Get up. Go make tea. Sit down. Run through your music. Browse the internet. Get up. Lie down. Get up. Sit down. Pick up a book. Doodle. Get up. Do something, anything but what you should be doing.

I used to be a pro at procrastination.

Last minute pressure and the drive to always understand whatever I was doing usually made me pull through deadlines and make it happen but I would always put things off and get distracted.

Then one of my best friends and one of the most successful people I know explained his goal process and how he managed to become a millionaire in his early twenties, retired after completing an Actuarial Science degree – one of the most difficult degrees out there – to travel the world and live his life doing only what interested him. My good friend Glen at PluginID did an interview with him that you may want to check out.

He explained his goal process to me and it sounded much like other things – of the many, many things – I’d tried to get more done, make deadlines, stop procrastinating and get more ease into my life.

He said all he does is he looks at his goals and asks himself a question. A question that I’ve used to get more done and to put life into deadlines, more ease and less procrastinating.

“Do I really want this?”

Next time you’re procrastinating or putting off doing something, close your eyes and feel what it will be like to have achieved your goal. Feel it fully. Go into it. All that it will allow you to do. Feel what it will be feel like to have already done what you want to do.

Then ask yourself, “Do I really want this?”

If it still doesn’t budge and you can’t get yourself to take action and stop putting off doing something, I find it helps to add, “…or do I want to live a lame life, it’s up to me.”

It’s up to you.

Unleash Reality
Alex

P.S. If you have any other strategies that get you to stop procrastinating and make things happen or if you found this helpful, please share by leaving a comment below.

Edit: Just found out that my friend Glen, who I mentioned above, wrote about this question in a post on goal setting. We’re both really good friends with the person who explained the question use to me.

42 Comments

  1. Hey, great post man. It really sums up the problem and a really good potential solution to it.

    -Nitroviper

    • Thanks nick,

      appreciate the comment.

      check back again soon
      alex

  2. Interesting post. Do I really want this? Procrastination is something I practice on a daily basis. I’ll have to try your method. Let’s see if it works.

    • thanks for the comment andrew,

      i think we all are pro-procrastinators to some degree

      please let me know how it works for you.

      all the best
      alex

  3. Yes, very helpful. It is hard when the preparation for a goal is so extensive and the goal is months or years away, but actually being in that moment I think can really help.

    For instance I love performing. I would love nothing more than to be a concert pianist, or to be in an orchestra. Thinking of that moment, sitting at a piano on stage in front of thousands of people, really inspires me. I think I will start using that vision.

    I was led indirectly to this method through another article I read, called The Types of Nemesis.

    See, there’s a piano concerto competition in October, that I have been preparing for for a little over a year now, off and on. I’ve had a lot of trouble with motivation, because I was so afraid of failure that I couldn’t bring myself to put a lot into it. I have put hundreds of hours into this piece already, but I know that I can work a lot harder on it.

    That article I just linked to, specifically the part on rivals, made me imagine it as though someone else had won the competition, and how I would feel. I just cannot let that happen, and that immediately ignited my motivation to work a lot harder at it. So that’s an alternative form to the method you talked about. I know that I really want to win this, because it would be great for me in so many ways. I know that I will win it.

    So anyway, I do agree with your post.

    • great advice.

      i was getting at the thought of competition winning – the possibility that you won’t achieve your goal and use that as motivation in the end of my post. can sometimes be a bad thing in terms of ego stuff but definitely a good source of motivation before you become enlightened and ditch the ego

      thinking of hte moment when you’re up there doing your thing on stage, like combining motivation with visualisation – kind of reminds you why you must do what you’re putting off and i find it really helps.

      thanks for your comment
      alex

  4. I think that’s an awesome question, always a good reality check, to see if you’re on the right track.

    I was laughing when I read the title, because I actually made a videopost a few days ago about one question you can ask yourself to stop procrastinating.

