On Procrastination

Writing about procrastination seems like a good a way as any to pick up after a 7 year gap.

A lecture from Dr. Tim Pychyl was posted to Reddit recently, in which he discusses procrastination, its causes, and some strategies for change.

The lecture highlights some of the ways in which we deceive ourselves, mechanisms we use to give our brains those little dopamine hits to feel good now (writing to-do lists, distracting ourselves with something unrelated), whilst avoiding what we should really be doing (finishing that blog post).

Dealing with Procrastination

The main take away from the lecture for me was a very straight forward mechanism for dealing with it:

In situation X, I will do behaviour Y, to achieve subgoal Z.

By defining a task in terms a of a concrete start time, a well defined achievable task, and a reminder of why you are doing it in the first place, you remove a lot of the thinking involved in getting started in the first place.

Simply: The When, the What and the Why.


I like that this isn't a million miles away from what we try to achieve as good agile practitioners; planning work as a series of small, well defined increments:

As a <person in a situation>
I want <a defined behaviour>
So that <sub-goal is achieved>

This is also not a million miles away from defining acceptance criteria in the Given / When / Then format.

Original Video