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Show HN: Why Do I Procrastinate? – Web MD for Procrastination (whydoiprocrastinate.com)
611 points by ppterodactyl on June 21, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 192 comments

Well, maybe sometimes this happens to me..

"I just go check the headlines on my favorite news sites and then I start my productive day.. and I drink this cup of coffee." .. 2 hours later. "Just this one headline, then I'm ready." .. 2 hours later. "Damn, where did the day go all of a sudden?"

Of course the solution is to first do the work and then read the news.. but that's the rational part of my brain speaking - not the sleepy, non-morning person persona of myself.

Of course ToDo lists, interesting tasks, deadline pressure and gamification work. Like pretending to be a character in an RPG - playing the game of my life. And then come up with ideas on how to level, quest and progress with the tasks/projects I have. Questlog: You have leveld up. You are now a level 14 code conjurer. You have completed the quest: Subjugate the data.. And then come up with fun side-quests (rewards) that I can only unlock at specific levels or after a particular quest is completed - like building a project RPG gamification tracker utility.

On the other hand, I am very productive once the day is over and I sit in front of the screen at night in the natural light of my computer screen, so there is that.

Self discipline definitely has a momentum effect.

My most productive days are the ones that start at 5am with a run, followed by a shower, meditation, and writing up a list of things I want to accomplish that day. Then I start working with my noise cancelling headphones and my flow-state playlist. It's very deliberate from start to finish.

My least productive days are the ones where I roll out of bed randomly, when the sun has been up for a while, and sit down at my desk still in my pajamas. HN or YouTube tend to be my first tasks of the day, and sometimes I don't get to any others. These types of days seem to be something that's happening to me, rather than something I'm choosing.

I struggle with depression, and I find the second kind of day is a feedback loop of anxiety and procrastination. The first kind of day is a virtuous cycle of productivity and serenity.

That 5am alarm is the best way I know to set the whole thing in motion.

I'm the opposite. If my brain has to engage before 10am the day's a waste. If I "ease into the day" then once I've dealt with the world on fire stuff about 11.30 I'll power through and before I know it it's 9PM and I've been massively productive.

This is me as well. My brain is useless until close to lunch time. After lunch I start feeling productive and this feeling begins to steamroll into the evening. When I am allowed to structure my day I don't even plan to start work until 6pm and can maintain great focus from then until 1am. Admittedly I imagine my ADHD has much to do with that and the habits I formed to cope with it as a child.

Interesting. My productivity ends after lunch! It's all downhill from there - lack of focus, easily distracted, silly mistakes, is-it-5pm-yet thoughts etc.

I think it is breaking for lunch that does it. When I didn't have any team mates in my office and I'd just eat at my desk I'd still get good work done after eating. Now I have team mates in the same office as me and we go for a "proper" lunch break - something about stopping and then having to go back to work I guess.

I also seem to wake up around sunset. Am also ADHD.

Same here. If I start early (particularly due to a meeting), it's difficult to do any serious mental work for the rest of the day because I consistently forget what I'm working on. I can force myself to work anyway, but then I'm more prone to make mistakes. It's much better for me to ease into work.

I learned a few years ago that defying my internal clock even has physical effects such as poor digestion and terrible stomach pain. The popular advice to rise early is harmful in my case.

Same here. I have always wondered how people can even wake up at 5 am, let alone focus and work.

In the mean time, I think, need for sleep is like appetite: some have more, some have less.

Waking up at 5 am doesn't imply sleeping any less (just going to bed earlier).

In the similar way, taking a nap doesn't mean that you sleep more, just that you schedule your sleep differently.

I definitely find that my days that start off productive typically end productive as well. The days where I "ease into it" or "warm up for the day" I blink, it's 8:30pm, and I haven't done a single worthwhile thing except maybe a load of dishes or something.

The flip side is the more productive my day is, typically the more tired I am, and the more likely I am to be moving slowly the next morning.

Yes, routine is key. The discipline actually pays off and removes a lot of decision making since you're already on a schedule, and the momentum of getting things done keeps you wanting to get more things done.

What's on your flow state playlist?

Search on YouTube for Lofi hip hop mix - Beats to Study/Relax to . Works amazingly well for me.

I would also like to echo this question, always interested in what people listen to while working.

I work from home, sitting next to my partner, and this is responsible for ~80% of our work. No particular order.

Late Night Tales Presents Sasha: Scene Delete [0]

Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk: Passage [1]

Jon Hopkins: Opalescent [2]

HVOB & Winston Marshall: Silk [3]

Anything at all by HVOB. HVOB is the golden stuff.

All of Tycho's albums

Any of Tycho's Burning Man mixes on SoundCloud [8]

Kiasmos: Blurred [4]

Vermont: II [5]

Bonobo: Migration [6] (or any other Bonobo)

Tosca: No Hassle [7] (or any other Tosca)


[0]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/late-night-tales-presents-...

[1]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/passage/1177124625

[2]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/opalescent/305037953

[3]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/artist/hvob/564007861

[4]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/blurred/1266258851

[5]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/ii/1174877374

[6]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/migration/1172028049

[7]: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/no-hassle-bonus-track-vers...

[8]: https://soundcloud.com/tycho/ingress-burning-man-sunrise-set...

How do you find this?

By now, iTunes is suggesting a lot of stuff to me that I really like. But if you’re starting from zero:

- Find something you like on iTunes, Spotify, whatever.

- Use the ‘start a radio station based on this song’ feature.

- When that plays something you also like, add it to your library. Keep playing it.

- If it’s a single track on an album, just add the album. The wonderful thing about modern streaming services is that you can speculatively add stuff and, if you don’t like it, just remove it. It doesn’t cost you anything! (That’s amazing, by the way.)

- iTunes learns. Keep doing this.

- By now, the Friday morning ‘for you’ playlist also has good stuff. Give that a chance. ‘Love’ the stuff you love. Add the albums with tracks you liked. iTunes keeps learning.

