Overcome Procrastination Once and For All (Almost Instantly) in 4 Easy Steps

You only need to know (and implement) four things in order to overcome procrastination... so that you can take action, get results, make money, repeat it, and make it last.

First, we need to pick some simple task that you know you need to do, but aren't doing. For some of you it's quitting your day job. For others it's putting an information product out there. Maybe for you it's something as simple as writing (or dictating) one article every day.

Step 1: Side-by-Side "Ben Franklin" Comparison

The "Ben Franklin" comparison is where you have two columns. In one column you list your reasons for doing something, and in the other you list your reasons NOT to do something.

Most people do it wrong. They try to see HOW MANY things they can list in each column, and the column with the most things is the winner.

Instead, set a timer for 4 minutes and ist the "top four reasons" to do it and the "top four reasons" not to do it. That's it. If you list more than four, cross out some so you get the 4 most important, and if you have trouble thinking of four then any four will do.

I'll give you a couple examples...

  • Quit Day Job: reasons to stay (reliable income, social interaction, daily routine, health insurance) vs. reasons to quit (more income, more fun, more freedom to travel, more free time)
  • Launch Infoproduct: reasons not to launch (safer, no work, easier to stay anonymous, no risk of refunds) vs. reasons to launch (money, fun, growth, contribution)
  • Getting Joint Ventures: reasons not to contact people (no chance of rejection, people are awkward, it's easier, ) vs. reasons to contact people (it's what successful people do, it doesn't take too much time, there are huge rewards, it's always good just to keep in touch)

Look at that, when you list things side by side it seems ridiculous to keep a job. It seems ridiculous to stay in a stay job, to not launch an information product, and makes it a necessity to get JVs.

When I was thinking about quitting my day job, both sides were pretty even for me, so I had to tip the scales in one direction or another... and once it was out of balance... I quit. But the key was chunking it down and focusing on just one specific thing.

Now you've measured the risk vs. the reward and you have a logical bird's eye view of WHY are you doing this that you can fall back on later.

Step 2: Pattern Interrupt to Minimize Bad Habits

You know what you need to be doing, now to get some kind of instant change you need to STOP one bad habit that keeps you from your goal. Back when I had my day job, and I was doing internet marketing, I was day trading stocks on my phone. I was always stressed out and sometimes it took effort to go even 10 minutes without checking my stocks.

Here's how I fixed the problem: I put a rubber band on my wrist. Every time I was about to check my stocks, I would snap that rubber band and move it to the other wrist.

I know that the reason most of you aren't productive is because you have that habit to check emails, check forums, check Facebook, check your stats or play computer games. Whenever you're about to do it, do the rubber band trick until you've accomplished your tasks for today.

Step 3: Conditioning & Anchoring

You'll start to notice that you'll start to associate pain with whatever bad habit you're getting rid of (let's say checking email) because every time you want to do it, it hurts.

Replace that old "checking your email" task with something productive. Let's say it's creating a report. Open your Word document or whatever tool you use to create a product, and the whole time you're working on it, force yourself to smile.

This does something really weird. Your brain is used to being happy, and then smiling. But it works in the other direction too. When you smile, you become happy.

When you continuously smile while typing and working on your product, then working on your product will make you happy.

If it makes you happy, then you'll want to do it more!

This is the same reason why physiologist Ivan Pavlov could ring a bell every time he fed a dog... and then eventually, just ringing the bell would get the dog to salivate. Because you're much smarter than a dog, you'll use this strategy to reward your good habits and get out of your comfort zone.

Step 4: Consistent Action (4DT)

Now that you'll have something that works, you'll want to repeat it, right?

That's where you'll use the same productivity advice I've given on every interview for year and probably will continue to give for the rest of my life...

Four Daily Tasks: At the beginning of the day, choose just four tasks you'll complete that day to move you in the right direction.

Accountability Partner: Tell someone (whether it's a business partner, spouse, parent, child, friend, neighbor, roommate) what your four tasks are, and at the end of the day, report back to them and tell them what you did or didn't finish, and why.

Time Boxing: Figure out how long a task will take you (for example, if finishing that report will take you 60 minutes), time it with a timer, and when that timer goes off, then put it online and step away from the computer. This ensures you'll stay focused and get that task completed QUICKLY.

And that's how you overcome procrastination: figure out what you want to do and Ben Franklin it, pattern interrupt whatever normally distracts you from making progress, condition yourself to enjoy it and use Four Daily Tasks to keep taking consistent action.

Filed in: Mindset

Comments (19)

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  1. susie moore says:

    HI Robert,

    Thanks for sharing a very informative post. This definitely describes the prons and cons of having a day job pro to leaving it.

    Thanks for sharing.

    skype smsforce

  2. Joe says:

    Hey Robert, great stuff.

    Have fun with your workshop, I know it will be great.


  3. Laura says:

    Hi Robert,

    Great post. I do often suffer procrastination, and have tried many things before. I think I will get an accountability partner soon, that will surely help!

    Moving from a day job to a home based Internet marketing business is not easy,and the change is huge. Thanks for the great tips.


  4. Sylvie says:

    Love this post.

    It’s hard to admit it sometimes, but I definitely do procrastinate.

