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.

Who is He?:

Tim Urban is the guy who is…

  • Writing posts every Tuesday and Wednesday about his psychological shortcomings
  • Picking a topic for the week’s post before realizing it’s icky after diving in and thinking “if only I were doing that other topic it would be so much easier”; switching to that other topic and realizing it’s incredibly icky too
  • Opening three Chrome windows with 42 research tabs in each, just short of getting to that stressful zone where you can’t see the icon on the tabs anymore
  • Pacing around in his underwear hating himself
  • Drawing stick figures at a 2nd 4th grade skill level
  • Drawing head circles ten times before finally drawing one that looks normal
  • Not being an expert on things he writes about
  • Getting yelled at by people who think he thinks he’s an expert on things he writes about
  • Getting scolded by people for using profanity in writing
  • Passionately underestimating how long each post will take to do
  • Trying for 75 minutes to fix this table so the two columns are the same width because WordPress hates happiness

 Why you should Watch:

Tim Urban has become one of the Internet’s most popular writers. With wry stick-figure illustrations and occasionally epic prose on everything from procrastination to artificial intelligence, Urban’s blog, Wait But Why, has garnered millions of unique page views, thousands of patrons and famous fans like Elon Musk.

Discussion Questions:

  1. I write the blog Wait But Why. And a couple of years ago, I decided to write about procrastination. My behavior has always perplexed the non-procrastinators around me, and I wanted to explain to the non-procrastinators of the world what goes on in the heads of procrastinators, and why we are the way we are? In a sentence or two explain his hypothesis.
  2. Both brains have a Rational Decision-Maker in them, but the procrastinator’s brain also has an Instant Gratification Monkey. What does he mean by these two terms?
  3. The Instant Gratification Monkey does not seem like a guy you want behind the wheel. He lives entirely in the present moment. He has no memory of the past, no knowledge of the future, and he only cares about two things: easy and fun. Think of a time your Instant Gratification Monkey took charge. Tell somebody what happened.
  4. What does he mean by the term, “the Dark Playground”?
  5. Can you think of a time you had the panic monster in your head? What happened?
  6. He talks about a kind of procrastination that’s much less visible and much less talked about than the funnier, short-term deadline-based kind. It’s usually suffered quietly and privately. What does he mean by this? Has it ever affected your life?

Making Connections:

Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator – with Tim Urban


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