People procrastinate because they are pessimistic about problem solving. They don't think there are any solutions, any ways forward, that won't hurt. If they knew a way to proceed that would involve no suffering of any kind, they'd do it.

When I say no suffering, I mean none. People dismiss lots of suffering as mild. They don't recognize that when they compromise, and there's something they don't like about the outcome – they aren't fully happy with it – there's suffering there. They didn't resolve the issues in a purely positive way, something bad happened. If it was pure positive goodness, they wouldn't procrastinate.

Procrastination is thought of as an obstacle to overcome. People want to figure out a way to stop procrastination. Actually procrastination is a consequence of other issues: pessimism and inadequate problem solving skills.

Become an optimistic and effective problem solver. Get unstuck. Make rapid progress in your life, and be confident about continuing. Solve those issues. Then the procrastination will go away easily because you'll want to do things and be happy to.

But if you try to suppress procrastination without dealing with the underlying issues, it'll never work very well. No matter how many "life hacks" you use, if you don't really want to live, or you aren't living the life you want, then you'll have trouble doing stuff.

Lots of ways people try to solve procrastination are by hurting themselves more. They try to force themselves. They set it up so if they don't do something, they'll suffer even more than if they do it. That's so unpleasant, it's not a good way to be motivated in life.

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By Elliot Temple, Dec 2015 | Join the discussion group, receive the newsletter, or send comments to

Acknowledgments: some ideas presented are modified from, or inspired by, ideas from Karl Popper, Ayn Rand, David Deutsch and William Godwin. Thank you!