3 reasons why procrastination is NOT laziness

August 10, 2021
5 min read

If you're like me, you've struggled with procrastination for as long as you can remember. Some little hacks and techniques helped (like Pomodoro), but everything eventually led me back to binge-watching YouTube videos and getting stuck in the algorithm for hours on end. Especially on the days where I feel a little tired or the weather is bad (what a shitty excuse, eh?) I just indulge too much in getting distracted.

Nothing changed until one day I decided to self-reflect and ask myself WHY I procrastinate so goddamn much.

You see, you know you're procrastinating, but you're putting the blame on laziness, tiredness or just plain disinterest in the things you should do.

But there are reasons why you keep putting off your chores.

1. Don't know what to do

This is a big one for me. Especially when doing creative stuff (e.g. side projects) or big projects where you don't know where to start. You try to do a cold start and just accelerate, but end up opening a new tab or pulling up Instagram on your phone after 30 seconds of your mind-wandering elsewhere.

Joker Do I look like a guy with a plan

Don't be like the Joker, make a plan BEFORE you start working. That's why you see many of the successful people making either to-do lists or schedules the night before. It's powerful because they don't have to spend willpower and time thinking about what they are going to do next, they just do whatever comes up next in the queue.

I use this when I code something. I start by writing down everything that needs to be done in a "backlog" – a somewhat ordered to-do list if you will – and then work off tasks one by one. Sometimes I'll add something mid-way, but never stop doing the task I'm currently on.

Don't leave room for interpretation. Start being productive by making a plan.

2. Temptations

Temptation plays a big – if not the biggest – role in procrastination. That's why so many people right now struggle to work from home. If you constantly have your phone out, the fridge nearby, your manager doesn't know you have the second monitor running on Netflix...

We humans are comfort-driven. Naturally we take the path of least resistance, driven by our Dopamine-addicted brains to escape the hard-tasks and indulge in the satisfying, hedonistic pleasures of infinite feeds, YT recommendations and pornography instead.

“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Roy T. Bennett

How to reduce temptations

  1. TURN YOUR DAMN PHONE OFF

    Obviously this a no-brainer, but so many people fall into this trap.

    "But what if someone has to reach me in an emergency?" – what are the chances this is going to happen in the next 50 minute Pomodoro? Or you can use the iPhone silent mode, and put emergency contacts as your favorites so they can still reach you.

    Real pros will get a landline. Lol.

  2. Surround yourself with productive people.

    One of my favorite places is the library. Why? People studying in deep focus is inspirational. You will be less likely to procrastinate sitting in a library full of hard-working people studying for exams and whatnot.

    Cafés also work, but they can be noisy. Get a desk at a co-working spaces. Trust me, when you see other people working, and other people are seeing you, you won't be browsing memes the whole time.

    Get a buddy to come to your house and be productive together.

  3. Delete all the social media of your phone and computer.

    This is probably one of the harder methods to implement as it requires a lot of self-discipline not to go back. Here are some starters:

    • No social media apps on your phone. If you absolutely need Insta DM's you can go there with the phones browser.
    • Change all passwords to 16 digit randomness and write them down on paper. Then deactivate "stay logged in" everywhere. You having to enter a finger-long enigma every time you check your Twitter feed is gonna make you say "Fuck it, I'm too lazy for this shit"
    • Get a productivity blocker. Try out PuzzleBlocker. It makes you solve puzzles to unlock distracting pages. This is like the password thing, but extra protection. Puzzles take anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Some are unsolvable. (does require discipline not to uninstall it)
    • Get a second browser for productive work. I wrote about this here

3. Difficulty

Perhaps the most overlooked, because you don't really realize it at first. Some tasks – e.g. learning Data Science – seem too vast and difficult at first. This ties in with (1) as you don't really know where to start. Same with some college courses. The material is hard to understand and your Dopamine-addicted brain wants something simpler, more pleasureful. That's why you dose off on every other slide in an online-class.

Difficulty is much harder to hack than the other two, as it requires discipline and willpower to do so. What you have to do is "detox", or regenerate the natural form of your Dopamine receptors.

That means do everything explained in the "Temptation" section, eat less sugar, exercise, sleep well, less instant gratification (porn, youtube, games) and slowly over time class material will seem less boring and more doable.

Better Ideas made an amazing video on this.

Credits

Photo by Magnet.me

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