Procrastination doesn’t necessary make you less productive but it delays achieving real goals. Many people work hard but a small percentage build great companies. Working hard could be a way to avoid more complex tasks that require thinking and research. It's an easy escape to what's obvious and easy.
Ten years ago I thought I was a lazy person. I've been told so in high school: smart but lazy. But what is laziness? Were there any reasons behind? And if there were reasons: was it a characteristic of me as a person? Or was it just a combination of lacking proper tools and motivation? I think so.
Having this in mind, anyone can convert from a "lazy person" to a person who achieves more goals. Nevertheless, laziness and then procrastination are contagious. Humans tend to follow simple routes that are easy to navigate and reap quick rewards.
Let’s understand the enemy: when you postpone something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences – it’s procrastination. If you do this frequently, you can be framed as a lazy person.
The usual procrastination scenario is reading social media, watching YouTube or nervously eating instead of doing something important for their life or career.
Founders are different: they try to be productive. The usual scenario for founders is doing some simpler tasks missing an elephant in the room. But being busy doesn’t move one anywhere, getting results does.
Two main reasons of procrastination
- The task itself is boring and there’s no visible reward in the end. Why do something when there’s no reward? It's demotivating.
- The task is complex and you don’t have an idea how to approach it. Tackling complex tasks at once is hard or impossible. Why to knock on a door when you're not sure it's even a door?
Let's deal with boring tasks. Would you watch a 5 hours movie? Only if it brings you joy and makes you a smarter or better person. Maybe it has 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, maybe it was recommended by New York Times, you get the idea – you might like the result and that's why you gladly invest these 5 hours.
Next time you’re stuck instead of doing something important let’s pause and analyze:
- Is there a reward? Any measurable result that you are going to achieve?
- Does in contribute to your bigger goal?
If not, it’s not that important and shouldn’t be done at all or should be delegated. Rely on Occam’s razor principle: trim all unnecessary.
What if you understand the reward but still can’t approach to it? Dissect the task to pieces and find parts that actually like. Focus on them and consider other parts as something that leads you to those sweet cherries. And remember the reward: every small step leads you to it.
If you still hate the task at whole, you could try finding someone who likes this specific type of tasks. Not only they can help but they can be excited. Also many people consider finishing the task itself a good enough reward. But that's not a founder's mindset.
A quick summary
Until you have an actionable plan the only way to feel productive or busy is to do smaller things. But that doesn't lead you anywhere.
Strip complex tasks to parts, delegate boring easy, focus on important things that you do better than anyone else. Visualise a reward and execute, step by step.
If you’re stuck: strip, delegate, focus on enjoyable parts, visualize the reward, execute.
1 — Use Pomodoro technique to maintain the flow. 25 min sprints with short breaks.
2 – Remove distractions. I know that you know, just don't forget.
3 – If the task is super complex and it’s hard even to dissect it, let it sit for a day. There’s a chance your subconscious mind will figure out an easier way.
This approach helps me to achieve more by doing less. It combines with HUNT method I’ve explained in this thread: https://twitter.com/igordebatur/status/1547978797336539142
Hope this helps!