I would say these reasons don't line up with my observances at all.
For instance, one of mine is "this project is so big, I don't know where to start". Once I find a piece that seems like something I can get done quickly and ease me in, things tend to go a lot easier.
Another is "I have so many (different) things to do that I don't want to do any". Presumably this is not so different than the earlier one, and it's hard to get started without an obvious plan of attack that having only one or more tasks ahead of you brings with it.
Lastly, as a lifelong procrastinator, I've noticed that waiting until the last minute to do something you need to do OFTEN results in never having to do it at all. You end up doing only things that really needed to get done.
In the end, I don't really worry about it, or I hunt for tiny tasks to get my momentum going.
As for the article's "I'm not sure how doing that work will take me to the next step" I guess? Maybe? But "I'm not sure what I would do after I finish that work (what the next step is)" I don't believe has every been a factor a single time in my life.
Don't tell my boss this, but I have noticed it too.
Likely, he/she uses this more than you do. It's standard in management, and I've heard some managers listing it as the key to furthering your career. You'll always be given more stuff than you can handle. So you learn not to do all of it.
For me personally, this list is pretty much spot on.
It's really hard to start a big task, and there are all kinds of good reasons to break it down into smaller ones, beating procrastination being just one. I tend to tackle it in this sort of way:
1. Break the task down into lots of smaller tasks.
2. Make sure the tasks have varying degrees of difficulty, with at least a few utterly trivial ones (like the actual meta-task of creating the tasks, and then sticking them onto a Trello board, for instance), some fairly easy ones that will still feel like you've actually done something substantive, and a few genuinely difficult ones.
3. The difficult tasks will, inevitably, be difficult, but if you've already accomplished 10 out of the 13 tasks, you will psychologically feel a lot better, because you'll be able to think, "I've only got three things to go!" even though you know that the three remaining things are much harder, and will in all likelihood take more time than the easy tasks you've already done.
4. Because you've structured this neatly in such a way that you've already wiped out the easy tasks, you'll be able to focus better on the remaining difficult tasks.
From impostor syndrom to proper fake it until you make it impostor :p
About the main point, it's true that most procrastination is often feeling overwhelmed intellectually by a system.
Depending on context and age, I used to drive head first but now it takes a lot more to do so. I try to test approaches (minimally viable x,...) so I can get even minute amount of things done and iterate but that's not very efficient so far.
That is definitely not true for me. And it definitely does not explain why procrastinate with small boring tasks nor why challenging interesting tasks are less procrastinated about.
Like I always say: "Never put off till tomorrow something you can get out of altogether..."
And they are already covered in TFA.
True, but that can be done as part of careful planning. It does not justify procrastination. (I wish it could)
As you become successful in your field (or wherever), and further internalize the habits that are necessary to be successful, it's clear that many of these things are easy to do, it's just that people don't want to do them.
In other words ... it's obvious that many people don't want to be successful, and if they were to introspect deeply, they would see this clearly. In fact what they want is to be somewhere comfortable in the middle of the herd, not having to do too much work.
Most people want to be comfortable, not 'successful' in a way that requires ambition. But many people are brainwashed enough by the rhetoric of success that they don't realize it's not what they want.
There's also something I haven't figured out yet. Every time I give advice, I get a number of responses from people with self-defeating attitudes, explaining how this advice can't possibly apply to them because blah blah blah. These people build up belief structures that are obviously intended to keep them mired in their current situation, smelling of low self-esteem and defeatism. "Obviously" it's better not to be stuck in these belief structures, yet people will defend them vigorously, and in some cases fiercely. I don't yet fully understand why, except maybe that if someone believes there is a solution to their problem, then it must be their fault that they haven't solved it, and/or that there will be a clear failure that is their fault if they attempt to solve it.
Cause it may be obvious: lack of energy both mentally and physically (and by extension, lack of motivation and positivity). This seems to be a systemic problem of modern men (and women too, though at a base level women have more inherent positivity & survival skills IMO).
Put it this way - if you are lost in a cave (maybe a bad relationship, terrible job, difficult financial situation or combination thereof) and starved of nutrients (lack of exercise, bad diet, including maybe addiction to salt/carbs/sugar/caffine) you will have little energy to do what is required to find your way out.
God forbid dark paths, bad judgment, and bad luck has taken you even deeper. You may be approaching the point of no return - hopeless and without any chance of survival.
In this situation, it could be easier to simply curl up into fetal position and die.
I think unfortunately - when starved and depleted like this - that this is the option many will take.
Is it the fault of this starving, depleted individual that they should choose to die ? (is basically what you are pondering)
Some, perhaps many, people are past the point of no return - mentally, that is (most physical conditions easier to solve than mental). Choosing maybe not fetal position and death - but whatever substance or quick fixes they can use to ease the pain while they attempt to coast through the rest of whatever remains of their life with minimal effort or 'comfort' as you describe. This hopeless, self-defeating attitude a defense of their decision to go fetal and maybe protect that little area of the dark cave they choose to live and die now.
