In college, I was a government major, which means I had to write a lot
of papers. Now, when a normal student writes a paper, they might spread
the work out a little like this. So, you know — you get started maybe a
little slowly, but you get enough done in the first week that, with some
heavier days later on, everything gets done, things stay civil. And I
would want to do that like that. That would be the plan. I would have it
all ready to go, but then, actually, the paper would come along, and
then I would kind of do this. And that would happen every single
- countable noun
But then came my 90-page senior thesis, a paper you’re supposed to spend
a year on. And I knew for a paper like that, my normal work flow was not
an option. It was way too big a project. So I planned things out, and I
decided I kind of had to go something like this. This is how the year
would go. So I’d start off light, and I’d bump it up in the middle
months, and then at the end, I would kick it up into high gear just like
a little staircase. How hard could it be to walk up the stairs? No big
You refer to people who are in control of a group or organization as the
But then, the funniest thing happened. Those first few months? They came
and went, and I couldn’t quite do stuff. So we had an awesome new
revised plan. And then — But then those middle months actually went by,
and I didn’t really write words, and so we were here. And then two
months turned into one month, which turned into two weeks. And one day I
woke up with three days until the deadline, still not having written a
word, and so I did the only thing I could: I wrote 90 pages over 72
hours, pulling not one but two all-nighters — humans are not supposed
to pull two all-nighters — sprinted across campus, dove in slow motion,
and got it in just at the deadline. I thought that was the end of
everything. But a week later I get a call, and it’s the school. And they
say, “Is this Tim Urban?” And I say, “Yeah.” And they say, “We need to
talk about your thesis.” And I say, “OK.” And they say, “It’s the best
one we’ve ever seen.” (Laughter) (Applause) That did not happen. It was
a very, very bad thesis. I just wanted to enjoy that one moment when all
of you thought, “This guy is amazing!” No, no, it was very, very bad.
Wide feet means you’re someone who works hard, and are constantly in
motion. Somebody with narrow feet may be prone to delegating
responsibilities to others, giving them more time to enjoy the things in
life that make them happy. Flat-footed people are often realistic, and
enjoy the company of others. High arches can indicate you’re someone who
thinks for themselves, and is prone to daydreaming from time to time.
He is expected to hold talks with both the Croatian and Slovenian
Anyway, today I’m a writer-blogger guy. 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. Now, I
had a hypothesis that the brains of procrastinators were actually
different than the brains of other people. And to test this, I found an
MRI lab that actually let me scan both my brain and the brain of a
proven non-procrastinator, so I could compare them. I actually brought
them here to show you today. I want you to take a look carefully to see
if you can notice a difference. I know that if you’re not a trained
brain expert, it’s not that obvious, but just take a look, OK? So here’s
the brain of a non-procrastinator. Now … here’s my brain.
…the Labour leadership of Haringey council in north London. [+ of]
There is a difference. Both brains have a Rational Decision-Maker in
them, but the procrastinator’s brain also has an Instant Gratification
Monkey. Now, what does this mean for the procrastinator? Well, it means
everything’s fine until this happens. [This is a perfect time to get
some work done.] [Nope!] So the Rational Decision-Maker will make the
rational decision to do something productive, but the Monkey doesn’t
like that plan, so he actually takes the wheel, and he says, “Actually,
let’s read the entire Wikipedia page of the Nancy Kerrigan/ Tonya
Harding scandal, because I just remembered that that happened. Then —
Then we’re going to go over to the fridge, to see if there’s anything
new in there since 10 minutes ago. After that, we’re going to go on a
YouTube spiral that starts with videos of Richard Feynman talking about
magnets and ends much, much later with us watching interviews with
Justin Bieber’s mom. “All of that’s going to take a while, so we’re not
going to really have room on the schedule for any work today. Sorry!”
Synonyms: leaders, directors, chiefs, governors
Now, what is going on here? 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. Now, in the
animal world, that works fine. If you’re a dog and you spend your whole
life doing nothing other than easy and fun things, you’re a huge
success! And to the Monkey, humans are just another animal species. You
have to keep well-slept, well-fed and propagating into the next
generation, which in tribal times might have worked OK. But, if you
haven’t noticed, now we’re not in tribal times. We’re in an advanced
civilization, and the Monkey does not know what that is. Which is why we
have another guy in our brain, the Rational Decision-Maker, who gives us
the ability to do things no other animal can do. We can visualize the
future. We can see the big picture. We can make long-term plans. And he
wants to take all of that into account. And he wants to just have us do
whatever makes sense to be doing right now.
Do you have large feet? Then you might be someone with stronger
leadership qualities. Small-footed individuals can possess maturity,
wisdom, and perhaps a little jealousy. A large big toe can mean solid
business smarts, and those with long 2nd toes have strong opinions and a
desire to lead.
