Why do we procrastinate? (Part II - A Solution)
So how do we tame the Instant Gratification Monkey and fight the Resistance?
Yesterday we shared Tim Urban’s breakdown of what happens in the mind when we procrastinate (If you haven't yet, read Part I - Why do we procrastinate? (The Problem)). I can attest that for me, the struggle with my internal Instant Gratification Monkey is real. Thinking back to Steven Pressfield's War of Art that I mentioned a few weeks ago, it feels like the monkey is a foot soldier for what Pressfield calls the “Resistance.”
Tim’s follow-up post on “How to Beat Procrastination” shares a few insights that I found helpful and practical. He kicks us off by dividing how we approach any task into two phases: planning and doing.
He then highlights that when it comes to procrastinating, the problem often starts with planning:
“A procrastinator’s planning session leaves him with a doer’s nightmare: A big list of icky, daunting tasks and undertakings.
Effective planning takes a big list and selects a winner ...
Effective planning makes an icky item un-icky: We all know what an icky item is. An icky item is vague and murky, and you’re not really sure where you’d start, how you’d go about doing it, or where you’d get answers to your questions about it ...
Effective planning turns a daunting item into a series of small, clear, manageable tasks: Icky combines with Daunting into an Instant Gratification Monkey steroid potion. And just because you un-icky an item, it doesn’t mean it’s still not horribly big and daunting. The key to de-dauntifying an item is to absorb this fact:
A remarkable, glorious achievement is just what a long series of unremarkable, unglorious tasks looks like from far away.”
Tomorrow we will dive into the second phase: Why do we procrastinate? (Part III - From Planning to Doing).
P.S. If you want to start planning for big scary life changes, it’s helpful to put some thought into what those are and why you want to pursue them in the first place. Our Welcome Guide and Passion Guide have helped me do just that and may be helpful for you too!