A reader responds: A Question to Help You Intuitively Prioritize and Stop Procrastinating

October 12, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Tips

I reader emailed me a model he uses along the lines of the models and beliefs I put in my series on beliefs and now my book on the same topic. I’m honored and flattered that he used my format. I recommend looking at your beliefs and understanding them. In his email he described how his belief evolved as he wrote it — an effect I found too. Just writing them raises your self-awareness, editing all the more.

I understood it as soon as I read his name for his model/question, which I expect to adopt and use myself. I suspect it will resonate with others as it did with me. I hope to hear from other readers about their beliefs.

Here is his belief:

Have you ever planned to do something later but never got around to it?

I have a question that will hopefully help you differentiate between the things you actually will do later, and the things you will only hope to do later. With this question you can know when you can let things slide for a while, and you can know when to take action on something that won’t get done otherwise.

“If present-you doesn’t do X, can you trust future-you to do it?”

To answer this question you need to know your values and motivations both for now and for the future, and be aware of the empathy gap brought about by the differences in those values and motivations. Value or have motivation for doing something now but know you won’t later? Do it now! Know you’ll value or have motivation for doing something in the future? If you have other things going on now, then it can wait. It’s that simple, provided you can figure out your present and future values.

Conversely, if you already know the answer to the question, you have intuitively determined your values!

When I use this question:

I use this question when I’m deciding whether to do something now or put it off for later.

What this question prevents:

This question prevents indefinite procrastination on things you consciously want to do but keep putting off. It also prevents thoughtlessly doing every low-priority task that enters your mind without regard to your values.

Where this question leads:

This question leads to efficient on-the-spot prioritization, freeing you to work on the things you value.

— R. Fogle

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