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  • So in college, I had to write a lot of papers. Now, when a normal student writes a paper,

  • they might spread the work out a little like this: You get started a little bit slowly

  • but you get enough done in the first week that with some heavier days later on, everything

  • gets done and things stay civil. I would have it all ready to go but then actually the paper

  • would come along and I would kind of do this. And that would happen every single paper.

  • But then came my 90 page senior thesis. Those first few months, they came and went and I

  • couldn't quite do stuff. And one day I woke up with 3 days until the deadline, not having

  • written a word, I wrote 90 pages over 72 hours, pulling not one but two all nighters. Now

  • I had a hypothesis- that the brains of procrastinators were actually different from the brains of

  • other people. So, here's the brain of a non-procrastinator. Now, here's my brain: Both brains have a rational

  • decision maker in them, but the procrastinator's brain also has an instant gratification monkey.

  • So the rational decision maker will make the rational decision to do something productive,

  • but the monkey doesn't like that plan. And he says "Actually let's read the entire wikipedia

  • page of the Nancy Kerrigan Tonya Harding Scandal cause I just remembered that happened." The

  • instant gratification monkey does not seem like a guy you would want behind the wheel,

  • he lives entirely in the present moment, he only cares about two things: easy and fun.

  • How does the procrastinator ever get himself over to this blue zone? A less pleasant place

  • but where really important things happen. The procrastinator has a guardian angel, someone

  • called the "Panic Monster". The Panic Monster suddenly wakes up anytime a deadline gets

  • too close or there's danger of public embarassment or some other scary consequence. This entire

  • situation with the three characters, this is the procrastinator's system. It's not pretty,

  • but in the end it works. Everything I've talked about today, the examples I've given, they

  • all have deadlines. And when there's deadlines, the effects of procrastination are contained

  • because the panic monster gets involved. But there's a second kind of procrastination:

  • when there is no deadline. So, if you wanna have a career where you wanna be a self starter:

  • something in the arts, something entrepreneurial, or exercising and taking care of your health.

  • There's no deadlines on those things at first. All of these non-deadline situations, the

  • panic monster doesn't show up. So the effects of procrastination, they're not contained,

  • they just extend outward forever. And it's this long-term kind of procrastination that's

  • much less visible. It's usually suffered quietly and privately and it can be the source of

  • a huge amount of long term unhappiness. Now I wanna show you one last thing. I call this

  • a "Life Calendar" That's one box for every week of a 90 year life. We need to think about

  • what we're really procrastinating on. We need to stay aware of the instant gratification

  • monkey. That's a job for all of us. And, because there's not that many boxes on there, it's

  • a job you should probably start today. Thank you.

So in college, I had to write a lot of papers. Now, when a normal student writes a paper,

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