How to really beat procrastination

This video is the record of a discussion Dr. Tim Pychyl from the Canadian Carleton University held in November 2012 about procrastination and how to help people deal with it. Dr. Pychyl has worked on this topic for over 20 years and published many papers, books, blogs posts, podcasts and videos about this topic. Basically, the summary of the techniques explained in his video is:

1. Procrastination is not a problem of time management, but of managing your emotions. People procrastinate, because they have negative feeling towards task they have to do and postponing these tasks gives them a better feeling for the moment. But eventually procrastination always leads to a negative outcome.
2. The feeling of accomplishment from finishing a task should be used to get even more tasks done.
3. If you do not know where you are in life or where you are going (lack of identity), you are more likely to procrastinate, because you do not have big life goals, which can be separated into smaller tasks towards these goals.
4. You are more likely to get things done, if your motives are intrinsic and not determined by other people or society.
5. If tasks on a to do list are to vague, they are more likely to never get completed. Every task should be broken down to concrete steps.
6. Secret formula: In situation X, do behavior Y to achieve sub goal Z.

Someone recommended this video in the comment section of a post on reddit
and I took a look on it. In the past I read many articles and books about
procrastination and time management, but this 60 minutes video was
honestly offering the best techniques to overcome procrastination I have ever
seen. Very soon after I started watching the video I knew that this man knows
what he is talking about. At first, I watched the whole video and after that I
looked through the single frames again to make screenshots of the
PowerPoint slides included in the video. I also took notes, which I always do
when learning something important for my personal development. Before
watching this video, I was already managing my tasks with Trello and Google
Inbox, which combines emails, tasks and notes. But I realized that some of
my tasks where in fact too vague and for that reason got postponed to later
dates too often. Separating those tasks into smaller pieces and assigning a
sub goal really helped me.

The learning goal was to help students deal with their procrastination
problems. I am a student and it helped me a lot. So yes, I achieved this goal.
Of course, I did not get cured immediately after watching this video, but it is
more of a long-term task for me to change my habits regarding the
postponement of tasks, I should do rather earlier than later. I think, I am on
my way to reach this goal, though.

The platform used here for publishing the video lecture was YouTube, which
is the best video platform I know, because of the speed of the servers, the
quality of the videos, the simple, yet highly functional design and the big
userbase, leading to many comments, of which some a really helpful.
The video itself had not the best quality, but it is also 5 years old, so maybe
the camera used back then was not as fine-grained as todays cameras. I
liked, that the producer of the video put the actual PowerPoint slides inside
the video, so I did not have to try to decipher them from the beamer slides
captured by the camera. I would have liked however to have the complete
PowerPoint file used in the presentation added as a download link in the
description, because it would have saved me the time for taking the

A big issue of most lectures I watched on YouTube is the audio quality. I
once watched a lecture about the PageRank algorithm by an Italian professor
speaking English with a thick accent, where the microphone was cheap and it
made it really hard to understand the topic. This video course however had a
real good audio quality and the professor – being Canadian – had a good
English pronunciation, so there were no problems in understanding his

There is not much to criticize here. The video could have been a little bit
shorter, if the professor would not have included some stories about his
family or former students, but I liked it, because it made the presentation
more personal.

Habits of successful people

1. Meditation
Try meditation and self-hypnosis. See which one you prefer and do this twice a day. For more information on meditation, check out You can also get a visual understanding by checking out this infographic from For more information on self-hypnosis, read this article by that explains what it is, how it’s used and even debunks common myths about it.

2. Surround Yourself With Positive People
Join 2-4 networking events in your area of interest and select the one that is the best fit for you. Network with this group at least once a week. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always try

3. Affirmations
Make a list of 5-20 (or more) affirmations and read them at least once a day. If you’re doing meditation or self-hypnosis that incorporates these affirmations daily, you can limit it to twice a week. To learn how to write affirmations effectively, read this article by

4. Watch Inspiring or Motivational Videos
Watch a few motivational YouTube videos in the mornings to kickstart your day, preferably just before a workout. Do this at least every couple of days to amplify your drive and motivation.

5. Work Out Regularly
Take a look at your schedule and fit in a workout routine at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes each. You can find ideas for your routine in several different places. I personally like Jeff Cavaliere’s YouTube channel. It’s loaded with tons of free time efficient and effective workouts. Men’s Fitness and also have some good suggestions. Even Buzzfeed has some good ideas for both men and women. Regardless of where you find your information, do some research and find something that works for you and start immediately!

