Warning this article is about procrastination… although I want it to be focused, …. there are constantly so many things floating through my mind…. I may get distracted even in my own article…that being said…I’ll try to stay on topic.

[And audio version of this will be available soon as well]

I thought I’d write an article about this…. Because for me it is a humungous problem.

I currently live with a Polish guy, who is as distracted, if not more distracted than me and we have both been sharing our thoughts on just how distracted we get.

For a quick taste of the kind of things that might happen during a day:

Plan for Sunday:

  • write an article about procrastination (yes that was a pre-planned event)
  • article about the recommendation of audible and why listen to audio books
  • Review article on Fred the vampire accountant
  • Review article on ‘Off to be the wizard’ audio book
  • Set up a new email account
  • Set up a new youtube account for the joint moto-vlog
  • Upload video
  • Add artwork to youtube channel
  • Vacuum my room & clean it up a little
  • Edit the rest of my ‘character building’ video
  • Transcribe my MM thoughts to a digital copy

What actually happened (in no particular order):

  • Set up the new email account
  • Set up a new youtube account for the joint moto-vlog
  • Uploaded video
  • Tried to add artwork to youtube channel….but the picture manager kept denying me due to wrong file sizes
  • Watched 5 episodes of Red Dwarf (a TV show I’ve already seen before)
  • Watched various youtube videos on reviews of super cars
  • Watched 6 new movie trailers on youtube
  • Watched various videos about the 2016/17 Yamaha WR250F (A bike I’ve really wanted to get)
  • Watched various videos about dingoes and goannas, and sharks vs crocodiles ….or some random shit (see picture)
  • Whilst trying to design cover art for the youtube channel came across a theme called ‘the Rowdy Roadtrip’ and thought it’d be a good name so did a google search to see if it was already taken.   Found it was, and ended up reading several pages of
  • Rowdyroadtripblogspot.nl – Some people from Adelaide travelling around Australia   (to be fair it looked amazing)
  • Did actually vacuum my room & clean it up a little
  • Took a nap
  • Listened to a lot of my new audio book ‘We are legion (we are bob)’
  • Actually started writing the Procrastination article (time started 10.45pm)

Here are the screenshots from my actual history:

trailers watched 29thyoutube watched list 29th

And here’s some random shit that I viewed yesterday evening:

bullshit i watched 28th

What the hell was I thinking?

Why can’t I just focus??

Also on Saturday (today being Sunday) I ended up listening to a friend’s podcast… it’s actually pretty good… but also from an outside perspective it’s just an hour and a half of general rambling.  But one of my friend’s friends brought up the guy that this guy (below) is apparently a pro at procrastination:


http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/11/how-to-beat-procrastination.html  (opens in a new tab)

And I watched his TED talk.   Pretty funny….but it didn’t help the situation at hand

[inside the mind of a procrastinator]

His point is that everyone is a procrastinator at some level.

It was good to see that others are just like me…, but also a bit shit to see that there is no apparent cure for it…. That being said… I do have some theories.

The mind of a procrastinator … is in fact different from that of a ‘normal’ person.

I have hundreds of things on my mind at the same time.  There’s a famous picture that you’ve surely seen

i thinkvs what i say

I think this is more or less true.  I’ve heard people (mainly from China to be fair) tell me ‘You think too much’

I always get frustrated by this phrase because in my mind, my level of thinking is the normal amount of thinking that any person should be doing.

Before I say something to someone, I think about how they’re likely to react, how the words I’m about to say has any kind of inferred meaning, how I want them to react and therefore how I should phrase a question to put in the right inference to potentially garner the right reaction to lead a conversation if I need to, whether or not something that pops through my mind will actually add to the conversation and actually progress a conversation.

