How to beat procrastination

I’ve cracked it! After years and years of immersive research I’ve finally discovered a cure for procrastination!

Seriously, folks, this is the big one. This is the one which will make five years of reading this blog seem worthwhile. It’s gold, I tell you.


Imagine a world where you can sit down and start writing without feeling the need to quadruple check your emails in case someone really important has emailed you in the last fifteen seconds. Imagine a world where Twitter is an unneeded distraction and not the focal point of your entire not-working campaign. Imagine not having to quickly check for pictures of cats being cute and/or nailed to stuff.*

Just think about how much work you’ll get done! Imagine the dizzy heights your career will rise to in the next twelve months if you follow my simple four step program!

And you know the best bit about this program? It’s free! Obviously I could make a fortune on the lecture circuit selling this. I imagine I could easily stretch it out to a full weekend at £300 a head … but hey, that’s just not me. No sir, you get this amazing, four step, anti-procrastination program for the princely price of FUCK ALL!

But first, a little background information on how I made this amazing and life changing discovery.

I have a car.

It is blue.

It is a blue car and one day it fucking exploded for no good reason. 

After a day doing this:

… at great personal expense, I was the proud owner of a blue car with a blown head gasket.

If you don’t know what a head gasket is, here’s a handy diagram to inform/confuse further:

Basically, it’s a thin bit of metal which seals the two halves  of your engine together. If it blows, the oil, exhaust gas and water mixes together and fucks everything up. I had about an inch of water in each cylinder (big hole thing where … oh it doesn’t fucking matter).

Point is, engine go bang. Engine now fucked.

For reasons which don’t make a lot of sense right now, instead of taking the car to a garage to get it fixed … I decided to fix it myself.


In December.

On my own.

With no tools.

Let me just make that crystal clear – I am not a mechanic, I have little to no knowledge of how these things work, no workshop or garage and hardly any tools.

Basically, it’s just one idiot and a spanner.

Or two spanners, if you prefer.

The engine started out looking a little like this:

… but after mere days of back-breaking, knuckle-skinning, swear-inducing frustration, now looks more like this:

… and this:

With a bit here:

And some bits here:

… and some more bits here:

That’s a shed up there, by the way. It may look like a cozy indoor space to work in; but it’s fucking tiny with a low ceiling and jam packed full of shit. Storage only.

So I was quite pleased with myself at that point. I know it’s just unbolting shit from other shit, but it’s fucking hard and I really, really don’t know what I’m doing.

Spanner with a spanner, remember?

But I’d done it, I’d got the head off the block and removed the gasket.

Then I hit a bit of an impasse.

You see, the problem with a head gasket blowing is sometimes it blows because the engine overheats and overheating is bad. So bad, in fact, it can warp one or both halves of the engine. Before you put the new head gasket in, you have to check the surfaces are flat.

Very flat.

Flat to an accuracy of 0.06 of a mm.

That’s this much.

I’m holding my finger and thumb a short distance apart here, but you won’t be able to see it from there. I’d take a photo, but I can’t be arsed and you don’t care anyway. Let’s just say it’s as small as your finger and thumb actually touching.

0.06 mm … how the fuck do you measure that?

You need to put something flat on top of the head and see if there’s a gap (by shining a torch from behind, perhaps?) but … how?

Look around you, what have you got in the house which is machined flat to an accuracy of 0.06 mm? Can you see it? Can you?

Took me ages to figure this one out – most of you have (or will have had at some point) this in your house. You will have licked it, loved it and shoved it up your nose.

Lego! Lego is manufactured to a tolerance of 0.002 mm! It’s very. very flat. Very flat indeed.

Sadly, by the time I’d worked that out, I’d already decided to get the head skimmed (cut a teeny, tiny sliver off so it’s guaranteed to be flat) and no longer needed to repair my engine with Lego. Which would have been cool.

Alas, in order to get it skimmed, I have to remove two more bits. One of which, is going to be a massive pain in the arse (the overhead cams – which is actually lots of bits, but I’m thinking of the whole mechanism as one bit) because it can go back on in any orientation, but has to go back on in exactly the right orientation or the engine will explode worse than it did before.

And so you join me on that fateful Tuesday morning: fresh from dropping Alice off at nursery, breakfasted, tea-ed up and dressed in my scruffy best.

The thing about yesterday, is it was fucking freezing outside. Minus four to be precise. And the thing about touching metal when it’s fucking freezing outside is … well, this:

I wasn’t planning on licking the engine, obviously. Well, it’s obvious to me; maybe it’s not obvious to you? Depends on how stupid you think I am.§

Playing with a fiddly lump of metal, knowing I had to be clever and remove a part in a very precise way and mark it in some fashion so I can put it back in a manner which didn’t involve resetting the timing for the whole engine, in sub-zero temperatures … not my idea of fun.

So I did the sensible thing and sat down in the warm to fuck about on the computer until it warmed up a bit outside. I reckoned there would be a four minute window around midday when it would pop above freezing and be like working in a fridge as opposed to a freezer.

And that’s when it happened. I did all of the work I’ve got stockpiled for the week in one day.

All of it.

In one sitting!

No procrastination, no faffing or fucking about – just solid work which almost didn’t include a lunch break.

And there you have it:



It’s so simple, yet fiendishly clever.

You know how you sit down to write and find yourself cleaning the toilet or picking up the fluff from behind the door? Well it’s like that in reverse – you make writing the lesser of two evils!

To follow my method, simply do the following things:

  1. Buy a house with no garage.
  2. Throw away any tools and knowledge you may have acquired
  3. Buy a car.
  4. Drive recklessly without maintaining it for a few years.
  5. Kill the engine.
  6. Dismantle the engine in the most complicated manner you can manage.
  7. Force yourself to work on it on the coldest day of the year.
  8. Miraculously find yourself laser-focussed on your writing for hours on end.

