An albatross, surfing the sea breeze.

Sustain: Solving Procrastination

Procrastination is a rut that is all too easy to fall into and get stuck in. Having now discussed how to get out of that rut, today we look at staying out of it and remaining productive via the Sustain Process. As they say, “The work is ongoing.”

In Dr. Ali Abdaal’s book, Feel-Good Productivity, he outlines three distinct reasons for losing our drive after we get going again.


Biologically speaking, we are set up to conserve energy. The hardest part of getting started is the lack of momentum. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for a lack of momentum, but there are ways to reduce the inertia necessary to keep going.

Look at where you invest your time and energy and ask yourself if it energises you. You can comfortably spend an hour scrolling through social media, but is it doing anything to energise you or is it simply taking up time and giving you little dopamine hits?

Watch out for distractions. Take a moment to understand what distractions you leave yourself open to. Some distractions, like small talk with friends, can be energising, but others, like various notifications on your phone, can negatively impact your productivity.

Take regular breaks but ensure that they are energising breaks. Scrolling social media will be more draining than energising, but a short walk around the block, or a few minutes of reading, can do wonders for your mental health and energy levels.


In his book, Dr. Abdaal uses an acronym for identifying activities that recharge: C.A.L.M.

Creative – when we create as a hobby, be it writing, drawing, woodworking, etc, it forces us to get out of our heads and do something different with our time.

Autonomy – whatever it is you are creating or making, ensure that you control the process. What is the end result supposed to be like? Does anyone else have input on it? The intention here is to put yourself in a position of mastery and prove that you have what it takes to get a task done.

Liberation – when we do something as a hobby, it is meant to liberate us from stress. Using myself as an example, I might choose to continue reading Dr. Abdaal’s book because I find it relaxing, but while I read it all I am thinking about is how to action the information he provides, wondering about how I can use it in my work. This is clearly not ‘liberating me from stress’. The otherwise mindless novel I read over the weekend was more liberating.

Mellow – be careful of making more work for yourself. Many hobbies can be monetised, but this turns them into a second job, which adds to your stress.


Align yourself and your actions with your goals, and you will discover that procrastination becomes far less likely.

Dr. Abdaal uses what he calls the ‘Trident Approach’ to alignment. Let’s look at the three tines:

  • What you want to be known for. What impact do you want to make on those around you? It seems odd, but writing your own eulogy will give you a solid idea of what your end-goals really are, what sort of impact you want to make, and what kind of legacy you want to leave behind.
  • Medium-term planning. Achieving your ultimate goals may require several years, but breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps will help you progress steadily. With that in mind, what do you want to have achieved by the end of the next twelve months?
  • Your daily activities. What do you need to do daily in order to achieve your goals?

The Sustain Process works best when you treat everything like an experiment. Failures are inevitable, you won’t always reach your milestones and goals on the schedule you set for yourself, and you may find yourself drifting off course more than once. Instead of blaming yourself for failures, evaluate your mistakes, take the opportunity to learn from them and restart the Sustain Process.