Tame the Instant Gratification Monkey: Overcome Procrastination


It’s something we all experience: the feeling of wanting something immediately, that dopamine rush when we get it, followed by a sense of guilt and shame. This is the “instant gratification monkey” – the impulse to seek out pleasure and satisfaction without any thought for the consequences. This includes that irksome P word – procrastination, which can be especially frustrating to tame at the office.

With a few simple steps, it’s possible to keep the gratification monkey in check and learn to control our impulsive behaviours.

Doing so will help us to make better decisions, be more productive, and ultimately lead to a healthier and more content life.

By understanding why procrastinators procrastinate or why we have these impulses and learning how to control them, we can strip away power from the gratification monkey and become more mindful of our choices.



What is the Instant Gratification Monkey?

The “instant gratification monkey” is an idea that was first introduced by Timothy Ferris in his book, The 4-Hour Work Week.

It’s a metaphor for the tendency to seek out immediate gratification and pleasure without considering the consequences of our actions. It’s the impulse to do something, even when we know it’s not in our best interest.

We often find ourselves struggling with the instant gratification monkey, giving in to the desire for quick satisfaction or a lazy way out, without thinking about the long-term effects. This includes missing deadlines and making simple errors at work due to distractions and interruptions.

The monkey is a powerful force in our lives and it can be difficult to resist. We live in a world where everything is available at our fingertips and we often succumb to the temptation of instant gratification. Whether it’s spending money we don’t have, indulging in unhealthy habits, or even procrastinating on important tasks, the monkey can be a significant adversary to our productivity if we let it.

Are you victim to the instant gratification monkey?

The first step to taming the instant gratification monkey is to identify if you are a victim of it. Do you find yourself procrastinating on important tasks or projects? Are you guilty of spending money on items that you don’t need or regret your choices afterwards? Have you previously made decisions based on short-term pleasure rather than long-term rewards?

These are all signs that you may be a victim of the instant gratification monkey or the panic monster.

The good news is that it is possible to make rational decisions and overcome the monkey. We can become more mindful of our choices by understanding why we have these impulses and by learning how to recognise and control them.

For example, spending precious time setting up, cancelling and changing staff duties due to fluctuating availabilities is a boring and time-wasting task. It’s also a sneaky gateway to procrastination.

With  TimeTrack Auto Scheduler, you no longer have to manually create a duty roster, saving you time and effort. With TimeTrack, you can easily generate a flawless roster with only a few clicks, thanks to its automated roster feature.


TimeTrack Auto Scheduling

Why do we succumb to the gratification monkey?

Author, Darius Foroux, in his research found that 88% of employees put off at least one hour of work each day in his poll of 2219 people. Procrastination can severely hurt the company’s pockets, leading to missed deadlines and costly errors.

The key to understanding why we are vulnerable to the monkey is to understand the biology behind it. The brain is wired to seek out immediate benefits, leisure activities and reward, which drives the impulse for instant gratification. Our brain wants the easiest way to get what we want, even if it’s not in our best long-term interest.

It is also important to understand that our environment plays a role in our susceptibility to the monkey. If we are constantly bombarded with images of material goods and the promise of immediate pleasure, it’s easy to get caught up in the present moment and make choices that negatively affect us down the line.

Identifying and controlling impulsive behaviour

The first step to controlling impulsive behaviour is to identify it. Once you have it pinpointed, it is important to remember that it’s okay to have these impulses. The key is awareness and taking action to control unhealthy and unproductive behaviours.

Once you have identified the impulsive behaviour in the procrastinator’s brain, the next step is to take control. This can be done by limiting your exposure to triggers, setting boundaries and limits, and creating a plan of action for when you feel the urge to give in.

This plan of action will be your saving grace when you feel your attention drifting in the face of a distraction.

It’s also important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for being productive and efficient.

When you do something that is in your best interest, take the time to celebrate. But not too much! This will help to reinforce the behaviour and make it easier to stick to in future.


Banish the bad monkey!

Send the instant gratification monkey packing

  1. Take time to assess your decisions: Really consider your options and the possible consequences of each one. This will help you to make better decisions and reduce the likelihood that you will give in to the temptation of instant gratification.
  2. Set boundaries and limits: This will help you to stay on track and make sure that you don’t give in to the temptation of instant gratification.
  3. Create a plan of action: When you feel the urge to give in to the monkey, turn to your plan of action. This could be a distraction or a task that you can focus on instead of the temptation.
  4. Reward yourself for good behaviour: When you make a decision that’s in your best interest, take the time to celebrate and reward yourself. This help reinforce the behaviour.
  5. Practise self-compassion: The monkey is a powerful force, but it’s important to be kind to yourself. Recognise that these impulses are normal, and it’s okay to make mistakes.

Setting goals to stay on track

Once you have identified and controlled your impulsive behaviour, it’s time to focus on goals to stay on track. This could be something as simple as taking a few moments to contemplate a decision, or something more complex like setting a budget and sticking to it.

Setting goals is important because it gives you something to work towards and it provides you with a sense of purpose. It also helps to keep you accountable. If you want to really drill down on your progress, consider making an efficiency report to gauge your productivity progress.

The bottom line

The instant gratification monkey is a powerful entity that can influence our behaviour and mindset in ways that can either help or hinder our progress towards our goals.

By recognising the instant gratification monkey’s role and taking proactive steps to manage and delay gratification, we can harness our full potential and achieve success on our own terms.

To track just how much time is spent in thrall of the instant gratification monkey, use TimeTrack Timesheets to track the team’s progress, deadlines and breaks. Choose a user’s timesheet and then click the download option to save the file to your computer. There you have it, a complete one-pager with all the pertinent information on employees’ attendance, absences, overtime, and bonuses. This report is also available in Microsoft Excel format.


TimeTrack Timesheet