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Suck it up. Stop reading blogs, stop reading HN, stop making excuses. Start working. There are no tips that will break you out of it - just self discipline.

I was you once. GTD by David Allen helped. Going to the gym daily with my brother (who is a gym rat) helped, but I finally realized that I had everything in the world that people are dieing to get and I was squandering that gift by wasting my time.

Procrastinating is not an illness, it is a decision. You have chosen to be lazy, only you can change that.

Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.

I've found this never worked for me. By attacking the problem head on, I made it more of a big deal than it already was, which just made it more stressful and unpleasant, which made me less inclined to do it.

Instead, I noticed that almost all instances of my procrastination fit into three categories:

1.) I was trying to do something too ambitious, which I didn't have the skill level for, and so I couldn't complete it, yet wasn't able to admit that to myself.

2.) I was trying to bite off too big a chunk at once, so I'd get confused and wouldn't know where to start.

3.) The task is really boring and takes no real skill to complete, so I just wouldn't bother.

#1 is fixed by backing up and doing something easier - and oftentimes the "something easier" ends up being far more useful than the original task. For example, I spent like 3 years on FictionAlley.org (a PHP/MySQL rewrite of a website that had previously been 40,000 hand-written HTML pages), vs. a week on Scrutiny (Amherst's course-evaluation system). Once I'd done Scrutiny, though, FictionAlley was quite a bit easier for the practice.

#2 is tricky until you get some practice in breaking things down, but then it becomes quite manageable. For example, I was starting a new project for work this morning, one of those unsolicited I'll-build-it-and-then-show-my-manager things. Spent a half hour or so doing nothing but checking HN, then I created a git repository and figured "Hey, I can create a Django app. That's no problem." Then I figured "Hey, I create a basic HTML page with just the app's name on it. That's no problem." Then I figured "Hey, I can wire it up with django.views.generic.simple.direct_to_template", and suddenly I've got working code that just needs to be refined. The rest should be smooth sailing.

#3 is best solved with habits and routines, so that it really does become thoughtless. For example, I think paying bills and opening mail is about the most boring thing ever, so I always do it Saturday morning before going to the supermarket. It gets done, and since it's always at the same time of week I usually don't have to think about it. Same with responding to e-mail - usually, I make sure to respond immediately after reading or else not respond at all.

The smoke and mirrors can be quite useful. It works for me, at least.

I think for most people your advice will work a lot better than the parents. I've had the same work behaviors myself, but never identified them until I read your post. Every time I've made something great, it's been from hacking on something that's manageable and then expanding. When I bite off more than I can chew, that's when I fail.

I suspect I'm note alone. Thanks for your post.

Leo Babauta has a lot of that stuff on his blog.



I just wanted to say that when I voted you up, I clicked really hard.

I often struggle with time management procrastination and a high level of distractibility. It really comes down to just being honest with yourself and understanding the choices you're making. The gym is a huge help too, it's good for you, it gives you energy and it helps you focus.

From now on I will put more thought into how hard I click.

Absolutely agreed. Make a conscious decision about what you're doing wrong. I found that I was spending too much of my time on aggregators like digg and reddit, and getting little to nothing in return.

Both sites, among others, are now banned via my /etc/hosts file - this is a very good technique I find. It's not permanent, but having to sudo to get to it puts in a conscience filter.

HN is now the only aggregator I follow regularly, and even then I've become more disciplined about how much time I spend on here.

Become more conscious about what you're doing. When you find yourself idling surfing Wikipedia or whatever, catch yourself and ask yourself if there's something else you ought to be doing right now. Catch yourself enough and you will be surprised at how much more productive you become.

David Allen...

Paul Allen founded Microsoft

Haha what a slip, how did no one catch that already?

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