    If you’re interested, you can check it out here

    • Hey Matt.

      really like your “why not” video. great motivation to take action.

      thanks for the comment.

      check back soon
      alex

  5. Very nice :) !

    Also its about setting your priorities when you ask youself “Do I want this”. I guess some things you will want but only to a mild degree, and then it’s best to decide if it is really what you want or if its better to go after what your heart really wants:)

    Add some affiliate products on your page:)

    Peace !
    :)

    • completely, good ‘ol 80-20 on actions versus results. definitely a part of it but wanted to keep it simple and just run through stopping productivity.

      don’t want to spam up my site, rather take the high road and be real :) might affiliate some stuff that i really believe in (sedona etc) in the future but focusing on content for now.

      keep it real
      alex

  6. Useful question. Now the challenge is to remember to ask myself this as I go about my daily procrastination. ;)

    I like your addition to the question, especially the “it’s up to me” part. Taking responsibility for making success (or failure) in our lives is essential.

    • Hey Laurie :)

      yup, that’s usually tougher than acutally knowing what to do. crazy creatures us humans :P

      very big on responsibility. working on a big responsibility piece at the moment actually.

      thanks for your comment!
      alex

  7. really great post and a great question too! i will definitely start asking myself that more often.

    • great, let me know how it goes.

      thanks for the comment
      alex

  8. So funny because i have an exam tomorrow and i’m reading this to procrastinate!

    great stuff
    well done!
    m*

    • Hey Michelle.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Good luck for your exam!
      Alex

  9. Do I want this.

    Simple and genius!

    I do something a little different.

    If I get frustrated or start to procrastinate, I simply count to ten and ask myself whether I want to do what I’m doing.

    It’s pretty much the same as your approach except I add in the 10 second countdown. This particularly works with junkfood as after I’m finished counting down 99% of the time I don’t indulge.

    Congrats on the blog, it looks great!

    Liam McIvor Martin

    • awwwsome stuff.

      counting can be incredibly helpful – creates some space when it seems like there’s no way out – like all you can do is procrastinate. zooms you out.

      thanks for the comment!
      alex

  10. The close your eye and feel like how you feel when you have completed this task is great. When I don’t feel like studying (which happens pretty often ;) ) I do this and it works great for me.

    Good post Alex!

    • great.

      really drives you to actually do something, and even though you might not find doing it enjoyable, the end is worth it.

      thanks for the comment!
      alex

  11. Love it. Very simple, yet effective advice. I guess that’s what’s kept me motivated to keep writing every single day. I keep asking myself do I want to be free of the need to find a job and work for somebody else.

    • Hey Srinivas.

      Glad you like it. completely what motivates me too. that feeling of making something happen, something that you want. wakes me up often from the daze of “just getting by”.

      i like the way you switch it up to the worst case of employment :p sends tingles up and down me bones :)

      thanks for the comment.

      check back soon
      alex

  12. Kam

    Alex Alex Alex…… this is so cool… sorry for the lack of a better description…. I had to ready my 1007th article on the Lions Tour and see Ronaldo in shorts, pearls and a flower attached to his head…. hmmm

    But I love the question: Do I really want this

    Great stuff, MR!!

    • Hey Kammy-booo!! =D

      i’m glad you likes!! shorts and pearls i can understand… but a flower too?! yikes.

      glad you like it.

      check back again soon.
      thanks for the comment
      alex

  13. Thank you for your post. Procrastination is something I really struggle with. I sometimes overcome it, and often (like now) I don’t.

    1. I find that it helps to let go of the need to do something completely, or perfectly, or in one sitting. I read somewhere that just tell yourself you will work on it for 5-10 min. Or you will just write 50 words. Or you’re just going to create a rough draft. Often it’s better to finish something than not finish anything at all. It helps me get started.

    2. I have noticed that nine times out of ten when I am procrastinating it is because I have not defined my goals and sub-goals clearly enough. Clarity helps.

    3. Sometimes it is because I am emotionally overwhelmed. Then I just try to do something else till I feel a little better – talk to my parents, watch something funny, read blogs :-) or listen to music.

