- Lesson 1: Why Do We Procrastinate So Much?
- Lesson 2: The Un-Importance of Goals: Why Goals Are Overrated
- Lesson 3: Two Types of Procrastination: Which One Do You Do?
- Lesson 4: How to Motivate Yourself, Intentionally
- Lesson 5: Choice Architecture: Avoid Procrastination WITHOUT Willpower
- Lesson 6: A Two-Step Social Strategy to Overcome Procrastination and Boost Motivation
- Lesson 7: Manage Your Energy, Not Time To Beat Procrastination
- Lesson 8: How to Stick to Any Goal Despite Temptation
- Lesson 9: How to Break Your Procrastination Habit (Realistic Solution)
- Lesson 10: A Guide to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed for Procrastinators
- Lesson 11: Stop Smartphone Addiction Without Using Willpower
- Lesson 12: How to Stop Procrastinating (Even If You’re Lazy) 📌
Author’s Note: This post summaries everything in the Stop Procrastinating Without Willpower free course. Feel free to use the navigation or the links down below.
Discipline is overrated.
Motivational gurus make you believe that being “disciplined” is the key to every hard problem related to success–especially stopping procrastination.
They make you believe that it’s your fault for becoming a lazy bastard and having no goals.
The best part is, they try to solve your inaction by giving you courage–as if fear is the only thing that stops you from following through.
And then there are some B.S. tips like “forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past” or “top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t procrastinate” or “Step 1: recognize that you’re procrastinating” just because there’s a study that proves it. Seriously, they’re fucking stupid–garbage content made without an ounce of thought given to the problem’s roots.
Here’s the truth: These guys don’t know shit about how human behavior, let alone how psychology works.
We already know that procrastination creates “should have’s” and the “could have’s”. The problem is that knowing isn’t enough. Heck, we always know what to do! The real problem is we don’t feel like it.
And that’s going to change today.
Side Note: Some awesome readers on Reddit seemed to like this article!
By the way, if you want to access the free cheat sheet, just click here.
- Three Phases of Overcoming Procrastination
- Chapter 1: The Four Horsemen of Procrastination
- Chapter 2. Working With Your Psychology to Stop Procrastinating
- Chapter 3. Anti-Procrastination Tactics
- Bonus #1: How to Stop Procrastinating In College and Start Studying
- Bonus #2: Best YouTube Videos on Overcoming Procrastination
- BONUS #3: Best Resources on Procrastination
- What Next? Closing Thoughts
Three Phases of Overcoming Procrastination
Here’s my guarantee: You’re not required to finish everything in this guide before you can have results—and that’s what I want for you—an easy-to-digest plan that gets the job done.
- The anti-procrastination mental model. If you think you can power your way through beating procrastination and behavioral problems, then you’ve already lost half of the battle. When you go to a city in China, you won’t use a map of Tokyo–obviously, you’ll go get the right map. In the same way, dealing with procrastination requires you to get the right idea of its principles. We’ll tackle this in Chapter 1.
- We’ll use science-based strategies. Alright, you might be thinking, “they might be science-based, but this is real life.” We’re not going to use just another scientific strategy out there, but rather those that have survived the test of time and have been confirmed in multiple occasions to work wonders with behavior change.
- Tactics will be used here and there. Not just any tactic, FYI—they must be highly relevant and solve a big problem fast. These will give you even more specific tools that build upon the strategies previously discussed, but they’re highly situational. Given, my criterion still holds: it must be a big, recurring problem i.e. smartphone addiction.
Chapter 1: The Four Horsemen of Procrastination
If I can point out the biggest thing holding you back from beating procrastination, it’s your mental model. Your mental model is the “lens” in which you decode the meaning of reality. Of course, you can have plenty of these just like you can have plenty of beliefs.
Your beliefs largely dictate your behavior. Believing in the wrong thing simply results in acting in the wrong way. Later in this guide, you’ll learn that the other way around is also true—your behavior reshapes your beliefs.
