Managing Procrastination, Predicting the Future, and Finding Happiness – Tim Urban


“I always thought the future would be intense, but now I think the future is going fully fucking crazy!”
– Tim Urban

Tim Urban (@waitbutwhy) is the author of the blog Wait But Why and has become one of the Internet’s most popular writers. According to Fast Company, Tim has “captured a level of reader engagement that even the new-media giants would be envious of.” Wait But Why receives more than 1.5 million unique visitors per month and has over 550,000 email subscribers.

Tim’s series of posts after interviewing Elon Musk has been called by Vox‘s David Roberts “the meatiest, most fascinating, most satisfying posts I’ve read in ages.” You can start with the first one, Elon Musk: The World’s Raddest Man. Tim’s TED Talk, Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator, has received more than 21 million views.

This episode is a live talk that was recorded on the launch day of Tribe of Mentors. Enjoy!


Managing Procrastination, Predicting the Future, and Finding Happiness - Tim Urban

Want to hear another conversation with a mentor from Tribe of Mentors? Listen to this episode with Debbie Millman, in which we discuss how favorite failures and why busy is a decision. Listen to it here (stream below or right-click to download):

This podcast is brought to you by Peloton, which has become a staple of my daily routine. I picked up this bike after seeing the success of my friend Kevin Rose, and I’ve been enjoying it more than I ever imagined. Peloton is an indoor cycling bike that brings live studio classes right to your home. No worrying about fitting classes into your busy schedule or making it to a studio with a crazy commute.

New classes are added every day, and this includes options led by elite NYC instructors in your own living room. You can even live stream studio classes taught by the world’s best instructors, or find your favorite class on demand.

Peloton is offering listeners to this show a special offer. Visit and enter the code “TIM” at checkout to receive $100 off accessories with your Peloton bike purchase. This is a great way to get in your workouts or an incredible gift. Again, that’s and enter the code TIM.

This podcast is also brought to you by ConvertKit. After trying the competition, this is the only email tool that has made email marketing easy for my team without sacrificing any of the features and benefits I need to run a profitable business. It’s got easy-to-use systems, split testing, resending technology, automation, targeted content, high rates of deliverability, integration with more than 70 services — like WordPress, Shopify, and Sumo — and excellent customer service.

Whether you have a thousand subscribers or a million, whether you run a simple blog or a whole company, ConvertKit has a plan that’s scaled to fit your budget and requirements. Go to to try it out and get your first month for free! Test the platform, kick the tires, and make sure it works for you and your business.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Tim Urban:

Wait But Why | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Show Notes

  • Introduction. [06:54]
  • Tim talks about what led to the creation of Wait But Why. [10:17]
  • Is test prep the ideal starter business? [15:24]
  • What is the origin of the name Wait But Why? [17:29]
  • Embarrassing alternative names that thankfully didn’t make the cut. [18:37]
  • Early blog topics. [21:15]
  • Going viral by posting or launching in the right place at the right time — but understanding that it’s always the right time for something. [23:51]
  • Who is Winston? [26:18]
  • What is Tim’s method to making heavy topics approachable to the layman? [27:36]
  • How might Tim research and write about — for example — cryptocurrency? [31:56]
  • How does Tim perform a search that gets him the results he needs? What are his most trusted sources? [35:55]
  • The approach Tim finds most effective for being informative as well as entertaining. [37:41]
  • To find out what Tim sees for our future as a species, he tells us how an alien might view our history thus far. [41:22]
  • The future of human space exploration and colonization of Earth. [48:26]
  • Is artificial intelligence (AI) an existential threat to humanity? [51:32]
  • How does Tim define happiness? [55:55]
  • Does reality minus expectations equal happiness? How we get stuck on the hedonic treadmill. [58:22]
  • What do Denmark, Costa Rica, and Singapore have in common? [1:00:25]
  • Our advice to recent college graduates (or, as it turns out, anyone) seeking to maximize well-being and perspective before entering a career. [1:03:33]
  • What trends, industries, and topics are we most excited about now? [1:07:44]
  • Why we should learn from rather than mock the pursuits and investments of “rich, white people.” [1:10:41]
  • What cities should everyone visit before they die? [1:13:59]
  • What does Tim’s writing process look like? [1:24:52]
  • Tim talks about his struggles with procrastination. [1:28:08]
  • I talk about coping with depression and practicing self-kindness. [1:31:11]

People Mentioned

Posted on: November 30, 2017.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

12 comments on “Managing Procrastination, Predicting the Future, and Finding Happiness – Tim Urban

  1. Not sure if this is for SEO purposes, but isn’t it a repost of the last episode, just with a different title and image?

