How to Break Your Procrastination Habit (For Good)

How to Break Your Procrastination Habit (For Good)


– Hey, what is up guys? And welcome to the final video in our procrastination miniseries. Over the course of the
past couple of videos, we have dug into the science
behind procrastination, talked about what you can do step-by-step to stop procrastinating when
you find yourself doing it in the moment and that leaves
us with one final question which is, if you are a
chronic procrastinator, if you find yourself putting
things off again and again, how do you stop that process, how do you stop that cycle, and this was really the question that led me to do this
series in the first place, because as I alluded to
in the previous video, I have been a chronic
procrastinator for quite some time. In fact, every video I put out on this YouTube channel
over the past three or four years has always been
done kind of last minute, and this honestly goes back even further than my YouTube career. It goes back into high
school and middle school. I was the kid who’d
come to school at 6 a.m. the day homework was due and I would do it in the
cafeteria before school started, and I was always proud of this and I think that’s sort of built the foundation for my
chronic procrastination later in life, so I went, I dug into the reasons for my own procrastination and I ended up finding some common themes that I think a lot of you
are going to identify with which is gonna form kind of
the meat of most of this video, and then we’re gonna
get into one final tip that I think everyone needs to implement no matter
what the specific causes are that they are dealing with, but the first thing that
I want to mention here is that I think self awareness is a hugely important
aspect in becoming less of a procrastinator, because everyone has particular reasons for why
they tend to put things off. Yes, in the science video, we talked about some of
the most common causes and I think those are gonna be kind of universal across the board, but everyone has their
own specific demons, everyone has something that
causes them to put things off and that’s gonna affect them more than it might affect someone else. So before digging into my
reasons for procrastination, which I do think a lot of you
are going to identify with, I just wanna put this out there. Observe your own behavior, observe the decisions you
make and why you make them, both emotional short-term decisions but also long-term decisions as well. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you can start to identify some of the underlying causes
for why you do things that you don’t want to do, such as procrastinating on your work. So as I mentioned, I’m gonna go over four big causes for my own
procrastination in this video, starting with the first one which is that I am often
overwhelmed with everything that I have to do, and this causes me to basically become paralyzed. I have this analysis paralysis because I’m aware of the huge amount of things on my plate, all the projects that are currently going on, and it makes it very difficult to focus in on the one task I need to do, but of course to get over procrastination, that is exactly what I need to do, I need to basically put everything out of my mind except for the one thing that needs to be focused
on at this moment, and to drive that point home, I wanna share one of my favorite quotes from the book Meditations
by Marcus Aurelius. “Do not let the panorama
of your life oppress you. “Do not dwell on all the various troubles “which may have occurred in the past “or may occur in the future. “Just ask yourself in each
instance of the present, “what is there in this work “which I cannot endure or support? “You’ll be ashamed to
make any such confession. “Then remind yourself that it “is neither the future nor
the past which weighs on you, “but always the present, “and the present burden reduces
if only you can isolate it “and accuse your mind of weakness “if it cannot hold against
something thus stripped bare.” And we let the sum total of everything that we need to do occupy our attention, then the weight of it
all can become unbearable and that’s how we get paralyzed, that’s how we put things off, so by sitting down and getting
clear on exactly what needs to be done in the present moment, maybe by writing it
down on a piece of paper and putting everything out
of our attention except that one thing, we can easily move forward because in almost all instances, if you get clear enough, if you make it actionable enough, it’s easy to do, or at
least the path is clear. Secondly, I need to let go of the belief that procrastination is
actually a good thing, and I think this is something
that is not unique to me. In fact, in the book A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley she talks about how this is something that can become
a pattern of behavior. You can start to almost
brag about how you’re able to get things done even
