Defeating Procrastination

Procrastination is a side effect of the way we value things. Task completion (is) as a product of motivation, rather than ability. In other words, you can be really good at something, whether it’s cooking a gourmet meal or writing a story, but if you don’t possess the motivation, or sense of importance, to complete the task, it’ll likely be put off.

Getting something done is a delayed reward, so its value in the present is reduced: the further away the deadline is, the less attractive it seems to work on the project right now. 

People who characterize themselves as procrastinators…discount the value of getting something done ahead of time even more than other people. 

Procrastination, in psychological terms, is what happens when the value of doing something else outweighs the value of working now.

This way of thinking suggests a simple trick to defeat procrastination: find a way to boost the subjective value of working now, relative to the value of other things. You could increase the value of the project, decrease the value of the distraction, or some combination of the two.

Elliot Berkman and Jordan Miller-Ziegler writing in The Conversation

It's all about the long term

If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few (people) are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details. In some cases, things are inevitable. The hard part is that you don’t know how long it might take, but you know it will happen if you’re patient enough. So you can do these things with conviction if you are long-term-oriented and patient.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder

PS: The title of this post comes from the title of the first shareholders letter Bezos' sent in 1997.