These are all things that are going through my mind…and this isn’t even the end of it.    This is what is directly related to a conversation; when I’m hearing a person’s reply I’m then also trying to extrapolate potential inferred meanings…key words/ concepts that I’m not sure about with mental notes to look them up later and review that subject material to remove gaps from my knowledge & potentially create a stronger argument for next time…. 20 or so other non-related things…that have worked their way into my mind because perhaps I’ve either found the conversation un-engaging by way of just being simply boring, or that the person I’m talking to isn’t apparently thinking so much.

I look for engaging topics and people that are capable of engaging me at the level that doesn’t leave me bored… because otherwise my mind starts to wander and I become un-focused.  And to be honest, I like to be focused.

I like to think that the amount that I think is the normal amount.

But what if it wasn’t the normal amount?  What if people really don’t think about all of these different things?

How much more simple would life be?

How much easier must it be able to be to concentrate on things that you have to do when you’re not thinking about a hundred other things all the time, and even several things that relate to…but are not directly applicable to you getting the 1 thing done that’s right in front of you?

Is it that some people are just able to block out all of these thoughts and then focus on what they have to?

Or is it that they’re just not…not thinking as much as myself and apparently some people like me are?

Going back to the notion that I like to be focused… but sometimes I just end up losing focus due to something not being engaging enough for me, when it comes to work… I think the reason that I end up putting off things is because I simply just don’t want to do it.

I know I won’t find it engaging.  It’s one of those recurring circles- if its engaging, then I’ll find it interesting, and if it’s interesting then of course its engaging and therefore you’re happy to spend time on it.

But it’s not engaging and it’s not interesting…. So I simply don’t want to do it… and that’s where my mind decides…bugger this…this isn’t worth our time….let’s think about something else.

And so it does… and so I never get the thing done that I HAVE to get done.

In the waitbutwhy.com blog he describes the concept of The Panic Monster.

waitbutwhy panic monster

(source: Waitbutwhy.com)

His point is that whenever there is a deadline and you haven’t done anything coming up to that point, as soon as you’re very close that that deadline point, the ‘Panic Monster’ wakes up, scares your procrastinating side into submission, and gives you the drive, and focus to actually get shit done.

To be fair, this is correct… whenever you have a deadline at university… or even if it’s waking up on time for work, The Panic Monster kicks in and gives you that drive and focus to say… ‘this is important, it’s time for you to take action’.. . and banishes that monkey that was steering the ship to the corner of the room.  Every time he tries to come back with another ridiculous but fun idea, the Panic Monster beats him down and keeps you on track.

But…. there’s something even worse, and that’s when you find that after the deadline has passed there are sometimes no consequences for not meeting such a deadline.

I’ve found throughout a few things in my life, I could justify the missing of such a deadline to whoever was in charge of the deadline…and thus give myself extra time.
This is going into dangerous territory…. But let me give you 2 examples.

  1. I was studying my Master’s degree whilst working full-time while living in China.

Some of you know that China has what is not so fondly called ‘The Great Firewall’  which protects the government from tainted minds which will rise up against them.  The gov. of course claims it ‘protects its citizens from such foreign propaganda’ and ‘keeps a moral society’, but of course it’s really about limiting its people’s access to the internet so that the ch. Gov can monitor, and control the people more effectively and stop any motions to move against it.

[ahhh you see…I’ve even got distracted with talking about China now]

So because of the Great Firewall, access to the internet was sometimes a bit shaky in China, even when you had a VPN that allowed to you skirt around such a limitation, and especially so owing to the fact that my Master’s topic was International Relations with a focus on China- South China Sea, East China Sea tension, domestic control, separation movements, etc. so of course the chance that my internet being disrupted was more.

So, I would inform my lecturers at the beginning of each unit of my predicament, and tell them in advance that I might have some problems accessing certain materials. And that, as I was working full-time I might not be in the same situation as other students.

They of course respected such a situation, because it shows to some level that you can multi-task and that your interest in their subject material is so strong that even though you have work, you will try as hard as possible to get things done in their course, but that being said, you have to be realistic about everything.