though you procrastinated. And in my case, I start to attribute positive aspects to the act of procrastination itself, such as that I work better under pressure, the time pressure of a deadline actually makes me more creative, but what I believe is actually happening is that I have set lower standards for myself than I actually
have the potential to achieve. I have been procrastinating for so long that what I set out to
achieve every single time is something that is
achievable by a procrastinator, by somebody doing things at
the absolute last moment, and if I can get over that belief, I would be able to achieve so much more, so if you’re like me, if you tend to make these justifications, and you tend to brag about
how your procrastination is actually a good thing, quote unquote, then every time you have to put something off a little bit, every time you have to
compromise on your vision because of a deadline, realize that that is a product
of you procrastinating and far from procrastination
being an asset in this case, it was actually a hindrance, it caused you to compromise
on your original vision, or what you wanted to achieve. All right, big issue number
three from you which is the fact that some aspects of my
work just aren’t fulfilling and they aren’t fun, and that
also causes procrastination, and I think this may be one of the biggest problems for a lot of you guys out there as well. Some of your work just is not fun. You don’t want to do it. Now, as I mentioned in the
first video in the series, a lot of people are gonna say, well, if that’s the case, you need to drop your work and
go follow your passion man, find work that you want to do that gets you out of bed in the morning, and the fact of the matter is that no matter what you’re doing, there’s always going to be aspects of your work that aren’t fun. There is always gonna be little tasks that you don’t really want to do, so instead of focusing on those tasks and the fact that they
aren’t that fulfilling, I think that you need to
focus on your identity. This is something that
I think about a lot. Instead of telling myself that I really don’t wanna do
this task and fixating on that, I fixate instead on the fact that I want be known as
a hard-working person, and like the author
James Clear talks about in his excellent book Atomic Habits, every action you take
is essentially a vote for your identity, so when
you fixate on your identity, it actually influences the
actions you’re going to take. It’s kind of a two-way street. That leaves us with our fourth and final problem which for
me I think is the biggest one and it’s the problem of perfectionism. One of the biggest reasons that I find it difficult to start my work is that I have this overarching believe that it has to be absolutely
perfect from the start, and even though in past videos I have recommended
getting in making a mess, going with that terrible first draft idea, I have trouble actually doing this. Now, there are a lot of different
reasons for perfectionism and in fact, I’ve even done an
entire video on perfectionism which you may want to
watch after this one, but for me, I think the
biggest influence is the fact that my previous body of work
has set certain expectations or at least I believe that it has. The fact that for the past four years I’ve been putting out videos that I’ve done well that people have found useful makes me feel like everything I put out in
the future essentially has to be the be-all end-all
resource on that topic. It has to be supremely helpful, and this is honestly a pretty
egocentric view, right? I’m just one person among billions on a speck floating through space, so every piece of work I put out can’t be the most perfect thing ever, but there is this internal
belief that it has to be, and you might have this problem as well. If you’ve gotten good grades in the past, or you’ve gotten a lot of
great feedback from your boss, maybe you feel like everything
you do going forward has to be absolutely perfect, and I want to stress that this perspective isn’t completely useless, but it’s an editor’s perspective and it’s a terrible perspective to have when you go into the
creation process at the start. When you’re thinking like an editor, you can’t create very well. When you’re fixated on what
other people are going to think and how your work is going to be judged, you can’t be creative. You can’t make that mess that’s important for just
getting things started. And at least for me,
this relates very heavily back to my second problem which was sort of bragging
about procrastination, feeling like it was almost
a superpower of mine, because it would cause
me to delay the start of my work until right
before the deadline, at which point of course
there is no time to first make that mess and then go
back and refine it later, so for me at least, the
solution here is twofold. Number one, let go of
that perfectionist mindset at least in the beginning of the process so I can
actually make that mess and get those thoughts
out on that piece of paper and number two, start