6. Find Your Passion
Explore options that not only give you balance in life but also allows you to do something you absolutely love and genuinely makes you happy. If you are looking for something that you can do as a business or hobby that can generate an income for you, the money will come naturally due to your passion. Couple your passion with something you can do online from anywhere in the world and you’ll be able to pursue travel as well. This route isn’t for everyone, but I would like to inspire others to travel as well. wrote a few articles about turning your passion into profit. It’s a good idea to read them to get some ideas flowing. You can also read about several digital nomads and location independent entrepreneurs and their stories in this blog post by, it’s a great read.

7. Set Your Goals
If you haven’t already done so, take some time this week and do some goal setting. Figure out what you want out of life and work your way backward. Set weekly, monthly, and annual goals to get them accomplished. Michael Hyatt wrote a beginner’s guide to goal setting to get you started. This article by the late and great Jim Rohn is also a good resource from

8. Listen to a Podcast
Find 2-3 podcasts that motivate and inspire you. It should be something that focuses on your goals and passions. For example, I like traveling, poker, and business. So I might listen to a podcast on each topic once a week. If you’re having trouble finding one on your area of interest, you can also do a search on

9. Read a Book
Browse the kindle store and see if you can find a topic that interests you or better yet go to your local bookstore and get out of the house. This will allow you to get a feel for what genre interests you the most since you can wander around and touch and feel the books. This is something I do regularly and it has helped me grow immensely. I try and read at least one new book each month.

10. Start or Attend a Mastermind Group
See if you can find a group in your local area. Try searching on or you can read this article by Smart Passive Income on how to find one. If you’re having trouble finding a mastermind group in your local area, you can always start your own.

11. Take an Online Course
Go to Udemy or any other e-learning platform and look for courses that may interest you. Read the reviews and take a course that will help you develop a marketable skill. This will not only allow you to pursue something you’re passionate about but will also give you another revenue stream should you ever need it.

12. Make a To-do List
Make a daily and weekly task list and prioritize it. This will keep you on track and help you to become more efficient while completing your tasks. You can also use an app that does this for you. I personally like Wunderlist, but do a google search and find what works best for you.

13. Get a Coach or Mentor
Join at least 1 group (online or in person) and surround yourself with other successful people in the field or endeavor you’re looking to pursue (music, e-commerce, blogging, etc.). Hang out where they hang out. Network and soak up as much information as you can. Just be selective in which ones you choose because they are not all created equal and some will just push you to buy things whereas others will give you the practical advice and motivation you may need. Forbes wrote an article on how to formally find a mentor in this article or you can choose to mentor yourself.

14. Find a Hobby
We sometimes make excuses as to why we’re too busy to take this much-needed break. Put your work or your projects aside and take some very important “me time.” If you are having trouble figuring out what kind of hobby you might enjoy or want to take up, not to worry. Here is a list of potential hobbies for you to choose from. Whether you know what you plan to do or not, pick a hobby and practice/do it 1-2 times a week. You’ll be surprised on how much your mental health improves.

15. Eat Healthy
Do some research and find a diet that works for you. Remember that every body is different and what’s popular or what worked for someone else may not work for you. Once you’ve found it, implement it into your life by writing out a weekly meal plan and sticking to it. Discipline is essential here so give yourself an incentive by coming up with a reward for every mile stone you hit without cheating on your diet (1 week, 3 months. etc).

16. Consistent Self Development
The key to self-development is to constantly progress and to continue moving forward. I recommend doing the following activities at least once a week (preferably more) in order to sharpen your skills and to develop your mind:

listen to a podcast
do a few modules/lessons from an online course (Educate yourself)
read a book
run/workout/do yoga

17. Eliminate Negativity
Do these things to rid yourself of the negativity in your life:

Replace Negative Self-talk with self-loving positivity
Eliminate mainstream media
Alienate yourself from the negative people in your life
Limit or be more selective on entertainment until you’ve created a strong, positive mindset (Music, Television, Movies, etc.)

