M.A. Psychology, Oxford. McKinsey Alum. Founder & Editor at TAoL.
Thursday, 6:31 AM
October 28, 2019
One of my favourite things about this co-working space (in Pererenan, Bali) is the family of cows that lives directly outside it.
I’m feeling increasingly guilty about last night’s burger as I watch momma cow lovingly groom her two calves. It’s making me realise that the big reason I eat meat, burn oil and use plastic is how disconnected I am from the results of my actions.
Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about today (although there’s a good productivity lesson in there for another time).
What I want to talk about today is procrastination and how you can beat it.
Do you remember how last time I explained the three kinds of exhaustion to you? The difference between saturation, tiredness and fatigue? And how to beat each of them?
You do remember all that?
Because lack of energy is actually one of the main reasons we procrastinate. So if you can mix up your work and manage your energy more effectively you’re already 25% of the way to getting more big stuff done.
Why 25%? Because there are 4 major reasons we procrastinate:
- Lack of clarity – I don’t know what to do next;
- Lack of courage – I know but I’m afraid of the consequences;
- Lack of motive – I know but I don’t care about the consequences; and
- Lack of energy – I don’t have the juice for this battle right now.
And now that you know them you’re well on your way to becoming a productivity powerhouse.
All you need to do, next time you catch yourself NOT doing what you know is important, is to go down this list, ask yourself which of those four reasons is troubling you and then spend 15 minutes surgically removing each one from your thought processes.
Anyway, I won’t go into more tactical details here, because you’re smart and once you know WHY you’re procrastinating the HOW becomes pretty straightforward. (Why not try it right now with a project that you KNOW you’re avoiding?)
Instead, I want to talk to you about something that’s far more important.
You see the biggest problem we all face, the biggest problem I faced for a long time, is that we rarely catch ourselves procrastinating until it’s WAY WAY too late.
We don’t realise we’re procrastinating until we’re two seasons into re-watching Game of Thrones, or 45 minutes into scrolling our Facebook feed, or even a few hours into trivial admin or emailing. And at that point we’re so deep in the vortex and feel so guilty about what we HAVEN’T done that it’s a HUGE ask to get back on target.
Instead of procrastinating less, we procrastinate even more. We procrastinate over dealing with the consequences of our procrastination. 🤦♂️
It’s insane, it’s frustrating and we’ve all been there – am I right?
Which is why the most important thing you can do to beat procrastination isn’t to become an expert on how to escape it. The most important important thing you can do to beat procrastination is to learn to avoid it entirely.
And doing that means becoming an expert on WHEN you procrastinate. It means getting super clear on the specific behaviours and coping mechanisms you automatically turn to when your not clear or courageous or motivated or well rested enough to tackle what’s ahead.
Doing that – and most importantly, writing those things down – will equip you with an early warning system you can rely on to tell you when things are slipping, before your brain even knows there’s a problem.
Which will let you catch yourself procrastinating MUCH earlier.
Which will give you a chance to ask WHY you’re procrastinating.
Which will give you a chance to work out HOW to step in and take action BEFORE you’re sucked into a vortex.
Anyhow, I’m going to sign off for today but I might talk a bit more about the step-by-step process for doing this (👆) in next week’s email.
What I will say is that one of the best ways to learn WHEN you procrastinate is to get MUCH clearer on exactly where your time goes each day.
And the best way to do that is to start tracking your time in the daily pages of FASTER TO MASTER’s awesome productivity planner.
You can learn more about that here:
Or you can hear about how the planner rocked Ella’s world (and increased her income by $20k per month within a handful of months) here:
And in the meantime, if you do catch yourself procrastinating today, don’t give yourself a hard time about it. It’s a tricky problem and as a good friend once told me “being human is complicated“.
Instead, set a 10-minute timer and think on paper about WHY you’re procrastinating and HOW you could possibly fix it.
You’ll be amazed at the power a little structure and clarity will have on your ability to cut through to the heart of what matters.
Let me know how you get along and whatever you do…
Have a great end to your week, be your best self and go well,
Arthur “Just One More Episode” Worsley