ll start procrastinating like never before.

Also see: self-help book junkies. Same principle.

Nitya February 24, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Thanks for the great link! This is my philosophy to a ‘t’.I’m generally considered to have a cheerful demeanor and I accredit this to a complete absense of positive thinking! Instead of visualising catching that train or making it on time, I imagine the exact opposite and prepare accordingly. This leaves me feeling pleasantly surprised when the catastrophe fails to eventuate or well prepared if it does. A win/win in either case.

Vilx- February 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

Interesting. My approach is somewhat different.

After some thought I realized that the article is confusing two similar, related, yet distinctly different things – positive thinking and positive dreaming.

Positive thinking is assuming that things will *most likely* work out well, and preparing in such a way, that even the worst case scenario is not that bad. This gives you courage for the journey.

Positive dreaming is imagining that you are already there. With excessive positive dreaming the journey becomes unnecessary.

Positive dreaming can be used to achieve positive thinking… sometimes. But it has to be done carefully and in small doses.

IMHO.

Amy February 24, 2014 at 11:10 am

Thank you. I have never thought of myself as a procrastinator. I’m so very busy! I expect a lot of procrastinators are hard working busy people, like me. Working really hard to avoid the fear.

AC February 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

Great article! As always, thanks for writing. I’m slowly pruning out more and more of the Internet from my life, but Raptitude remains a staple.

I’ve found that music helps tune out any thoughts of procrastination the mind can conjure up. I.e. whether you’re about to clean the kitchen of a commercial restaurant, haul a bunch of mulch, or just sit down and do your taxes, having the right motivational music can make “work” feel less like work. After all, how bad can someone possible feel doing something to the tune of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”?! :-)

Brady February 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

So…pointing out the obvious irony that I’m procrastinating at work writing this.

My favorite line is in the progress report summary: “The only goal I need to have is to be proud of myself by the end of the day.” I find I’m hard on myself for not getting everything done in my day rather than being proud of my accomplishments. Like Dale Carnegie says “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”

Free to Pursue February 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

David,

Another great post with helpful links for background/context. All I could think as I read the post is I KNOW!!! I figured out a while back that most of my procrastination was linked to fear of failure as a lifetime high achiever. I definitely measure my worth based on my output and the quality of said output…though I am getting better.

Now, I try to figure out what will make me “feel” like I am good enough to tackle something, then do those things as I zigzag towards my ultimate goal.

As an example: I did not think I was good enough to write a book so I thought I would blog. BUT, I did not think I would be a good enough writer to blog. I had trouble convincing myself that what I have to say can matter to others and that I could actually commit to the activity over the longer term.

The parasite in my mind kept infecting me with these negative thoughts. So, I successfully shut it up by telling myself that I would write 50K words in 3 months and that, once I had that done, I would know:

1. if I had something to say and
2. if I was committed to the initiative.

The result was that I had 60 posts written before the blog’s launch (though I have yet to publish many of them) and, through this exercise, my confidence about my writing and chosen topics rose. I still have a lot to learn and produce, but that slight deviation (aka delay) likely resulted in a blog idea that would still be in limbo because I would not have properly mitigated the fear component. And, you guessed it, once I feel I have blogged enough, I will bring the idea of a book back to the forefront.

Baby steps in roughly the right direction are always better than standing still, paralyzed in an infinite question loop.

On another note, I think the book “Scarcity” might be of interest to you if you haven’t read it already. It focuses on predictable behaviours for people who are anticipating experiencing or are experiencing scarcity (be it lack of time, lack of money, loneliness). I think it offers an interesting additional angle to what we call procrastination and it’s available at your local library (…but I have it checked out right now, soon to be returned once I make some notes on it ;).

Sincerely,

F2P

BTW: Do you CF? I haven’t noticed it mentioned anywhere else. If so, so do I!

J.D. Meier February 25, 2014 at 1:09 am

Beautiful title.

I remember one of the most surprising insights I learned early on is that motivation follows action.

Every time I doubt this, I remind myself to “just get started”, or “just try it for a few minutes”, and sure enough, after a few minutes, I quickly find motivation flowing effortlessly, as if I enjoyed it all along.

David Cain February 25, 2014 at 8:43 am

Yes, totally. The conventional wisdom is backwards. Motivation comes after action, not before. Motivation is really just a relative absence of resistance, which comes like clockwork once you’ve started.

rosaz February 25, 2014 at 8:16 am

Hi David, loved the article! I’m another who de-lurked to comment on this one. One question I had for you: while “using your body” definitely works for some things – working out, housework, doing taxes, etc. – how does it work for you for those tasks you really need your mind on board? (i.e. writing this blog?) I tend to procrastinate most with those aspects of my job which require original thought… and I’m not sure how to fix that without getting my mind on board first! Any nuggets of wisdom?

David Cain February 25, 2014 at 8:41 am

Good question. There are always physical steps, and knowing exactly what they are makes it easier. When I sit down to write it’s “Sit down, close all applications, open up word processor with a new document.” A lot of the resistance is gone already. Then it’s me and the blank document, and the normal agony of writing ensues. But then at least I’m already confronting it, rather than avoiding it. I have had great mileage out of the Pomodoro Technique. I set a timer for 25 minutes, and before I click “Start” I agree to do nothing but focus on writing for the duration of that time.

For tasks where it isn’t clear what to do, then the first task is to figure out what to do. I usually start with a sheet of paper, and I write down the outcome (the “prize”) for what I want to do, then I think about the most direct solution to the problem, and write down the steps. If it isn’t feasible, then I modify it a little bit. Just about everything can be boiled down to a sequence of steps, and often these steps are obvious once you’ve decided to do it.

Here’s an article on coming up with the most direct solution to any problem.

Lydia April 27, 2014 at 6:42 am

David! Ur an genius! If my life brings anything great! Thats bcuz f u! Thanks a ton

I was like “Please help me!! I kno what im havin but i cant help it! I cry to sleep everyday knowin my position in life when i could hav been the best! Please help me! I hav evn thought of dying because i know what success is! N ive been der known de feeling..please help me .it is an important time in my life”

I guess i got it all figured out

Greg Blome February 25, 2014 at 8:27 am

I think it is important to manage your environment so you limit distractions and get them out of your view. Focused attention is one of the most important skills to build in my opinion and that takes a lot of redesigning how you work.

I found quality value in the visualization technique you mentioned, David.

Good post

Emily February 25, 2014 at 9:09 am

Loved this post. Spoke to my lifetime struggle with procrastination.

I needed to read about how to get going and not pay attention to the mind’s protests. So true!

I’ve only recently learned that when I get stalled at home or at work, a good thing to do is “just do something – anything”. It gets me out of my paralyzed-by-thoughts mindset and gets me started doing something! anything!

Julien Brightside February 25, 2014 at 10:49 am

Wow, this is such a great article and at the same time it can be used on so many parts of your day.

I think I`ll share this a bit around.

Michael (MJL Plants) February 25, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Personally I don’t have much problem with procrastination. I find it easy to keep working when the work is something you enjoy, or for the purpose of something you enjoy. It’s also important to allow yourself snack breaks and let the satisfaction of completing a task fuel you for the next one.
I agree with your point about not waiting to get your mind on board. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. It’s interesting!

John February 25, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Love the idea of simply producing shitty work. Obviously, that’s not what we are striving for but I’ve found that when I produce at least something, whether of poor quality or not, at least I can always go back and improve upon it. Our minds will always do back flips to try and get us to not produce in the first place. Insightful post, I’ll refer back to it often.

Mizhael February 26, 2014 at 1:43 pm

So I’m actually procrastinating by reading a post on procrastination. Doesn’t get any better than that!

