How I Cured My Procrastination

I went from a C student to an A engineering student while enjoying work more and having 100x more freedom

TLDR (because I also hate digging through articles for the thing I clicked for):

When I went to college I did extremely poorly sophomore year for numerous reasons, mostly being lazy and procrastinating. After immense amounts of banging my head against the wall, I came up with a working solution to my laziness and became an A student with a part-time job who did significant amounts of extra work on top of all of that, such as studying entrepreneurship or reading books or doing side projects to grow my skills. Oh and I had way more freedom than before, because you can do whatever you want when you’re way ahead and do quality work.

The method is to get in the habit of starting everything immediately and chunking it out so you finish early. Doing this repeatedly trains your brain that work is like taking a nice rewarding warm bath rather than briefly touching a painful punishing hot stove. Over time your brain learns to enjoy work and its rewards more than it fears the pain of doing it. I call this method “work ethic psychological conditioning” (WEPC) because I didn’t have a name for it and that’s just what I came up with on the spot for this article. I elaborate on WEPC below, and give an important optimization to the method.

Whether you’re in school or in the workforce, you’ll probably benefit from this method. If you’re a C student/employee, do this, you’ll do way better and be less stressed. If you’re an A student/employee, do this, you’ll be an A++++++ student/employee with way more freedom. You will face different problems, such as fighting off being a workaholic, but if you can solve procrastination you’ll solve that one when you face it too.


My dad always told me laziness was the monster he had to fight all his life, and that in life you’ll always be fighting it. Laziness was a constant struggle for me. I could play video games 16hrs a day, but not do schoolwork for that long. I figured videogames were just normal work but compressed into a shorter timeline, with clearer rewards, and with better metrics tracking. So, I had the energy, and there had to be some way to do this for real work.

My laziness caused me significant pain throughout school, all the way up until sophomore year when I started doing poorly in classes. I started focusing significantly on self improvement around then, and figured there had to be a way to solve my biggest weakness.

Finding the method

I tried many, many, many, MANY different methods on the internet. Pomodoro, lock-in, etc. Nothing lasted. Nothing on the internet helped except very temporarily. So that was a wash. However, this all caused me to think about the concept of procrastination more.

I thought about it for months, slowly building a mental model of how it worked, why it happened, etc, from first principles. I knew it was a limbic response to anticipated pain – i.e. the primitive/fundamental part of your brain (“monkey brain”) sees pain and wants to avoid it, taking tremendously stressful amounts of willpower to overcome.

But.. work is clearly extremely beneficial, so your brain shouldn’t dislike it – there’s some disconnect there, and wherever there’s a disconnect in a system, there’s a root cause to identify and try to fix.

I realized that procrastination is because of a vicious cycle of pushing off work, leading to higher peak pain, leading to pushing off work more, leading to even more peak pain, etc. Every iteration of this cycle your brain gets another dose of suffering and further associates work with pain.

I realized that the solution to this pain-peak vicious cycle was to spread tasks out over time so that the pain peak would be very small, and the reward:pain ratio significantly higher, training my brain over time to enjoy work.

Every time I took a task and spread it out into chunks over time, each chunk (and the entire task) became very rewarding.


Two different strategies of distributing work for the same task. The blue and red areas are equal, and show the same amount of work. Blue gets rewarding sessions every chunk. Red has net pain every session and the highest max pain.

The goal is to repeatedly show your brain that work is awesome, so it likes it and goes for it. Work should be a long, warm bath, not a burn on a hot stove.

In this case, psychologically conditioning your brain is more a function of how many reps you do, than how much time (wks, months, yrs) goes by. So the more reps you can do, the better! Look forward to tasks.

Here’s how we’re going to make work easier and more enjoyable for your brain, so you can work 10x harder:

1. Get in the habit of starting everything immediately

Habits are coupons for anything that costs willpower. If you are in the habit of doing x, it takes less willpower to do x. The hardest part of a task for most people is starting. So, get in the habit of starting everything immediately and you’ll get a discount on the amount of willpower it takes to do the hardest part of every task, forever. (However like all habits it will atrophy over time if you stop)

‘Starting immediately’ means starting, not finishing – if you’re in class and your prof says you have a 10 page paper due in a month, immediately (in class right now) make a word doc and write out 3-4 possible topics. Then stop. Do this for every task you possibly can as soon as you get it (this method, WEPC, is based on reps, not time – you WANT more reps to practice with). If you finish everything immediately, there are benefits, but you’re essentially just shifting the red distribution over to the left, rather than getting the blue distribution.