work well in advance. Maybe even use mini
deadlines to facilitate this. That way, there actually
is time for refinements. All right, so those are
the four big issues that at least for me cause
chronic procrastination and hopefully you’ve identified with at least one of those along
with my suggestions for how to start improving upon it. But in addition to those, I do wanna give you one final suggestion which I think is going
to be universally helpful for anybody watching this video and struggling with procrastination and it’s to set up your environment in accordance with the 20 second rule. This is a concept from Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage and the gist of this concept is that you want to take anything that you want to do less often and increase the friction
required to start doing it, so that it takes more than
20 seconds to start doing, and of course this 20 second figure is more illustrative than anything. It’s not based some scientific principle, so if something takes less than 20 seconds or more than 20 seconds, that’s fine, but the
basic idea here is you want to set up your environment so that it’s more inconvenient
to go play video games, just go check stats, like I
have a problem with doing, and so it’s less inconvenient
to start doing your work, and I think this is very
important for anyone to keep in mind, but
it’s especially important for chronic procrastinators is because you can aspire
to embody the identity of a hard-working person. You can aspire to be
less of a perfectionist, but that doesn’t happen overnight. No big change does. And when you are in the process of making a big change in your life, you need to set up systems
that keep you on track, almost like training wheels, so install a website
blocker on your computer or disconnect the Internet
when you need to do your work or make an entirely separate user account that has nothing but your work programs and websites available on it. Put your video games
in inconvenient places. Basically do whatever it takes to make procrastination as inconvenient as possible so you can start working on becoming less of a chronic procrastinator. Do that and then start
working in earnest on at least one of the issues
we’ve talked about in this video and you will be well
on your way to becoming the kind of person who
does not put things off. Now, one thing that a lot of people tend to procrastinate on to their detriment is
securing their online lives. Too many people I know use the same passwords
across multiple accounts, they don’t use two factor authentication, and they do all kinds of other things that could open them up to
potentially getting hacked or having their online
accounts compromised. And as more and more of our livelihoods become
dependent on online systems, you can’t afford to be one
of those procrastinators. Fortunately, one of the
most important steps to becoming secure which is having a strong unique
password on every site that you log into is also one of the easiest if you
use a tool like Dashlane. Dashlane is an incredibly
well-designed password manager that gives you a streamlined
way to secure your online life and make sure it’s
hardened against hackers, corporate data breaches,
and online phishing scams. Their app, which you could use across all major platforms including Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS, automatically generates strong and unique passwords for
all of your online accounts. All this data is then stored
in a secure user account that is protected by a
patented security architecture, which encrypts all your data and make sure that you are the only person that can access it. And aside from offering
you better security, Dashlane can also save
you a ton of time as well, because once you have your
user data in their account, it can automatically fill in login forms and even log you into most sites on the Internet automatically, so if you want to start improving
your online security today and start saving time as well, then head over to
Dashlane.com/collegeinfogeek which you will find in the description down below and sign up. And if you’d like to save a bit of money on their premium subscription which gets you extra features like a VPN and secure file storage, then use the code collegeinfogeek at checkout to get 10%
off of that subscription. As always, I wanna give a big thanks to Dashlane for sponsoring this video and being a big supporter of my channel and thank you as well for watching. If you enjoyed this video, definitely give it a thumbs up and get subscribed right there so you don’t miss out on new videos when they come out every single week. You can also click like
there to get a free copy of my book on how to earn better grades which may be useful to use since finals are definitely right around the corner. You can also follow me on Instagram at tomfrankly or get one
more video on this channel by clicking right there. Thanks for watching and I will see you in the next one, goodbye!

