Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Procrastinating

Post by contributing writer, Sam Parr, CEO and founder of The Hustle, HustleCon and Con Con.

The most annoying part of starting a business, particularly a media company that has lots of eyeballs on it, is the hundreds of random people who make suggestions on what we should do. 

Not only does it distract me, but it distracts the team. So, to address this, I want to take a second to talk about procrastination, something I'm in favor of.  This post will make you more productive, trust me.

doing nothing

Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Procrastinating

Procrastination itself is a basic human impulse like eating or humping. You can't cure it, but you can use it to me more productive. 

How's that possible? Because there are 3 types of procrastination

  1. Doing nothing
  2. Doing something less important than what you should be doing
  3. Doing something more important than what you should be doing

Doing nothing

The biggest reason why you never start big projects is because it's not the right time. 

You can only write at night. You have writer's block. You don't have the bandwidth.

Other times, like when you see photos of your successful friend on Facebook, you say to yourself that it’s too late to start learning a new skill. Funny enough, after six months you also say to yourself “I wish I would have started back then.”

This is why it’s safe to say that there’s never a great time to start. 

To overcome this, it’s imperative that you realize that these feelings are completely natural.

Doing something less important than what you should be doing.

This is the most dangerous type of procrastination...one EVERY business owner should freak out about and the one I refer to when people suggest new ideas that I should be working on.

Doing less important things gives you a false sense of achievement. These tasks can also be called “busy work” or errands.

Stupid features, like what most people suggest we do, fall into this category.

What’s scary is that unproductive people spend most of their day in this state but confuse it with real work. Even though they feel like they spent the day doing important work, they didn’t accomplish anything.

Because of that, they’ll spend the next day doing exactly the same thing. This type of procrastination ruins people. It’s deadly.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to fix this.

If you ever think that you’re doing this type of procrastination, ask yourself this: Will the task that I’m working on right now be mentioned in my obituary? If the answer is no, then you’re procrastinating.

This a good question because obituaries only mention the most important things in one’s life: family, your life’s work, how you treated others, your personality.

Admittedly, it’s tough to decide which tasks will be talked about after you die. However, it’s easy to figure out what won’t be mentioned: browsing the web, getting distracted by fruitless ideas.

But blowing off one of these tasks in favor of something bigger will actually be a win in the end.

Sure, a few people will be angry in the short term, but achieving your bigger mission is far more important. You will feel guilty about saying no to most suggestions or like you're missing an opportunity, but if that means you can focus on your big goal then it’s worth it.

If you want to be productive, you shouldn’t just not do those tasks… you should avoid them like spoiled milk.

These tasks are seductive and will steal time and happiness from you.

Of course, not procrastinating doesn’t mean working all the time, it means doing what you really want to be doing.

So if you really want to watch Netflix, then do it. However, if you want to read a book, build a table, or start a company then you must purposefully stay away from anything that won’t be talked about after you’re dead.

brain is done

Doing something more important than what you should be doing

This type of procrastination is actually good.

According to Paul Graham, this type of procrastination is what the absent-minded professor who forgets to shave does.

It’s good because instead of shaving he focuses on big, important work.

Of course, the people who need you to call them back will be upset, but not running an errand won’t be the end of the world.

The average person rarely does this type of procrastination and it's one I encourage my team to do.

If you want to be productive and achieve big goals, this is where you need to be most of the time.

There’s a reason why Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama wear the same outfit every single day. They’re not procrastinating about choosing what to wear.

There’s no decision-making process involved.

To make this type of procrastination useful, you first need to pick a big goal — one that you enjoy working on. If you have one without the other then you’re screwed.

As Graham explains, the goal needs to be large enough that it’s almost painful to face. “It’s like having a vacuum cleaner hooked up to your imagination,” he says. “All your initial ideas get sucked out immediately, and you don’t have any more, and yet the vacuum cleaner is still sucking.”

Big ideas typically come with lots of failure early on, which can be confusing when you start working on them.

Big goals will always be daunting, so to start you must focus on something that excites you.

Otherwise you’ll burn out and use excuses like, “If it’s meant to be then it’ll happen.”

That phrase is used by people as an excuse for not working on big ideas. That’s people being weak.

Another reason people rarely work on big ideas is because they work on goals that don’t excite them.

They dismiss exciting ideas because they’re not important, can’t turn into something big, or won’t make enough money.

However, in almost every industry or project there are examples disproving this thought. Weird Al, Cirque du Soleil, and professional video gamers are perfect examples.

Even Airbnb, a $10B company, was dismissed in the beginning by top investors because they thought it was too small of an idea and market.
Ok. Great. Now you know how to stay focused. 

Post by Sam Parr, CEO of The Hustle, HustleCon and Con Con.

For more resources please read:

Psychological Reasons You Procrastinate - Business Insider

Watch the video below: A Psychologist on How to Stop Being Lazy

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Does your brain tell you to give up?

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