This is not your typical post on how to stop procrastinating.
I’m not going to tell you “10 tips to kick procrastination in the arse”.
I’m not going to just yell you at the top of my lungs: “JUST START!”.
And forget about me trying to persuade you to instead “Search Your Inner Self And Discover Your True Purpose”.
As if it were that easy right?
We both know how frustrating and mentally tiring is not being able to work on our projects with consistency, delaying everything till the last minute, often having to stay up filled with stress the entire night.
Not a pleasant feeling.
It can be even worse. Imagine wanting to start a project and postponing it for YEARS.
That was me.
For 5+ years.
Until one day, I wasn’t procrastinating anymore.
I started working on every project and goal I’ve been postponing for all that time.
This means that my days went from being disappointing to very productive.
+ reading books on sales
+ studying copywriting
+ writing this blog
+ preparing a niche site
+ and even coding an app!
On top of that I dedicate a couple hours everyday to my small freelance job as a developer.
But how did this happen? What led me to finally stop procrastinating?
It wasn’t a single event. Instead, several things occurred in a span of months.
This post is about that.
Instead of giving ‘tips’ to finally stop procrastinating, I will tell you things to do that will improve your chances of diminishing and maybe entirely eliminating procrastination.
So, let’s review together the host of things that allowed me to stop being a chronic procrastinator and see how we can apply them to you.
Deciding that I was going to move out on 2020 no matter what.
I live in Argentina. If you watch the news you will see that we are going the Venezuela route. Some economists predict that in 2020/2021 we will have a very big economical crisis. I don’t even want to be near this place when that happens.
So it’s a good reason to move.
But it’s not the only one!
I’m 26 years old. When this year ends I will be 27.
The last 10 years have been pretty monotonous. I’ve been stuck for a veeeery long time. Who’s to blame? Me of course! I never doubted that.
Procrastination played a huge role on this.
So the matter is extremely simple.
Do I really want this year to be the same as the previous year?
Do I really still want to be living at home with my mother?
Do I really still want to make less than 1k per month?
Do I really still want to work only as a developer?
Is this year going to be “more of the same”?
Once I became accustomed with the idea of moving out… then I stopped accepting other options.
Right now there’s only ONE ending for this year. And that ending is me heading to the airport to get the fuck out of here!
I DO NOT ACCEPT ANY OTHER OUTCOME.
Just imagining the possibility of failing, makes me very depressed.
You have to reach that point. It must become internalized.
1) You need to have an immovable end date. DO NOT accept a different result other than what you set for that date.
End of MCU Phase 3
If you are into Marvel movies you will be aware that they are divided into phases.
More importantly, you will know that the first 3 phases are named “The Infinity Saga”.
And for true fans, yes, I’m not considering Spiderman: Far From Home. I know this movie is supposed to be an epilogue, I just don’t care.
And that’s the thing. I don’t give a damn what they do from now on.
It is over for me. They did a remarkable job, it was a fun ride. But that’s it!
To be sincere, I completely lost interest in movies and tv a long time ago. I don’t even have Netflix.
But that’s a bit off the point.
I used to be obsessed/excited with MCU movies these last 2 years. I would spend a long time on reddit instead of working or being productive. But once it was over… it felt like a big space opened up.
You could argue that it hasn’t ended, that there are more movies coming!
But I drew the line after 3 phases. Enough for me.
What I’m trying to tell you is:
2) MOVE ON from any long-term tv/movie saga. It’s designed to trap and distract you.
Having defined limits on my freelance job
I remember trying over and over again to be consistent with my freelance job. I would said: “hey, I will try to work 4hs from monday to friday, no excuses!”
Only to fail miserably.
Then I changed that to 3hs monday to friday.
Nothing, couldn’t sit down and get the work done.
I would postpone as much as I could.
So I resolved to work only ONE hour per day everyday.
Nothing! More of the same crap. For some reason I couldn’t be consistent on my work.
Until one day I asked them “Hey, how much are you able to pay me per month, what is your budget?”.
They told me it’s 1k USD per month.
That was the trigger I was looking for. 1k per month at my current rate means that I cannot work more than 3hs per day.
For some reason, this encouraged me to be super consistent with my work… and I started to log ~3hs every single day!
