Find your NOW, and you’ll never procrastinate again

You might think that you have 24 hours in a day. Depending on how you think about it, you might be wrong.

If you think there are 24 hours in the day to do all of the things you want to do, you’re just inviting yourself to procrastinate.

In reality, there is only now. Once you find your now, you’ll never procrastinate again.

When behavioral scientist Dan Ariely and I were reinventing Google Calendar, we noticed something critical about procrastination.

Many people view the day as being 24 hours long. In reality, if you’re hoping to get big, tough, mentally taxing work done, you really just have a couple of hours of Deep Work.

Moreover, those couple of hours can’t just be dropped into any part of your day. You have peak, and off-peak, cycles throughout your day. (Counterintuitively, your off-peak cycle may be best for creative work.)

Dan explained in our recent podcast conversation: If there are two hours in your day when you can produce 2–3 times your normal output, you shouldn’t waste a minute of it.

The key to killing procrastination is to arrange your time so your work rides the ebbs and flows of your energy. When you find your now, you do the right kind of work at the right time.

But, you can’t expect to find your now overnight. Here is a training progression you can use toward a procrastination-free schedule. Start on the step that feels too easy.

  1. Use the 10-Minute Hack: If you can’t stop checking Twitter, email, and Facebook, make a habit of working 10 minutes without stopping. This will carve the neural pathways for focus and action.
  2. Build the habit first: Identify your most important Deep Work, and build a ridiculously easy habit out of it. If you’re a writer, publish a 100-word Medium article every day. Sounds too easy? That’s the point.
  3. Follow the first-hour rule: If mornings happen to not be the best time for your work, pick a different hour of the day. Put it on your schedule, and focus on your Deep Work for one hour per day.
  4. Build a weekly routine (not a daily routine): As you cultivate Deep Work, you’ll start to notice how your capacity fluctuates throughout the week. Build your week accordingly. For example, if I get an email from my accountant on a Monday, I’ll Boomerang it so it returns on Friday. (Accounting is not my Deep Work.)

This progression eliminates procrastination by giving you easy goals that reduce overwhelm, and by building toward a schedule where there is only now to do your work. Once you find your now, you’ll never procrastinate again.

On my podcast, Dan Ariely reveals more about how to use behavioral science to motivate yourself. Listen here »