How can I stop procrastinating?/如何解决拖延症?

I’ll answer your question, but first I need to explain all of human civilisation in 2 minutes with the aid of a cartoon snake.

我会回答这个问题,但是首先我要用两分钟的时间通过一条卡通小蛇解释一下人类文明。

Humans like to think we’re a clever lot. Yet those magnificent, mighty brains that allow us to split the atom and touch the moon are the same stupid brains that can’t start an assignment until the day before it’s due.

人类通常认为自己非常聪明。然而那些伟大而绝妙的大脑,可以让我们分裂原子、登上月球,同时却又蠢到直到截止时间之前都无法开始工作

We evolved from primitive creatures, but we never quite shed ourselves of their legacy. You know the clever, rational part of your brain you think of as your human consciousness? Let’s call him Albert. He lives in your brain alongside an impulsive baby reptile called Rex:

我们由很原始的生物进化而来,但我们自己却从未摆脱那些原始的处事逻辑。你觉得你聪慧、理性的一面体现了你的人类天性?好吧,让我把他叫做Albert。他的邻居住着一条任性的蛇Rex。

You know how you can’t help but notice if a stranger is tongue-wettingly gorgeous? That’s Rex, and no matter how hard you try, you can never turn him off. He’s your instinct, your impulse, your love and your fear.

你知道为什么当陌生人舌灿莲花时,你一定会被吸引过去?是Rex在作怪,不管你有多抵制,你没法把他关掉。他是你的本能,你的冲动,你的爱和恐惧。

We like to think of Albert as “our true self” - the conscious part of our brain. He’s the talking, reasoning part. When we decide to go to the gym or write that term paper, Albert made that decision. But Albert is old, easily exhausted, and switches off all the time.

我们倾向于认为Albert是“真实的我”,是我们大脑的理性部分,支配着我们所思所想。当我们决定健身或者写期末论文时,是Albert在做决定。但是Albert老了,容易疲惫,一疲惫就关机

Your brain is locked in a battle of wills between a sleepy professor and an impulsive reptile with unlimited energy. You may as well hand Rex the steering wheel.

一个困倦的老教授和一条任性而又精力充沛的蛇不停在你大脑中打仗,而且方向盘还在Rex手里。

Rex does listen to Albert. Like a child, he will do a lot of what he’s told, as long as he doesn’t disagree too much. But if Rex desperately yearns to crash on the sofa to watch Survivor and eat Cheetos, that’s what you’re going to do.

Rex听Albert的话,就像一个小孩儿一样,他会按照你说的做,只要他不是太反对。但是如果Rex迫切地想窝在沙发里看电视吃零食,你肯定无法抵抗。

The incredible ascension of mankind that surrounds us is largely possible because we’ve developed systems to nurture the Rex’s in our brains, to subdue, soothe and subvert them.

我们有此难以置信的天性,很大程度上因为我们的思想系统发展出了滋养Rex的环境,同时又试图替换掉他,抚慰他,推翻他。

Much of this system we call “civilisation”. Widely available food and shelter take care of a lot. So does a system of law, and justice. Mandatory education. Entertainment. Monogamy. All of it calms Rex down for long enough for Albert to do something useful - like discover penicillin, or invent Cheetos.

我们把这个系统叫做“文明”,这是一个包含了法律、正义、教育、娱乐和一夫一妻制的系统,所有的这些使得Rex可以镇定下来,好让Albert做一些有用的事情,例如发现青霉素,或者发明零食。

Now let’s look at your procrastination.

现在我们来说说你的拖延症。

You’re making a decision with your conscious mind and wondering why you’re not carrying it out. The truth is your daily decision maker - Rex - is not nearly so mature.

你看似很理性地做了个决定,但是为什么却执行不了。事实是你每天做决定的是Rex,而他远没有那么成熟。

Imagine you had to constantly convince a young child to do what you wanted. For simple actions, asserting your authority might be enough. “It’s time for dinner”. But if that child doesn’t want to do something, it won’t listen. You need to cajole it:

想象一下,你要说服一个小孩子按照你的意愿去做事。如果是很简单的事,只要表明你的权威就可以了,但是如果他不想这么做,他根本不会听你的,那你只能诱惑他。

  • Forget logic. Once you’ve decided to do something, logic and rationale won’t help you. Your inner reptile can be placated, scared and excited. But it doesn’t speak with language and cannot be reasoned with.