This chapter will reshape your “lenses” into one that sees procrastination in a different light.
Lie #1: “You’re not disciplined enough/You’re too lazy”
The idea that self-discipline is correlated with achievement is just that–correlation. We know from statistics that a strong correlation doesn’t mean a cause-and-effect relationship. That said, self-disciplined people have two secrets that might explain this:
One, their everyday life doesn’t require them to use much of their willpower.1
Two, they have a good foundation of habits—aka behaviors that don’t require willpower.2
Do you see what I’m talking about? These people are “disciplined” not because they use self-control a lot, but because they don’t use self-control a lot.
And because of that, they’re able to use their mental energy where it’s needed most: to control their reactions to their emotions, (anxiety, anger, for example), and most importantly, to persevere. Why isn’t this possible for a lot of us?
Well, I think you’ll agree that procrastination is mostly a decision-making problem—it’s irrational3 The trouble is that self-control uses the same mental resources we use for decision-making. 4 Therefore, if we don’t structure our lives and habits as these “disciplined” people do, then we’re bound to make poorer decisions—including the act of allegiance: putting things off.
Lie #2: “You need to aim really high and set goals that motivate you”
Motivational gurus tell you to “aim high” or don’t. “If you’re not acting, it may be you don’t want it enough.” “Set goals that motivate you.”
But for how long does the mere idea of a goal motivate you? More importantly, how long is your brain going to cling on a far, far away result for your motivation? The answer is: not for long.
Cal Newport interviewed hundreds of Straight-A students across the country—the best students from the best universities. These students, obviously, had a common goal of excelling at school and getting straight-A’s for every subject. At the end of his interviews, Cal Newport had an astonishing conclusion: In contrast to their less accomplished peers, Straight-A students don’t rely on good intentions. These bright students know that at one point or another, their goals wouldn’t be enough to stop them from putting tasks off.
And so they have systems in place to counteract the tendency. (Work progress journals, making events out of ugly tasks, designating hard days, prioritizing sleep, etc.) I’ll talk about that later in the bonus chapter, so stay tuned.
Anyway, I hate to say it, but without systems, goals suck. Four reasons why:
- Goals are ambiguous. Think of ambiguity as procrastination’s best friend. Even at the task level, when what you’re doing requires a lot of guesswork, procrastination becomes inevitable. Thus, motivating ourselves using huge, but abstract goals won’t work; we want the opposite. Merely hoping for results doesn’t work—acting on it systematically does.
- Goals are based on emotion, not action. Emotion fuels action, but goals aren’t enough to generate it in the long run. When things aren’t going your way, it’s too easy to get demotivated and not show up. That’s ironic, because the chances of reaching your goal just dropped the moment you did that. In any case, systems and workflows will make you a process-based thinker as opposed to being result-based.
- Rewards are too far. When the rewards are too far, your motivation doesn’t have a chance to recharge along the journey. This ties well to point #2: It’s easy to get demotivated when you experience multiple setbacks without getting any sort of reward—even if you’re always showing up and doing the right thing. Systems, on the other hand, reward you for acting rather than achieving.
- Leads to black-and-white thinking. It’s difficult not to feel bad when you fall short of your goals. But guess what? Your efforts aren’t really wasted. They’re just not recognized—more appropriately, you didn’t recognize them. Systems allow you to objectively see the effort you put in whether you achieved your goal or not.
Most importantly, with systems, you can have the lowest motivation and do the bare minimum, but achieving your goals will be inevitable.
It’s simple, logical, and works with your psychology—that’s why it works.
Lie #3: “I work better under pressure”
While the previous two focus on some mythbusting, I still want to call you out on your bullshit. You do not work better under pressure. Nobody does.
Most likely, you’ve told this to yourself because you’re an active procrastinator rather than a passive one—you intentionally put things off until the deadline in order to “pressure” yourself into action. But here’s the deal: You’re also intentionally being reactive, rather than proactive.