That’s all, really. Just listen to stuff and let the bots figure out what else you might like.

Edit: also find friends or co-workers with similar tastes. Share stuff with them. I get a lot of gold from my mate up in Cairns, just whenever we hear things we send each other the link.

This might be the first positive thing I've ever read about iTunes.

What are you both doing ?

She’s a medical copywriter, I’m a developer (kinda). Both freelance. It works great.

Thank you for this!

I recommended it before, but I maintain a playlist that focuses on very quiet, soothing ambient, moody soundscapes and slightly experimental music that, in my opinion, works as well for sleeping as it does for being productive and focused:

- https://open.spotify.com/user/michaelfeihstel/playlist/10IcC...

Alternatively and if you prefer a more eclectic, diversive selection that covers a wide range of moods and genres, but should still serve as a soundtrack to a relaxing sunday out in the sun or on the couch, there's this little mix series I work on - I think these particular episodes might be a good starting point:

- https://soundcloud.com/michaelfeihstel/sunday-debrief-005

- https://soundcloud.com/michaelfeihstel/sunday-debrief-006

That's always been the type of music I've put on while I work, but a week or two ago I shuffled the entire Judas Priest catalog on Google Music. I've never been a fan of Judas Priest, I don't particularly like to listen to their music, but it's been great for me to work to. Ambient noises and quiet conversations are masked, the tempo is fast, and the dynamic range isn't huge.

Psytrance is my productive music, except when I need to concentrate really hard. I love this huge playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/1145880218/playlist/71tSLVZo0B...

Lately, I've been using https://playnoise.com/ with the following settings: Brown noise > More Options > Auto volume osc, slow, small.

Also, My "Code it and Load it" Playlist on Spotify - https://open.spotify.com/user/bawigga/playlist/08wdT51daeQwc...

Finally, more brown noise/rain storms in my Focus Noise playlist on Spotify - https://open.spotify.com/user/bawigga/playlist/1u2c1lK4YSnL1...

If you're a fan of generators scope out http://MyNoise.net (they've also got an app) which I've found immensely useful.

Nice. Thanks!

Boards of Canada, APhex Twin, Tycho, Carbon Based Lifeforms

last.fm Doomed channel. Halloween dark industrial ambient. No beats, just some quiet screaming and throat singing. Sadly, it's taking a break "until October". I certainly hope it comes back!

Yo Yo Ma, George Gershwin, Chuck Mangione, Weather Report

I completely stopped doing this.

I read always more than I wanted and I didn't like to work after it because it killed ever chance of flow.

Now I look out or on the output of drink something or optimize what I'm waiting on.

> Self discipline definitely has a momentum effect

This sounds like an assumption. Isn't it equally likely that the condition that suppresses procrastination was responsible for all those things happening, starting with your run?

In other words, you started the day with operable self-discipline. Not related to behavior.

This is a fair criticism and may be correct, but I have to continue doing what works. I haven't found a better way to suppress procrastination yet.

Make hay while the sun shines is my most successful response to procrastination. Didn't mean to suggest otherwise.

As per the book - The Power of Habit - The 5am alarm and wake up is the keystone habit which in turn triggers further habits. I found this to be true where one good habit triggers many others and vice versa is true too

I've started going for a long walk before I start working, and I've since found it much easier to dive into work before "just checking out this one article". I think it's because I feel like I've already had a part of my day devoted to something that's just for me, so I don't feel like my day is belongs to someone else's goals from the get go. That, and I'm more awake, which makes it easier to think about complex tasks.

I think habits are probably stronger when we're sleepy and have less "executive function". When you're awake, make plans to disrupt your sleepy self. Set a timer or block your news sites or something. Because trying to break a habit when you're sleepy is going to be tough.

Agreed. In my experience, the core challenge with most tasks is just that we don't spend enough time working on them. I can easily ignore a bot nagging me, and eventually just turn it off.

The best solution for me is real-time accountability that forces me to sit down and commit to a real person what I'm about to do RIGHT NOW.

I made an app for this called Focusmate (https://www.focusmate.com). It's a bit like a study buddy, except for anyone and any task, and much more effective IMO.

PS. My quiz results: "Oops. Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is." (https://imgur.com/a/A2qhoGQ)

Just wanted to say -- Focusmate is amazing. I've used it a ton. I don't know how, but it helps me get into the zone almost immediately. The idea of working with a stranger on the screen seems weird when you first hear about it, but it's amazing how the impact is almost magical.

> Like pretending to be a character in an RPG - playing the game of my life.

I also play all the side quests first in RPGs!

I made a policy that I visit any news sites only once a day (usually in the morning). When I catch up and when I start seeing stories I already saw yesterday, I stop and don't come back until tomorrow.

Just out of curiosity, what's your favorite news site, that has so many interesting articles?

The solution is to make checking headlines part of your work.

With a time limit? Like I’m going to spend 30 minutes keeping up with important news about my industry.

If you think that is an appropriate limit.

No, I just plucked a figure out of my backside.

Procrastination is the avoidance of activity due to a discomfort/fear/anxiety and subsequent inability to scale the discomfort wall that exists between you and the tasks' completion. Other comments mention a pointlessness or lack of purpose, which I consider secondary, since it's arguable if it's truly procrastination if the work is truly pointless. Procrastination as a term seems best applied to important/mandatory tasks. Though, I acknowledge many BS tasks of today's workplace are both pointless and mandatory.

> Procrastination is the avoidance of activity due to a discomfort/fear/anxiety and subsequent inability to scale the discomfort wall that exists between you and the tasks' completion.

Perhaps this is wrong, but I feel like another important (and possibly most common) source of procrastination is not avoidance, but rather simply getting more enjoyment (dopamine/etc) of other activities. Ie, I don't think I have to be avoiding work to procrastinate, I may simply get more dopamine from Reddit-ing and thus mentally prioritize it.