2. Break every medium-to-large task into chunks over time, and finish early

Start every task immediately, and if it’s medium-to-large sized, break it up into chunks (of meaningful size). Do one chunk every day, or week, whatever you choose, so that you finish early. Example: 10 page paper due in 30 days could be 1 page every 2 days. By the 20th day, when most people start their papers, you’re already done. (btw, ‘loading bar’ style writing is extremely inefficient, and you’re better off brainstorming, then making a full outline of the paper, speedrunning filling in each section, then after 100% of the paper is filled out, going back to revise/perfect it. Writing one line at a time is horribly inefficient, and unfortunately it took me until Junior year of college to realize this)

The reward increases from this are twofold. One, every chunk is extremely rewarding, and is not painful at all. Two, finishing early is extremely rewarding. Additionally, rather than training your brain once per task, you train your brain {chunk_number} of times per task, psychologically conditioning you significantly faster (again, more reps).

One note, if your chunks are too small to make meaningful progress, you won’t feel much of a reward. The chunks don’t have to be hard! They just have to make you feel like you really truly got something done.

3. STOP after you finish a chunk

This is one of the hardest things parts of this method. It’s what I found the hardest, and so will you, likely. You will likely not want to stop after you complete a chunk. After all why shouldn’t you? Why not keep going and finish the whole paper right now while you’re in the zone?

Because not getting what you want builds anticipation. And this further conditions your brain to want work and the rewards that come with it. The goal isn’t to get the work done, it’s to cure procrastination so you can have tons of freedom and live out an adventure. Stop. After. Each. Chunk. Stop. Seriously. Whenever I have taught people this technique this is what seems to be the biggest roadblock. It’s significantly worth it though.

4. Continue doing this, forever

And, if you stop doing it for periods of time, get back into it, even if its been months.


Initially when I figured this out, I wasn’t sure it would work, but the logic of it made sense from a first principles perspective. I started mid junior year of college. By the time I graduated I worked significantly harder, and put significant amounts of effort into things that weren’t required for school/my job, like building side projects or reading. And I enjoyed it! I had was so ahead of everything and felt incredibly free. Work was easier, by a lot, too. Still is, has been for years, and probably always will be. The quality of my work significantly increased while the mental effort/stress required to produce it went down.


I thank God that this method came to me, and I highly recommend trying it out. Personally I think it’s incredibly important that you get the same understanding of procrastination that I had, so that you can more clearly understand what you’re doing when you use WEPC.

If you have any questions or need any help with this, my DMs are always open on twitter (@dnbt777)

4 thoughts on “How I Cured My Procrastination

  1. aethiops

    I’m on the threshold of my third year in university, battling with a crippling laziness that has brought me so much grief over the past two years. I’m quite gifted and can speedrun entire semesters hours to the exam, but I keep asking myself, “At what cost?” as it’s not sustainable and it leaves me feeling under immense pressure, like I could crack into utter insanity.
    My grades have slipped from straight As to a mix of As interspersed with Bs and and the occasional C, and I do know that it’s laziness and procrastination that have brought me this low.
    Your ideas are for me beacon of God’s light in this dark, dark period of my life and I hope I’ll be able to use your techniques to give my life the boost it sorely needs.

    1. learnhowtolearn Post author

      You sound like you have insane potential my dude. I’m super happy for you tbh, even though things suck right now, you sound like you’re gonna have a crazy fun adventure once you beat laziness. Which will happen. Gmi for sure.
      You can reduce tons of stress by learning how to work more effectively. My fiance used to get insanely stressed (straight A student like you, had tons on her plate n stuff) and fixing the way she did work helped her tremendously with stress. So usually after finding ideas like these, things get much much better. like order of magnitude or two better usually.
      I had a similar problem where my work ethic sucked, but I could do well w/o much studying, but then in college I had issues/tremendous amounts of stress. This fixed it. I love work now, even stopped gaming so I could focus more on making progress (a term I use in place of the word “work” sometimes).
      Yea man psychologically conditioning your brain to love work really works. Also if you game, think of that as your true work ethic. Games are just work w better metrics, clearer goals/progress, etc. so if you’re someone who can game a lot you can also work insanely hard, just gotta work the right way.
      God bless man! Let me know how it goes too. Im super interesting in hearing how you do

  2. william

    Nice, very novel and succinct idea! I’ll be putting this into practice but I’m already convinced it will help!

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