You know that thing you’ve been meaning to do, you know you need to do, and want to do, but you haven’t? The looming test you should be studying for but you’re watching season 4 of The Office gag reel instead? Or how you want to start being more social but you default to staying in and masturbating? (yes, this is me.)

Most of us beat ourselves up over our procrastination. We’ve been taught that it’s a character flaw or some kind of weakness. This post is going to challenge that. Our approach to procrastination needs to change.

Procrastination is actually good. It is a feedback mechanism your brain deploys to let you know that your plan of action is either missing or vague.

If we learn how to understand what procrastination is telling us, it becomes our ally. And our response becomes simple; make a plan.

There are many systems that work. Actually picking one and then doing it is what is important. A lot of young, intelligent people will idle indefinitely because they want to wait for the best. The truth is, those who wait to find the best way rarely act, and those who act after finding a good enough way, reap the rewards. (See Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice on maximizers vs satisficers).

This post will share a good enough system to deploy when procrastinating enters to let you know your plan sucks.

My Dysfuncrastination 

I consider myself a pretty productive person. But I too have this lingering dysfunctional mindset about procrastination. I’ve meant to review all the book notes I’ve piled up from this year’s reading and convert them to blog posts. I’ve been meaning to do this for a month now. And I haven’t.

It is because the task I have set out for myself is big and vague. “Create blog post’s from book notes.” is what I have on my whiteboard.

I’ve looked at this board for a month without acting. And then I stumbled upon Cal Newport’s Blog and he introduced this new perspective on procrastination.

Procrastination is actually good. It is a feedback mechanism your brain deploys to let you know that your plan of action is either missing or vague.

So, naturally, I made a more detailed plan.

First, I picked out the exact books I wanted to turn into blog posts. I was already feeling better. Next, I brainstormed a little and determined the rough structure for all these posts. The ball started rolling at this point and I ended up posting 5 posts in 5 days.

They key here can be summed up by Mark Twain;

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”

A Specific Technique

It is called Goal Setting To The Now, and I got it from the amazing book The One Thing, it goes like this;

Ask yourself these questions today.

What is my One thing, that if I strive for every day, I could die tomorrow and not regret my choice?

Note: What is important here is that your Life’s One thing is not an objective, it is a direction, it is a way of living. For example, your One Thing is not to make a million dollars. A corrected answer would be something like “to creatively solve society’s problems by creating tools and businesses.” (Mine is to help people heal themselves.)

Next, “What is the One Thing I can do in five years, that by doing so, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

“What is the One Thing I can do in one year, such that by doing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

“What is the One Thing I can do in a month, such that by doing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

“What is the One Thing I can do in a week, such that by doing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

“What is the One Thing I can do today, such that by doing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

‘What is the One Thing I can do right now, such that by doing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Do that thing.

This technique is so effective because it lays out our big why, which gives us meaning. Once we have meaning, all procrastination boils down to lack of specific details.

Whenever I find myself overwhelmed, I come back to this technique.

What Should You Be Doing Right Now?

Let me know in the comments what you should be doing right now, or send this to your friend who you know is on instagram looking at instabooties while he should be figuring out how he’ll start that small business he’s always talking about (I’m talking to you Clif!)

Thank You

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