Actively delaying your tasks and relying on a deadly deadline might cost you more than you think—maybe your career, if not your sanity.
This is dangerous (and stressful) because you assume that nothing bad is going to happen when you reach that point in time. 5
Deadlines can be motivating—but there are far better ways to achieve the same effect without putting the quality of your work at risk.
Lie #4: “I need to feel motivated. I need to watch motivational videos”
Sorry, but motivation doesn’t work that way. Motivational videos might work as a “wake up call,” but that’s it—it’s a quick-fix rather than a long-term strategy.
So, what are you going to do now?
Play with four players of the motivation game:
- Increase Expectancy. This is your confidence to finish the task you’re doing. Recall that ambiguity makes you lose motivation—this is why. Sometimes, it’s fear of failure. Eliminating these two problems increases expectancy.
- Increase Value. This is the reward you get from doing the task. In more recent psychology studies, it was found that we can derive value from doing the task itself. Perhaps it’s because of doing a purposeful task or a fun one. The point is, feeling good while or after doing a task increases our motivation—this is actually common sense if you think about it.
- Decrease Impulsiveness. This is our human tendency to get sidetracked—the “I’d rather do other things” trait. Minimizing Impulsiveness is the most powerful way to defeat procrastination. Again, the solution is structuring our lives like the “disciplined” people.
- Decrease Delay. Obviously, this is the time in between an action and the reward. Big goals may be high in Value, but they are low in the Expectancy and high in the Delay part.
Watching motivational videos create that inspired feeling, but it doesn’t get close to manipulating these variables. Not even close.
Chapter 2. Working With Your Psychology to Stop Procrastinating
A lot of content online seems to treat procrastination as a “procrastination” problem instead of a behavioral/decision-making/psychological one. And they just this problem more complicated than it actually is.
The best way to deal with procrastination is by working with your psychology.
If you’ve noticed, technology has become habit-forming—a lot of addictive apps have infinite news feeds and rewarding notifications. In other words, they’re working with our psychology to make us act to their liking. To make matters worse, the presence of our friends and family in these services made it difficult for us to quit.
This uprising just emphasizes the need to stop relying on willpower and self-discipline all the time. Why? Because if they can work with our psychology to make us act, then we can do it, too.
In other words, there are better ways to ignite your ass into action without draining your mental energy on some recurring problems. So let me say this for you:
Willpower is a secondary strategy for beating procrastination. And it shouldn’t be used as a long-term, primary strategy. In this chapter, you’ll learn the primary strategies that work with your psychology so you can make willpower basically irrelevant. This is how you master your behavior. Read on.
Environment Engineering: The Most Powerful Way to Master Your Behavior
There’s this thing in psychology called Fundamental Attribution Error that describes a bias of the human brain to actually label a person immediately without considering the person’s situation. See, we are mostly a product of our situation—our environment. But our brain’s bias makes it unnoticeable. The thing is, we can either choose to fall victim to our environment, or we can re-engineer it ourselves.
Our behaviors are driven by prompts6—sometimes called triggers or cues. They activate cravings for certain behaviors without the need for conscious thought. Triggers are the reason why you see people on the bus scrolling through news feeds like they’re drunk gamblers using slot machines. (We’ll dive deeper into how that kind of behavior repeats itself and gets mindlessly programmed into our own brains in the Habits Section.)
For now, because we learned that seeing/feeling triggers activate certain behaviors, what we want to do is prevent the triggers of our procrastination habits. We do that through engineering our environment.
- Determine what triggers invite you to do a habitual behavior. For example, if you see a book in your room, it invites you to read. If you have a PS4 and a television in your room, it invites you to play. If you have a smartphone in your room, it invites you to, well, do almost everything in there—but most likely social media or email. Basically, when you notice habitually doing something, determine what triggers it.
