You Can Beat Procrastination in One Minute. Here's How, and Here's Why

I’m on a mission to turn pro, as Steven Pressfield would say. For me, this means that I’m discovering the ways of becoming a prolific, profitable maker of knowledge products.

I can never become a profitable maker unless I become productive, so I’ve made productivity and all its constituing elements (such as habits, self-control, discipline, mindfulness, knowledge, skills, and deliberate practice) my current obsession.

I’ve had a small epiphany regarding productivity lately, and I’ve got one superb science-based online course called Learning How to Learn to thank for.

(The course is fucking amazing, I promise this is the course they should have taught us in elementary school.)

In the course, science has taught me that to beat procrastination, it’s enough to negotiate with my brain that I would do an activity just for one minute.

Just. One. Minute.

If I don’t like the activity, I can stop.

Yeah Science! Animated GIF From Breaking Bad

Procrastination is born within that one minute, and it also dies within that minute. The monster dies before it grows up enough to be able to walk and talk because I never decide to stop an activity once I get going. What starts as “I’ll just proofread what I wrote yesterday…" becomes “OMG it’s lunch time already? How the time flies when I’m in the zone”.

But this is not the epiphany part. The epiphany part is when I realized that those one-minute blocks of time are powerful enough to make my life either meaninful or wasted.

Just Do the Math

The math of these one-minute time blocks is either depressing or liberating, depending how damaged you are as a person:

  1. If I’m procrastinating on just 1 important life project,
  2. and I procrastinate on it at least 3 times every day,
  3. and there’s 20 work days in a month,
  4. and there’s 11 work months in a year (the rest is vacation, at least in Europe - yay Europe!),
  5. and there’s 40 years in a career of an average human who finished college…

…then I have 26,400 opportunities in my life to decide to make something out me. For each opportunity, one single minute is enough to transform my current state of mind from “I’m tired and I don’t feel like doing it and GOD DAMN I DESERVE A GLASS OF WINE” to “This was fun and I loved every second of it and NOW WHERE’S THAT GLASS OF WINE”.

26,400 minutes = 440 hours. This would be my life-time investment in a simple process of making myself productive. If I get to see my 75th birthday - which is currently an average life span of a human - this means that I would have lived for 672,000 hours.

440 hours out of 672,000 hours is only 0,06% of my entire life. That’s my entire time investment in beating procrastination and becoming a productive person. Those 0,06% do make or break my life.

(If I spend just 72 minutes a day Facebooking, I have already ‘invested’ 440 hours a year. The investment, however, did not go to helping make my long-term goals a reality, no: I wasted it on making Facebook an even larger behemoth.)

More on Productivity Coming Soon

I’m writing an article with a working title “The Book of Me: the Productivity Chapter”, from which I took this out and decided to publish as a standalone article. I hope my small epiphany was useful to you as it was to me.

Stay tuned for more on what I discovered that works for me in the productivity department.

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