How to Beat Procrastination – Part 2

Someone asked for an advice on /r/GetMotivated (a “subreddit” or sub-forum, that only posts motivational topics), and judged by the popularity and response, I think he/she asked in the right place! Lots of helpful answers can be found here.

[Discussion] Even though I feel motivated one day and complete several tasks, I still know that the next day I’ll go back to procrastinating and be demotivated again.


The first tip is similar to No More Zero Days, this is a highly successful method, no wonder that so many people use this (although some may haven’t heard of the name). The bottom line is to break down your tasks to a smallest unit possible, e.g.: “write one sentence”, “open program X or Y”, etc.

Here’s the rest:

by JustinGitelmanMusic – 697 points – 2 years ago


So many tricks.


  1. commit to the smallest unit of work possible. “i’ll just write my name” “i’ll read for 5 minutes and stop if i get bored” “i’ll just try doing all the homework problems I can do off the top of my head and do the ones I need to figure out later” “i’ll just open up the document on my computer”. About 8 times out of 10, you go beyond the little limit you set yourself.
  2. literally just do it. force the impulse to get up and walk over and pick up a paper. Even if you’re walking over there like “wtf I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, am I even really gonna do this?” You just start doing it and then suddenly it seems much less daunting than it did in your head when you were sitting on the couch thinking about it.
  3. set yourself up a rewards system. “If I start 3 things today, eat ice cream”. Makes that rewarding thing so much better too, because you feel like you earned it.
  4. think logically. As someone else said, your mindset matters. Yes, you should change the attitude that you have no capability to willfully do things. But also, use internal dialogue such as “I already did this 3 times today, I’m not missing out if I stop and be productive” or “this is just 25 minutes of work and then I get to go back to being lazy if I want”. Again, once you start doing things, your mindset will automatically change and you’ll want to keep being productive. But if you don’t, allow yourself to be lazy once you’ve satisfied your minimum goals!

Can’t stress enough how important it is to actually allow yourself to be lazy or procrastinate sometimes when you’re really feeling it. As long as you satisfy a minimum set goal, your body will tell you if it really wants rest.

This other Discussion thread, also explores a feeling that’s usually relatable for those who procrastinate: the feeling of high motivation at night, but fades away when the next morning comes.

[Discussion] Why do I feel incredibly motivated at night, plan out everything I’m going to do tomorrow, do nothing the next day and repeat forever?


And how can I escape this awful cycle?


I just learned that there’s a name for this feeling, it is called “hot cold empathy gap”. Please check this detailed answer on how to counteract it, by user sasquatch_yeti:

by sasquatch_yeti – 1303 points –  2 years ago – 1 Gold

It’s called the “hot cold empathy gap”. It happens to everyone. Brain scans show that we view present self as ‘me’, but when you envision future self your brain treats him like a stranger. You are more than willing to load him up with an unrealistic burden and imagine that he’ll handle it just fine, because he’s not a real person, he is this idealized imaginary best version of you that doesn’t exist. This inability to predict how future self will view current decisions is the hot cold empathy gap.

Make your To Do list, then imagine ‘what if I didn’t have all day, what if I had only 2 or 3 good hours, what items on this list could be postponed, deleted entirely, or given to some one else’. In other words what actually matters? Also look for leverage points. Things that take an hour today, but will save you 10 minutes a week from now on. These need to be higher priority as they will add up.

This is your new list, do this simpler 2-3 hour list. Keep a separate ‘someday/maybe’ list and a ‘back burner list’. Everyday do the most important 2-3 hours first. If you need to, consider using software to block Reddit, and unplug your TV until the list is done. Screwing around is your reward for being productive. If you guessed wrong and it takes more than 2-3 hours, that’s fine. It happens to everyone. If you get done on time and have the energy, move on to a thing or two on the back burner list.

Now you are thinking. “I can’t plan on fewer things, I won’t get all of it done”. First off, you may need to say no to a few things at first in order to get to a place were you are placing reasonable expectations on yourself. But trust me, 3 solid hours of important work each day, plus a little time spent on the back burner list is way more effective, then two days of hating yourself, feeling unproductive, then binging on work because deadlines are looming and your world is falling apart. Also humans are not cars, no one goes from zero to 60 in 4 seconds. Given a few months of this routine of focusing on the important stuff, you will build momentum, a sense of competency and trust in yourself and gradually will gain the ability to get more done day to day.

It’s also worth pointing out many people need to break down their ToDos into smaller actionable pieces. If “get tires changed” keeps being procrastinated on, break it down smaller.

-look up tire shops near me

-go write down my tire size

-call shops and compare

-make appointment.

Turns out “get tire changed” was several tasks mascarading as one and this lack of clarity is a roadblock to some people.

If you have problems with sustained focus check out the Pomodoro technique. Also this post from Tim Ferris is pretty good. It’s nice to know that even the ‘successful people’ are still a mess.

There’s also this comment below, worth to mention read. When I was reading this thread, I feel like everything was too relatable.

by Zekjon – 1.5k points – 2 years ago – 1 Gold


This is actually super simple.


Why do you feel that way? Because you understand well how to make yourself and your life better, but not doing so makes you feel guilty, therefore you promise to do stuff in your head, even though the actual you has no real intention to do anything, because it’s at peace with its state.


Two solution : drop that ego and accept yourself as you are,


Or start now to be the best you.


And there’s no tomorrow. When you let the ego take control, wasting time is not an option.


In a nutshell : most live their lifes like they’re watching a damn movie. Not their fault, not their responsibility. Take a step back, look at you.


Your character makes you cringe? Stop being that. You don’t have a lame line to say, nothing’s written, there’s no limit to how good you can be.