I guess filling your mind with all sorts of reasons and ways of looking at things to attain some sort of motivation is one way to tackle procrastination. However, I find that you just gotta be able flick the off switch and jump over your productivity blockade. As as simple as that. Whatever has to be done has to be done. No argument. No thinking. No emotions. Stop. Reset. Go. You’ve got to be able execute commands like a machine; all other things come second to that. And if one thing’s not working out, stop and switch to something else that’s productive until you recharge. Never dwell.

So there it is. Simple. Very difficult. But doable.

Mari February 27, 2014 at 8:47 am

David. This is the first article on procrastination to throw into relief the jagged edges of procrastination for me – my hamartia since puberty, I swear – so I was literally preparing to make you my Non-Political Christopher Hitchens/Post-Modern Eckhart Tolle…but then discovered you haven’t written anything on cognition yet. The idea that the brain is plastic and adaptable to anything is giving me an existential panic every time I sit down on a computer. ‘Character is simply habit long continued’. If I am what I do, I DON’T WANT TO CONTINUE DOING ALMOST ANYTHING I CURRENTLY DO.

Please apply some of your prismatic clarity to this.

I’m going to scream into a pillow now.

StephInBerkeley February 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm

so nice to smile all the way through a post. this was fun. and you reminded me to the how to get things done guy…but that’s to be expected when talking about procrastination vs productivity ;)

BrownVagabonder February 28, 2014 at 8:32 am

I have never read about people procrastinating because they are afraid of being evaluated. For me, that was the single most important sentence in the whole post. For Type A personalities, and for people from countries, like India, where parents have an extremely high standard of expectation, I sympathize with you. I never thought about this before, but I do equate my value with the value of my work. If my work is perfect, and I am caught up on everything, I am a good person who is good enough to exist. If not, then, I shouldn’t be allowed to exist. Thanks for bringing these up so I can ponder on them further.

Tamara Jones February 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Creative visualization is such an undermined thing. It’s kind of sad even how many people turn down the idea of it immediately and don’t even give themselves the chance to realize what a useful tool it is. Personally, I always use it to get myself to work, no matter how much I feel like procrastinating. Of course, it doesn’t always work, but that’s more a question of will, I think.
In the end, if I’m going to procrastinate, I make it a conscious choice and in that case I try to read articles or watch videos about procrastination. It really helps!
Thanks for sharing!

Jon March 4, 2014 at 5:43 am

As always an insightful and entertaining read David..…I wish my mind would stop “demanding feasibility studies”…as you say;)

Ivonne March 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

In the ‘use your body’ bit, it sounds like you’re talking about the zeigarnik effect.

David Cain March 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

Can you elaborate? I looked up the Zeignarik effect and it says it’s about being agitated by thoughts of incomplete objectives.

Susanna Bonner March 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Hi, David –

Just recently started reading your blog. Thanks for writing!

I work from home as well, and for awhile struggled with procrastination. It was so easy to do other things in my life than paid work, because everything else I wanted to do was all at my fingertips or out in the garden.

My biggest trick with myself lately that’s been working really well is to pay a lot of attention to any subtle feelings of guilt regarding any paid work or personal project. If I feel even a hint of guilt for not having worked on it in ________ amount of time, that is my cue to work on it that day, or better yet, that moment. If I stick to that rule, which I’m pretty good about doing, I keep a great balance with my work-from-home paid work and the rest of my life.

And then I can really enjoy the rest of my time doing whatever else I feel like, because I don’t feel guilty about anything!

Yay!

Also, just as a side note, I like your site’s tagline and that idea. A few months ago I started asking new people or friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, “What have you been up to lately that makes you feel especially human?” The answers are always really good.

techvet963 April 7, 2014 at 10:30 am

Like this post too – read the one from a couple of years ago and this is like a distilled version with what works. Fantastic.

Remember we can always reprogram our brain, but we need to know what we want before we undertake the task.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 8 Trackbacks }

Desktop version

Raptitude is an independent blog by . Some links on this page may be affiliate links, which means I might earn a commission if you buy certain things I link to. In such cases the cost to the visitor remains the same.