Procrastination – not laziness, but misdirection! Lets beat it *cue MJ’s hit*

In order to beat procrastination swiftly, it helps to understand the nature of the beast. But first, let me say a bit about tools. Firstly, tools are meant to assist people in being efficient! Tools are for the very best of the GTD crew. Tools are like when you upgrade your linux os to unstable just to be on the bleeding edge and for that small chance of improvement. Tools are NOT meant for people who don’t already know how to get things done – unless they’re using it to create an initial motivation I suppose, or maybe a start-up quick kit or something, I dunno. Before you upgrade to tools and tricks and crap like that, I’d like to first and foremost suggest that you learn how to GET THINGS DONE instead of developing a crutch before you can even walk. Walk, then run, then fly. Anyways – onward!

1. Tools – this section isn’t very important
As others have suggested, there are lots of tips/tools/tricks to help you stop procrastinating. Here are some additional TOOLS that might make you happy at first and create that initial spark of desire. But you need more direction than that. Still I’ll share:

-Do it for just five minutes <- tip to get started
-(10+2)*5 <- efficiency tip
david allans gtd workflow <- book
next action
Tracks <- pretty fun
Shit load of GTD software tools for PC & Mac
blogs and other resources about getting shit done
another long list of tools and resources for getting things done

I’ll stop there because this list could really go on forever, and some of the lists I listed go on forever already, but that alone will only give you that initial spark of interest. The interest may last awhile since there’s a whole cult/society behind getting things done. It might help you at first, but you might also get stuck in a never ending spiral of trying to find the best “tool” to use. This is a time waisting endeavor. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But, tools are kind of fun to talk about so let me talk about mine before I get to your procrastination issue there.

Some tools (the ones with the biggest impact) I’ve used are as follows, AND THEY ALSO CHANGE from time to time:

My Life Organized – I use the free version of this to track my goals for my LIFE. Yah know, the whole thing. I have my shit sorted out as follows: Family and Home; Spiritual and Ethical; Social and Cultural; Financial and Career; Physical and Health; Mental and Educational; and Incoming Brain Bombs to be processed when I get the chance. It’s an easy setup.

Wallet – I keep a little fold out notepad in my wallet. When the notepad is opened it has a paper on the left and right sides. On the left sides is my “incoming” space and on the right side is my “to-do list”. Pretty simple.

Picasaweb Albums – I use this to visualize my goals. I have pictures in there with affirmations below it. In the mornings, I play the slideshow and read the affirmations, then look at the picture, then visualize it.

Ring Notebook – This is basically everything from incoming, to to-do lists, to goals, to everything all in one. I mix and jumble everything up and organize it whenever I feel like it, if it needs it. It’s pretty fun to embrace that kind of freedom and discover new ideas in your … lists.

I could go on with this, but I just wanted to humor the post. This stuff won’t actually help you get anything done, unless you know what you’re doing, among other things. These are tools of efficiency to help the people who know how to stop procrastination to get their shit done in a different, and possibly more efficient fashion that suits their needs.

2. Understand the nature of the beast – very important!
Here’s a formula for procrastination (see below). Look at it and think about it for a second; if you know some simple algebra, you could deduct some insight from this:


Desirability of the Task = E x V / G x D

Where E is the person’s self confidence in the task, V is the value of completing the task, G is the tasks immediacy/availability and D is the person’s sensitivity to delay.


Ok that equation should give you an idea of why you’re not doing shit. In addition to understanding the nature of the beast, What you need is some supreme SElf DISCIPLINE-PLINE-Plin-pli-pl-p. Military school and boot camp can give you that, but lifting weights and working out isn’t going to do anything for you here. I was suggesting military school or boot camp not because they help you physically, but because they help you mentally. They teach the morons and jerk offs and lazy asses to be good respectable citizens who can stand on their own two feet. They teach discipline most of all -and other stuff.

That’s an easy way out, but it’s rather drastic. It’s always easy when you have a teacher telling you how to do it and it’s even easier when you have some meat head barking down your neck and threatening your physical health. You, probably wont go that route, so you’ve gottah figure out how to do this without that.

This is the advice normally given to people who don’t know jack shit about what they want out of life and what they want to do -maybe this is your case, maybe not:

1. Know where you want to go
2. Create a theoretical plan to get there -this plan will change, but having the plan there gives you some comfort and assists you in believing that you can get to wherever it is you want to go
3. Decide on what the next action is that can help you get there – make sure this is something that isn’t very overwhelming. If it is too overwhelming, you’ll have to break it down into a smaller bit-sized portion that you can manage.
4. Do it.

Your problem is at the bottom. You might know all the steps and tricks and everything you could want to know about getting where you’d like to go, but you fail at “Do it”.