Anyway… when deadlines came, there was a ready-made excuse.  I think for my last 3 units (of which in total I had only 8) I used some sort of excuse that because of my particular situation, business trips, or access to the internet…or general ‘China Problems’, I could not make the normal deadline.

And thus I got extensions.

I DID actually need such extensions, they weren’t lies, but the fact is, if I organised my time better…and actually WAS able to focus and NOT get distracted to the insane lengths that I do…then I could have made the deadline the same time as everyone else.

So deadline comes,
you realise you can explain why you haven’t reached it,
you hand it in when you have organised to hand it in
… no real consequences…other than a little bit of guilt is felt.

  1. Work- Arriving on time.

I lived in the city in Beijing, and worked nearby the airport around 45 mins away.
They provided a company bus that would leave from 1 subway station away from me (of which my closest subway station was a 15 minute walk).
So 15 mins walk, catch subway for 1 station, 5 mins walk, then arrive at pick-up location.

The company bus would be at the pick-up point at 8.20am.
So I had to be roughly leaving my house at 7.40.  And if I showered at night, waking up at 7.20.

For a while, all was good.

And then, after I missed the bus once, I realised that at the pickup station, there were buses that went more or less to the same location.  And they went every 15 minutes.
I couldn’t get a seat, but they were there.

So… now I’ve got an alternative deadline in my head. Which means that when the Panic Monster is meant to kick in- when you’re turning off your 3rd or 4th alarm clock…it instead says….’well, actually, we can sleep for another 30 mins if you want?’

And yes, yes I do want that extra sleep…that would be pretty damn amazing.

Of course there’s still the ‘what time you’re meant to be at work’ deadline.

But after turning up at work 30 mins late for 1.5 weeks and realising there was absolutely no consequences… you’ve now made a new ‘work arrival time deadline’.

And then you may keep pushing it until you finally get the call in to say ‘hey we’ve noticed you’ve been coming in to work quite late… maybe you should stop this’

So from there you think… ok, previously the ‘must be at work time’ was 9am.  And the day I pushed it to 10.30 am I was called out for it, the latest possible ‘must arrive at work time’ must be somewhere between the 2.

And then you start justifying it.

‘Well if I manage to get all the work done in the same amount of time…then what does it really matter?’

But….of course you don’t get all the work done… because you’re a procrastinator… and the tasks you’re handed at work…even though you HAVE to do them… you don’t WANT to do them….and so … only until they HAVE to be handed in, will they actually be done.  But as point 1 is anything to go by…there are ways around that as well.

So, …. Shit.

The other thing is that you may have 11 things in one day to do or even in 1 week. (10 just sounds like too much of a round number…and therefore un-realistic)

Now, on that list there is probably 1 that is the most important and has a deadline much before the others.

This is also the one that probably requires the most work, and the one you’ve probably got the least support for.

Here, I can’t give particular examples for at my work… but know that I am REGULARILY in this situation.

This 1 item is always the most shit, and even though you may know how to do it… you don’t WANT to do it, but know that you HAVE to do it.

And thus now, it is the only thing consuming your mind.

Along with your work list of 11 items in 1 week, you also have a personal projects list… for which you have another 6 things which you want to achieve …which you know you should do AFTER you finish all your work things.

So in your head, there is now a definite list of priorities: work list 1st, then personal list.
And that 1 big item in the work list before you do anything else…as you know this is the one with the closest deadline AND the most important.

Let’s call the 1 big item – Item A

You know you have 16 things that in your mind you would rather do instead of Item A, but as you know you should focus on Item A, it adds pressure to Item A and now makes it even more …not important, but the overall stress surrounding it becomes bigger.

You don’t do your personal items, because of this grand importance of Item A and the stress it carries, you don’t do the other 10 items on the work list because of the same reason.

You want to do those personal items, and at this stage you would rather do and kind of WANT to do the other 10 work items, but because you know you HAVE to do Item A, you can’t do any of the other items because otherwise you’d feel guilty and shameful.