Focusing on why your work or w/e you're procrastinating from is often the wrong approach in my opinion. The competition for tasks being avoided are typically pure entertainment, all dopamine and no effort. Tasks that are "meaningful" such as work, learning, etc often can't compete with entertainment for your brains drug dependencies.

Instead of focusing on tactics to improve procrastinated tasks, I've found my life is better when I instead limit their competition. I've had serious Reddit problems in the past, where I become basically addicted to it, and so my brain keeps injecting Reddit it any time I'm compiling or w/e. If I instead break that habit through heavy limitation of the dopamine provider, I've found myself to be far more productive.

Now methods to make tasks you want to do give you more dopamine are always welcome. I love micro-todos, and found them to be pretty effective at giving me a sense of accomplishment and, I imagine, dopamine. But micro-todos will never compete with pure entertainment, so I need to cut that. Or, at the very least, cut it from my default response of when I'm having spare brain cycles (like compiling) and jumping to fill it with entertainment dopamine.

Maybe there are 2 kinds or conscious expressions of procrastination:

- One related to lust for fun. Like you describe.

- One related to inhibition, fatigue, powerlessness, dread. You escape work even though you feel bad because you know you should be doing it to avoid an even worse situation. You do something else in the (false) hope to relax and to improve your mood and motivation for the task.

I’m glad you spelled it out like that - I can clearly feel the difference between the two in my own life. The first case, choosing fun, is much rarer and always conscious, e.g. “I can mow the grass tomorrow, but my good friend is only in town today”. I normally have to talk myself into it, because my default is to plow ahead with whatever is in front of me, as long as it is clear what I need to do.

I find the second type of procrastination to be 50x more common in my life, a daily occurrence of painfully trying to find /something/ else to do to avoid the wall of dreaded tasks that I don’t know how to resolve.

One fact that confirms that: avoiding the fun is not enough to solve inhibition.

I agree that it's too easy to just blame avoidance. For me there is a very viscerally different feeling when I'm avoiding something because I really don't want to do it, vs. when there are other things I want to do because they're entertaining.

The difference is that if I genuinely have other things I want to do, I'll get enjoyment out of it, while if I'm trying to avoid something else I'll get to a point where I'll think "hold on; why am I doing this? I'm not enjoying this" and realise I'm doing it to avoid something else, and still feel the pull to do some nonsense activity while getting more and more miserable.

One strategy I've used is to try to stop regularly and simply ask myself "am I actually enjoying this? why am I doing it?" - I give myself relatively wide latitude to continue "wasting" time if I'm actually enjoying what I'm doing, because sooner or later I'm "done", and if I was actually myself I often feel energised enough to get much more done afterwards.

But the moment I'm not enjoying myself, I'll start probing into why I feel that way.

Some of it certainly fits under "avoidance", but that's also a very broad category and not very useful without exploring the more specific reasons I'm avoiding things.

Sometimes it's because it's too much to bite over, so I instead "procrastinate" by deciding to break down my todo list into smaller chunks. Often that will break the deadlock by identifying small-enough tasks that I'll be happy to get out of the way (I guess that fits into your "micro-todos").

Sometimes it's just not a fun task, and I'm pushing it ahead of me because I know my self-imposed deadline is not real and is just waiting until I really have to do it. In which case I'll try to reorganise things and do something else instead and just accept my tendency to do things right before a deadline when I know how long it'll take.

Sometimes I'm just too tired, in which case I either go rest or try to pick activities I can do while tired (benefit of working from home: if I'm mentally worn out, there's always housework to get out of the way which doesn't require much thinking).

Sometimes I "trick" myself into it by setting a schedule of 30-60 minutes of different sets of tasks. So I'll commit to "only" doing 30 minutes of what I need to get done, then maybe an hour of something lower priority that I actually enjoy, then another hour of my urgent tasks. Sometimes I'll find when I've just tricked myself into starting, I'll keep going longer than scheduled, if so I'll let it happen, but if not I'll strictly adhere to the limit on the more enjoyable tasks and keep track of whether or not I start lagging behind my schedule.

Sometimes the things I've decided logically I "should" be doing just don't emotionally feel like a good way to spend my time. E.g. I might have decided I "should" be planning some new project because I think it's important, but emotionally I might be drained and need downtime, and dragging my heels is a way of not having to acknowledge I have too much on my plate.

For things like Reddit, I find a major factor is the inbox. If someone replies, and I read their reply chances are I'll compulsively reply. This is easier to avoid with HN. With Reddit, what helped immensely was when I recognised what I was doing, and every now and again go "ok, enough" and click the inbox and physically look away until I've gone back to the main page to get the unread messages safely out of the way without having them draw me in again. Making it less intensive by cutting off heated arguments that way makes it much easier for me to break away and do something else.

> Procrastination is the avoidance of activity due to a discomfort/fear/anxiety and subsequent inability to scale the discomfort wall that exists between you and the tasks' completion.

I am pretty sure my main reason for procrastination is the fact that I never learned to endure suffering/discomfort while growing up.

I grew up very sheltered and I was never forced to do anything which I did not like (bring out the trash, clean up the room, talk to people, ...). It was kinda nice growing up like this but when you turn 18 and have to enter the real world you realize you miss all the coping mechanisms which you need to do uncomfortable stuff.

I'd warmly encourage you to not make excuses or find reasons from your past to justify current maladaptive behaviors. If you're 18+ and grew up in safety, comfort, and with education you possess all the necessary executive functionality to take hold of what life will deal you.

I agree with what I think is the spirit of what you say, but it's unhelpfully reductive.

Many, many people who meet your criteria in fact are severely lacking in executive function.

Neurological conditions aside, surely you understand that an adult who's developing years formed a healthy "reward system" for accomplishing tasks will have a much easier time getting things done.

While, yes, most of us have the ability to correct past habits and develop discipline ... It's no different than an athlete who began training at an early age versus someone who took up a sport later in life. The difference in skill and ability is predictably and consistently stark.

