Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, procrastination is truly the greatest, most limiting habit in your life. It is one you build up while you are young and at school, and - if you're not careful - carry into your adult life.

Tim Urban, master procrastinator, and author of Wait But Why, gave a TED Talk about this. It had a rather depressing closing message.

Tim shared that for most of what we procrastinate, the consequences of procrastination are pretty insignificant. A late night here, a night of no sleep there. He says these are quite insubstantial things when compared to the effects of long-term procrastination.

See, for most of the big things in life, like finding a fulfilling career, a partner who excites you, or fulfilling your dream to climb Mt. Everest - for these things, there are no deadlines. You won’t be punished when you're a 70-year-old retired bank teller when you wanted to be a musician your whole life. It’s just not going to happen.

This problem is exactly why I see solving procrastination at school as so important. If we are careful to solve procrastination when the things we procrastinate are not that significant, the time we have to complete these things is short, and we have the luxury of deadlines, then we will be able to fight off the monster when it comes to the longer-term, more important things later in life like finding a fulfilling career and a partner who enriches your life.

As we dive into this chapter, I encourage you to see what we’re talking about as important and serious. This isn’t about getting assignments done to get a degree that we don’t really need as parents we don’t want to disappoint. This is about our entire lives. The habits we develop while we are young stick with us.

So, if you want to build a truly awesome life, it starts with getting serious about the habits you're developing now.




1. Find a hobby you care about.


A great way to get motivated to not procrastinate and just get work done is to start working on a project that we wish we could spend unlimited time on. This way, we’ll have a reason to finish our must do work: so we can spend our time on something that we really value (this hobby).


2. Work early in the morning.


It will be very difficult to get distracted since no one else is awake. Plus, it will help you sleep better since you will be more tired earlier in the evening when sleep quality is higher.


3. Get little things done immediately.


There is a “carrying cost” of holding a task in our lives if we do not complete it immediately after it is assigned. To avoid these costs, complete as many little tasks as soon as possible, or, when possible, avoid being assigned them in the first place.


4. Empty incoming messages as infrequently as possible.


Emptying our various inboxes (text messages, e-mails, social media messages) is just about the easiest “work” we can do. Chances are when we’re “working” on this, we’re not working on the more important things. Make sure you’re spending most of your time on the important stuff. Check your inboxes infrequently. Other people figure things out when they need to, just let them.


5. Prioritize hanging out with friends.


Hanging out with friends gives us the energy we need to get work done. If we feel we need to cancel on seeing a friend because “we have too much work,” seeing the friend is usually the best thing we can do to recharge our minds to tackle the work with force. Plus, it may even show us that we have less work than we think we do.


6. Listen to one song over and over.


When we hear the song, we’re immediately in the zone, saving on task-switch time costs. The more we listen to something, the more we like it, which ultimately makes working a more enjoyable experience. It blocks out any audio distractions. And it keeps us awake. Try it out.


7. Mono-task.


It’s far too hard to focus well on more than one thing at once. Let’s make it easier on our selves and monotask when we work. Put the phone away, slow down, and focus. Our work will get done faster and better because of this way, we waste less time in the monotony we create when we’re on hyper speed, and we can actually use this energy to focus harder on what we’re doing.


8. Don’t make lists.


Either don’t do it at all, do it immediately, or put it on the calendar to do later. Lists weigh on our minds throughout the day, preventing us from fully focusing on anything, ultimately lengthening the amount of time it takes to get through work.


9. Have an accountability partner.


It’s a lot easier to lie to ourselves about how much progress we are making when we don’t have an accountability partner. It’s as simple as checking in with a friend periodically to make sure we’re both getting done what we need to get done. It prevents us falling in deep pits of procrastination that are just as painful to get out as they were to fall into.


10. Discipline is sexy - get some.


The best solution to procrastination is consistent hard work. This is why it’s important to develop disciplined daily work routines to make sure things are consistently getting done. Procrastination creates the illusion to us that everything needs to get done in long, large blocks of time when it’s much less pressure on ourselves, and much more enjoyable, to consistently work every single day.


Bonus: Party harder.


Often, we procrastinate when we don’t have enough energy to work. It is important that we have to party, or some form of fun, consistently in our lives to provide us with the energy we need to work hard. The harder we want to work, the more energy we will need, the harder we need to party.