Cycle Of Positive Procrastination

- 14 Oct 2020 -

This page is a response to the fabulous Ted Talk: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

Rather than taking on the elusive task of awaking the panic monster, I assert that the Instant Gratification Monkey can be effectively manipulated towards a more fulfilling and purpose led life and I will explain how. I hope you enjoy this procrastinating comment.

Keeping the panic monster awake as the sole solution to productivity is impossible. In practice, any method you use for which to trigger it will only work for a short time until the monkey finds a way around it.

Instead, I believe that the only challenge to tackle is choosing what to offer the monkey, that when we will not do something, there are not significantly high enough interest or reward factors present to entice the monkey or to generate positive productive feelings.

Consider that personal suffering may not actually come from procrastination itself but from the emotions associated with that procrastination. The importance of this is most of our positive feelings come with the idea that we are making progress, that we are moving forward.

Bringing these together, if you can offer the monkey an activity that is easy and fun, that also has a procedural curve in that it is something you get better at or learn more by engaging in over time, then the feeling of progress will grant the feeling of accomplishment.

If this is the case, then with a little bit of premeditated planning, by slowly introducing enticing activities to the monkey, you can fill your life with positive activities that lead in a worthwhile direction for you. What you end up is an advanced cycle of procrastination.

Let me see if I can come up with an example procrastination cycle for you. Here goes:

Listen to Spotify > read magazine > stare at wall > write friend about life stress

and now a slightly refined cycle:

learn favorite song on piano > listen to audiobook on dream topic > meditate > write on blog

The piano fulfills the learning and growth requirement while being more enticing and engaging than the same song you love but have already heard and are BORED of. New can often be a source of enticement in itself.

Listening to an audiobook is lazier and easier than book reading, so it’s easier to convince the monkey to choose the audiobook than the magazine, even if the audiobook is actually drier and less immediately interesting of a topic.

Meditating instead of staring has higher reward incentive, and as meditation is considered a practice, as it yields more positive results over time, feels like growth.

Writing to a blog instead of to a friend is an example of producing output at scale. You say the same thing to a larger audience, which may prompt you to improve your writing and editing skills to avoid potential embarrassment, leading you to grow in skill, satisfying the feeling of progress.

It doesn’t matter what the cycle is, as long as your improved cycle makes refinements over the old, and most importantly the cycle is a closed loop. The monkey should always be led to the next planned activity, with no access to an external procrastination activity outside of that loop.

– If part of your procrastination cycles is working on a project on the computer, perhaps graphic design or writing, I recommend turning off the internet or taking a laptop out of the house to a location with no internet access. –

What I’ve proposed is a short term bandage to salve a larger problem, that could be termed “positive emotional regulation”, that I believe is determined over time by one’s own lifestyle and can lead to pursuing greater goals.

You probably noticed that this procrastination approach may or may not be enticing enough to move towards unfulfilling goals, that there are times in which the panic monster is required. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but how I’m currently operating is with:

a cycle of procrastination and an actively awake and attentive panic monster.

The only real way to keep the panic monster awake is to be aware of your mortality, which I wrote a short note on a few days before seeing this video here:

Thanks for reading. You may have figured that I’ve been procrastinating by writing this, and of course you’re right. In my delusion, I’ve convinced myself that by posting this I am leaving a footprint that lingers in time, and that’s enough to trick my mind to believing this is time well spent, and generate the positive feelings I require to go on.

Hey, You. Everything is going to be Okay. Ok?