Beat Procrastination with the Nothing Alternative

Ben H
3 min readMar 4, 2023
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Work fascinates some people, and they could sit and stare at it all day, but we all procrastinate. We sit and watch the work pile up, and we keep putting it off. Why do we do this? Maybe we’re afraid of the outcome, or maybe we really hate doing that kind of work. Or perhaps, we’re perfectionists, and we know it’ll never be as good as it is in our head, so we don’t start. Well, whatever the reason, thinking about all the whys of procrastination won’t make any difference. The work will still be there, staring at us. So, the only way to beat it is to not blink, just like Raymond Chandler, the best-selling novelist, stumbled onto a method to beat procrastination. It’s called the nothing alternative, and I like to think of it as not blinking. The idea is to get boredom to work for you by only working on what you need to do or nothing at all. Well, you can stare into space if you like, but you can’t do anything else except the thing you’re supposed to do. No email, no cleaning, no nothing, either do what you need to do or nothing at all.

Procrastination is something that affects us all, no matter how motivated or disciplined we are. It’s the art of delaying or postponing something, usually a task that needs to be accomplished, and often to our detriment. The reasons for procrastination vary, from fear of failure or success, a lack of motivation or discipline, or a simple dislike of the task at hand. Whatever the reason, procrastination is something that can have serious consequences for our personal and professional lives.

So, how can we beat procrastination? Well, according to Raymond Chandler, the best-selling novelist, the answer is the nothing alternative. The idea is simple: instead of trying to force yourself to work, do nothing at all. That’s right, nothing. Sit and stare into space, but don’t allow yourself to do anything else except the thing you’re supposed to do. No checking email, no cleaning, no distractions, just the task at hand or nothing at all.

The beauty of the nothing alternative is that it takes advantage of our natural aversion to boredom. Most of us find it challenging to sit and do nothing, so we’re more likely to focus on the task at hand to avoid boredom. By limiting our options to either doing the task or doing nothing at all, we remove the distractions and temptations that lead to procrastination.

Of course, the nothing alternative is not a magic solution to procrastination. It requires discipline and focus to make it work. You need to be able to resist the urge to do something else and stay focused on the task at hand. However, by limiting your options, you make it easier to stay on track and avoid distractions.

So, the next time you find yourself procrastinating, give the nothing alternative a try. Sit and stare into space, but don’t allow yourself to do anything else except the task at hand. No checking email, no cleaning, no distractions, just the task or nothing at all. It may seem counterintuitive, but it can be a powerful tool for beating procrastination.

In conclusion, procrastination is something that affects us all, but it doesn’t have to control our lives. By using the nothing alternative, we can take control of our procrastination and get things done. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it. So, the next time you find yourself procrastinating, try the nothing alternative, and let boredom work for you.
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Ben H

🕊 Consultant, Counselor, Mediator, Facilitator, Trainer on Nonviolent Communication. 🦒