Therefore, you now HATE   Item A with a passion, because it is now preventing you from doing things you WANT to do.

Needless to say, you don’t WANT to do it to any degree.

As you don’t WANT to do it, but HAVE to do it, you find any distraction, with this still being at the forefront of your mind, and procrastinate away from it.

Note.  Because these total 17 items are all grouped together, in your mind you can’t do any of the rest before you do Item A, so when you procrastinate, you’re not even doing the other 16 items on your list.

Of which if you did, it would give you some sort of sense of achievement and probably give you that boost to self-confidence by releasing some of the pressure that has been added to that big item, because the weight of those 16 items behind it caused much more importance than simply Item A by itself.

So when you get distracted… you’re not doing anything that can be considered productive.


You even realise, that if you just went to sleep, you would have been more productive as compared to the things you actually DID do in that time.  As in the end, you do need to sleep, and you’re going to be doing this at some point in time either way.  It’s better to be overly well- rested, as compared to not well-rested enough.

So you end up doing things that you can maybe justify to yourself at the start. But then the real procrastination sets in.
For instance:

  • Taking a call from your family, family comes first right?
  • Writing an email to your grandmother,
  • Catching up with a friend from another country via some sort of social media, instant messaging,
  • Looking at some articles that you might potentially use for some blog article,
  • Looking at LinkedIn….its work related after-all,
  • Eating, you need to eat right? So why not do it now?
  • Deciding to finally do that project, but realising you don’t know how to do a certain excel function…so looking it up on youtube, and then choosing the quickest video 2 mins long…getting frustrated for why it doesn’t tell you the answers NOW, and then thinking fuck-it…I’m just wasting time… and then seeing as you’re logged into google, seeing all your ‘recommended videos’ and clicking on some motorbike shit, for which you’ll happily watch a 13 min video about something that doesn’t affect your life NOW what-so-ever, yet the 2 minute excel explanatory video was too time consuming.

And then…

Ah… shit.

Do you know why I think many people that easily get distracted enjoy / prefer/ are most productive when they work at night?

It’s because they realise that they’ve wasted the whole rest of the day, and that to get something productive done in the day, they have to do something before they just involuntarily fall asleep….otherwise the guilt seeps in.

That’s when a Panic Monster sets in every day and gives you drive and focus, even though you are tired.

But then of course you are tired for the next day at work…or whatever.

Take now for example, it is now 12.40am (midnight) and I’ve been writing this article for around 2 hours… but I’m focused, and I’m with it because this is the real ‘productive’ part of the day for me…. Because as you can see above… I didn’t get anywhere near the amount of stuff I wanted to get done, done.

But I have to be awake just before 8am for me to get a lift with a colleague to work in the morning. (bike’s back tyre is flat…getting fixed soon)

So even if I go to sleep right NOW, then I’m only going to get 7 or so hours of sleep.

Which for me, isn’t enough.

And then how do you think my work day is going to be like?  Am I going to be focused?

Especially on shit that I don’t really want to do?

Of course not.

So, again, …. Shit.

The thinking process of an erratic mind vs a ‘normal’ mind

the Normal mind:   I need to do 11 things today,

Will do it in order of most priority to least priority.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

the Erratic mind:  I have 11 things to do today.

I will do it in however my mind wants to do it, regardless of priority

A bit of 4, a bit of 6, all of 9, a bit 10, all of 3, oh look 1 looks is right next to 3- yeah let’s do that… a bit of 1, wait 1 is boring… I’m going to do 2 now- all of 2, a bit of 11, back to 4 –finish it… etc.

Everything gets done, yet not in the order that you’re supposed to do it.

Then of course you take that kind of way of thinking, and put it in an environment that requires a ‘normal’ work approach.

How the hell do you think it is going to go?

Of course, if you just leave the erratic mind to their own devices, then eventually all things will get done.