    These 2 identical podcasts look like an IFTTT “buffered” post made by 2 different people handling the blog, but I am just not see the difference just yet.

    Wouldn’t mind to know.


  2. Hi Tim,
    A bit of constructive critique: I’ve noticed the audio on the Tribe of Mentors podcast is subpar. I have to turn the volume way up to hear it with ease. I don’t have the same problem with The Tim Ferriss Show podcast. Maybe you’re experimenting with different technology for TOM? Or maybe it’s a glitch you’re unaware of?
    Sincerely enjoy your work either way,


  3. Is anyone else getting annoyed at the increasing public use of the “f” word? Is it really necessary to make a point? The greats like Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn never resorted to this. Call me a prude but I’m not listening to this guy. I might be throwing out the baby with bathwater but I don’t care, I do not like this bad trend, it’s in poor taste. Let’s have some basic standards on public media.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Chris,

      I can understand where you are coming from, but I suppose this is one of the first podcasts you’re listening from Tim? I wouldn’t say it’s annoying since it’s not really a pattern, I actually rarely hear it in any of the conversations Tim has on his podcasts. To my knowledge, Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn have most of their talks on another tone and I would actually find it hard for that style to work when having a conversation.

      Your viewpoint might be feedback for Tim, but for most of us who enjoy the content, thinking about these details actually takes away from the value that can be extracted, that’s why there’s probably so few negative comments most of the time, since the process has been finely tuned to get most out of it.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am a 21-year old artist currently enrolled in university, and I listen to Tim’s podcast every day while I paint. I have been doing this since 2015, and I am still thoroughly obsessed with this guy. In fact, somebody asked me the other day which celebrity I would be if I had the choice. My answer? Tim Ferriss ha! Without a a second thought. Thanks Tim for be being awesome.


  5. Loved this one! Tim Urban + Tim Ferriss – (success) = Me? At least that’s the feeling. BEST moment was the answer to the last question by Tim Ferriss. Self love and self-improvement have been a huge theme in my life.

    Thanks to both of you for that!


  6. Genuinely curious about the technical background of Mr.Urban with regards to making those ‘predictions’ about artificial intelligence. It’s easy to let our imaginations extrapolate scenarios we don’t fully understand and make analogies that ‘sound’ plausible but if there is no technical proof there is technically no pudding. Wait for the research instead of creating writing ?


  7. Hi Tim,

    I made mistakes in the past that I’m not proud of. From those mistakes, I allowed myself to internalize all the criticism thrown my way, warranted or not. The end result being that I never felt worthy or deserving of love or compassion. Even if someone gave me a compliment or praise, I didn’t believe it. Why would I? I didn’t deserve it. I always made a point to encourage my friends and family to go for their dreams or to pursue the guy/girl they liked for ages because if they can find happiness, I wouldn’t need to find it for myself. Since I didn’t deserve it, I thought that knowing they would/did find their happiness would be the closest I could ever get to my own.

    I know that I need to forgive myself, but there still seems to be a disconnect (for me) in the bridges between – what I know I should do – understanding it – and actually implementing it. So here is my first, albeit long-winded, attempt at not “just tolerating myself.” Vulnerability is the HARDEST thing for me to accept. I would rather be traveling around the world skydiving right now than writing this “post.” The fact that I even put my name is freaking me out.

    Nevertheless, Brene Brown said that the original definition of “courage” is to tell the story with your whole heart. So… thank you for having the courage to share your thoughts and experiences with us. Your podcasts have really been inspiring for me in many ways; allowing me to grow and learn about different topics and concepts that I didn’t really consider before. I bought the book you mentioned, “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach. I’m sure reading it now over the holidays will help guide me in my attempt at self-healing.

    I wish you the best on your own journey of self-healing and hope you find the happiness you’re searching for. To you and your staff (and anyone else who made it this far), have a JOYFUL and LOVE-FILLED HOLIDAY, as well as an EXCITING and PURPOSEFUL NEW YEAR!!

    Jamie Lou