- Classify them as positive, negative, or neutral. Depending on your intentions, some triggers may actually be serving rather than distracting. As Nir Eyal says, “You don’t know if something’s a distraction if you don’t know what it’s distracting you from.” Placing snacks in your bedroom might be negative for someone trying to lose weight, but might be positive/neutral for someone who wants to get heavier.
- Remove the negative, add positives. If you stay in a room with 4 water dispensers near you, you’ll inevitably drink more water. On the contrary, if you stay in a room filled with 10 jars of cookies at plain sight, guess what happens next? Remove the things that make you act against your good intentions, and add those that make you act on it.
Your Environment Isn’t Limited to Your Physical Surroundings
The “environment” we know usually refers to the physical environment—mainly, the objects in our surroundings. But it’s more than that. Just as “home” refers to the “family inside the house,” our environment can also refer to the people in it—people we spend most of our time with.
CrossFit and NerdFitness are good examples. They’re both group fitness classes that have been going on for more than a decade now. Both have members that joined depressed, unmotivated, and everything in between—and then got into the best shape of their lives (both physically and emotionally) using their programs.
The secret wasn’t just in the exercise program itself, though. It’s the consistency generated from the community. (social accountability, good peer pressure) Anyone with experience in weightlifting, strength training, or bodybuilding will tell you the same thing: Consistency is better than the best program out there.
Community drives massive behavior change—we’re social animals. You can have all the best goals in the world, but if your three social groups “the close, the many, the powerful” are against it, then you’ll have a harder time becoming consistent.
Time Management Isn’t Enough. Do This Instead.
This part is more on the productivity side rather than on the “beat procrastination” side, but it ties well to mental energy—might as well include it.
I’ve read lots of books on “productivity”, and after the n-th book, I started to realize something—energy management is better than time management.
Measuring time when working is a ghost of the Industrial Revolution; laborers paid workers for time rather than output because it’s cheaper, and so they have to measure it to manage it.
But knowledge work is different—the quality of your outputs will depend on how much energy you can dedicate into it. Yet because we think “time management”, most of us today even exchange sleep time for work time. Whenever we compromise sleep, though, it doesn’t matter how good our Getting Things Done system is—our performance will suck.
As if it isn’t bad enough, people think time management is absolute. Let’s say you’ve scheduled your most important task at noon. You’re optimistic, have a lot of space—except you’re always sluggish at noon. Do you honestly think you’ll get meaningful work done? I suppose not.
Because you’re not Bumblebee, your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. There will be times when you feel like you’re on top of the world, and there will be times when you feel like you just want to sleep for a year. What you want is to take advantage of these peaks where you have the most willpower and energy.
Hack Your Motivation Using Commitment Escalation Strategies
While other articles tell you to “commit” to something to stop procrastinating, I’m going to tell you something different: Commitment isn’t just a conscious decision—it’s also a psychological thing. If you don’t take care of the psychological part, your actions won’t align with your commitments in the long run. Think of New Year’s Resolutions and I won’t need to give you any more proof. Instead, I’m going to tell you exactly how to use your own psychology to commit yourself into what your goals and systems are.
- Precommitment Strategy. Create a point of no return to stop temptations on its tracks—similar to redesigning the environment, but on steroids. As the story goes, the novelist Victor Hugo also struggled with procrastination just like any of us. Publishers have deadlines and he couldn’t possibly put that off. He then precommitted to work by locking his clothes up. I don’t know if he’s butt-naked, though, but because someone brings him food I have to assume he’s not. This led to the creation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, arguably one of the best stories in history. Just using his strategy alone will take you far.
- Commitment Escalation. Our brain has this bias called the Sunk Cost Fallacy that makes us value things we have spent “the three currencies” on—time, money, and energy. Spending more of at least one of these into a goal makes you less likely to abandon it because you’ve “already invested into it.” (which, objectively speaking, is irrational—and that’s a good thing in our case because our brains will default into it.)