Just because you possess certain abilities doesn't mean that you have figured out how to make use of them. Working through challenges is an acquired skill, and if you never had the need to acquire said skill until now, it's not entirely surprising when you fail to do so.

procrastination is a fuzzy thing too, I used to LOVE discomfort, because I had this desire to feel capable of achieving anything. Could spend hours, days thinking and trying things.

These days I don't, it's not about discomfort, I need something more human and wise behind my efforts.

I'm sure most parents know that, I've seen some that were demotivated, but when their family started, they were moving everything around.

A balance sense of purpose is worth a lot there.

ps: a distraction heavy context is also bad. ironic :)

This is key I believe.

A lot of successful entrepreneurs had no safety net, and have been through significant adversity.

Those that have been coddled and never held accountable have worse coping mechanisms and drive than those who have dealt with it and overcome obstacles the majority of their lives.

I think that’s survivorship bias. There’s probably more failed entrepreneurs with the same experiences.

It can also lead to paranoia and distrust, trauma has many negative effects. It’s not just bootstraps the whole way down ;)

The reason for the discomfort wall's existence is important to figuring out the best way to get over it. Certainly being required to do something day-in and day-out that you find purposeless is one way that the wall might be created.

For me, a lot of times it's boredom. It's boring to have to do 2 hours of work sometime in the next week; it's far less boring to have to do 2 hours of work in the next 90 minutes.

(Note I'm not recommending this, as it's basically medicating your boredom with stress, and stress has a lot of well documented side-effects).

That's another good point. I work far better when I have a challenging work-load with real goals. As I mentioned in a nearby post, I found micro-todos to help me visualize my workload (which is usually bigger than I imagined lol), and cause me to understand the weight of the work ahead of me.. thus, giving me a kick to get it the hell out of the way.

Googling failed me. Is micro-todos a term you use to describe what you do, or is it a technique I can learn more about?

Apologies, it's a made up term. It seems fitting though. Rather than plan the todos like it's something anyone else could read, I write them for me. And because they're just for me, I can make them as tiny as I want. My general rule of thumb for writing them is:

1. As I'm writing, if it's in my head as a "oh, that needs to be done", I write it down. Tiny or large.

2. If it's really large, I tend to word the task as to break it up. Otherwise I'll spend a day working on that one item, which defeats the purpose of trying to give my brain dopamine/etc.

3. If at any point in code I think of those "oh, I gotta remember to fix/refactor/add that" I write it down.

It's quick because I don't need to give others context. It's short, because it's just for me and it shouldn't be too far away from my current context anyway. And finally it helps me actually take breaks, and come back getting right into it. I try to never leave without writing what I should do next.

To pair with that, I chose a todo app (Dynalist atm) that I enjoy using. It should be quick to get ideas onto paper so to say, and not bogged down with features. This is more of a notebook, than a todo.

Anyway, it's all an experiment for me. I'm on week two or so of it, and it's been great so far. Good luck if you try it :)

edit: fix stupid list formatting.

I got back from a week long vacation and when i got back there were issues on github for open source projects i maintain. I was able to crush them quickly without that "discomfort/fear/anxiety". it makes me believe that those feeling start to occur when we need a break, which is why we are procrastinating in the first place.

I have never come back from a vacation more excited about working than before :)

I have, but... not anymore.

> Procrastination is the avoidance of activity due to a discomfort/fear/anxiety and subsequent inability to scale the discomfort wall that exists between you and the tasks' completion.

The cause isn't part of the definition. Procrastination is simply the delaying of something, whatever the reason for doing do. One can procrastinate due to wanting to do something else. It doesn't have to be from an aversion.

Procrastination is the avoidance of activity due to a discomfort/fear/anxiety and subsequent inability to scale the discomfort wall that exists between you and the tasks' completion.

Incorrect. The dictionary definition of procrastination is To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness or To postpone or delay needlessly. Literally meaning, from Latin, putting off until tomorrow. I procrastinate way too much, but because I get bored, distracted and I'm lazy. None of which is a discomfort, fear or anxiety.

The dictionary is holding you back my friend :)

Nope, I absolutely don't feel the need to ascribe my negative habits to some fear or anxiety whatever thing. Not everything in life is a drama. I am fully aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and my personal opinion is that ascribing a negative trait (procrastination) to something that is somehow "external" is a subtle refusal to take responsibility. Often (and I am not saying this is the case for OP) the "oh, this is a fear or anxiety I have" is followed by either the direct or implied expression of "so it isn't really something I can do anything about right now".

That is the attitude I found to be holding myself back in a dark past. What turned the page for me was reading "Invictus" from Henley, who was a man that was absolutely beaten and battered by life, and still refused to give up:

  Out of the night that covers me,  
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,  
  I thank whatever gods may be  
  For my unconquerable soul.
  In the fell clutch of circumstance  
  I have not winced nor cried aloud.  
  Under the bludgeonings of chance  
  My head is bloody, but unbowed.
  Beyond this place of wrath and tears  
  Looms but the Horror of the shade,  
  And yet the menace of the years  
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
  It matters not how strait the gate,  
  How charged with punishments the scroll.  
  I am the master of my fate:  
  I am the captain of my soul.
Own your shit.

I don't give up and I own my shit, not sure what the contradiction is here. That poem could be better, how about Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note:

   And now, each night I count the stars,
   And each night I get the same number.
   And when they will not come to be counted,
   I count the holes they leave.

There's been plenty of research that suggests that at a substantial proportion of procrastination is due to discomforts and anxieties, so I wouldn't dismiss it that quickly.

There can definitely be a strong connection between procrastination and anxiety. The following link, which I've posted before, rang so true for me:


This is pretty in line with how the book "The Now Habit" presents it.

