According to Tim Urban’s model of the mind of a procrastinator, we have a control panel in our head shared by Gratification Monkey and Rational Decision Maker. Most of the time our inner monkey rules our decision making process until the Panic monster appears (burning deadline or danger). Monkey retreats and our Rational Decision Maker has to save the day. When the danger is gone, the Monkey returns as it’s very hard for our brains to use the Decision Maker thinking for a long time.
Our monkey prefers simple tasks. So our goal is to make our task understandable at a first glance.
Daniel Kahneman introduced a similar model. According to him we have fast thinking and smart thinking.
How to cooperate with your monkey
Monkeyfy your task list (prepare clear instructions for the monkey)
Minimize distractions (get rid of notifications)
Execute tasks from your list (prevent your tasklist from becoming write-only)
Every task in a list should:
Minimize procrastination gap (for example, we have “send monthly report”, but before that we are supposed to compile the montly report, then write an email to the team (asking for data)
Begin with the verb. It should describe the action
Requires as little thinking as possible (to think as less as possible at the moment of execution)
The procrastination gap is the difference between what has been written in the task list and what we should really do. The higher the gap, the higher the probability of procrastination.
There good verbs and bad verbs for task formulation. Good verbs are those that do not require thinking e.g.write (the e-mail to somebody to ask something)
buy (smth specific)
Also there are bad verbs, Procrastinogens:
analyze the report
create the plan
read the new book
start jogging/quit smoking/learn Chinese
The reaction of the brain to this is, “I will do it later”.
Examples of good formulations:
“Call Lana to ask if she is available on Monday12 pm (instead of “meeting with Lana”)
“Email George, ask him for the case description”
“Find the message from Josh with a dentist’s number”
“Google a picture of a minion for the slide with Q3 budget”
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