2. uncountable noun [oft with poss]
Now, sometimes it makes sense to be doing things that are easy and fun,
like when you’re having dinner or going to bed or enjoying well-earned
leisure time. That’s why there’s an overlap. Sometimes they agree. But
other times, it makes much more sense to be doing things that are harder
and less pleasant, for the sake of the big picture. And that’s when we
have a conflict. And for the procrastinator, that conflict tends to end
a certain way every time, leaving him spending a lot of time in this
orange zone, an easy and fun place that’s entirely out of the Makes
Sense circle. I call it the Dark Playground.
Someone’s leadership is their position or state of being in control of a
group of people.
Now, the Dark Playground is a place that all of you procrastinators out
there know very well. It’s where leisure activities happen at times when
leisure activities are not supposed to be happening. The fun you have in
the Dark Playground isn’t actually fun, because it’s completely
unearned, and the air is filled with guilt, dread, anxiety, self-hatred
— all of those good procrastinator feelings. And the question is, in
this situation, with the Monkey behind the wheel, how does the
procrastinator ever get himself over here to this blue zone, a less
pleasant place, but where really important things happen? Well, turns
out the procrastinator has a guardian angel, someone who’s always
looking down on him and watching over him in his darkest moments —
someone called the Panic Monster.
He praised her leadership during the crisis.
Now, the Panic Monster is dormant most of the time, but he suddenly
wakes up anytime a deadline gets too close or there’s danger of public
embarrassment, a career disaster or some other scary consequence. And
importantly, he’s the only thing the Monkey is terrified of. Now, he
became very relevant in my life pretty recently, because the people of
TED reached out to me about six months ago and invited me to do a TED
Talk. Now, of course, I said yes. It’s always been a dream of mine to
have done a TED Talk in the past.
If all of your toes are neatly in line, you’re someone people are going
to look at as being logical, accurate, and sensible. Do you have one
that’s squeezed under another toe? Then you might be somebody who
experiences trust issues with other people. It may also be difficult for
you to let go of the things that are bothering you. Toes that are
bending towards your big toe can mean you spend too much of your time
living in the past. Toes that are bending towards your little toe can
suggest you’re someone who is often rushing through things in life.
We find the leftists assuming leadership and becoming the spokesmen for
an ideal of international revolution.
But in the middle of all this excitement, the Rational Decision-Maker
seemed to have something else on his mind. He was saying, “Are we clear
on what we just accepted? Do we get what’s going to be now happening one
day in the future? We need to sit down and work on this right now.” And
the Monkey said, “Totally agree, but let’s just open Google Earth and
zoom in to the bottom of India, like 200 feet above the ground, and
scroll up for two and a half hours til we get to the top of the country,
so we can get a better feel for India.” So that’s what we did that day.
As six months turned into four and then two and then one, the people of
TED decided to release the speakers. And I opened up the website, and
there was my face staring right back at me. And guess who woke up? So
the Panic Monster starts losing his mind, and a few seconds later, the
whole system’s in mayhem. And the Monkey — remember, he’s terrified of
the Panic Monster — boom, he’s up the tree! And finally, finally, the
Rational Decision-Maker can take the wheel and I can start working on
Synonyms: authority, control, influence, command
Now, the Panic Monster explains all kinds of pretty insane
procrastinator behavior, like how someone like me could spend two weeks
unable to start the opening sentence of a paper, and then miraculously
find the unbelievable work ethic to stay up all night and write eight
pages. And this entire situation, with the three characters — this is
the procrastinator’s system. It’s not pretty, but in the end, it works.
This is what I decided to write about on the blog a couple of years ago.
3. uncountable noun
When I did, I was amazed by the response. Literally thousands of emails
came in, from all different kinds of people from all over the world,
doing all different kinds of things. These are people who were nurses,
bankers, painters, engineers and lots and lots of PhD students. And they
were all writing, saying the same thing: “I have this problem too.” But
what struck me was the contrast between the light tone of the post and
the heaviness of these emails. These people were writing with intense
frustration about what procrastination had done to their lives, about
what this Monkey had done to them. And I thought about this, and I said,
well, if the procrastinator’s system works, then what’s going on? Why
are all of these people in such a dark place?
Second toe larger than big toe: strong natural leadership qualities.
Leadership refers to the qualities that make someone a good leader, or
the methods a leader uses to do his or her job.
Well, it turns out that there are two kinds of procrastination.
Everything I’ve talked about today, the examples I’ve given, they all
have deadlines. And when there’s deadlines, the effects of
procrastination are contained to the short term because the Panic
Monster gets involved. But there’s a second kind of procrastination that
happens in situations when there is no deadline. So if you wanted a
career where you’re a self-starter — something in the arts, something
entrepreneurial — there’s no deadline on those things at first, because
nothing’s happening, not until you’ve gone out and done the hard work to
get momentum, get things going. There’s also all kinds of important
things outside of your career that don’t involve any deadlines, like
seeing your family or exercising and taking care of your health, working
on your relationship or getting out of a relationship that isn’t
What most people want to see is determined, decisive action and firm
Now if the procrastinator’s only mechanism of doing these hard things is
the Panic Monster, that’s a problem, because in all of these
non-deadline situations, the Panic Monster doesn’t show up. He has
nothing to wake up for, so the effects of procrastination, they’re not
contained; they just extend outward forever. And it’s this long-term
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. And it can be the source of a huge
amount of long-term unhappiness, and regrets. And I thought, that’s why
those people are emailing, and that’s why they’re in such a bad place.