- Exploit Hyperbolic Discounting. We have a natural tendency to value immediate rewards over larger, later ones. Hence, it’s important that we tweak our tasks to fit this criteria by shrinking the task, getting better at it, or making rewards more immediate.
How to Automatically Make Progress Without Forcing Yourself
I’ve always loved a quote from Aristotle that says “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” We are a product of our habits. But as habits can be a good thing, it can also be a bad thing. The biggest benefit of habits, though, is it makes motivation irrelevant.
Have you ever tried to force yourself to brush your teeth? If it’s a habit, then of course you won’t need to.
The problem is we were taught at a young age that habits are something that’s built through repetition, repetition, repetition—that it’s hard at first, so you have to power through it until it becomes automatic.
While it sounds chivalrous to build a habit out of willpower, it really doesn’t have to be hard because habit-building can be made easy. With the help of behavioral psychology, literally anyone can build the habits they want no matter how lazy they think they are. Whether that be:
- Reading more this year
- Studying every day
- Working out more consistently
- Doing cardio every day
- Drinking more water
- Writing more consistently
This will allow you to make automatic progress in any task. As a personal example, I wanted to read more books in 2019 for the reason that the act of writing requires you to read widely—but I started thinking about it seriously only in September that year.
That’s when I first read and implemented the four major strategies in Atomic Habits by James Clear. Ever since I implemented the strategies, (I didn’t even implement all 4, just 2) I’ve been reading almost every day for 163 days now and never lapsed for no good reason.
Not only that, but you’ll take advantage of a domino effect of benefits—as you get more consistent with, say, reading, you’ll not only accumulate knowledge throughout the year, but you’ll also inevitably get better at reading. That makes books that truly expand your thinking (i.e. harder books) more accessible. In the habit game, slow and steady is the new cool. If you want to do the same—to make automatic progress and make motivation irrelevant—simply follow the 4 Rules of Behavior Change:
- Make it Obvious. Again, habits are automatic behaviors initiated by triggers. The most obvious triggers are objects in your physical surroundings, but it could also be a regularly-occurring event like “entering the bathroom” “before I sleep” “after I wake up.” Specifically, time and location. By making these triggers more obvious, you’ll massively increase your motivation to do a habit.
- Make it Attractive. Behaviors are attractive when the people around you approve of your habit or do the same. On the contrary, it is unattractive when the people around you disapprove of it. Therefore, it’s not only the physical surroundings that count—your social environment counts, too.
- Make it Easy. Start really, really small. I mean as little as reading 2 pages a day, for example. Building habits doesn’t have to be hard or require a ton of willpower—because we can make willpower irrelevant by using strategies described earlier. But as James Clear says, establish a habit first before you optimize it.
- Make it Satisfying. While the three previous laws make a habit possible, this last law reinforces a habit into your brain so it learns to repeat it again. Brushing your teeth wasn’t even a habit back then in America—until some crazy guy introduced a flavor to make brushing a rewarding habit. Brushing became a default (hence, attractive) behavior since then.
Chapter 3. Anti-Procrastination Tactics
Like I said, my tactics are the ones that solve a huge problem and aren’t really principles you can apply to other problems (as compared to the previous concepts). But I made sure they solve it at its roots. What you’ll notice, though, is that I still use some of the principles above to create these tactics. So these should also serve as a good example on how to apply the principles above in specific problems like overwhelm or smartphone addiction.
When You’re Overwhelmed
Ironically, overwhelm leads to more procrastination, which leads to tasks piling up, and leads to—you guessed it—more overwhelm. So how do we stop this downward spiral of shit from consuming us whole? The first and most important thing to do is eliminate uncertainty and ambiguity, as these two are the primary source of unproductive mental effort. The second is to “raise our shields” by increasing our competence.
Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize, says:
“A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”
For this reason, you must have a system for breaking down your goals and your ugly tasks down to easily manageable bits, as well as deliberate efforts to improve mastery.
