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Day 29: Conquering Procrastination

I've dealt with procrastination countless times. In my article about pseudo work, I even stated that procrastination is the highest form of self-deception. I believe it goes deeper; procrastinators surrender to their feelings.

Procrastination is incredibly cunning. It feels good in the moment and lures you in. Instead of tackling the actual task, it constantly whispers, "Do this. Do that. Dust off the cabinet. Quickly screw that screw into the wood. Retrieve the laundry from the basement."

But no matter how you procrastinate, by evening, when you want to go to sleep, the guilt creeps in, making it clear that you haven't accomplished anything. Bitter!

Even though I often write about it, I'm not cured of procrastination. It still overcomes me from time to time, but I've developed a strategy to deal with it.

Being productive within procrastination

If I'm putting off the main task, I try to at least do something else meaningful. Instead of randomly dusting a cabinet or rearranging shoes, I choose another important task that needs to be done. The main task may still be waiting, but I at least get something else important done.

However, it's essential not to overdo it. If you constantly give in to procrastination, your mind gets accustomed to postponing things. This leads to a negative learning effect. I use this method only when I feel that overcoming procrastination would require too much effort at that moment.

Creating a strict structure

The far better solution for combating procrastination is to establish a rigid daily structure. Wake up early, stick to fixed routines, and begin work immediately, preferably during a period of deep, uninterrupted work (Deep Work). The earlier in the day, the better!

The following plan has consistently worked for me:

  • Wake up at 4:30 AM
  • 30 minutes of reading
  • 30 minutes of meditation
  • 30 minutes of exercise
  • 3 hours of Deep Work

I complete this plan by 9 AM. Mornings make it particularly easy for me to enter a state of Deep Work since distractions from phone calls, social media, and personal messages are minimal at that time. It's also easy to disable all notifications. Who expects an immediate response at 7 AM?

Accomplishing major tasks early in the day provides an immediate sense of achievement. It's a way to prove to yourself that you can tackle challenging tasks with focus. This boosts self-confidence and releases a hefty dose of dopamine. Since we're all dopamine junkies, our bodies quickly learn that this routine feels good.

The idea of creating a strict structure is highly effective. However, it requires a clear mind. If you've been tired or sleep-deprived in recent days, this method won't help much. Also, it's crucial to get the basics right and attend to your fundamental needs. No matter how well you adhere to all the rules, overcoming procrastination will always be challenging if the fundamentals aren't in place.

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