If we had to reach a conclusion or solution from this, maybe it too is obvious: eat healthy again, exercise; keep your body sustained and mind stable - for then it will be easier to climb out.
Alternatively - you might just get lucky, and someone may find and help you out of that dark place. Hopefully by allowing you to build the strength you need to get up and walk out on your own two feet. But we shouldn't necessarily reserve judgment on those who can't even get up. Who knows how long they've been down there, how many missteps were taken that got them to that point.
It's falling for the small short-term reward that you will regret later, rather than choosing the delayed but bigger reward that is ultimately more genuinely satisfying.
Sadly I don't have a solution for it yet. I've given up other addictions by quitting completely, but that doesn't look like a good option in this case. Although it also didn't seem like a good option in the other cases at first.
Benefits: Tons, tons of time saved thanks to more friction to access low-value entertainment (HN, news generally, endless reading about how to do stuff or what to read instead of doing the stuff or the reading), and even too-easy access to practically stress-inducingly large amount of actually good entertainment. So, so much time. And some money saved.
Concerns: my wife needs it for work (teacher, and so much of that's online now, and you can't really be a teacher and not work evenings a fair amount)—that's the trickiest part. All our photos of the kids and such are digital now, and no Internet means no (convenient) offsite backup. I don't love the idea of having a bunch of physical media again, but then again I can just resell a bunch of it any time the clutter starts to annoy me, and be no worse off than when that money was going purely to services (slightly better actually, since even lazily Craigslisting a ton of it in a lot for $20 is at least some money). WhatsApp/Riot/et c. are a hell of a lot better than non-MMS text (mainly because group messaging is broken without MMS, and sometimes even with it) and offer really high value-to-waste ratio since I consider chatting with close friends valuable, even when it's not productive—I'd pay $10/m for a connection that just let me do email and use a decent messaging client like that. If I wanted to keep Steam games working I'd have to connect it from time to time, somehow, but that's probably another distraction I could do without.
Heh, I guess I could go back to dial up, if that's still a thing, so I'd have inconvenient access if I really had to have it, or to pop on to do messaging/email once an evening or so, though then I'd need a phone line and service, so a good chunk of the money-savings would be gone. Might be good enough to let the Google school stuff work for my wife without driving her nuts? And I'd need to buy a modem.
It can't hurt to give it a try.
And the brain also has other mechanisms that can offset behaviour induced by addiction.
Why would I want to move a cog from a mechanism where it's working great, to a different mechanism where it may or may not fit? Might as well get a cog that you know it's not fitting already, and try it out elsewhere: in the worst case it will keep working badly, and in the best case it will actually start working properly. No downside!
Knowing what to work on is exactly the skill that a manager needs.
Tim ferris simplifies it well:
The adventure to master your personal fears, and the fears of your groups, your family, your coworkers never ends.
It's a moral attribute originally stemming from some religions.
Wait but why has an incredible read on the subject.
There have been many times where I have followed something to its conclusion due to fear of feeling like a quitter.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and eventually came to a conclusion: it comes down to one thing. Simply, your brain doesn't feel like doing something because that something can't compete with a source of easily attainable dopamine. Brain candy. It comes in different forms: actual candy (simple carbs), visual candy (facebook, instagram), intellectual candy (HN). Turn off that source or at least make it bland and black and white (eg. you can make your phone's screen B&W) and your brain will find actual work exciting (ie. dopamine-inducing) again.
PS. Reading and watching videos about beating procrastination is a form of candy, too. Stop it.
When I silence my mind prior to starting work on a task I find I'm more easily able to actually start.
If I write something down, then I stop thinking about it. Usually I forget about the list as well, and oftentimes writing things down makes it LESS likely to get done. BUT by no longer thinking about it and nagging myself, I can hopefully discover the task again afresh and get it done that way.
I'm sure there are some good life hacks to trick you into liking this or that work that you by default dislike.
I have a corollary problem to this #1. Not that I dislike writing per se but I like coding so much more. I have to really fight away not coding to put more time into writing. This may be because I've been at coding for a long time, so I am good at it, therefore the dopamine comes easier. There's probably some theory here that goes like once you're good at a thing, it's harder to get good at some other thing. When my noviceness/incompetence at writing frustrates me, instead of pushing through it's easy to go feel better about myself doing something (programming) that I have some good capacity for. Thinking out loud...
Yet - point one "I could not summon a single fuck to give" is presented honestly.
What if it's actually a sign of health to be disinterested in writing yet another $thing in order to pay rent?
I think its great that everyone knows why they are hesitant to do things, and I see some great comments here.