Recently, I discovered Tiago Forte’s PARA system to solve this problem, but back then, I used a simpler strategy I named the SOS Method. (It’s a fancy name but I have to call it something, at least)
- Shrink. Big actions require big motivation, and that’s a problem. So, turn your most important goals into sub-goals, monthly goals, weekly goals, daily goals. Or if you have a huge, hideous task in front of you, shrink it down until it’s less ugly. Your emotional brain will thank you for it.
- Outgrow. In contrast, you can go the other way around and instead of shrinking your goals, simply outgrow them by improving your skills. I found that when I’m demotivated, it’s because I perceive some incompetence on my side. When that happens, I can either shrink the task as stated above, or consume content that helps me revise my strategy.
- Success. This is just a matter of prioritization. When you’re executing the tasks, start with the most important first so your willpower is still high. Like I said, you use your willpower to persevere rather than to start. If you’ve done the strategies above, then you’re not in the inertia stage anymore—you’re now in the momentum stage.
When You’re Addicted to Smartphone Use
There are three reasons why you’re—no, everybody is addicted to smartphones:
- Smartphones and their digital services are habit-forming. They’re brimming with rewards and pseudo-discoveries at every scroll.
- Utility fallacy. Is social media the best tool to use for making friends, talking to them, and learning more about them? Nope—but we justify social media use for these reasons.
- Fear of missing out. I’m talking about smartphone addiction, but behind all of this, the real problem is social media. Social media makes you feel like you’re missing out on something. But using it makes you miss out on real-life events. The question becomes: “What are you willing to miss out on?”
The solution, as Cal Newport defines it, is:
“A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”
Enter Digital Minimalism—except we’ll do it without the willpower problems most people face when attempting it. You can call it Digital Minimalism on Steroids. (Or not.)
Bonus #1: How to Stop Procrastinating In College and Start Studying
Okay, here’s the bonus I’m talking about earlier. It might already be obvious from this post, but one of my “productivity heroes” is Cal Newport—a computer science professor at Georgetown University and author of Deep Work.
Before that, though, he also authored another book on “school success” targeted to all students trying to get better grades at school (without killing themselves) titled How to Become a Straight-A Student. Basically, studying less and earning higher grades while still having a life.
I read it back in College and I remembered there was a chapter about Straight-A students beating procrastination using techniques similar to those described in this guide. I thought I’d be doing you a misservice if I didn’t include the ideas here—so here they are.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, all of the students Cal Newport interviewed for the book said they were not able to defeat procrastination. They’re not able to defeat it and they don’t even fight it. Were they that gifted to become straight-A students of prestigious universities despite procrastinating? Actually, no. Their difference from the regular students was that they always tried to find ways to minimize their procrastination habits and/or at least minimize its effect.
They do not just rely on their willpower and good intentions to do so, but instead they “short-circuit” their natural desire to procrastinate. (FYI: This book was published way back in 2006—it’s way ahead of its time.) Here are their proven strategies:
- Keep a 1-sentence journal at the end of your to-do list. At the end of the day, if you haven’t been able to follow your plan for some reason, then put that specific reason at the end of your schedule/to-do list. This way, you’ll have an objective view of what’s really keeping you from doing the work you’re set out to do. (Usually, I found that it’s just a lack of sleep.)
- Protect the asset, feed the machine. It’s common sense that you need to recharge your energy so you can meet the demands of your tasks—sadly, common sense isn’t common action. You have to treat sleep and your nutrition seriously. Again, like in point #1, that might only be the reason you’re procrastinating all along. But without the energy to do anything at all, then you’re essentially creating a surefire way to not start.
- Make an event out of the worst tasks. Have you ever had a task so horrible you can’t help but avoid it? If you can make an event out of it, say, going to go to a coffee shop just to finish it, then you are guaranteed to do it regardless of your urge to procrastinate. To add a little bit more oomph, hold yourself accountable to others by telling them you’re going to meet them after you’re done with your work at a certain time. (It adds a deadline, too. But not a high-stake, career-ending deadline.)
