top of page

How to Trick Your Brain out of Proscrastination

The reason we procrastinate is on account of defects in our caveman brain. Let's go back thousands of years to our prehistoric existence - we were hunter gatherers. Our brains were wired to keep us alive and out of the jaws of wild animals that wanted to sink their share teeth through our soft flesh. Many of these threats no longer exist. Our brains, however, have not had time to evolve accordingly.

Our brain instinctively will look for comfortable and non confrontational situations. This means our brains will cause us to shy away from anything that moves us out of our comfort zone. For most of us there is nothing less comfortable than work - be it mental or physical. This does not make us lazy - this makes us human. Our brains are not scared of work itself, there are scared by the thought of work. So how can we trick our brains out of this mind of procrastination?

I would like to propose a 5 minute rule. Assume you plan to go for a run, or write a blog, or prepare a sales pitch. Set your watch to a 5 minute alarm and dive into the task at hand, knowing that after 5 minutes you can quit, You will be amazed at the results. Nine times out of ten, that 5 minutes will extend to 10 minutes, to 20 minutes and beyond.

Here are some guidelines:

Step 1: Make a list of what needs to be done, from the easiest to the hardest - notice I did not say from the most important to the least important.

Step 2: Estimate how long it will take to perform each task. If it takes less than 5 minutes, add that to list A - maintaining the order of easiest to hardest.

Step 3: Do the same with the tasks that take more than 5 minutes and add them to list B.

Step 4: Go to list A and execute them one at a time. This will generate some momentum.

Step 5: Go to list B and order from most important to least important and start attacking the most important and work your way through the list.

This is the thinking: you want to start small with quick and easy tasks. This is to get you out the starting blocks and build some momentum. Once you have worked through the easy and the low hanging fruit, you will be emboldened and you will have the velocity to attack the big projects. Given this velocity, you now need to prioritize because you want to avoid the risk of leaving priority projects to last.


bottom of page