Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn’t make sense, but he’s never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window — and encourages us to think harder about what we’re really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.





  • civil – (here) decent, non-criminal
  • bump something up – increase something
  • pull an all-nighter – stay up all night
  • perplexed – completely baffled; very puzzled
  • well-earned – fully deserved
  • mayhem – chaos
  • cram – study intensively over a short period of time just before an examination
  • spectator – a person who watches at a show, game, or other event


Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  1. What should be the typical work flow when you’re assigned with a time and effort consuming task? How does Tim’s work flow differ from the typical one? What was his plan about writing his thesis, and how did it work in practice? (2:28)
  2. Why did Time decide to write a blog for procrastinators? What did he think about procrastinators’ brains? (3:30)
  3. What does the Instant Gratification Monkey do? (4:56)
  4. What values does the Instant Gratification Monkey live by? What values does the Rational Decision Maker believe in? Can both of them coexist? (6:41)
  5. What is the Panic Monster, and what does it do? (8:04)
  6. What are the two kinds of procrastination? How do they differ from each other? (11:52)
  7. What does the Life Calendar show? How can we use this to stop procrastinating?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

Now if the procrastinator’s only mechanism ________ doing these hard things is the Panic Monster, that’s ________ problem, because ________ all of these non-deadline situations, the Panic Monster doesn’t show ________. He has nothing to wake up ________, so the effects of procrastination, they’re not contained; they just extend outward forever. And it’s this long-term kind of procrastination that’s much less visible and much less talked ________ than the funnier, short-term deadline-based kind. It’s usually suffered quietly and privately. And it can be the source of a huge ________ of long-term unhappiness, and regrets. And I thought, that’s why those people are emailing, and that’s why they’re in ________ a bad place. It’s not that they’re cramming for some project. It’s that long-term procrastination has ________ them feel like a spectator, at times, in their ________ lives. The frustration is not that they couldn’t achieve their dreams;it’s that they weren’t even able to start chasing them.


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