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James Altucher is a successful entrepreneur, chess master, investor and writer. He has started and run more than 20 companies, including StockPickr, and sold several of those businesses for large exits. He has published 11 books, and is a frequent contributor to publications including The ... more

10 Ways I Deal With My Own Procrastination

Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 11:17 AM EDT

10 ways to deal with procrastination

It’s important I address several things first before I really start into the meat of this article.

First, when I tweet about this post many people will respond, “I’ll read it…later” or some variation of that.

That’s a funny joke. I get it.

Second, while I was writing this post, I procrastinated pretty heavily. No surprise.

And what was even better, I employed almost all of the techniques below to get over the procrastination and still be very productive.

In fact, one of the techniques I mention below is to start in the middle.

It’s worth mentioning then that the words I am writing now I am writing after already finishing the article.

So here are the 10 things you should do to make your life more productive via procrastination.


Plan B

Make a list right now of 10 things you can do that will make you feel “productive.”

If you ever feel like you are procrastinating, then just go down the list and do the tiniest thing you can do for each item on the list.

For instance, if I am procrastinating writing on a book I can take a break and start sending emails to potential podcast guests.

I procrastinated on writing this post. So I even responded to emails from six months ago (that I procrastinated on responding to then).

Do you know what? The respondents appreciated it and I kept those business connections alive.

I also read parts of a book to prepare for a podcast next week.

Or it doesn’t even have to be something related to “business productivity.” I can exercise, for instance. That will probably improve my ability to focus better in the long run.

Play

If you feel procrastination is becoming a habit, then take a step back and change your life.

Whenever I’ve been deeply unhappy in my life, I play games. I play games ALL DAY.

Games are actually good for you in general. They make you strive to improve. They improve various brain functions (spatial reasoning, problem solving, etc). They improve your ability to deal with failure (since often you will lose) and learn from your mistakes (if you study what you did wrong in lost games).

But games can also be escapist. When I’ve been unhappy in relationships or in a job, I play games all day long.

I was afraid to get married in my first marriage. I was scared I was too young.

20 minutes before I was supposed to be at my own wedding, I was at my office and hadn’t changed yet.

I was playing one minute chess (each side takes one minute, if one player runs out of time before the game is over, then he loses) against the Swiss Chess Champion. I was winning. I figured, “I can’t stop doing this. I’m winning!”

That was bad.

Escapist gaming is no good.

One technique i do now to take a step back is:

no drinking

  • go to sleep around 9pm and wake up at 5am and get out of the house to read or write or walk.
  • try to do productive gaming instead of escapist gaming. As long as I focus on improvement, it will make me better able to focus on the task at hand.
  • OR, I try to play in some way. I recommend Charlie Hoehn ’s book on PLAY to see how he used it to decrease his anxiety and become more productive.

Experiment

The word of the month for me seems to be “experiment.”

Everywhere I look I seem to be reminded of the importance of this.

A great example is Chris Rock. He’s a funny guy. He goes on stage, does his act, and everyone laughs. Again and again.

But that’s not how he starts. He goes to “The Laugh Factory” in my home town of New Brunswick, NJ and takes some crumpled notes and just starts reading them out loud in his regular voice.

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