Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

The Art of Using Deliberate Procrastination

Hey friends,

There is this idea of ‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’ or RBT that tells us a lot about ‘mindful productivity’.

RBT is when you extend “me-time” beyond your ‘sleep time’ to spite yourself. You indulge in RBT as a “treatment” for the amount of productive work you did during the day.

A few examples:

  • Recall the times you deliberately binge-watched a TV show one night, because you had worked hard in the day.
  • Or when you deliberately doomscroll in your bed or aimlessly browse the internet.
  • Or the times when you just don’t want to get to bed because you know that the grind begins again tomorrow morning.

But here’s what I learned about RBT over the past 2 weeks. It’s a dual-edged sword that neither satisfies you with ‘me-time’ nor solves for the root cause of the RBT feeling.

As I introspected, I learned that, fundamentally, it’s all about the 3Cs: Control, Choices, and Conviction.

  • When you don’t have control over your time, you feel RBT.
  • When you have control but not the autonomy or decisiveness to make your own choices, you feel RBT.
  • When you have control and choices, but not the conviction to follow through on your choices, you feel RBT.

The fundamental issue with RBT is that it doesn’t solve for the root cause. That you feel a tinge of indignation at night is a result of your lack of control over your environment, which effectively makes you a cog in the wheel. But even when you do have control over your time but don’t get to make choices or are not sure about your beliefs, you still feel as if you’re being “wronged” by some supernatural force. Which is why you indulge in a toxic back-and-forth of sleep and no-sleep.

This is unhelpful.

RBT is temporarily satisfying, right before you hit the pillow, and right after you stop scrolling, but its effects wear off sooner than nicotine. By the next morning, subtle resentment builds up.

Eventually, this resentment and indignation snowball into something unimaginable until you have a breakdown one day. That’s when you feel like giving up, not doing anything, and just taking revenge from others onto yourself, all for naught.

I don’t have clear answers to these but I do know that understanding this tendency is useful for two reasons: (1) Self-knowledge, and (2) Practicality.

The buildup of RBT is an eventual mental breakdown that has cascading impacts on work, life, and relationships. These cascading impacts are practically undesirable because they have zero upside with potentially unlimited downside.

That said, awareness of RBT enables you to reflect and diagnose issues, while also being practical about your current situation. If, after all, you still don’t have the 3Cs but are able to reconcile the lack of 3Cs with an internal understanding, your RBT will never spiral into anything toxic and unimaginable.

That’s how we can use RBT to our advantage.

Until next time,


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