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3 Unexpected Insights for Overcoming Procrastination From Tim Ferriss

What if you could become world-class in anything in just 6 months, overcoming procrastination almost effortlessly? For many people this sounds like a rhetorical question, something that is nice to think of when you are about to fall asleep.

But there is a small group of people like Tim Ferriss, Leo Babauta, Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey, who take these questions seriously and turn them into a personal challenge. As a result they write best-seller books, build multi-million dollar companies, set Guinness records at dancing tango and do a whole bunch of other things that may sound crazy to some people. They become the top 1% at whatever they do.

But the best part is that they make it sound very simple.

To me just 5 minutes in the company of an inspiring person is similar, if not better, to having a cup of White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks.

It’s sweet. It’s energizing. And it puts everything in the right perspective.

Today you are in for a treat too, because Tim Ferriss – the author of “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”, and “The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life”, gives his surprising insights for overcoming procrastination, becoming the top 5% in anything you do and taking control of your time without giving up your social life.

3 Unexpected Insights for Overcoming Procrastination From Tim Ferriss:

Insight #1: You can’t fully get rid of procrastination.

Tim Ferriss believes that procrastination is part of our nature. We cannot completely overcome it, no matter what time management tools we are given. The good news is that it does not have to be bad news. All we have to do is “budget for human nature” and make time for procrastination in our schedule.

For example, if you know that you are least productive after lunch, block this half hour for tasks that you usually do when you don’t feel like working (like organizing papers on your desk or grabbing a cup of coffee). You will get the urge to procrastinate out of your system and won’t feel guilty about it.

Insight #2: Lower your expectations quota.

As weird as it may seem for any overachiever, the less pressure we put on ourselves, the less we tend to procrastinate. High expectations and overly ambitious goals can be the main cause of procrastination, because they seem too intimidating or overwhelming.

Lowering your expectations helps you to take the first step and gets you going. This does not mean that you should not push yourself out of your comfort zone. It simply means that you are more calm, content and creative when you are not approaching your day as if it was an Ironman Marathon. Cut yourself some slack! You are a human being after all.

Insight #3: Experiment and get to know yourself.

Do you know the time of day when you are most productive? Are you the type of person, who prefers to have everything under control way ahead of a deadline or someone who does everything at the last minute? Do you work best in silence or does listening to the same song playing in the background helps you to stay focused on the task?

There is no time management or productivity system that fits all. Similar, there are no strict rules for overcoming procrastination. You have to experiment, find what works best for you and create your own productivity rituals. For example, you may discover that you are most productive when you don’t check your emails first thing in the morning. Or that your best ideas come to you as you are discussing them with other people.

Know thyself! Use this knowledge to boost your motivation, enhance your productivity, and acquire new skills, maximizing your results and minimizing your efforts. This is what they call “working smarter, not harder” and as smart people we should follow this advice.

What is your productivity ritual? What do you do when you catch yourself procrastinating? Do you believe that there are other tips for overcoming procrastination?

  • Mohsen
    November 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

    When I catch myself procrastinating, i just stop whatever it is i’m doing, gather all my strengths and start whatever it is i was procrastinating. My tip to overcoming procrastination is, JUST DO IT don’t weigh the options or even think about anything else just do it immediately. if you do this, you will create a cycle, that over time will automate itself and rid you of procrastination. my 2 cents.

    • Arina
      November 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks for the amazing tip, Mohsen!
      I know it works, because I use it too. The less you think and reason with yourself about whether or not your should do something, the higher are your chances to procrastinate.

      • Mohsen
        November 30, 2012 at 12:07 am

        You mean “the more you think” right? For the readers

      • Arina
        April 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

        Yes. ‘the more you think’. 🙂

  • Peter S
    December 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I am working on a startup that tries to provide tools to overcome procrastination. If you could take a look and give any feedback I would much appreciate it!

    • Arina
      April 9, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Hi Peter. It’s a great idea to develop a tool that will hold people accountable and allow them to overcome procrastination. It looks like your website is still in ‘development’ mode, so there is not much feedback I can give you. I’ll be happy to take a look at it when its completed.

  • Anthony Benting
    December 16, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Your right in what you are saying break your goals down to small steps

  • Jared
    April 8, 2013 at 9:52 am

    These are good insights! I find that focusing on VERY small aspects of a task can promote the first few steps to productivity, which can eventually lead to motivation and completing the task. Just by viewing the next step as something easily attainable, we’ll often have more motivation to do it now.

    Here’s an article I wrote on about this:

    • Arina
      April 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Hi Jared! Thanks for a great tip. I’ve checked your blog and found another interesting article on overcoming procrastination. I also liked your suggestion about finding the cause of resistance for not doing something and letting go of it. It definitely feels great when you don’t have to worry about coming up with the right excuse to avoid doing something or feeling guilty about procrastinating.

      • Jared
        April 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        Thanks for checking it out! I agree about how good it feels to be free of the extra thoughts and feelings about moving toward our goals. I also like your suggestion to experiment with your personal productivity style and see what works for you.

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