Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator, by Tim Urban

Today we’re going to look at one of the most popular TED videos of all time, called Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator. It was given a few years ago by Tim Urban, and I think it’s a really funny and interesting video. It’s pretty simple to understand, so jump right in and let’s learn!

Vocabulary

First of all, let’s look at some vocabulary.

After noting the vocabulary in the PPT above, try this test:

  • Thanks for asking, but I can’t go out tonight because my ____1____ is due in two weeks. I’m planning to get as much work done as possible today because I don’t want to have to pull an ______2______ closer to the deadline. I can be a bit of a _______3______, to be honest, but I’m trying to improve myself and get more done.
  • _____4_____ is a difficult problem to overcome, but it’s not impossible. I had an ____5____ lately, and it’s really helped me get my life in order. Maybe it will work for you, too. If you often find yourself _____6_____, then you might want to try this: _____7_____ your goal, and then make a list of realistic steps towards achieving it.

(Answers are below)

Listen

Ok, now it’s time to watch the TED talk.

Speaking

Here are some interesting questions to practice answering:

  1. Is procrastination a problem that affects all people equally? Why?
  2. Is it easy to overcome procrastination?
  3. How can someone procrastinate less and increase their productivity?
  4. Can chronic procrastinators become successful people?
  5. Why do some people find it so difficult to organize their time effectively?

I’ll put my sample answers here for your consideration:

  1. No, I don’t think procrastination affects all people equally because some people clearly seem to struggle much more with it. I think some people can get out of bed and achieve what they need to each day, while others are wired differently. They find it incredibly difficult to be productive.
  2. I don’t think it’s easy to overcome procrastination, otherwise no one would suffer from it. Perhaps it is genetic, or perhaps it is a matter of habit; in either case, it is very difficult to break away from procrastination.
  3. In my opinion, people should visualize what they want to achieve, and then set realistic steps towards achieving those goals. It starts with making a little progress each day. If you try to do too much too fast, you’ll end up feeling dejected.
  4. I’m sorry to say that’s it’s unlikely. I think certain people cannot help procrastinating, and as such they probably don’t achieve very much in life. Being successful generally requires more dedication and hard work.
  5. Some people seem to have trouble organizing their time, and it’s probably because they are more concerned with instant gratification. They have been programmed by society to respond to certain situations not by working hard for the long-term, but for gaining immediate reward. Thus, they tend to focus on short-term stuff instead of scheduling their time carefully.

Writing

Look at the bar charts below. Think about how they differ. They show very different approaches to time management. Describe the differences in an IELTS writing task 1 style essay. You may post it below, in the comment section.

Answers

vocabulary gap-fill

  1. thesis
  2. all-nighter
  3. procrastinator
  4. procrastination
  5. epiphany
  6. procrastinating
  7. visualize

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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