How to kill procrastination

Learn how to win at what you do. And win more often.

Know, way deep down, that you’re producing your best work yet. With all your heart and soul, and a piece of your finite life poured right into it.

It’s the reason lots of people hate their jobs: maybe they suck at them. I’ve been there before. There’s no win; no reward for our brain. No point in putting in the effort, over and over, just to feel bad and prove that we’re a failure.

But if we learn everything there is to know about that job, and practise constantly, and get really, really good at it – suddenly it might not seem so bad. Maybe people see a positive change in us. Maybe there’s a promotion involved. Maybe we’re headhunted by someone else, who’ll pay us more. We’re in a state of Epic Winning. We’re getting chemical rewards in our brainbox for making the sale, or getting the class good grades, or sweeping the street like a god-damn pro so the whole town can use it without getting ankle-deep in rats, and rubbish, and dog shit.

Alternatively, find a new job. Something you do love and care about, and want to be exceptional at. There’s just no greater feeling. It’s fucking incredible.

If you take pride in your job, and get really damn good at it, there just won’t be the will to put it off and procrastinate. You’ll enjoy the work, because it rewards you and helps other people. With more effort comes even greater rewards, and even more people you’ve helped. Suddenly there’s a lure and a pull, and a power, to go back to it.

Here’s another example. Do we put off breathing for another time, when we’ll have more energy and willpower to do it? For most of us, probably not. There’s a reward involved – we get to not suffocate. We get to carry on living.

It’s a win.

The effort of breathing gives us a worthwhile reward. Such a big reward, in fact, that our bodies don’t even leave it up to us whether we breathe. They take care of that. Left up to us, we might well put off breathing, or eating, or sleeping, until we can be bothered to do it. Not the best survival strategy, to leave the essentials of life up to our fickle whims and willpower. I’d have dropped dead by now, if breathing and hunger took a constant, conscious effort.

So – procrastination. Whether it’s the next novel, or a workout, or even just doing the dishes… get a win involved. Get supremely good at it, and track your results, and feel the reward afterwards. Or have a certain reward lined up when you finish. Time yourself on those dishes, then go back next time and beat your personal best. Or enjoy that growing feeling that you’re in full control of your life, your home, your destiny. Whatever gives you that winning rush.

If we only take the time to search for the win beyond the effort – or put a powerful reward there ourselves – then we suddenly get all the motivation we need to see something through. And go back again, and improve.

Crucially, put in the time and effort to understand the task and get really, really good at it – whether it’s your job, or writing a book, or just washing the car – because the way to kill procrastination is to replace it with The Win.

You’ll get addicted. You’ll get energised. You’ll want to help people with what you do. You may even get a healthier bank balance, and give the people you care about a better life. And be in a position to give something back to the people you want to help.

Get a winning chain reaction going, from first thing in the morning to the moment you go to sleep, and you’ll begin to wonder what procrastination even means. People are counting on you. Your ambitions are counting on you.

And, as a happy side effect, you’ll also be living every aspect of your life like a fucking boss.

Think about the reward for the effort, the payoff, and get addicted to it. Get really, really good at what you do – and be the hardest-working person you know.

Most importantly, be the most practised person you know, and never stop practising. Hold yourself to impossible standards, and shoot for them anyway.

Find the win.