And that’s it!

Yes, this was a pointless post.

No, it’s not really about writing.

Yes, this is eight steps when I promised you four, but that was words ago.

And yes, I am bored and am procrastinating by writing this instead of working.

On the plus side … um … oh fill in your own plus side, I’m busy.


* Delete as applicable

May or may not have involved being a fuckwit and failing to maintain the car properly.

They’re not halves, but it sounds better than five eighths and three eighths.

§ Answers in the comments, please.

 My idea of fun involves warmth, nudity and power tools.

Categories: Bored, My Way, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard, Things I've Learnt Recently | 40 Comments

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40 thoughts on “How to beat procrastination

  1. I have replaced a head gasket on my own vehicle. It is indeed difficult. I still prefer it to trying to write something creative, but that may be because I like working on cars 🙂 Also because I’m not all *that* creative, no matter how hard I try to be!

  2. Nicky Sutton

    Cool post – I’ll leave a proper comment when I have a minute

  3. H

    Yeah, call me when you have a Citroen Xantia Activa. You know how Citroens are really complicated because they have six hydraulic spheres that do all sorts of stuff? Mainly involving leaking and failing? The Activa has ten. And I have two Activa’s. I could adapt War An Peace into a movie trilogy or replace the rear balancing sphere.

    • 10 seconds of looking at this convinces me you’re the winner:

      • H

        The really fun part is that if you crawl under the car and unscrew the wrong bit the whole car will sink to the ground killing you. Suddenly your “cramped shed” is looking pretty good eh?

        BTW, having spent the last half an hour reading lots of your posts I can amaze you with the fact that I have exactly the same glass desk thing as you. But I didn’t read the instructions (Real Men don’t need to read instructions) and found I had put the slidy keyboard thing on one desk and the holes for the raised monitor thing on the other desk, so I had to drill my own holes as that was far simpler than taking both desks to pieces again. You also said some stuff about writing. That was good too. Still reading.

        • I deliberately set my desk up with the shelf/keyboard thing on opposite desks because the slide out thing was too low. Instead, I used it to hold pens. Then I took it off because it annoyed me. The monitor shelf’s gone too now.

          And yes, I’m learning to love my shed.

          • H

            I couldn’t live without that shelf. The desk is small enough as it is and I have two monitors. (I call the right hand one “Mr Procrastination”, though I tell myself it’s for research.)

            What will you do with the bits left over when you put your engine back together?

            Trust me, there will be bits left over.

            If one of them looks like a head gasket then I have some bad news for you….

  4. This may be a little crass, but while there are thousands of you reading this post, how about some free soap opera on your iPhone/Android?



    Free app, free content, no strings attached … except the strings of awesome.

  5. LOL, this is hilarious and oh so true…thanks for the laugh!

  6. The funniest blog i’ve read today, fab stuff sir!

  7. Wow Phill – really impressive – I only get as adventurous as cleaning the ‘lady bin’ in the bathroom.

    Good luck with the mobile soap

    PS Did a list of things that help me avoid proscratinating (or sani-bin cleaning) here…

  8. Oh hell, I still have no idea where to find the switch for the window wiper fluid. I’ve had this car since 2005. I’m beginning to think I really am a dumb blonde.

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  11. Hilarious. Great read. Keep ’em coming, if you can, that is. 😉

  12. Nate Maingard

    dude, I have so much I’d love to say…but I’m already thinking about something else

  13. Bshane

    Hi Phil-
    Very funny blog. Reading and responding to it provide enough procrastination material to negate the benefits of the anti-procrastination methods it describes, rendering the world safe from whatever writing she (or he) might otherwise have produced.

    BTW, we don’t use the term “lady bin” in the U.S, so I looked it up. It is short for lady sanitary bin, something you’d find in a stall in a women’s bathroom, to dispose of women’s used sanitary products. How odd to have one in your home, though, unless that’s a snarky way to refer to any wastebasket in a bathroom. Here is a link with a picture and description of a lady sanitary bin:

    I’m sorry, but if cleaning the lady bin is more attractive than writing, isn’t it time to reconsider the writing project? Just saying.

  14. oh please.

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  18. Magz

    This method is fabulous! I don’t have a car, but pretended I did and blew up it’s imaginary engine as per your recommendation. After spending a few happy hours playing with the Lego, ( I built an amazing multicolour 1:1 scale replica of an 1968 Land Rover, complete with engine which I then went on to successfully explode using a handy unused party popper and three elastic bands,) I finally got down to some writing and can absolutely vouch that your method works beautifully! Luckily it’s always cold up here in Scotland, and I have a plentiful supply of Lego on hand, so I can appy this method pretty much all year round! I doff my proferbial cap to you, sir!

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  20. I want to know more about the car… it was the better part of the story.

    Did you ever succeed?

  21. Dumbassed thing to do – freeze your balls just to make your mind make up its f@ing mind to write. You can offer to help your wife clean the house or go shopping with her. Its so unpleasant next time you oly think about it and off you will go to you cockeyed desk and write. assuming your unlucky in love and hence married.

  22. dumbassed thing to do – freezing your balls to make your mind make up its mind to decide writing is a better option. Offer to take your wife shopping. next time writing will be a pleasure. assuming you’re unlucky enough to be married.

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  24. The funniest blog i’ve read today, fab stuff sir!

  25. jason

    im very impressed because im having the same problem… i took a part of it off but put it back on….. i now know what i have to do and will save myself a great deal of money

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