I've also been collecting my thoughts on why I'm "hesitant" as well.
I've made a site to document my thought processes.
I've also thought about other keywords such as "start" and "focus"
This process has really helped me better understand myself, and how I operate. I hope it can help others as well.
Just to flip it around, maybe "lazy" would be interesting as well.
The key to productivity is achieving the same results with less work, which basically means learning how to avoid unnecessary effort. The unachievable ideal of maximum productivity would finishing everything immediately and with no effort.
(https://codewithoutrules.com/2017/10/04/technical-skills-pro... has a list of ways you can be unproductive even while being not tired, fully focused, undistracted, and not procrastinating.)
As a freelance (marketing but could be anything) consultant, I have 4 hours of client work to do a day, and 4 hours of side project work. The client work has to be done, but is less exciting or long term since I'm working for other people. The side project work requires self-motivation because no one is holding me to it, but has more upside in the long term, and I like working on it.
Is it better to do:
A) Get all client work done from 8am-12pm, then side project from 1pm-5pm
B) Side project from 8am-12pm, client work 1pm-5pm.
C) Some other method like Monday - Wed client work only, Thurs-Fri side project only
I had started with version A, but then throughout the day I look for an escape from client work so I go on Hacker News and read blog posts.
I'm thinking version B is better so I can pump out the stuff I like first, and get the ball rolling. Then the less brain-intensive client work I'll have a shorter window to finish, so I have to focus and get it done.
Right now, my client work expands to fill the whole day by having fragmented focus, and I can't get to side project work ever.
1) Pomodoro technique - I modify this to be 45-60 minutes of work, 10-15 minute breaks. I do six of these throughout the day. When I'm in the work phase, no news/social media/any distractions, focus is important. Do whatever you want in your breaks. And stick to the timers, don't go over on either your work periods or your break periods.
2) If you're doing client work 8am-12pm, stop at 12pm, regardless of whether you've accomplished what you were hoping to. Stopping when you say you'll stop makes it a lot easier to stay mentally focused when you first pick it back up the next day: even if you don't like what you're working on, you know you only have to focus on it until lunchtime, and then you get to work on the fun stuff.
A work in progress!
1) I just seriously don't have the energy because of my medical condition. I suspect this broadly applies to many people: They don't have the energy for some reason, then they or others call them lazy or a procrastinator, things I was called my whole life until I finally got the right diagnosis.
2) Trying to accomplish stuff has been so much drama in the past that I want to try to find a path forward that doesn't essentially explode in my face. Having things explode in my face always felt like 2 steps forward, 27 steps back. It wasn't productive. It was counterproductive.
3) Having figured out some of the things I want to do and how to (mostly) avoid terrible explosions, I still have only the most slender concept of how to make that actually fly. I am working on fleshing out those plans. Sorting that out strikes me as the difference between the Wright Brothers launching their first test flight and hurling myself off a cliff willy nilly like a lemming.
I personally am sometimes able to push through boring long tasks that I don't care about simply by using some form of timer or pomodoro. I just set a goal to have accomplished before the deadline of the timer. rinse/repeat
> 1. I don't care about the work
This was a problem in school, but not in my career. I built my career around problem domains that interested me, and often times the work I'm struggling to get going with is work that I chose for myself and prioritized accordingly. Also, I have a financial interest in the company I work for, so that's another reason I care about the work.
> 2. I'm not sure how doing that work will take me to the next step
I guess I'm not a "future-minded being", because this has never crossed my mind. I think about next steps when I'm planning or strategizing, I don't do either of those things when I'm trying to execute.
> 3. I'm not sure what I would do after I finish that work (what the next step is)
Same thing as the second one, I'm really not thinking about the future most of the time. In fact, I have the opposite problem. Once I've fully defined the problem domain, designed everything and done the challenging work, the really obvious next steps which will let me get it out (cleaning things up, writing good messaging and docs, tests, deploys) are just tedious noise. I'd always prefer to build a new system to automate boring things than do them, which can be a good or bad thing depending on time constraints.
I read somewhere that for people without ADHD, Importance, Rewards, and Consequences are the big motivators. However, for ADHD folks, the only things that matter when getting stuff done are: Interest, Novelty, Challenge, Urgency.
That's been 100% the case for me. When I'm stuck with tedious things, I NEED solid and close deadlines that I am accountable to (to create urgency). Another thing I do is find novel to-do systems to organize it all and follow. I use Bullet Journals, GTD, Sticky Notes, Pomodoro Timers, etc. I can't actually stick to any of those for more than a few weeks, but jumping between and finding new systems keeps me engaged enough to make progress.
I have found getting started to be the hardest part. Once I have a project started my brain starts working on it and it’s much easier to go back to it
interesting view too, worth two reads