There's another potential cause for procrastination, that this website doesn't seem to diagnose or offer advice on -

I have a hypothetical task in front of me, which is interesting, impactful, within my skill range, well-defined, and I know the first couple steps to start on it. I estimate that I can complete the task with 2~3 hours of solid work. This sounds like the _ideal_ anti-procrastination scenario, right?

But, I know I have a meeting at some point in the next 20~40 minutes, and that meeting will end 15~5 minutes before lunch starts.

And then, hypothetically, the meeting gets canceled, or is shortened to ~5 minutes, and basically the whole morning's worth of time has been wasted.

Any advice for either

> how to overcome the hump of starting to spin up on a deep work task you're likely to be interrupted for


> how to commit to starting a deep work task in a known uninterrupted block of time later in the day, and find _meaningful_ shallow work to do now, in a way that won't delay spinning up on the important task when the time becomes available

If you have 10 minutes or more then trying to spin up is still useful.

You are not going to make progress directly, but you will have a few hooks to think about during the meeting. If it's a wasteful meeting you get something worthwhile to do, and if it's a useful meeting then no harm done.

Can I suggest either carefully stripping away user input or not using it at all in questions?

Clear security issue appeared when I typed:

    <script>alert("this is bad")</script>
...as a reason of my procrastination: https://imgur.com/a/Xmdi9VQ

EDIT: Further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-site_scripting

This is just a self-XSS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-site_scripting#Self-XSS

If it were a reflected XSS you could trigger it with something like https://whydoiprocrastinate.com/#%3Cscript%3Ealert%28%22this..., but I don't think this actually matters.

Sloppy programming, sure, but it isn't a real security issue.

Mind explaining how that text input field creates an XSS opportunity?

> XSS enables attackers to inject client-side scripts into web pages viewed by other users.

Nobody other than you will see your alert("this is bad") so this doesn't seem like XSS.

that's until OP decides tonight that the tool is so pouplar that sticking a database behind it to serve anonymous examples MUST be a good idea, e.g.

Yes, in this particular case, it doesn't open a security hole.

But scrub all your inputs anyway. That one time you forget, it will be a cosmetic error due to double encoding instead of a security hole due to no encoding.

I don't really get this criticism. This is a client-only app. Scrubbing input on the client is a bad way to avoid XSS because an attacker can modify the client. So teaching developers to sanitize strings in their frontend JS is not helpful. Why do we care what she does on her single page side project?

One thing that helped me with procrastination is to expose it for what it really is.

Let's say you wanted to quit smoking (I've done it cold turkey after smoking a pack a day for over 10 years btw). The only real way you'll have a fighting chance to quit without any alternative drugs is to really want to quit. Not "oh man I wish I could stop smoking", but "ok, I'm done with this, I'm ready to stop".

If you break down and smoke again, you're just creating a negative feedback loop on your self worth while taking the short term gains on how smoking makes you feel. You get some nicotine, but every time you "cheat" on yourself it's a constant reminder that you lack willpower and are worthless. Then suddenly you become that person who thinks they can't quit because it's wired in your DNA, when really, it's just poor habits.

Procrastination is the same thing. Instead of smoking, you're doing something else (reading HN, Youtube, playing games) instead of what you "should" be doing. Sometimes I still need to remind myself that what I'm working on is worth doing and nothing works better than a simple pros / cons sheet. Then you can prove to yourself how ridiculous it is to sit there and spend 6 hours watching Youtube instead of moving towards your goals which likely have very positive benefits to your life.

No apps or gimmicks needed. You'll eventually cure yourself of all procrastination (which by the way shouldn't be confused with taking breaks and giving yourself some time to slack off, because that's completely fine).

Interesting comparison between smoking and procrastination. If we examine the neurology of both, we see a dopamine-centric reward system behind task completion, and probably a very small dopamine hit after procrastination. Similarly, nicotine has been shown to affect the very dopaminergic pathways involved in reward/pleasure systems. So, in a very real neurological way, the comparison is apt. I wonder if people who succesfully go cold-turkey off nicotine have some tendency to procrastinate or not? Or generally, do those who smoke have a tendency to procrastinate or not?

Smoking and procrastination are both correlated with ADHD (for which dopamine has also been implicated) so there almost certainly is a correlation between them.

Oh true, I studied ADHD a bit, it's a neuro-developmental disorder of the dopaminergic system. Specifically, the motor cortex will develop more quickly/strongly than the executive function system, leading to a hyperactivity of motor activity and a hypo*activity of the "secretary" of the mind which filters/prioritizes/plans behaviors. Now there is a subset of primarily inattentive ADHD, which has less to do with movement and more to do with "spacing out" and lack of focus/attention, which can be combined with hyperactivity in the combined type (CT), versus the primarily inattentive subtype (PI). Also, yes, those with ADHD are much more likely to abuse stimulants, marijuana, and alcohol, anything with which to alter the brain chemistry away from a normal modality which might be stressful to be in. I have heard anecdotal tales about ADHD medications as revelations bordering on spirituality, people crying after taking their first dose at age 30 and realizing how much more "normal" it might make them. Really good to know that people can react so positively, though we also know that many non-ADHD individuals abuse the drugs as well.

I was one of those people, who got diagnosed in my early 30s (wasn't hyper as a child, therefore not AD"H"D, so). My medication, dexadrine, was indeed a revelation. But daily use for a couple of years led to a major mental breakdown, all the "amphetamine psychosis" symptoms. I was paranoid, angry, depressed, and suicidal.

I long ago stopped taking medication for it at all - I don't even have a prescription anymore. I just use coping strategies, many of which are about avoiding situations where it's a problem entirely. I have ADD, and I live with it. Because medication was better, until it was worse.

> I have heard anecdotal tales about ADHD medications as revelations bordering on spirituality, people crying after taking their first dose at age 30 and realizing how much more "normal" it might make them.

It really does whenever you have ADHD and you feel like your restless mind is finally at rest. It's absolutely infuriating to be unable to concentrate throughout most of my days.