Why do you fail at “Do it”? The equation tells you why you fail. Basically, you don’t do it because you (the bad you) has looked at all the evidence and deducted that it’s not worth it to you. But it is worth it. No it’s not. That internet sitting right there is much more entertaining right now. That [insert something you procrastinate with] looks like it’ll be of much more value to me right now. This is all true.

Because most humans only like to look at the shit that’s pressing right into their faces, they don’t see the loooooongterm value when they’re stuck in the moment. They’re distracted by all of the things that give the short term value -kind of like cigarettes.

You need something to stand right in front of your nose and show you that it is of more value to you than anything else right now. But how do you achieve that? You could use a drill sergeant, torcher, a challenge, a dare, money incentive, reward system, etc. Of course, if you really don’t want to do that [whatever], maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you’re pointing your nose in the wrong direction. Maybe that isn’t something that you’re passionate about in the first place. Could it be an issue with passion? YES! But, lets not get too complex here. Lets assume that you do, in fact, desire to get this [whatever task] done.

You could listen to music and jam out or you could write your paper. Remember that formula? It applies here. The paper doesn’t yield any short term benefit, and it’s not like you have a chance at finishing the whole thing right now anyway. It’s too hard you might not even be able to start. God you’re going to fail, it’s not worth it. The music however, that’s easy, it’s fun, you wont fail, and it’s worth it right now. Look at that fucking formula come into action, damn.

Now, how to tweak this formula to your advantage.


Desirability of the Task = E x V / G x D

Where E is the person’s self confidence in the task, V is the value of completing the task, G is the tasks immediacy/availability and D is the person’s sensitivity to delay.

Here’s another scene: You have a one word paper -a paper that’s only 1 word long- due in 30 seconds and it counts for 90% of your final gpa for your four year college career. You could do that, or you could listen to music. You think to yourself hmmm, the paper isn’t that long, I’ll burn through that and it’ll be easy AND I’ll raise my GPA. Definitely worth it. Damn. Problem solved.

But wait, that’s never going to happen! You’re right. Like I said -i think I said it- you’ve gottah find an alternative way to raise your desire. Here’s a method: You can find something that you’re passionate about and piggy back the tasks (shit you procrastinate on) to that. That’s what competitions are. In general people really do like to compete, and it’s easy to piggy back a task on that in the name of competition. They’ll get it done because, more than anything, they wanted to beat someone else. Also, the accountability system works like that as well. You have two people who are holding each other accountable. If one should fail, they’re going to catch shit from the other person and they’ll theoretically lose. This is how I quit binge drinking! That’s just a couple of methods to piggy back your tasks too.

Another very popular method is Goals! Uh-oh, did I hit a nerve? Sorry. Some people only do their homework, swim 30 laps a day, do 500 pushups in an hour, read all of a series of books, and other stuff because that’s the only way that they’ll reach their Goal! If your desire to reach a goal is strong enough to carry your other tasks, then you can use that as a piggy back. But lets say you have a 5 year goal. That goal, while good and all that, is FIVE YEARS AWAY. IT’s not standing in front of your face, it’s a long ass time away. But that’s a start. Now, set a short goal, then a shorter one, then a shorter one -all the little goals should lead up to the big one. This, is how you bring the goal closer and closer to your FACE.

Now that you’ve got a goal in your face, what? You probably wrote the goal down somewhere in a text file, and while it’s good to have it, that’s not in your face at all. When I say in your face, I mean you have to see the shit and know it’s there. If it’s in the back of your computer you’ll forget about it for sure. Steve Pavlina gave an example for this. He said that he used to practice some martial art, and at the door of the dojo or whatever there was a sign that said “YOUR GOAL IS TO BECOME A [NINJA]” or something. In your face, bitch. IN YOUR FACE. ALso, you know, challenges are goals, competitions are goals, tasks are goals, etc. Which brings us alll the way back to step 1.

3. How do I get this goal/task done? Here’s your answer: “aint nuthin to it but to do it”

1. Remove the distractions -set up environment to assist you, not to distract you

2. Create the desire -piggy back something you already have desire for or put yourself in a situation where a strong desire is created -maybe a desire to not get your ass beat by your drill sergeant? hurr and if you’re a real badass, you can create some desire out of no desire by just getting the ball rolling (do just a tiny bit and force yourself to stop – feel free to look up other tactics to achieve this)

3. Never forget your desire -IN YOUR FACE

4. Get that shit done, mother fucker! – You can find tips/tools to help you do 1-3 but once you’ve done 1-3, THEN you can start using “tips” and “tools” and all that kind of shit for 4.

And… that’s all there is to it.

note: I first posted this on the awful forums. Figured I’d bring it over to my blog to share with ‘er one else.


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