18. Take Action
Start with your ultimate goal
break down your tasks into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily tasks
Adapt & learn as you go
START RIGHT NOW despite your fear
Celebrate your victories no matter how small they may seem
Live in the moment and enjoy the process

What to do, if you don’t know further anymore

First things first. You have to calm down yourself. You can’t do anything if you’re stressed out. Here we go. It’s something I recommend a lot around here. Find a quiet spot somewhere. Doesn’t have to be your study place. Could be outside if the weather is fair. But it should be quiet and you don’t get disturbed. Shut down all digital devices. No laptops. No cellphones. Nothing. You ready? Okay. Sit yourself down. Back straight. Don’t slouch. Now, close your eyes. Shift your attention to your breathing. Try to focus on the air passing through your chest. You feel that? Don’t change your breathing though. Just try to notice it without changing it. Keep it up. Keep doing that.
Okay. Now, you’re mind is going to go bonkers. You won’t be able to keep this up. After a minute or two, you’re going to be thinking about all the other stuff in your life. But here’s the thing. This is a game. Try to be aware of what is happening. Of the thoughts and feelings passing through your head. Instead of engaging with them, just notice that they pass through your brain and then shift your attention back to your breathing. Don’t judge, don’t feed your fear, don’t feed your anxiety. Just notice and shift back to your breathing. Don’t get frustrated if you feel you can’t keep up. That’s normal. Just keep trying.

Now, do this for the next 15 to 30 minutes. Congratulations. You just learned to meditate. You should practice that each and every day. Like, each evening before you go to bed. Or each morning before you get coffee. Your brain is like a muscle. Try to get from 15 minutes to 1 hour. That’s a challenge.
Why is this important? Well, we all live in our own minds. We are easily distracted and then we start to ruminate and worry. If you indulge yourself into negative thinking, you’re going to foster anxieties and fears and depression. The idea is to not feed those. Through meditation, you learn to become mindful, to become aware of what happens in your head. Of how you feel. And instead of focussing on a single narrative – like you flunking massively, and then going into depression and then going to die – you’re going to take a distance of those negative thoughts and you’re going to question them.

So. You flunk your exams. Your parents are angry with you. And now you are clueless about your life. And from there, it seems like a short step to death. Doesn’t that sound… a bit over the top? Let’s break it down. Will you automagically die if you fail? Nah. Not really. You’ll still be alive. Probably your going have to redo those exams or those courses. Will your parents stay angry? Hmm… they’ve been angry before, do they stay angry? Nope. They might be disappointed, but that’s to be expected. But being angry and disappointed, that’s wasted energy. Your parents still love you to bits, they are just worried about you and your future. Summer is coming? Sweet! You had nothing to do? Hm… Why would that be? Did you plan in advance? Did you sit yourself down for an hour and think “what’s the top 3 stuff I really want to do in the next few months”? Or were you just idling your time away only to notice afterwards “Fuck, I didn’t do anything worthwhile and now I’m here”

Also, exams are like a tennis match. You play several sets. The outcome is determined by how many games and sets you win. Guess what. Tennis is a mental game. If you start losing games, you start to become anxious because you think “can’t afford to lose more games, but dammit I’ve lost already, I’m not doing well, how am I going to win this? Never going to happen! Argh!!” See what I did there? Serena Williams wins because she doesn’t think like that. Serena Williams wins because she goes “Lost that last game. Damn. Okay. Nothing I can do about that. But hey, I’m still good. I love doing this. I love my life. Let’s see if I can win the next game.” Totally different way of thinking. This is POSITIVE thinking compared to NEGATIVE thinking. And that’s what makes all the difference in ANYTHING you do in life.

So, you probably fucked up at those last exams. You can’t change anything about that. It happened. Don’t beat yourself up. You still have work to do. Don’t dwell on the past. Use meditative techniques to shift your focus to the present moment. You NEED to study for the next exam. You can DO this. Don’t spend energy on whatever is distracting you. Stop worrying. Don’t use digital devices. Don’t watch television. Don’t game. It’s you and the book in front of you.

Take care of yourself!! Get in bed on time. Don’t stay up late. Get 8 hours of solid shut-eye. You can’t function if you don’t sleep enough. Stay off the sugared soda’s. Drink water. Hydrate regularly. Try to eat healthy stuff. Stay off sugared candy if you can. Sugar messes with your brain. Sugar addiction is a thing and makes you feel miserable. Make sure you get out! Get a 5 minute break after an hour of studying. Go for a walk. Don’t stay inside on your chair. Move!! Try to get a routine in your day. Wake up at the same hour, study at the same hours. Be economic with your time! Try to work out twice a week. Go to the gym. Go running. Break a sweat in a sport you find fun and engaging. Exercise takes your mind of difficult stuff for a few hours. You NEED this if you want to keep going.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t keep sprinting ALL the time. You need to pace. Don’t try to cling onto your parents expectations of your studies if you feel you can’t meet them. Own up to it and tell them you’re in trouble if you feel like your working towards something unattainable. Don’t keep pursuing a degree if you feel that this is not something within your own possibilities. Then you’d be only wasting your own precious time.
Do the work instead of thinking about off’ing yourself. That’s all it is.