  • 忘掉逻辑:当你决定做某事的时候,逻辑和理性没有任何帮助。你内心的小蛇可能平静、害怕,或者兴奋。但是他不会说话,你也没法和他讲道理。

  • Comfort matters. If you’re hungry, tired or depressed your baby reptile will rebel. Fail to take care of yourself, and he’ll wail and scream and refuse to do a damn thing you say. That’s what he’s for. Eat, sleep and make time for fun.

  • 舒服很重要:如果你又累又饿或者很压抑,小蛇会反抗。如果你没照顾好自己,他会哀嚎,尖叫,拒绝你那些该死的决定。他想要的是:吃,睡,玩儿。

  • Nurture discipline. Build a routine of positive and negative reinforcement. If you want a child to eat their vegetables, don’t give them dessert first. Reward yourself for successes, and set up assured punishments for your failure. Classic examples include committing to a public goal, or working in a team - social pressure can influence Rex.

  • 营养原则:建立正面激励和负面惩罚。如果你想让一个小孩儿吃蔬菜,不要先给他甜点。奖励自己的成功,惩罚自己的失败。还有一个传统的做法是设立一个公共的目标,或者进入团队工作,这样可以影响Rex。

  • Incite emotion. Your reptile brain responds to emotion. That is its language. So get yourself pumped, or terrified. Motivational talks, movies and articles can work, for a while. I use dramatic music (one of my favourite playlists is called Music to conquer worlds by). Picture the bliss associated with getting something done, or the horrors of failing. Make your imagination vivid enough that it shakes you. We use similar tricks on children for a reason: “brush your teeth or they’ll fall out”.

  • 煽动情绪:你头脑中的小蛇会对情绪做出回应,这是他的语言。所以,让你自己紧张、恐惧。有煽动性的话语、电影、文章都会起作用。我用的是音乐(一个我把它叫做“音乐征服世界”的播放列表)。把完成的喜悦和失败的挫折画下来,使它生动得足够震撼你。我们用同样的把戏对付孩子:“好好刷牙,不然你的牙齿会掉光”。

  • Force a start. The most important thing you can do is start. Much of Rex’s instincts are to avoid change, and once you begin something those instincts start to tip into your favour. With enough time, you can even convince Rex to love doing the things he hated. There’s a reason we force kids to go to school or to try piano lessons.

  • 强制开始:你所要做的最重要的事是立刻开始。Rex的本能是拒绝改变,一旦你开始做什么事情,这些本性就开始拖你的后腿。如果有足够的时间,你甚至可以说服Rex做他讨厌的事情。同样的道理,我们强迫孩子们上学或者学钢琴。

  • Bias your environment. Rex is short sighted and not terribly bright. If he sees a Facebook icon, he’ll want it. It’s like showing a child the start of a cool TV program immediately before bedtime. Design your environment to be free from such distractions: sign out of instant messenger, turn off notifications, turn off email. Have separate places for work and fun, and ideally separate computers (or at least accounts).

  • 改变环境:Rex目光短浅而且不太聪明。如果他看见Facebook的按钮,他肯定想去点。这就像你在一个孩子睡前给他看了一个很棒的电视节目的开头。制造一个不容易分心的环境:退出即时通讯,关掉推送通知,关掉电子邮件。把工作和娱乐的环境分开,并且最好把电脑隔离开。

Once you know what to look for, you’ll start to recognise the patterns and control them.

当你知道应该追寻什么,你就会开始认识它的模式并且控制它。

There’s an impulsive baby reptile in your brain, and unfortunately he has the steering wheel. If you can be a good parent to him he’ll mostly do what you say, and serve you well. Just remember who’s in charge.

你的头脑中有个任性而冲动的小孩儿,很不幸他还掌握着方向盘。如果你是个好父母,他会按照你说的做,而且把你服务好。你所要做的,是记住谁该做主。

注:翻译转自吕岭立,Quora回答作者Oliver