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Inside The Mind of a Master Procrastinator by Tim Urban (Full Transcript)

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Tim Urban

Blogger Tim Urban on Inside the mind of a master procrastinator at TED Talk conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator by Tim Urban

TRANSCRIPT: 

So in college, I was a government major, which means I had to write a lot of papers. Now, when a normal student writes a paper, they might spread the work out a little like this. So, you know, you get started maybe a little slowly, but you get enough done in the first week that, with some heavier days later on, everything gets done, things stay civil.

And I would want to do that like that. That would be the plan. I would have it all ready to go, but then, actually, the paper would come along, and then I would kind of do this. And that would happen every single paper.

But then came my 90-page senior thesis, a paper you’re supposed to spend a year on. I knew for a paper like that, my normal work flow was not an option. It was way too big a project. So I planned things out, and I decided I kind of had to go something like this. This is how the year would go. So I’d start off light, and I’d bump it up in the middle months, and then at the end, I would kick it up into high gear just like a little staircase. How hard could it be to walk up the stairs? No big deal, right?

But then, the funniest thing happened. Those first few months? They came and went, and I couldn’t quite do stuff. So we had an awesome new revised plan. And then – but then those middle months actually went by, and I didn’t really write words, and so we were here. And then two months turned into one month, which turned into two weeks. And one day I woke up with three days until the deadline, still not having written a word, and so I did the only thing I could: I wrote 90 pages over 72 hours, pulling not one but two all-nighters — humans are not supposed to pull two all-nighters — sprinted across campus, dove in slow motion, and got it in just at the deadline.

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I thought that was the end of everything. But a week later I get a call, and it’s the school. And they say, “Is this Tim Urban?”

And I say, “Yeah.”

And they say, “We need to talk about your thesis.”

And I say, “OK.”

And they say, “It’s the best one we’ve ever seen.”

That did not happen.

It was a very, very bad thesis. I just wanted to enjoy that one moment when all of you thought, “This guy is amazing!” No, no, it was very, very bad.

Anyway, today I’m a writer-blogger guy. I write the blog Wait But Why. And a couple of years ago, I decided to write about procrastination. My behavior has always perplexed the non-procrastinators around me, and I wanted to explain to the non-procrastinators of the world what goes on in the heads of procrastinators, and why we are the way we are.

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