Nicolas Even

The shortest way (but not the easiest, because there is no easy way) to stop procrastinating

There is one reason why we keep doing unproductive stuff : it’s easier.

It’s easier to browse HN than call that client. It’s easier to stay on the couch than sweep. It’s easier to pointlessly refine a feature than design a new one. It’s easier to stay in bed than go bicycling in the cold.

If you dig a little, though, there are two underlying reasons to keep doing improductive stuff rather than doing useful things. The first one is the unwillingness to do something unpleasant (cleaning the appartment for example). The second one is the fear of uncertainty (it’s easier to keep doing something than trying something new).

It’s not easy to go around these fears and unwillingnesses. The best proof of this is the number of resources and articles about procrastination and how often articles on this subject pop up on the internet. Again and again. With no definitive solution. That's normal : these fears are natural fears that happen to everyone, and you won’t get rid of them easily. Sure, a complicated todo-list or a GTD app might help a little, but it doesn't change the fact that we'll always have these fears everytime we do anything unusual.

So don’t waste time trying to go around these fears or trying to get rid of them : just ignore them and do what you have to do.

When you want to do something, there's only one solution : Just fucking do it.

Stuff you don’t like : Do it right now. You will be relieved not having to worry about it anymore.

Stuff you do like : You know you like it. Once you start doing it, you’ll remember why you like it and it will be much easier to carry on than it was to start. So just start.

Call that client right now. Once it’s done you’ll be unstuck and you’ll be able to carry on with the project. Sweep right now, you’ll be back on the couch shortly, and this time without worrying about sweeping. Start drafting that new feature, once you’re started you’ll remember that you like to design and it will be hard to stop. Get out bicycling. Sure the first few minutes before you are warmed up will be unpleasant, but after a little climbing you’ll feel the warmth of the rising sun, see the mist clearing over the valley and know you did the right thing by getting out.

Just fucking do it. It’s not easy, but that’s the shortest way to reach your goals.