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was a kid and have recently (last few months) had some pretty bad anxiety - this comment makes me wonder is the anxiety just restless of the mind? Will tell my GP I have ADD next time I see him and see what he thinks.

My procrastination is weird. I do freelance web development (solo-solopreneur) and when I take on a contract there's no stopping me from fulfilling it. I will work on it relentlessly until it's done and there will be no urge to do anything else until it's complete. You could even say it's the opposite of procrastination.

But when it comes to doing certain things (even things that I like) I can easily talk myself into putting it off until the end of time, but once I finally get started, I usually end up engulfed in it -- at least for that day. Like last week, I wrote no joke... 8,500 words towards scripting out my next dev course in the period of about 12 hours and that was with walking about ~2 miles twice as breaks + meals, etc..

Almost the same situation here.

I cycle between hyperactivity and completely unproductive days. Getting up late being the main key to an unproductive day...

What should I be doing? I enjoy meaningful work and have to accept that I may have to take a pay cut to do it. Chasing money got me in a terrible position with “should”. I can’t stomach busy work any more, not when the world is suffering as it is so greatly now.

Your "should" would be different than mine. It's what you want to make of this life.

Jim Carrey had a good quote on this:

"You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love"

This was after he saw his dad lose his accounting job.

PERSONAL ANECDOTE ALERT: Since I've began working from home, something I've found helpful is assigning context to a physical space and moving from space to space to context switch.

For example, I browse the internet and read news on my front porch, but my office is strictly work mode. My living room is strictly a space for relaxing and entertaining guests, my kitchen/dining area is for cooking and eating. It may sound weird but if I get a phone call or have to make an email. I move to my office ( my note pads, and desktop is ready to go which is a plus )

I think the work-from-anywhere play-from-anywhere meme has been damaging to my productivity and happiness. I feel a lot less anxious and more focused.

100% agree on the importance of managing environmental queues!

Also not just physical spaces but other things like type of background noise, light conditions, even trivial things like posture, I feel they all seem to influence my ability to get into a state of 'flow'.

When I started working from home last year, this was my biggest concern as I live in a one bedroom apartment so there isn’t space for multiple desks, and I use the same desktop PC for work and play. It turned out not to be a problem, as long as I am motivated by the work then I have no problem focussing no matter where I am working.

This questionnaire is entirely incompatible with enterprise environments, where the work is not only boring, but also pointless (as results are way further down the line and deliverables will surely change multiple times).

http://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/ … and the full-length new book it inspired… to the heart of what you're saying

that's what i'm procrastinating on right now

“You have impulsiveness — by far the worst form of procrastination”

Yeah, thank you, as somebody with severe adult ADD diagnosis I know this perfectly well. The problem is what to do with it. I always will crave new things, to the point of ignoring anything else. I will always be distracted. The problem is what to do with all that...

Seems like a good idea. Two thoughts. I always dislike conjuctions in these kinds of questions: "Today, I tried working on [X], and got distracted everytime." I worry that if I answer 1 out of 5 that it'll assume that that I didn't get distracted every time while instead I just haven't tried working on [X] today. Even if the website handles this correctly, why not make it two questions with the second only done if the first is a yes?

How well supported are the suggestions of this site? One of the ones I got was to imagine the worst case scenario if you kept procrastinating. But, okay, I imagined the worst case scenario and it meant I just had to wing something on the spot and do a little worse at it. Is that supposed to motivate me to stop procrastinating? Or is it supposed to make me realize that "everything's okay, stop worrying about it and maybe you'll enjoy doing it more"?

WebMD? So the reason you procrastinate: you probably have a brain tumor?

I lost

It's not a tumah! It's not!

With regard to dealing with impulsiveness on the internet by "throwing away the keys", the site recommends the StayFocusd extension for Chrome, but doesn't recommend anything for other browsers. For Firefox users, I recommend LeechBlock, which has a long history of maintenance, lots of users, and versions for both old and new Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/leechblock-ng...

freedom.to costs money but works across multiple browsers and your mobile devices. not free but I've found it's worth the cost.

I wish had the time to procrastinate more.

Ironically, my job, which is the reason for my lack of procrastination time, I got directly as a result of the many hours I procrastinated during the last year of university.

Sometimes procrastination pays of, you just don't know it whilst procrastinating, which makes it valid procrastination at the time.

How did you procrastinate during your final university year?

How: When the deadline for handing in your thesis is many months ahead and you spend countless hours in a quiet setting with an old laptop "in need of optimization", an okish internet connection and an endless array of Linux subjects (all terrifically more exciting than the thesis) to delve into, procrastination instead of writing said thesis was no problem at all and proved not to be in the long run.

N.b. I did actually hand in the thesis on time. The last push to get in done was excruciating hard due to time pressure - the price of procrastination I guess.

> Oops.

> Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is.


A little disappointing but the link to the book this is based on at the bottom of the page is good. Maybe put that front-and-centre for failures like this?

I see and work on a lot of content marketing pieces. This is an example of content marketing executed _reeeeallyy_ well. Massive props to Boss As A Service.

Looks cool! I was going to fill it out, but I decided to put it off.

The people in life that are most successful are usually the ones that are compelled to do a thing for whatever reason.

If you're procrastinating; it's simply an indication you don't want to do a thing. Sure, you can use hacks etc to get the thing done, but at the end of the day, there's no real, underlying driving will within yourself to get the thing done.

Perhaps spending time finding the things you willfully do rather than focusing on the things you tend to avoid might be great way to avoid procrastination.

I get it though. That buzzing lazy feeling of getting some things done but not all the things; or the things you need to get done while lazily avoiding the things you supposedly want to do.

I have noticed in my life that I willfully do some things to completion because I just have an underlying will to get it done.

Ok, so what actual science is this based on? Why should I give out personal stuff like "What are you avoiding right now" if it doesn't have an effect on the outcome when completing this form (because you're probably trying to figure out what people procrastinate most often...)?