Author:

100 thoughts on “How to Break Your Procrastination Habit (For Good)”

  • Excellent. I often overcome my horrendous procrastinations using techniques similar to those you had mentioned before. But I had never tried to understand why I keep doing it decade after decade until now. Thank you, Thomas. One more comment: You said you want to be someone who is known as a hard worker not that you want to be a hard worker. Does that difference affect how you work? You don’t have to answer that except perhaps to yourself. Thank you again.

  • khadija eldanini says:

    Thomas please could you do a video on self education and how to use all the free online sources to educate yourself?

  • As someone who REALLY struggles to start working on a video due to perfectionism and therefore procrastination, this has honestly helped me out so much. Thank you, you legend.

  • It‘s a mistake to think that a powerful habit like procrastination can be deleted by some insights and decisions.
    I cured mine via more than two years of daily habit building steps.

  • Please make a video on ways to avoid falling asleep during day. I can fall asleep even on the couch, for 3 hours straight while I had come over there only to rest my back or check my phone for like 5 minutes.

  • Well done, this is a dense explanation of procrastination filled with valuable info, it is on my weekly re-listen list. Thank you for your efforts, you've earned a like, long time supporter.

  • My procrastination and laziness led to me failing my sophomore year in school and needing to go to another school with a lower level of education to be able to do my junior year…
    I hate my new school so much, everything's on such a slow tempo and I've seen most of the stuff already last year. I want to study pharmaceutical sciences after highschool and I definitely won't be able to do that with the school that I'm in now.
    For years I've tried looking for a solution to stop being lazy and stop procrastinating, yet I still get back into the habit of doing it.

    NOW LET'S WATCH THIS VIDEO AND HOPE I'LL MAGICALLY STOP THIS CHAOTIC BEHAVIOUR

  • Introverted Bear says:

    If this makes you feel any better (or worse), I've watched a lot of your videos, but I don't think any of them have helped me. The only good tip I got was to use Habitica, and I only use that to make to-do lists for my home life.

    While I admire that you read a lot and try to impart your knowledge onto others, I don't think that makes you a guru. That makes you a hard worker who puts effort into their projects. Thanks for your hard work!

    The Procrastinator's Guide to Getting Things Done by Monica Ramirez-Basco was somewhat helpful for me, but the inspiration only lasted a couple of days. It just takes so much mental energy to stop myself from procrastinating that it doesn't seem worth it.

    I clearly need to shift my mindset, but again, that takes mental energy. It's an endless cycle when you're running on empty.

  • I'm almost having a breakdown on procrastinating my coursework until today. i know i will not get good marks, but i will get rid of this behavior little by little. Thank you so much Thomas

  • Elvira Vahlström says:

    I recognize a lot of what you are saying in my behaviours and mindsets, and it's really cool how you are talking about yourself being a procrastinator too. I never knew that, and like some others have said it makes you seem more human. I've been watching your videos and listening to your podcasts for a long time and I'm really happy I've found you and I've learned so much about self-improvement, and even put some of it into practice. Keep up the awesome work!

  • Hi, I jut watched your video on how to read more and I was wondering how you decide what is worth reading and what isn't.

  • I've gotta work on thinking about procrastination as a good thing 😆..very much relatable to me.. Thank you for this video Tom.. your explanations are so simple and authentic..love your videos.. keep it coming..👍✌️

  • "… what kinds of people would logically be the most resistant to being reminded about a project like that -that is, who would procastinate the most? Of course, it would be the most creative, sensitive, and intelligent people!"
    "Who doesn't procrastinate? Often it's the insensitive oafs who just take something and start plodding forward, unaware of all the things that could go wrong."

    Getting things done
    Chapter 12 – The power of the next-action decision
    By David Allen

  • Leo Inquisitive says:

    The moment analysis paralysis was mentioned I immediately fell in that state analysing how I am affected by information overload, analysis paralysis & faking perfectionism for all my life. I actually had to replay the video(again & again) after coming back to real world. Also the only way to get over it is to write, that's how I'm freeing myself from paralysis & self imposed perfectionism trap of not writing or responding to anything because of feeling of being imperfect/inadequate. Many Thanks Thomas, Also Sensei please make a video on information overload/Analysis paralysis we could really use some help with such inner demons 😉

  • Actually I would like to see Thomas talking on some philosophy topic outside of his apartment, so we can get to know him a little bit better. His videos are absolutely magnificent, but he more like to look like a computer, that produces videos and podcasts on a straight shedule without any changes in structure and storry telling for so long.

  • Thomas, your content never fails to amaze me. Keep doing what your doing. So grateful I came across your channel it truly has had an impact in my daily routine.❤

  • Please make a video on how you can produce so much valuable work consistently. Your output is incredible and I am truly grateful for your work.

  • …wow , I feel like everything you said about why you procrastinate resonates so strongly with me. This helps so much, thank you ;-;❤️

  • There is no free will, so we have to accept that some people will always choose to procrastinate in certain occasions.. It will be interesting if you prove me wrong.