[Proof of what I’m saying] Actually I aimed for ~2hs in May and removing a couple sick days I managed to get to 1.8hs. Not bad. In June I aim to get ~3hs, which I’m accomplishing very easily by just sleeping 1 hour less than usual and using that time to get more done.
How does this traslate to you?
This advice only applies if you are a freelancer with ongoing work. You will have to talk to your client to see which budget they have available for you each month.
3) Have an external time limit imposed on how much you can work per day.
Developing a full game
My entire life I wanted to finish a proper game. I started SEVERAL of them, with different sizes and timespans, but none of them were actually completed.
At the end of 2017 I decided to make a small polished game with the intention of finishing it in 3 months.
How innocent of me. The game ended up taking 15 months! It was worth it though. It was full fledged game, with everything hand-made. Music, sounds, graphics, code, even the typography was created by me.
A proper project! A way of showing myself that I can start and finish a decent game.
Here are two images of said game.
Having published tist game and knowing that I worked on it for 15 months non-stop gave me the confidence that I can sit down and work on ANYTHING I decide to.
4) Set up a very short stress-free project that takes 1-3 months and commit to finishing it.
Understanding that I’m running out of time
When I was 20 I wanted to do niche sites, apps, websites and a lot of experiments.
5 years later nothing remarkable was accomplished, for just ONE reason: I didn’t do anything, I didn’t start any of these projects.
I had a lot of time, but I spent it on… nothing actually.
I was actually trying to improve my life, but my objetives where all over the place. The end result looked something like this:
20 = I started a lot of habits that ended up being superflous because I was directionless
21 = Same as above, didn’t had a clear objetive so nothing important was accomplished
22 = A bit better on my personal life. Changed jobs and had a lot of free time. The bad news is that this free time was spent mostly being sad.
23 = Started freelancing, but I was always postponing everything so my economy flatlined during all this time.
24 = My economy improved a bit, but I was still losing a lot of time.
25 = My freelance job became more constant, not because of my proactivity, but because I kept the same client for a long time.
If you compare the desires of the 25 and 20 year old me… you will find that they are the same. Nothing truly substantial changed.
At 25 years old I wanted to do niche sites, apps, websites and a lot of experiments.
Do you want this for your life?
Have you ever read Wall Street Playboys? Be my guest please.
Basically if you are 30 and are not a millionaire then you did things very wrong. 35 years old if we are generous.
They propose a foundation where you start busting your ass at 20, and then retire a millionaire at 30.
They are very hardcore, and I love that.
If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. What do you prefer, being a millonaire at 30, 40 o 50?
That’s right, there’s no debate. At 30 obviously.
But that’s a bit out of topic.
As I was saying…
Reading them set a fire under my ass and made me realize that I had to stop wasting time and get my life in order NOW.
When I finish this year I want to look back and at least see that I really tried to improve my life.
If things go as expected then I will have:
+ Ran 6 experiments
+ Written 40 posts
+ Mounted 6 niche-sites
Probably more than that.
What about you?
5) Life is short. Do you really want to review this year and find the same underachievement as the previous?
Or is this year going to be DIFFERENT?
Fixing sleep apnea
I always felt that something was wrong, but couldn’t exactly pinpoint it.
I felt mentally tired, my body ached, my mind was foggy even after sleeping 7-8hs.
Turns out I had Sleep Apnea. For those who don’t know, sleep apnea is when your breathing fails in your sleep. This can be obstructive (your throat closes and air stops flowing) or central (your brain fails to tell your muscles to breath)
So every time your oxygen flow is significantly reduced or cut, your brain generates a micro-awakening, without you being aware of it, until normal flow is restored.
These micro-awakenings can happen from 15 to 90+ times per hour.
Naturally, if you have that many arousals you won’t feel rested in the morning.
Thankfully I managed to solve my sleep apnea with surgery and feel better, mostly technically and psychologically.
The most important thing that happened is that I let go this burden that I had something wrong with me.
And now I was completely fine.
There were no excuses to underperform, I was healthy without any medical conditions.
6) If you are not sleeping well then don’t expect to be hyper productive.
Make sure you are having a healthy sleep, do a few studies if it’s necessary, your life LITERALLY depends on that.
So there you have it.
Life feels a lot better when you are working on the things you are supposed to.
Grab one of these, apply it right now and then tell me how it goes.