Anyways, not sure about this type of application. In general one should avoid medical apps or forms put together by a start up. It typically doesn't involve any science or actual medical advice, and with things that can also be caused by some serious medical issue (procrastination can be caused by depression) I don't really think this is the right way to go.

If you actually did not just pull a content marketing thing, and this is based on actual science, then why not include some sources?

Incubating has saved me 1000's of hours of wasted work time going down the wrong path.


"Oops. Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is."

I guess I should stop procrastinating by finding out why I'm procrastinating and go back to work.

My one little life hack for the morning procrastination is this:

Always make sure you have set yourself a simple task to complete/continue the following morning.

It gives an achievable goal that can help kickstart your working flow for the day.

> Always make sure you have set yourself a simple task to complete/continue the following morning. [¶] It gives an achievable goal that can help kickstart your working flow for the day.

Or as Admiral William McRaven (Navy SEAL, at the time the head of Special Ops) put it: "Make your bed." [0]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6OoCaGsz94

In my case, I believe I managed to identify the root cause: 90% of the work I do is slightly over my head. As a bootstrapped solo founder and to stretch out the money I saved up I must do a lot of the tasks myself, which you would usually hire a specialist to do. This is not restricted to the technical aspect of my business but also concerns the legal, financial and sales side. So, imagine you’re a top of the line DBA with many years of experience and I ask you to take care of the front-end of the app as well as the backend, deal with the GDPR (without the help of a lawyer) and figure out sales in a market where traditional sales don’t work, you will eventually spread yourself thin. Now, this is how I overcome the challenge: as soon as I get a task which I don’t know how to tackle e.g. getting a firm grasp on double taxation avoidance agreements and procrastination sets in because I’m unsure where to get started, I break everything down into a single task and try to conquer it. Depending on the complexity of the task and lack of my knowledge how to tackle it the greater the procrastination. That procrastination, however, helps me, in turn, to process the task in ‘the background’ until I find a way to get started. Not sure if this makes sense, or if it is just me. On the other hand, constantly working on different tasks across professions has helped me to quickly learn the fundamentals of each sector/topic/issue/field. If it is really needed I can still consult with a specialist and save some money, because there is a baseline for discussion and I know exactly what I need/want.

Nice concept, but all I got was: "Oops.

Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is."

Ditto. In my case it's just that the amount of work I would have to do to be happy with my own side projects causes me to procrastinate on starting them, as I don't have a perfect image in my head of an objectively successful outcome yet so I just delay.

The way you put this really resonates with me. Often when I'm procrastinating it's because a task seems/feels/sounds really daunting, but the "daunting" feeling is because I'm imagining just how damn hard it's going to be to do the task perfectly. It creates this mental barrier to getting started because completing it perfectly (or, to my expectations) seems too hard.

Breaking out of this by realizing that "perfect" is not the goal, and setting more attainable sub-goals for myself is key, but hard.

I believe I procrastinate because life is so demanding and complex that I am constantly straining against the limits of my productivity for imposed work. It is due largely to a mismatch between my natural interests and society's demands. The question is what to do about that so I can be more effective.

"Because baboons are rarely threatened by famine, plague or predators, they are good models for socialized disease, Sapolsky says: 'Baboon societies are ironically a lot like Westernized humans. We're ecologically privileged enough that we can invent social and psychological stress. Baboons in the Serengeti, who only work three hours a day to meet their caloric needs, are similarly privileged. They ulcerate because of social complexities.'" [1]

Procrastination, it seems to me, ultimately falls in the category of "ulcerating because of social complexities".

[1] https://news.stanford.edu/news/2001/february21/aaassapolsky-...

"Oops. Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is."

Also same here. And here I thought I was uniquely troubled

Same here.

This quiz is based on the The Procrastination Equation by Piers Steel, which is perhaps the best book I have read on the topic.

"Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is."

Procrastination is due to not doing things on your own terms, which means that what you feel you have to do comes from the outside. Often this symptom comes from disparity between what you think you want to do and what should be done (the outside). For example, what you do in the university is something you want to do, but not always in a way you think things should be done. Here procrastination comes along. The solution is to do things on your own terms as often as possible. It's debatable how far you can go with this idea, because in the end it becomes a question of what's the meaningful relationship between you and the society. When you have to give in to outside pressure, then some tricks might help you. But what I said before that, IMHO, is what the issue is really about.

Also check out "The Now Habit". Sounds corny but it really identifies the baste causes of procrastination and has some great tools for overcoming it. I can't say I'm completely cured yet, but it did help me to read it.

I don’t like to do the thing I need to do cause it has no instant internal feedback.

It has long term goal feedback. Like the feedback comes sort of in 6 months. And even then it was only a step to more work.

Hard work leads to gratification.

Fuck ADHD.

"The reason you’re procrastinating is simply that you find this task unpleasant to do."

Well... that wasn't very helpful, was it? Isn't this the usual reason that one can easily identify?

March is national procrastination week.

So it is okay to procrastinate then, in observance of the event. But people don't always get around to observing it right at the beginning of March.

The iProcrastinate podcast (http://iprocrastinate.libsyn.com/) is really good. Some of the early episodes have audio issues, but they are worth listening to. The host has been researching procrastination for like 20+ years.

Their main website is http://www.procrastination.ca/

Smooth, went to the end of the quizz and appreciated the suggestions. Now I need to apply the advice :) Makes me want to read the book mentioned.

I had pretty low expectations when I opened this, but was pleasantly surprised. It's not that the advice was that helpful (I enjoyed the reminder, but I've heard that all before), but simply asking me questions like "can you do successfully do this, once you start?" helped adjust my thinking.

By choosing "I can do this", I remembered that I can

Every time I hear about procrastination it reminds me about great talk by Evan Czaplicki and his approach to Elm development, actually it can be good thing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSjbTC-hvqQ see 19:15 Batching Work).

