How to Beat Procrastination
Below, I will lay out why we procrastinate and how you can beat procrastination. It's a long read. Grab a beverage and make yourself comfortable.
And don't procrastinate reading this. You do so at your peril!
We all procrastinate. The reasons vary but it almost always comes down to “I don't feel like it.”
As if you'll one day find the inspiration to actually make a difference in your own life direction.
Won't happen. I mean, you're x years old and you're still unhappy? Or not accomplished? Still don't have that career you dreamed of?
And if it does, it will be fleeting. There will be days–lots of them–where you don't “feel like” doing the thing(s) you need to do to get ahead.
Take a long, hard look in your soul. And tell yourself this story…
John Kenneth Galbraith was one of the great economists of all time.
He spent more than 50 years as a professor at Harvard University.
He wrote 48 books.
He wrote over 1000 essays and reports and research for journals, and he was an absolute superstar.
One day late in his life, a journalist interviewed him about writing.
He said, “What did you learn from your career in writing?”
|I learned something very interesting, that the quality of the writing I do on the days I don’t feel like it is just as good as the quality of writing I do on the days I do feel like it.|
|John Kenneth Galbraith|
Just because you don’t feel like it doesn’t mean you’re not going to do it well.
Little known secret about me
I met my wife through my roommate. One day, about 17 years ago, we had a house warming party. Myron invited his friend, Patricia, among others. I invited my friend, Valerie.
As the party was winding down, late at night and I was really drunk (no surprises there!), I found Patricia perusing my bookshelf. She'd pulled a few books out, all written by Galbraith.
See, she'd just graduated college with her bachelor's degree in economics. I'd gotten my degree in econ at UC Davis years before.
We had an immediate bond. Geeky as hell, I know. But from that night on, and for 17 years since, we've been almost inseparable. We got married two years later.
And Myron and Valerie got married 6 months after we did.
I owe my existing life to Galbraith and Myron bringing my wife and me together.
Now, I know the title drew you in. We're all looking at how to beat procrastination. Hell, I procrastinate all the time.
For me, it's always “I don't feel like it.” I'd rather Facebook. Or listen to music. Or read a book. Watch a TV show. Melt my eyes with candle wax.
How do you get over that hump?
I tell myself, “Success comes from consistency.”
Whether I “feel like it” or not, I'll do good work.
It's the work. Put in the work.
Yes, some days will be better than others. Some work efforts will be better than others.
But I can 100% attest to what Galbraith said: “I learned something very interesting, that the quality of the writing I do on the days I don’t feel like it is just as good as the quality of writing I do on the days I do feel like it.”
It's so true.
And you know what? Once I get going, I get into the flow. That deep work that I've quoted from Cal Newport. Where your focus is unassailable.
I've gone on “deep work jaunts” where I don't come out of my office for 14 hours, where all I did was begin, work on, and complete a project.
Most times, I put off the task for weeks, even months. Because I didn't feel like doing it.
You know what? Eventually, I got to the point where I just had to do it.
It may have been because of a commitment I made to myself or somebody else. Maybe it was a contractual obligation. Either way, I still didn't feel like doing it, but I did it.
And it turned out great.
In fact, taking action–especially when you don't want to–is what separates amateurs from professionals (as economists like Galbraith like to say, “everything else being equal“)
Take this lesson from a real pro like Galbraith, a real bona fide success.
What do you need to do that you don't feel like doing?
Simple Steps to Beat Procrastination
- Know what you need to do. Goes without saying, right? But sometimes, we don't even know what we should be doing so it's kind of hard to get going on it.
- Set aside a block of time–every day–to do “the thing.” For me, it's writing. Every day, I have 7-8am set aside just to write.
- It MUST be a distraction-free workspace. If you can't make this, you're never going to “feel like” doing the thing you're putting off.
- Read the Galbraith story above. Even if–especially if–you “don't feel like it,” do it anyway.
- Realize that the worst that can happen is you “waste” an hour of time. You were going to waste it anyway.
When I really need to focus, I use brain.fm. Look it up. It really helps me.
You may surprise yourself at a) your productivity and b) your quality.
Read this book to help you beat procrastination – 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Overcome Your Procrastination
I like Steve's work. He's very productive because he creates habits. Doing what you don't feel like doing is a perfect habit to create, don't you think?