- Build a realistic routine you can do everyday. And when I say realistic, I mean shrinking your tasks, spacing them out to manageable portions, and then taking breaks in between working sessions. You see, “discipline” can go in two ways—pushing yourself to do something productive, or pulling yourself out of a counterproductive action. If you don’t pull yourself out of it, then you won’t be able to recharge your energy and willpower—you’ll burn out easily.
- Choose your hard days. Hard days are those days where you make a ‘pact’ to yourself that you’re going to pour in all of your energy and work without distractions (this is key!) to finish everything. Don’t get me wrong, though—this is different from cramming. Cramming has the additional pressure of a nearby deadline waiting calmly to stress your brains out. By pre-deciding and blocking out time for hard days, you’ll immediately ease their impact and you can treat yourself with a well-deserved “easy” day afterward. (So you don’t burn your shit out.)
Just these 5 tips served me well back in Engineering. If you’re a college/high school student, these are the most practical pieces of advice you can find—proven and tested by Straight-A students across top universities in the US.
Bonus #2: Best YouTube Videos on Overcoming Procrastination
If you’re not much of a reader, then these videos might help you. (They’re free, but please don’t add them to Watch Later…)
- Successful By Design’s FREE Course Playlist. This course was previously a paid course some time ago in Udemy—the author, Kosio Angelov, has made it completely free on YouTube. Why? Because he’s awesome. I put it first because it’s practical and easy to understand.
- How to Get 1% Better Every Day – James Clear. Like investing, putting in a small amount of money each day eventually yields a buttload of cash. Habits work the same way—do something good consistently, and you’ll reap a steady stream of huge, positive rewards later on. If you want to build good habits or break bad ones as easy as possible (combined with interesting stories), James Clear is the one to listen to. In fact, most of my advice related to Habit-Building is highly influenced by his.
- BJ Fogg’s TEDx Talk on Tiny Habits. BJ Fogg is THE expert on behavioral science and I highly recommend you devour his content. I subscribe to his weekly newsletter and get tons of value that you’ll rarely see on the internet about habits and making behavior easy to change. I also read his academic paper about his behavior model and it’s even more awesome.
- BJ Fogg’s Presentation on Motivation Waves. Motivation is a fluctuating “emotion” we treat as fuel for our actions. BJ Fogg clears up the mess created by motivational gurus that made us think “motivation is key to achievement”.
BONUS #3: Best Resources on Procrastination
By and large, this guide is just my attempt to clarify my thinking on human behavior and psychology. It’s not perfect by any means, but I’ll argue that it’s useful at the very least. That said, I didn’t get all of these ideas out of my ass—I studied the works of the masters. If you liked this guide, then there’s a high chance you’ll like their works, too.
All of the books mentioned in this post are affiliate links; if you buy a book through one of these links, I get a small commission at no additional cost to you. That said, I only recommend books I’ve read and loved.
- BJ Fogg, Ph. D.
- Timothy Pychyl
- Dr. Piers Steel
- James Clear: Atomic Habits and his blog
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
- The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
- The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
- How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport
- Nudge by Richard Thaler (Nobel Memorial Prize Winner)
Anyway, if you think I’ve missed some references here (I probably have) just let me know and I’ll add it.
What Next? Closing Thoughts
I hate to say it, but maximizing your productivity doesn’t end with beating procrastination—it’s just half of the battle. But (good news) it is the hardest half of the battle. Continuing is easy; it’s the “getting started” part that’s filled with all the crap—fear of failure, a bunch of habit triggers, lack of energy, abstractness, smartphone addiction, and overwhelm.
Soon enough, I will take you to the next half of the battle: Productivity. If you haven’t realized it already, the realm of productivity requires an entirely different set of mindsets and strategies in order to unleash your full potential. I’m still testing it out and have been reading a lot about it, so let’s learn together as I share with you all of the things I’ve learned about personal productivity.
- Fogg (2009) A behavior model for persuasive design