But if there’s any kind of pressure on that individual, then those 2 processes simply don’t mesh.

The erratic mind wants to do things how it wants to do them, and the company or manager is pushing for a ‘normal’ way of doing it, with deadlines, priorities, and order….

And then of course, stress is created.

‘Please take priority for no. 8, and then when you have time you can do the others as you see fit.’

But… I don’t want to do no. 8, I would prefer to try a bit of no. 3, bugger this, I don’t like no.8, you know what… I’m going to relax my mind by taking a break and watching some video about a dirt bike…. And then I’ll have a go at no.8.

And then…. Ahhhh….shit.

I’ve talked to my housemate about this, and we’ve worked through a lot of this thinking between us.

He’s studying psychology, and whilst you may think… oh you’re about to say he’s studying this condition / phenomenon or whatever it is… nope, he’s suffering from the same situation that I am.

After a couple of these conversations, we sometimes talk about what kind of crap has distracted us in the course of 1 day.

Some of the most interesting things he’s told be about, was a whole bunch of strange websites.

[you don’t need pictures, click the links, but the domain names are pretty self-explanatory] (all open in new tabs)



For which I recommended



But apparently he’s also looked up:

-how to take out a prosthetic eye

-How to ride a dolphin
(for which I was so curious about… I ended up watching a youtube video on that too)

And I entertain him with random videos about China… the dodgy, funny, wtf? ones.

I asked him to take a look at his internet history, here’s a little taste:

[As you’re looking through this list, know that: My friend is a Polish guy who is gay…. not a woman, he doesn’t have any tumours, and he does not have cancer]

  • what the bible says about stoning people
  • abortion clinic: what to take with you
  • menstrual cup
  • people in iron lung
  • pregnant people in iron lung
  • iron lung pregnancy
  • Tumour implant
  • Basic self-defence with the kubotan key chain
  • Down syndrome homosexuality
  • Down syndrome breeding
  • How to prepare yourself for chemotherapy
  • Judicial corporal punishment
  • Foot whipping
  • Magic cactuses
  • Pigeon vs snake
  • Rare skin diseases

In fairness, recently I ended up watching a video on youtube about how to repair a truck tyre that has a puncture, and how to re-tread the tyres.

Note. I do not have a truck, I do not drive a truck, I don’t know anyone who has, or drives a truck.
There is zero reason for me to know this information… yet, now I now know it.

If only I could put this attention span into something useable.

So for all you people out there, that is suffering from this kind of condition… know that you’re not the only ones.

We are many.

I think the only thing that we can gain from knowing that we are procrastinators is to know that we are different, and that how we think means that we don’t conform to the apparent ‘normal-ness’ that apparently the majority of people fit into.

In knowing that, and the fact that we seem to have what I would call ‘erratic minds’, you have to know that it can’t be the same way to manage work as it is for other …apparently ‘normal people’ who are not impaired by this condition.

Instead from a management perspective, people like us have to be left to their own devices.

Let me give you an example.

This morning (30th Jan, Monday) I created a list of all the things that I had to do for work, and mixed in that list was the personal item things as well.

Original list:

  • Review of UK MIDA materials
  • Send company presentation as a hand-out pdf to client [requires editing of presentation]
  • Translation for Joann (3 pages Chinese to English)
  • Write down MM experience
  • Email Uncle David with updates
  • Get Janek’s most distracted moments

Ok so these were the original items that I thought were important at the time.

They are in no particular order… just, whatever the hell was in my thoughts at the time.

If I was to label them with a priority it would be:

  1. Send company presentation as a hand-out pdf to client [requires editing of presentation]
  2. Translation for Joann (3 pages Chinese to English)
  3. Review of UK MIDAS materials
  4. Email Uncle David with updates
  5. Get Janek’s most distracted moments
  6. Write down MM experience

But I didn’t do that.  Why?  Because as soon as you assign priorities to something like ‘normal’ people do, you end up creating a situation of over importance and stress surrounding that item, whereby as explained above, all items have to wait until the most important item is completed first… and then you simply don’t get anything done.