It’s not that they’re cramming for some project. It’s that long-term
procrastination has made them feel like a spectator, at times, in their
own lives. The frustration is not that they couldn’t achieve their
dreams; it’s that they weren’t even able to start chasing them.
Very small little toe: a childlike sense of fun. If it wiggles
independently of the others, you’re adventurous and hate routine.
Synonyms: guidance, government, authority, management
So I read these emails and I had a little bit of an epiphany — that I
don’t think non-procrastinators exist. That’s right — I think all of
you are procrastinators. Now, you might not all be a mess, like some of
us, and some of you may have a healthy relationship with deadlines, but
remember: the Monkey’s sneakiest trick is when the deadlines aren’t
Now, I want to show you one last thing. I call this a Life Calendar.
That’s one box for every week of a 90-year life. That’s not that many
boxes, especially since we’ve already used a bunch of those. So I think
we need to all take a long, hard look at that calendar. We need to think
about what we’re really procrastinating on, because everyone is
procrastinating on something in life. We need to stay aware of the
Instant Gratification Monkey. That’s a job for all of us. And because
there’s not that many boxes on there, it’s a job that should probably
start today. Well, maybe not today, but … You know. Sometime soon.
Long feet: you want recognition for your good points. If they’re extra
long, you love the limelight.
- countable noun [usually plural]
The characteristics of a person or thing are the qualities or features
that belong to them and make them recognizable.
Flat feet: very sociable, you feel re-energised when you’re around other
people. You’d like more support.
Genes determine the characteristics of every living thing. [+ of]
…their physical characteristics.
Square toes: you speak bluntly. If you have more than one, you’re
strong-minded (ie: stubborn). Rounder toes are a sign of diplomacy.
Synonyms: feature, mark, quality, property
A quality or feature that is characteristic of someone or something is
one which is often seen in them and seems typical of them.
…the absence of strife between the generations that was so
characteristic of such societies.
Windmills are a characteristic feature of the Mallorcan landscape.
Nehru responded with characteristic generosity.
Synonyms: typical, special, individual, specific
represent & representative
- countable noun
A representative is a person who has been chosen to act or make
decisions on behalf of another person or a group of people.
皇家88平台，…trade union representatives.
Employees from each department elect a representative.
Synonyms: delegate, member, agent, deputy More Synonyms of
2. countable noun
A representative is a person whose job is to sell a company’s
products or services, especially by travelling round and visiting other
She had a stressful job as a sales representative.
Synonyms: agent, salesman, rep, traveller More Synonyms of
3. adjective [ADJECTIVE noun]
A representative group consists of a small number of people who have
been chosen to make decisions on behalf of a larger group.
The new head of state should be chosen by an 87 member representative
…the institutions of a representative government.
Someone who is typical of the group to which they belong can be
described as representative.
He was in no way representative of dog-trainers in general. [+ of]
…fairly representative groups of adults.
Synonyms: typical, characteristic, archetypal, exemplary More Synonyms
representativeness uncountable noun
…a process designed to ensure the representativeness of the sample
interviewed. [+ of]
5. countable noun
In the United States, a Representative is a member of the House of
Representatives, the less powerful of the two parts of Congress.
If someone such as a lawyer or a politician represents a person or
group of people, they act on behalf of that person or group.
…the politicians we elect to represent us. [VERB noun]
The offer has yet to be accepted by the lawyers representing the
victims. [VERB noun]
If you represent a person or group at an official event, you go
there on their behalf.
The general secretary may represent the president at official
ceremonies. [VERB noun]
Synonyms: stand for, substitute for, play the part of, assume the role
If you represent your country or town in a competition or sports
event, you take part in it on behalf of the country or town where you
My only aim is to represent Britain at the Olympics. [VERB noun]
Synonyms: play for, appear for, be a member of the team
4. passive verb
If a group of people or things is well represented in a particular
activity or in a particular place, a lot of them can be found there.
Women are already well represented in the area of TV drama. [be adv
In New Mexico all kinds of cuisines are represented. [be VERB-ed]
5. link verb
If you say that something represents a change, achievement, or
victory, you mean that it is a change, achievement, or victory.
[formal , or written]
The pieces on view are not grouped around any one theme, but rather
represent superb examples from various periods. [VERB noun]
These developments represented a major change in the established order.
6. verb [no cont]
If a sign or symbol represents something, it is accepted as meaning
…a black dot in the middle of the circle is supposed to represent the
source of the radiation. [VERB noun]
7. verb [no cont , no passive]