    • Hey mountaindreamer,

      number 1 is really solid advice. one of my favourite quotes – by Seth Godin is, “The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.” :)

      so definitely, especially if you’re procrastinating – get something done – anything – even a little bit to get the ball rolling and build some momentum that’ll help beat the procrastination altogether. really cool advice.

      number 2 is also really good advice. funny you say it actually cos was thinking earlier that often i procrastinate planning something even though the doing is easy. perfectionism stuff.

      thanks for the comment, really insightful stuff!

      check back again soon
      all the best
      alex

  14. veryyy intresting coz i suffer big time from procrastinating…..
    with this attitude you’ll def reach your dreams and become some1 successful…

    p.s. hopefully bump into you in longstreet or garden center ;-)

    • haha nooeeeh worries perlaaa-boo.

      i’ll stop ripping you off about being a super-groupie. i’ll just call you a normal groupie from now on :P

      thanks for the comment
      all the best
      alex

  15. Thanks for this post. I’ve found procrastination, like you suggest, only occurs on things I don’t want to do – the dishes, the laundry, etc, etc. For things like that, I normally just sit down, and forbid myself to do anything. Just stare at the wall for 10 minutes. I never make it to 10, I’ll just get up and do my dishes then ;) Let me know if you try this technique haha!

    • Hey Albert!!

      I definitely experience that kind of procrastination, and your suggestion is GENIUS!! completely flipping the situation on itself :) definitely going to try it.

      …i do find though that i procrastinate in another way – often. Almost out of a sense of perfectionism. Like i’ll be studying for a big exam and i won’t be able to do a question so i’ll get up and make some coffee. sit back down. still can’t do it. get up go do something else. you know… :) almost putting off challenging myself in a sense. – this question really helps for that kind of thing, not so much for the dishes :)

      Cool to hear from you – really like your site! :)

      Check back again soon
      all the best
      alex

  16. Hey there, first of nice blog. I think this is mayor sticking point in all of self help. Its the doing that brings the results, im not saying im a champ or anything, because this information will certainly help me :P

    I actually use Lame life sometimes, and the answer is always the same Shocking :P

    Cheers

    • Hey Kahem.

      Happens to all of us – and i’m kinda glad – makes us stronger :)

      thanks for the comment
      keep in touch
      alex

  17. I’ve found that procastination is useful in its own way. When I want to evade facing that one important task, I do a thousand other
    less-important-but-necessary-nonetheless tasks that need my attention. And only when I run out of things in that league, do I find myself with nothing between me and that goal. It’s always been a process with me; its usefulness happens to be a by-product though. The aim has always been to – well – procastrinate.

    Next time, which is going to be in 15 minutes, I’m going to try your friend’s method! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Hey Puneet.

      Good point. can definitely be a good thing. thanks for pointing that out :) interesting take :P

      but at the same time important is important – and while the less important, but necessary, tasks need to be done… the important ones are…well, important :)

      let us know how it works out!

      thanks for the comment

      keep well
      alex

  18. I think this is the most succinct post I’ve ever read on procrastination. And it’s certainly powerful. I’m going to practice that on myself too for my future goals. Thanks Alex! :)

  19. I like this post. In case you’re still looking for techniques, I wanted to share this.. It’s a bit from a lifehacker article “Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret”.. I personally use this technique for battling procrastination, and general motivation and found it to be effective.

    Years ago when Seinfeld was a new television show, Jerry Seinfeld was still a touring comic. At the time, I was hanging around clubs doing open mic nights and trying to learn the ropes. One night I was in the club where Seinfeld was working, and before he went on stage, I saw my chance. I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…

    He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

    He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

    He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

    He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

    “Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

    http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret

  20. Hey Alex,

    Beat procrastination by analyzing what the most important task is to get your goal done, then just do it.

    Start. Ignore the rest. Focus on the one task. That’s all you need to do. It’s the 20% that will give you 80% results. Do it and you got the essential accomplished.

    Of course, you ask yourself if the goal is important to you in the first place :)

    Great succinct article,
    Oleg

  21. Yo Al, your work is cool!

    I like what I read very much. You to the point and illustrate to many what we know but dont acknowledge. A point in the right direction is always needed.
    Keep up what you doing, progress is difined by success!

    Peace
    -Chad

  22. Hi Alex,

    Just wanted to add one bit to your post. When I think about how badly I want it, I like to create a comparison. I ask myself “Do I really want to eat a donut more than a six-pack?” I always focus on the short term vs long term view and ask myself if I am a short term person and can’t make good decisions or a long term person that will succeed in life. Hopefully this may help you as well.

    Best,
    Viktor

  23. Really informative post! I really like your suggestion because at the end of the day it is about putting results before comfort and facing reality about the consequences of your choices and actions.

    I think it also helps to create an environment that will support you rather than tempt you to do other things. ie: remove distractions, have motivating structures, etc really helps me!

    Thanks

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