  • Chinmaya Salinamakki says:

    Hey Thomas, I’m a sophomore in high school and until this year I enjoyed a stress free life for the most part. However this year school got a lot tougher and I realized what it really means to be stressed. I often can’t handle the stress of school and everything I need to get done and I’m constantly in distress. When I’m doing other activities outside of school that I enjoy I can’t not think about school and the mountain of work I need to do. Even when I’m in bed I find it difficult to relax my mind and just think about nothing, and like you said in this video, I get overwhelmed by the stress and then I can’t focus on studying or getting my work done. I was wondering if you could make a video about handling stress and how to compartmentalize maybe?

  • My worse reason is daydreaming and I noticed I am less inclined to daydream if I quit social media, web entertainment cold turkey. But man it’s hard to just quit cold turkey when I don’t yet have good circle of friends to talk to. And as a shy extrovert, it creates dilemma

  • The only thing i tend to procrastinate in life is cleaning tidying and organising, i struggle with this and only this but unless my room is clean i cannot do anything properly, even studying 😫

  • treasure studies says:

    I had a question relating to focus. I sometimes notice in class that I'm not actually listening to my teacher but have wandered around in my imagination. Do you have any tips on how to actually focus in class and make sure you focus while in class?

  • Brittany Musselman says:

    Thank you for highlighting the need for perfectionism being a bad thing in that it prevents you from getting started and creating whatever it is you need to do. I have found this to be one of my biggest problems. In those "what is your biggest weakness" type questions people often think you are trying to pretend like you are awesome if you have answers like, "I care too much," "I'm a perfectionist," or "I want things done right the first time." But honestly, that is one of my biggest hurdles, I can't move forward if I come across something I can't answer or do to the standard I'd like. Then deadlines come and I end up throwing some subpar product together. I recently had a huge project due and my friend who knew I only finished it about an hour before the presentation, noted that while there was a lot of things she would have changed about the powerpoint presentation, my presentation itself was amazing. While this wants to feed my ego that I can do things last minute, it really has to go into the, now imagine what could have been done if I hadn't procrastinated type of feedback. Thank you for your videos, they help make me feel like I'm not the only one that has these exact issues.

  • my level of procrastinating goes as far as seeing the notification of a video about stopping procrastinating, saving it, procrastinating and then watching it 3 weeks later…I have over 350 videos saved fml

  • Thomas, thank you so much for making all these incredible videos. They have not only been inspiring but life changing as well. I've been a chronic procrastinator, and have been struggling to get out of this habit for so long, and watching your procrastination series, was definitely relatable. It answered a number of questions I had in mind, especially as to the why etc. Thanks so much again Thomas, hope you'll be able to overcome this habit for good as well and continue becoming the awesome productivity guru that you are! 🙂

  • My mugdibula takes up my whole brain. That’s why I procrastinate. Plus I’m in constant fight or flight so my spirit animal is a deer in headlights. No amount of awareness meditation is going to fix my mugdibula. lol

  • HOW ARE YOU IN YOUR 20's?????????? Man. . . you are wise beyond your years and SUPER helpful. I look forward to your presidential run in 2032. Thanks for the advice! I think I'm at the level of having to create a separate log in on my laptop with nothing but the stuff I need on it. . . Cheers to creating!

  • I’ll do you one better. I hated my physics teacher, and he always made us show our work. His class was the first of the day, so I’d show up early with my homework, just with the answers (I hate showing work) and then sit down, write out the work, and then turn it in when class started.

  • Himanshu Singh says:

    1) 2:14 You are often overwhelmed with everything you need to do
    2) 3:45 You need to let go of the belief that procastination is a good thing
    3) 5:02 You need to learn to deal with the fact that some work just isn't fun
    4) 6:05 You need to get over your perfectionism
    5) 8:33 Set up your environment in accordance with the 20-second rule

  • Valentín Rodríguez says:

    Sorry guys, this is off topic but does anyone remember the platform game for phone that thomas recommends in one video? I have seen a lot of his content searching for it withno luck, thanks

  • Lessons In Life says:

    With no deadline, motivational panic rarely occurs. There is no trigger. There is nothing to limit procrastination by reminding you of the consequences. It stretches and stretches until the end of time. Long-term procrastination produces hidden consequences.