Instead, knowing that my mind works in an erratic way, I just do whatever I feel like doing at the time.  If something is getting done, it’s much better than getting nothing done because of obsessing on the critical #1 item.

Of course, as you begin your work day, there is invariably people that come up to you and add things, or.. that whilst working through the things originally in your list, you realise there are ‘add-on’ items that tie into the original ones, that also need to be done.

From my add-on items I’ve now also got: (throughout the course of a day, not added in 1 go)

  • Write an article about MM experience
  • Audible affiliate program
  • Review Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
  • Email for GM chamber for options
  • Review UK e-commerce event group
  • Get in contact with UK Warehouse guy
  • Email Manchester Business development manager for progress update report our side
  • Managers meeting
  • Packages content missing, update case

There’s now a total of 15 items on the list.
16, as I had to repeat 1 item as I replied to their replies.

So let’s take a look at how I actually did, with the order I actually ended up doing things:

  1. Emailed Uncle David
  2. Did all editing for company hand-out presentation, sent to client
  3. Reviewed the UK MIDAS materials & took notes
  4. Reviewed the UK e-commerce event group
  5. Joint together = Talked with audible affiliate program via customer service chat…whilst waiting for each answer to come through, reviewed the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce forum
  6. Wrote down MM experience notes
  7. Got Janek’s most distracted moments
  8. Replied to the reply of audible affiliate program via email [not on the list]
  9. Managers meeting
  10. Wrote the email to the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce business development guy
  11. Emailed Manchester Business development manager for progress update report our side
  12. Wrote an article about the MM experience.
  13. Updated case for missing packages
  14. Decided that there wasn’t enough information to write the UK warehouse an email, item cancelled.

What I didn’t get done:

= Translation for Joann (3 pages Chinese to English)

Now I know what you may be thinking.

‘But that was no. 2 on the original work list in terms of priorities… how bad is it that you didn’t get that done?’

True… but, just think if I actually acknowledged it as no. 2 in my mind at the start of the day?

In truth no.2 wouldn’t have got done, neither would any of the others that came after it in terms of priorities.

What I have done though is 14 other things that were rolling around my mind.  They are now done, and they are now out of my mind, and it’s a great feeling.

Instead I’ve now only got 1 item to focus on tomorrow, instead of 14 other things.

I realise the normal approach would just to attack 1-15 in order and bam, bam, bam get them done 1 by 1.

However, … for the erratic mind that’s just not how it works.

You have to be aware of that.

For managers out there… if you put pressure on people that work like me… then there’s a good chance that none of it gets done.

And you have to ask yourself… do you really need that item no. 2 right now?

The answer in most cases, is no.  The other side will get the info, and then hold onto it for a week before they do anything with it anyway.

So relax, give a bit of space and let the erratic mind work the way it wants to work.

Chances are you’re going to get better results like that anyway.

If you are like me… then yeah, do it this way, others tell you ‘you SHOULD do it this way, you SHOULD do it that way, there is a priority for THIS & for THAT’.

No, bugger off… your mind doesn’t work like that, if you try to force yourself to work like that, nothing will get done.

It’s like forcing a left handed person to use their right hand when writing, you can do it, and you will eventually be able to write the paragraph, but you don’t want to do it, because it’s just not the correct fit for you.  It’s forcing you to do something, that’s just not normal for you, even if it’s normal for the majority of other people.

Tune these people out with their apparently ‘normal’ ways of attacking problems, and go and do it YOUR way.

Otherwise there’s too much risk that absolutely nothing gets done anyway.

You’ll be stressed and frustrated all because someone’s trying to pressure you into the ‘normal’ way of doing things.

Not all people can be normal, you might just be one of these exceptions… don’t bend to their will, embrace how your mind works, and work with it not against it.