Original question from Quora:

What’s an efficient way to overcome procrastination?

Whenever I try to read or study, I get distracted easily. And even when I’m studying, I can’t concentrate for more than few minutes. II’ll appreciate any tips. Thanks

My Answer:

You don’t overcome procrastination. It’s not some kind of challenge or battle to be won. It’s something else.

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time in an office complex far far away there were two men who worked in the same company. Both were in the marketing department and they both started out as junior copywriters.

They basically wrote advertising and marketing materials for a living.

The first man was very busy. He was a whirlwind of activity. He was always doing ten different things. At any given moment he might be in a meeting, on a phone call, doing research, answering email, and so on.

Like I said, he was a very busy bee.

The second man seemed like a slacker. At least compared to the first man. He didn’t take a lot of phone calls, emails, or meetings. Every day he showed up, got his coffee, and sat down to write.

All morning the second man would write. He didn’t always write a lot. Maybe a couple thousand words on a really good day. But, morning was when he wrote.

In the afternoons the second man wouldn’t write much. He didn’t seem to do much at all. He would copy other ads by hand in the afternoon for a little while, but then he seemed to daydream and goof off in the afternoon.

Like I said, the second man seemed like a slacker.

The two men would often go to lunch and talk about work and women and sports and all the other stuff men talk about at lunch. The first man always talked about how tired and busy he felt, but “that’s what you got to do to rise to the top” he would say.

The second man didn’t seem to concerned with rising to the top or even staying busy. He just showed up to write every day. He smiled and listened to his friends busy, high stress life thinking that he was glad he didn’t try to stay that busy.

One day the first man was called into his boss’ office and was told that his work quality wasn’t very good and that if he didn’t improve he would be out of a job. The man was confused. He was so busy and worked so hard.

It didn’t make any sense.

So, he asked his boss what he could improve. His boss said, “Your work is always late. You never hit deadlines. You always make excuses about being busy, but I can’t imagine what you are so busy doing. Your writing is decent, but that doesn’t matter if we miss the publisher deadlines.”

The first man was crushed. He worked hard, but there never seemed to be enough hours in the day and the deadlines seemed too short for anyone to manage them.

A few days later the second man was called into his boss’ office and was given a promotion to staff copywriter. It was a nice pay raise and put him in line for even better positions in the future. He thanked his boss and asked him if there was anything he could improve.

His boss said, “Well, you are doing a great job. You show up every day and write solid copy. Your work is in well before any deadlines and so there is plenty of time to edit and improve before publishing. I feel like I can count on you to always get your work done and that makes my job a lot easier.”

For years this went on and the second man ended up as the Chief Marketing Officer of a successful company, while the second man always struggled to find his career footing.

You see, procrastination can’t be solved with deadlines or anything else. It’s a habit of not doing stuff. The “solution” if you want to call it that is the habit of focusing and doing the right work each day.

If you are doing the right work each day, procrastination doesn’t exist.

Do the work. Every day.

-Brian

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