Lesson 2
The 2 Truths About Procrastination
lesson 3
The Procrastinator's Paradox & Self Forgiveness
lesson 4
In-the-Moment Procrastination Fix
lesson 5
How to Use Your Time More Effectively

The 2 Truths About Procrastination

To solve the procrastination problem, you don't need to know everything about procrastination. But you do need to know the 2 truths you'll discover in this lesson.

Procrastination is a strategy, whether you are aware of it or not. It's a method you use to achieve a certain outcome. And in that sense, you are "succeeding" when you procrastinate.

The problem is just that this behavior is not aligned with your deeper values or your longer term goals.

But once you see the 2 truths shown in the video, you'll be a big step closer to changing for good.

The Many Faces of Procrastination

Procrastination is a strategy that takes many forms. You may be procrastinating in ways that you don't even realize. Here are the main ways in which people procrastinate:

Procrastination by Distraction

This is the most common form of procrastination and the one most people are aware of, when they do it: instead of working or doing something important, you distract yourself. Whether that's videogames, social media, watching movies & shows, reading the news or doing anything else that is low effort and entertaining or distracting. Whatever your favorite poison is: you always find something more compelling that doing the thing you really should be doing.

Procrastination by Fixed Mindset

This is another common type of procrastination. Although you probably don't think of it in terms of a "fixed mindset", but rather as something like "I'm just so lazy!"

You keep putting things off and you can't seem to get yourself to start on important work. The underlying reason here is a fixed mindset: you're afraid of not performing well enough and you probably judge your performance harshly. Unconsciously, you'd rather be seen as lazy than incompetent or dumb.

Procrastination by Perfectionism

This is when you do work, but you never finish things. Why? Because they're never "good enough". Nothing you create or work on ever feels like it's finished and you always want to polish it some more - or maybe even scrap it completely and start all over!

People who do creative work often suffer this form of procrastination and an underlying issue is a deep fear of judgement.

Procrastination by Busywork

This is another form of procrastination that feels like work. It's just that instead of working on the big, important, meaningful thing, you find a bunch of other things to work on.

Instead of working on your project, you answer some emails. Instead of creating something, you clean up your desk. Instead of calling potential clients, you work on your business card design...

Procrastination by Planning

This one is a close cousin to procrastination by busywork: in this case, you are working on your most important task... sort of. Instead of doing the actual work that will move the needle, you plan and prepare. You re-organize your to-do list for the project. Actually, scratch that, you go looking for a better to-do list app to use!

You go back to the drawing board and write down some more ideas. You brainstorm. You decide to definitely work on it tomorrow, but then decide it's better to work on the weekend, when you have less other stuff on your mind...

Procrastination by Pivoting

This is a form of procrastination that's similar to procrastinating by perfectionism. In this case, you make sure to change plans or "pivot" before anything gets finished. This is a common ailment among entrepreneurs. You create a plan for your business, start working on it, but then before you actually launch a product and get clients, you decide that there's a better business plan or a better opportunity. You change directions, do some work going in the new direction... only to pivot again, before you actually launch anything.

Procrastination by Overwhelm

This is when you simply despair at the sheer amount of work you have ahead of yourself. You look at how much there is to do and it feels like you can't possibly get all of it done. So you might as well give up!

This feeling of overwhelm is often at the root of procrastination. You either feel it and that makes you procrastinate or you procrastinate in order to avoid having to feel this overwhelm.

Don't Let it Sneak Up on You!

There's one reason to be aware of the different forms of procrastination. If you aren't aware of them, procrastination can sneak up on you.

Sometimes, we procrastinate and we're aware of it. But sometimes, especially when you decide to do something against procrastination, it will change its face and sneak up on you. It won't feel like you're procrastinating anymore, because it will seem like you have a legitimate reason. You'll think "I'm not procrastinating, this just really isn't good enough yet!" or "I'm not procrastinating, I just changed my mind about what my goal is!"

Be aware and don't fall for the excuses in your own mind.

Motivated by Pain Avoidance

As you see in the video, an important theme is that of pain avoidance. Unless you change your core attitude about pain avoidance, you'll always be plagued by procrastination.

This makes the writing exercise for this lesson seem strange, because we are taking a closer look at pain. For now, don't worry about that. Do the writing exercise and in the next lessons, you'll see how this fits into the bigger picture.

Action Steps:

Spend a few minutes each, writing what comes to mind for the following prompts:

  • What are the worst consequences you are presently experiencing, because of your procrastination habit? What's the worst thing about this, for you?
  • What would you tell a future version of yourself who decides it's okay to procrastinate? What would your future-you argue as a reason why it's okay to put things off? And what would you respond to that?