It'd be cool see some stats for the results people get. I'm sure a lot of people are taking the quiz right now. Could we find what makes people procrastinate most often?

Spoiler, I got 'lack of value' and for some reason I bet it's gonna be a winner, at least when it comes to the HN userbase

One remark: with "What are you avoiding doing right now?" it prompts to answer many activities. In my case they were different (chores vs creative and open-ended stuff), so it was not easy to answer questions in a meaningful way.

(It should clearly prompt to write a single thing/activity.)

So how do these suggestions work if what you're procrastinating on is your job? Asking for a friend.

I don't want to take the test right now. Maybe tonight. I know there is something motivational at the end of the test that would make me want to do it, but I'm not going to do it anyway. Basically, I'm procrastinating by writing this comment and not doing the test.

nice one, and good advertising for BAAS = boss as a service .

PS: how many user does BAAS have, and: is it automated?

“Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is.”

I know what the problem is: it’s a hobby project and 1) employer work takes priority and 2) I’m so stinking tired at the end of a day and 3) adult chores take priority on the weekend.

The service sounds really good, though I think the subscription payment should also include Paypal. I think many people would like to avoid handing over their credit card information to more sites if they can.

Kind of a step by step walk that takes you through this: https://alexvermeer.com/getmotivated/

Wow, this is really handy!

I just used it to consult with a young woman who cancelled her open heart surgery today, which gives her two years to live. The result was low expectancy, and the advice is indeed helpful.

Wow, that's a heavy thing to deal with. Why'd she cancel the surgery and how was it related to procrastination?

Low in expectation. The site argued she just didn't expect it to be successful.

She seemed to agree.

One of the major causes of procrastination is being assigned obviously pointless busy-work. It's hard to be motivated when you know that you're just box-checking.

I liked the gamification hints:

- give yourself a clock, and race against the clock

- it may be boring, so add some difficulty to it, extra challenges, stretch goal.

neither may apply to all task though.

Too many questions to answer IMHO. Can't see anyone using this tool more than once.

Should narrow it down to 5 questions tops to get any value on daily basis

Twelve questions? I’ll do it later.”

My biggest source of procrastination is Hacker News!

Might just be me but the start button over laps with the "Made with" message and sends me off on a hyperlink somewhere else.

You procrastinate because you are tired. Sleep, and entertain yourself with the presence of good people. Boom, procrastination gone.

"Nobody procrastinates doing what they enjoy." I'm guessing mental illnesses are out of the picture here then.

I tried doing this during breakfast. So I was honest and said that’s what I’m doing.

Made no sense :D !

I’ll try it later during a procrastination break.

I would perhaps argue that most modern procrastination is fundamentally due to tech and social media addiction.

Insert "hurting my brain" as the first answer and enjoy a comedy of questions.

Oh wait. I input "lying in bed" cuz I should be asleep. That was kinda meta…

"Sorry, we can't seem to find what the problem is."

Neither can my friend, neither can I.

Okay, I'll read it later!

Protip: Typing in the word "Nothing" makes this pretty hilarious.

They couldn't find out why I am procrastinating. We are on par.

Just wanted to say - this is great, and I enjoyed it! thank you!

OK I'll read this, just gotta check facebook first...

I found BossAsAService through this. Nice idea.

Site needs a favicon.ico

feeling like you have to do something is dopamine resistance.

Did you create this?

Pretty useful app.

Could you elaborate why? To me this seems like your typical, not based on actual science, 1 minute to conclude form put together by content marketing in typeform or something similar.

It's based on a book mentioned at the end, "The Procrastination Equation". There is also a link explaining how the equation works.

It is, just leadgen for something called “Boss as a service”.

I'll check it out later.

Whew! I thought this was going to be a link to tvtropes!

It turns out that I'm procrastinating on my work because I feel it isn't valuable to society or rewarding. I wonder if I'm right!

I think you're on to something there.

And you do valuable things when you procrastinate?

That's actually debatable. I certainly do rewarding things for myself when procrastinating.

And my job honestly is a negative value to society. I am a salesman at a rent seeking corporation.

I would literally do society more good if I wasn't driving a gas guzzler to work every day and sitting in a giant air conditioned office.

I’m in the same boat, advertising with big data and generative deep learning. Harmful garbage if you ask me. I have no savings but I’m quitting as soon as I get an offer. I don’t care if I get fired, I’d rather be homeless.

Haha +1 username btw.

I've done homelessness in between jobs for this very reason (I used to work for Oracle lol). It was awesome. And I don't mean to imply that I was on the streets, needle in my arm, skid row type homeless. Those men and women and kids are going through really rough shit.

I mean that I was sleeping in my car in the woods or at national parks or in corporate parking lots (not Walmart, more like Regional Shipping Corporation INC after 7PM and all the employees have gone home).

It was the most liberating and freeing period of my life. I came back to work because I want more money and I thought I could save enough money to put an actual roof over my head (and my gf's too). Apparently I'm wrong- this is the most expensive housing market ever, and many cities/towns/counties don't want to let me put a pre-fab house on any piece of land in their jurisdiction...

Time for a new job?

It took me a year to land this one! My expenses are pretty low and my savings are decent, but if I quit this, I would be on the streets pretty quickly.

I don't have many skills besides convincing people to buy something. These skills aren't particularly marketable in life :)

What about convincing people to buy something really good?

I would love to have a job selling something that is a real 10x improvement to someone's life and is sustainable and etc etc etc.

However these jobs aren't terribly easy to come by and are mostly handed out based on nepotism in my experience.

But, if you know someone who has made something awesome, and would like to hire me to do marketing + long-cycle sales, then please do let me know how I can contact you :)

I know people hate to admit it and create these fancy terms for ages old behavior. Procrastinate is being lazy,as simple as that. Reading news and watching YouTube videos while you are getting paid to do work is being lazy with a capital L.

So yeah, please stop coming up with excuses if you procrastinate as if it is some sort of disease, drop the distractions and just get to work.

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