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Procrastination – 7 Steps to Cure

None of us are immune.

Procrastination sneaks up on us all, some worse than others.

In this video, we'll go over the science of procrastination and provide you with actionable

advice to overcome it.

What's going on guys! Dr. Jubbal

Piers Steel describes an equation useful in

understanding procrastination.

He argues that Motivation = Expectancy x Value divided by Impulsiveness x Delay whereby motivation

is the willingness to do work, which is essentially the opposite of procrastination.

Breaking down the equation, expectancy refers to how much you expect to succeed at doing

the task and thereby getting the anticipated reward.

The more you expect being successful, the less likely you're going to procrastinate

on it.

Value refers to how much you enjoy doing a task, and how much you're going to enjoy the


The more value you derive from a task or the reward, the more likely you're gonna get straight

to work.

Impulsiveness refers to your tendency to get distracted by other things.

High impulsivity lures you to Instagram or Facebook instead of doing the work at hand.

Delay refers to the time-lapse until receiving the anticipated reward.

The longer the delay, the more likely you are to procrastinate, as you figure it's something

you can just take care of later.

Now, we want to maximize expectancy and value, as they are directly proportional to motivation

and we want to minimize impulsiveness and delay, as they are inversely proportional.

Let’s go over actionable steps on how to use the equation to our advantage and overcome


First, break down the steps.

With any task you need to do, whether studying for an exam or completing a project, break

it down to smaller steps.

Doing so will increase expectancy in our procrastination equation, as smaller tasks seem much easier

to accomplish than larger projects.

While everyone has a different sweet spot, I find that being hyper-specific with timelines

is very helpful to me.

For example, if I need to study for an exam next week and I have several lectures and

practice problems to go through, I will take a few minutes to think which lectures I should

complete on each day as well as how many practice problems.

I then put everything into Things 3 which is my personal to-do app of choice, but you should

obviously use whatever tool you prefer.

You can see an example of a highly structured daily and weekly timeline I created in excel

in my Step 1 study schedule video.

This high level of structure works for me and for my personality but it definitely does

not work for everyone, again figure out what works best for you.

Number two, keep the task small.

The hardest part in getting work done is just starting.

One of my favorite study hacks to address this is the Pomodoro Technique.

In short, you work in 25-minute blocks, each separated by a five-minute break.

During each block, you focus on just one small task.

In my Pomodoro technique video, I go over in more detail of what the technique is and

exactly how to use it.

This was actually revolutionary for my study habits and we started using it in med school.

And you may be thinking, how does this actually help me get started on my work?

Going back to our equation, this increases expectancy.

If I sat down to study and told I myself I need to study for five hours, I would definitely

get distracted very, very, easily.

But if I instead tell myself, I only need to study 25 minutes on this one little task

it becomes far less daunting and it becomes much easier to not only get started but also

to stay focused for the 25-minute Pomodoro.

Number three set the bar low.

This is yet another trick to increase the expectancy in our equation.

Set the goal to something less than what you were actually capable of.

I have used this recently for my own meditation practice.

When I set out to meditate 20 minutes every day, I only get around to doing it a couple

times per week.

It just felt like I never had the time to actually sit down and do 20 minutes of meditation,

so I rarely did.

Instead, I lowered my expectations by aiming to meditate just two minutes every day.

By lowering the bar, I found myself meditating most days and even though I set the goal as

just two minutes, I almost always exceeded it.

Number four, hack pleasure from the experience of studying.

Do you ever feel like studying is boring?

What if you don’t actually support the immediate outcomes of the task?

Let's say you don't know what you want or maybe you have unclear priorities.

These examples all point to low value in our equation, increase in value will help us overcome


So how do we increase value?

One way is by giving yourself a reward for completing a task.

For example, you can reward yourself with a healthy and tasty meal or by hanging out

with your friends after and only after you finish your chemistry homework.

If you need help with self-discipline like this, check out our self-discipline video.

Alternatively, you can improve the experience of the work itself.

As you progress in your medical education, the work gets more and more focused on material

you actually enjoy.

However, at the beginning, you may have to grind through subjects that you do not find


To improve the experience of studying, consider mixing up your study environments or listening

to great study music.

If you want a taste of my own personal study music, check out the Insider Email Newsletter

where I share some of my favorite study songs every week.

You can sign up on the Website Number five, use Parkinson’s law

to your advantage.

The idea that you can complete your task at a later time can crush even the most productive


Enter Parkinson’s Law.

Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time allotted to it.

meaning if you have only 30 minutes of work to do, but you allot two hours of work to

do it, then you’ll end up spending the entire two hours.

As I've stated in other videos, I use this technique frequently by creating artificial

deadlines that force me to get work done more efficiently.

These artificial deadlines decrease delay in our motivation equation, thus decreasing

the likelihood of procrastination.

The trick is to not be too aggressive with your timelines as it can lead to unnecessary


With time, you will get more accurate at gauging how long a task will take and how to use Parkinson's

law to your advantage.

Number six, be deliberate with your study environment.

We can all agree that one of the biggest killers to our productivity are distractions.

Avoiding distractions through sheer willpower is unlikely to be fruitful long term.

Rather, approach it prophylactically by crafting a work environment that minimizes distractions.

In doing so, we're decreasing impulsivity from our motivation equation.

For me, this translates to placing my phone on airplane mode, putting my Mac on do not

disturb, and going full screen with the work at hand.

If working at home distracts you, then opt for a library or a coffee shop instead.

Above all, make sure you minimize your digital distractions.

I have found that any other type of distraction pales in comparison to the focus-killing nature

of notifications from your phone, smartwatch, or computer.

And last number seven, understand your personality type.

The issue with advice, in general, is that one suggestion can work wonders for one individual,

but not for another.

Of the previous six tips, I am doubtful that any of them will not work for you, but I am

confident that some will work much better than others.

Now, a big part of optimizing your own life, whether that's productivity or study habits,

diet, exercise, or anything else is understanding oneself.

One of the tips that didn't make this list, for example, is accountability and that's

because it's highly effective for some individuals with a certain personality type, but significantly

less so for others.

I go over how you can determine your personality type, as well as specific strategies for each

personality type such as accountability that you can use to your advantage in my four tendencies

video, link in the description below.

I’d love to hear from you what other tools, tricks, or hacks you use to overcome procrastination.

Have you found loss aversion useful for you?

How about accountability groups?

Share with the rest of us what has worked for you down below and let's help each other


Thank you all so much for watching.

Shout out to my patron supporters that help make videos like this possible.

If you like the video, make sure you press that like button, hit subscribe if you have

not already and I will see you guys in that next one.