    My goal is to create pattern interrupts to minimize bad habits. Alot of times I just tell myself I will do it later. I’ll watch the video and just learn rather than act.

    This is definitely my biggest obstacle.

    Hope everyone is having a wonderful time in Las Vegas!
    Looking forward to hearing about everyone’s experience
    inside Product University when you get back. πŸ˜€

  5. Peggy says:

    Hey Robert,
    Thank you for this helpful post! I especially liked the part about smiling while you do a task. What a great concept!
    I am going to use these tips to overcome my own procrastination.
    I hope you have a great time in Vegas!

  6. Heeeey, Robert.

    Hope you’re having fun in Vegas!

    I love this topic. After battling procrastination unsuccessfully for a couple of decades, and resigning myself to being labeled ‘A PROCRASTINATOR’…

    I finally studied the right things.

    And realized that willpower doesn’t do a particularly good job of combating bad habits.

    Replacing bad habits with good habits was a much better way to go.

    But willpower doesn’t help us create good habits either… no matter how much we WANT those habits.

    Repetition and practice creates good habits.

    And how do you get repetition and practice? In my experience: SYSTEMS.

    My systems for combating procrastination comprise of the items you listed in STEP 4. Accountability buddy, time boxing, and in my case THREE daily tasks. πŸ™‚

    Viva la productivity! (My French is not so good.)


  7. Karen Corey says:

    Having a job or working for yourself still requires self disclipline and procrastination certainly rears it’s ugly head, huh? Thank you for some really good reminders and pointers to stay on track. And one thing I do to “remind” myself to stay on track is use my cooking timer. I seem to have a nagging idea that I am not getting enough done and then feel overwhelmed. When I set the timer – I stay focused and feel great when I get as much done as I do. I simply LOVE the 4 task requirement. So much more do-able. Keep the emails coming.

  8. Maureen says:

    Yup.. I am familiar with procrastination!

    But this post helps me understand how to deal with it or better yet.. overcome it! πŸ˜‰

    Enjoy your workshop!


  9. Scott says:

    Hi Robert,

    Not really sure if I have procrastination I’ll think about it tomorrow

  10. Jase says:

    Man, you guys are like the Energizer Bunnies. You dont have time to procrastinate!

    Seriously, smiling is the clue. When you’re in distraction or avoidance mode, just changing your physiology can reset your attitude and approach. Then hooking into the RPLT techniques ramps up the productivity.

    Enjoy the live PU.

  11. Jase Wass says:

    Man, you guys are like the Energizer Bunnies. You dont have time to procrastinate!
    Seriously, smiling is the clue. When you’re in distraction or avoidance mode, just changing your physiology can reset your attitude and approach. Then hooking into the RPLT techniques ramps up the productivity. Enjoy the live PU.

  12. Donna says:

    Hi Robert,

    No wonder you’re so successful! You whipped one of the biggest enemies we all have that rob us of the joys of achieving our goals.

    Thanks for the great post on this painful subject.

    Have a great seminar & take time out for a little fun, too!


  13. Clyde says:

    I am getting through the procrastination probolem. Now I am running into new problems, no not problems, things I was not aware I needed to do, popping up as we launch this new product. From time to time that tends to make we want to procrastinate but I am still getting the 4DT done, sometimes the tasks just take longer.

    Thanks for the reminders and great information.

    Wish I was in Vegas with you guys, I will make the next one though. That is not procrastination it is lack of funds. Although that could be a result of past procrastination I am not admitting to that.


  14. Joshua says:

    Robert, another great post, thanks for everything you guys do. It really keeps you motivated but hard to keep up.
    Joshua Q Shoemaker

  15. Always unique! Was struck by your reverse psychology on habits. I like the concept of associating pain with bad habits (you’ll make a great dad some day!). Never thought about it that way.

    In my own experience, I’ve found it necessary to replace a bad habit with a good habit I want more. Different folks are motivated by different carrots . . .LOL.

    Keep up the good work, Robert!

    Theresa 😎

  16. This actually makes me want to stop procrastinating ;-). I am going to do the 4DT every day next week.

  17. I have a terrible procrastinating problem, and it seems to come and go. One month I do “ok” and the next month I get nothing done on my business.

    Now that I’m launching a new IM business and I actually have partners, I just can’t do that anymore!

    I’ve been working on it by reading some Anthony Robbins books, which are awesome. I think this list is a great supplement to that.

    This is something that I could trim down to fit in one page and print out to hang over my computer.

    That way I’m always looking at it! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the post, and I’ll be sure to come back to this site often – this being my first visit.

    — Lindsey

  18. Ann Marie says:

    Procrastination is a way of fooling oneself into thinking we will have time for this or that later.

    Ten years later!!! Wow, time flies!

    Great tips and I really appreciate step 3 Conditioning and Anchoring. Our attitude on the task can play an important role of enjoying what we are doing.

    I have experimented by smiling a while to give my face a rest.

    Thanks, Robert for your practical tips that are so applicable.

  19. Hi Robert,
    I used to use the rubber band trick when my thoughts would start going negative.

    I learned some of these techniques through Tony Robbins personal power 2 audio-program.

    It really helped me to keep myself in line and on task.

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