  • Christine McNulty-Lewis says:

    I find it’s actually more difficult to go through the thinking process of procrastination, that I worry about how to accomplish the task, as opposed to doing the task itself. I have a permanent injury and I have daily pain, but it is way more enjoyable to break things down and do a little at a time then do nothing at all. Even if I don’t succeed I work out what I can change , set a different goal, learning something in the process is a definite plus.

  • Christophe Breland says:

    If work was/is supposed to be fun then why would/do they pay you to do it. Need to have a job you don't hate. Really, good or bad coworkers make or break a job

  • For myself it’s time related, in that work, tends to be the main cause of my anxiety and depression and of course procrastination. Shift work is both long and encroaches into your personal life, you work week ends and public holidays and it can be rotating shifts so that you are consistently attempting to organise the seemingly un organisable. Family and study as well as life and you can see that it’s a huge management mess. That said I am in my third year of studying. And have 6 months to go. My best answer is to manage it via a month by month planner, I study in cafes away from family when they are at work or school so that I have space and people in the background. I have not more the three tasks to do at any one time and I have backwards engineering my due date up to now where I actually went from December to August. I use my tablet but I use note books round 96 pages only on that unit that I am studying

  • One trick I built myself for procrastinating typed assignments or essays is to write the outline (either given or my own) and then I fill it with what I want to write, but I do not focus on how they are written. This creates a document that grows in length and make me fell productive. Then, I go in and fix the sentences and add details. It stopped the paralysis for me and helped me do some work even when I can't find the proper sentences!

  • I have carved my procastination problem down to only one real problem: Repetition is torture to my brain! Ironically, I've become really good at organizing so that everything is easy to do, and I have learned to not only accept but actually love the little mistakes and kinks. But the result is that I quickly turn everything into simple, easy tasks…. that have to be repeated.

    Your input on that?

  • Hi! This is my first time taking notes for the general public, but I'm an author trying to be actionable with some of my procrastination habits. OK; here we go!
    Timestamps per tip + my personal notes for our benefit:

    0:33: Storytime!

    The tools you can use to defeat your procrastination (+ Thomas' explanation):

    1:20: Self-awareness
    1:50: Observe your own behavior

    A batch of reasons why you may procrastinate
    2:13: You can be often overwhelmed with everything you need to do
    – You may have analysis paralysis: by focusing on all you must do, the act of doing (let alone thinking about it), prompts you to be paralyzed, so…
    – Make your tasks actionable enough and understandable (or, to me, enticing in theory) to do; it'll be easier to will yourself to do them.
    Example: do you have a homework assignment that is due tomorrow? How about imagining your desired lifestyle as a product of you finishing it or the feeling of you being a master of your life.
    – Focus on one task to do in the present moment

    3:44: You need to let go of the belief that procrastination is a good thing
    – You may be bragging about how your procrastination is an asset. Don't; you lower your standards and potential doing this; completing something last-minute is completion made by a procrastinator

    4:59: You need to learn (how) to deal with the fact that some work just isn't fun
    – Even if you follow your passions, you will still have unpleasant work to do.
    – Focus on your desired identity instead of the task at hand. I personally want to be a vrouw based on hard work, intentionality, and the values of God.

    6:04: You need to get over your perfectionism
    – Previous good feedback or the product of a desirable outcome can pose pressure upon you.
    Example: your parents celebrate you getting straight As in class or your boss compliments you on your performance in your team, so you feel propelled to achieve that same level of excellence.
    – An editor's perspective inhibits creativity and creation; come into your space to make a mess of your work and THEN edit.

    7:56: Thomas' personal solutions in hopes to fix our procrastination problem
    – Let go of your perfectionistic mindset
    – Use self-made deadlines to give you the incentive to work, from there make the edits you'd like

    8:23: One more tip!
    – Increase the friction of things you don't want to do (playing video games, scrolling through Youtube, etc.) and decrease the friction for things you want to do (study, work, write, etc.)

    Though I have a question for anyone courteous to answer:
    I wonder if anybody has tips to get me to work on tasks most unpleasant to me. I excuse myself of doing them until the last minute, saying, "the task takes too much brainpower" because my head generally hurts as I give a fair amount of focus to my work. Please be merciful with your responses; I don't know if the answer's plain-and-clear to see.

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