In a hilarious TED talk by world-famous blogger Tim Urban, the procrastinating brain is explained using three squiggly characters: Rational Decision Maker, Instant Gratification Monkey, and Panic Monster. For most of us who procrastinate without fail, the Monkey dominates while the Decision Maker suffers. Panic Monster enters the moment a deadline looms dangerously close—and that’s when all the actual work is done, amid much grumbling, self-loathing and lofty promises of never procrastinating again. But of course, we fail to keep our promises and the wheel keeps turning!
While the internet is full of lists and guides on how to stop procrastinating, for quite a lot of people, those somehow just don’t help at all. And while deadlines, as Urban points out, work for some in terms of getting the work done sooner or later, “long-term procrastination” affects those who must set their own deadlines—think business owners, PhD students, or freelancers. So, how do you get yourself to stop? You don’t! What you need to master is John Perry’s concept of “structured procrastination”—the same concept that Piers Steel earlier explained as “productive procrastination.” Read on for some advice gleaned from pro-procrastination literature.