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Julian Shapiro
+ Your AuthorsArchive @Julian Tweets on writing and clear thinking. I deconstruct how things work and share my learnings along the way. Writing: julian.com/ Work: demandcurve.com/ Mar. 07, 2021 3 min read

If you suffer from chronic procrastination..

I eventually overcame it.

4 things happened:

To stop procrastinating on new projects:

1. Justify to yourself that this is a great use of your time right now.

2. Demystify what the first steps look like.

3. Do a "sync session" with a friend ← Key

4. Consider the "Creativity Faucet" to overcome anxiety.

Step 1: Justification

We bail on ideas that we lack high conviction for. So, internalize the importance of a project before starting it.

You can do this by confronting the outcomes you care about when pursuing a project:

Some outcomes I care about myself:

• Self-education

• Adventure: collecting experiences

‍• Audience building: getting distribution

• Exercising talent: being skilled and creative

• Leverage: acquiring resources, connections

• Human connection: getting closer w/ others

Find the outcomes that YOU care most about.

Then rank them based on how much you care about them.

Finally, compare your potential projects by asking this question:

Which project could deliver the most on the outcomes I ranked highest?

That's the one I suggest you start with.

Ultimately, you can't pursue every project at once, so it's helpful to at least build conviction that you're doing one thing with a high likelihood of generating fulfillment.

It reduces FOMO.

This is essentially Jeff Bezos' Regret Minimization Framework, which goes like this:

Which choices can you make today that minimize the regret you'll feel as an 80-year-old looking back on your life?

When you minimize your future regret, you sleep well knowing you're maximizing fulfillment.

Part 2: Demystification

Demystify what the first steps look like.

Find an easy in—like a YouTube video that shows you the easiest way to start.

Finding an "easy in" is critical.

Part 3: Sync sessions

Sync sessions can be huge for overcoming procrastination.

A sync session is a Zoom call where you and a friend work on your projects at the same time.

Throughout the session, you keep your video off and you mute yourself.

In a sync session, you only speak three times:

1. At the start to state your goals for the call.

2. Midway through to sanity check that the other person is working instead of procrastinating.

3. At the end to make sure real progress was made.

During a sync session, you'll likely find yourself procrastinating WAY less.

You stop checking Twitter and YouTube every five minutes.

You focus harder. You're less prone to distractions.

I don't know why this works so well.

I have a theory, though.

I don't think it's due to accountability.

I think it's the comfort of knowing you're in battle with someone else.

To fight on the front lines by yourself? Too scary.

But with fellow soldiers? We'll step up for each other—for a greater cause.

How to schedule a sync session:

1. Find a sync partner. It should be someone who:

• Is excited to be your sync partner.

• There's mutual respect for—you don't want to let each other down.

• Has a roughly similar goal and can empathize with your desire to do this project.

2. After you've found someone, schedule a recurring 1 hour Zoom chat with them.

You can do this for every important project you're procrastinating on.

Now for my final realization about procrastination:

How do we overcome the anxiety of producing bad work?

With the "Creativity Faucet:" the idea is that you don't efficiently produce good work until you've first let the bad work pour out.

At the beginning of a writing session, after all the bad ideas are written down, your brain begins pattern-matching what MAKES them bad.

Then it can start hunting for what's good.

In other words, don't resist bad ideas—lean into them to start.

See the pinned tweet on my Twitter profile to read about the Creativity Faucet:

@julian

You can follow me for one more thread on procrastination. I'm running experiments with friends 🦖💨

Recap:

• It's difficult to finish a project if you're not convinced it's among the best uses of your time.

• Research enough to get started. Don't procrastinate by over-preparing.

• A sync session—where you pair with a friend—can rally you into action.


You can follow @Julian.



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