Procrastination is the act of delaying a task in favor of doing something more enjoyable. People value short-term rewards instead of long-term benefits, a behavior known as ‘time inconsistency”.
1. Everyone has ideas. Some are good, some are bad, few are amazing. Most are boring. But procrastinators tend to have the most amazing ideas. Their ideas are so awesome that they don’t even know how to get around to doing them. Some of them try it anyway.
2. Why do most procrastinators procrastinate? Because they don’t have a system. They have ideas about what they should do to put their ideas in order. But they don’t. They could start small and increment their progress bit by bit. But they don’t. They could plan their whole idea in detail, so it’s easy to understand, adapt and implement. But. They. Don’t!
3. Procrastinators only start working on ideas that feel good to them. Starting small doesn’t feel good, it feels average. Doing small stuff is average. Why would anyone even get out of bed in the morning to feel average, when they have the choice of feeling good? Of course, no idea feels good a while after they’ve started it and they run into various hurdles. So basically what they do is start full throttle and then stop after a while, after it stops feeling good. You know it, I know it, they know it. But they do it anyway. They do it for the high, because it feels good in the beginning.
4. What psychologists know, but most people don’t is that we sort feelings and emotions by grade, not recurrence. A happy moment that feels like a 9 on a 1-to-10 scale is WAY better than ten moments that feel like an 8. This is true for all feelings and emotions. Having your 10, or pet die feels way worse than getting bullied at school or bossed around at work.
5. Once procrastinators integrate points 1-4 into their own system, they stop procrastinating. Only by understanding why you do what you do, can you really find a solution fit for your exact need. Your system should include incremental progress and incremental gratification.
6. This is a huge paradigm shift that takes a lot of time to master. It involves moving from big ideas that are self-contained and can be good or bad, to ideas that are split into small steps that you don’t feel much of anything about in particular. Just remember that mastery can only be achieved by teaching others. I’m mastering it myself as I write to you, so don’t be hard on yourself. Start small, increment and improve.