One simple hack to beat procrastination

P 1 the one extraordinarily simple hack to beat procrastination

A smart lady as soon as mentioned: “Why’d you’ve got to go and make issues so difficult?”

When Avril Lavigne belted these phrases in her 2002 breakout hit “Difficult,” she was most likely fascinated by an annoying boyfriend—not the way in which our minds have a tendency to block us from getting stuff done.

However contemplate it an ode to your difficult mind, too.


As people, now we have one thing known as a “complexity bias.” It’s our tendency to make issues which are simple appear far more difficult. It makes us extra doubtless to ignore or overlook simple options and as an alternative sink our tooth into the extra difficult possibility.

Our complexity bias loves to steal the mic proper earlier than we begin one thing large.

It’s that voice in your head that tells you the presentation gained’t have a cohesive argument, it’d take hours to discover all the suitable components for that recipe, or mailing that greeting card can be a full-day affair of discovering the cardboard, getting the stamps, pondering of what to say—you get the gist.

It’s that alarm that goes off in your head, blaring, “Warning: Troublesome and sophisticated job forward. Bail whilst you can.”

For me: My complexity bias all the time strikes after I’m about to dive right into a new long-term project at work.

Earlier than I may even get began, I spend at the very least a number of days weaving a sophisticated internet, imagining all of the alternative ways I might sort out the task, methods it might go fallacious, how I’d regulate my plans, and extra. Unnecessary to say: My stress skyrockets, as does my procrastination.

Seems, that’s why our brains just like the complexity bias a lot. It provides us an “out,” so to communicate, to avoid doing one thing.


“Of the fight-or-flight responses, complexity bias is the flight response,” Shane Parrish explains on his self-improvement weblog Farnam Street. “It’s a technique of turning away from an issue or idea and labeling it as too complicated. In the event you suppose one thing is more durable than it’s, you give up your duty to perceive it.”

The excellent news: There’s a hack to assist you to override the complexity bias and begin seeing the easier path ahead. It comes from Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur, creator, and productivity guru.

What would this seem like if it have been straightforward?

In his guide Tribe of Mentors, Ferriss drops a gem of a query that he likes to ask himself earlier than diving into his work: What would this seem like if it have been straightforward?

“‘What would this seem like if it have been straightforward?’ is such a beautiful and deceptively leveraged query,” he writes. “It’s straightforward to persuade your self that issues want to be arduous . . . This leads us to search for paths of most resistance, creating pointless hardship within the course of.”

The “straightforward” query, Ferris explains, challenges us to body a job by way of “class as an alternative of pressure.” “In doing so, we typically discover unbelievable outcomes with ease as an alternative of stress,” he writes. “Typically, we ‘remedy’ the issue by merely rewording it.”

“Straightforward” helps you discover step 1

It’s necessary to keep in mind that a task can be simplified and nonetheless require work to get it accomplished. The “straightforward” query isn’t about discovering the lazy method out—it’s about making a extra easy course of that now we have a neater time wrapping our brains round and beginning.

Complexity, in any case, means having “many components” whereas simplicity is one thing that’s “straightforward to perceive.”

Asking your self the “straightforward” query earlier than you begin a job helps you narrow by the complexity bias and get a way of path—making it simpler to begin in any respect.

I used this query not too long ago whereas planning a get-together with associates. Earlier than I even despatched out the invite, I began stressing out about coordinating everybody’s schedules, making an attempt to choose a restaurant, ensuring we’d have a desk, a transparent method to cut up the verify, and so forth. Rapidly, I discovered myself pondering: “This feels arduous—possibly I simply . . . shouldn’t?”

However then I finished and requested myself: What would this seem like if it have been straightforward?

Properly, it’d seem like us all being free on the same night and going to a restaurant that was accommodating to cut up checks, reservations, and supplied tasty drinks. So I requested everybody to listing three nights they’re free within the subsequent week, discovered a restaurant that checked all of the containers, and made the reservation to guarantee we’d get a desk.


Actually, these are the identical steps I’d all the time have to take to plan the dinner, however asking myself the “straightforward” query pressured me to get out of my head (and all of the difficult routes I might go down) and see probably the most easy path to pulling issues collectively.

And that’s really what taking the “straightforward” route is all about—it means nonetheless placing within the work, however feeling clear and confident about what that work really entails.

Subsequent time you end up falling into Avril Lavigne-level difficult territory, strive asking your self “What would this seem like if it have been straightforward?” and simplifying the state of affairs.

Another questions you may ask your self, too: