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Decrease Procrastination with A Reminder Planner

Decrease Procrastination with A Reminder Planner

We love being distracted, but we don’t love the results – the undone tasks. However, there’s no need to avoid procrastination and it’s almost undoable. Our brains need balance and relaxation to become more productive.

Procrastination and distractions are friends (or devils) that we probably all live with. Procrastination is always there to decoy us away from our tasks and we can’t run away. This leads us towards anxiety.

It’s nothing wrong with procrastination. Quite the opposite; we need it to stay balanced. Our brains need to rest, just like any other body part. So, don’t be angry at yourself when you postpone things. I recently realized how often I used to blame myself saying: I’m lazy and unproductive. It was true; I was avoiding tasks that were too difficult, unknown, frightening, time consuming or I simply didn’t like them.

Finally, what I did was change my thought process and my habits in the following ways:

  1. I accepted time for procrastinating and its opposite: anti-procrastinating.
  2. Secondly, I did a minimal change on my focusing approach. I started to focus on small steps and not on the whole task (goal or challenge) at once.
  3. By focusing on small steps I warm up my brains and ignite the momentum.

When I feel the momentum, I only need to be well organized. That’s probably the easiest part. At least when you know what fits you most.

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So when I’m setting goals, the huge ones, I instantly break them to small ‘minute’ tasks. That’s also why I used to have hundreds of stickers all around my place in the past.

All of the above mentioned can only work if I’m well organized. I don’t care if I procrastinate sometimes. I’m quite aware that my brains need relaxation for a short time.

How do I organize in order to limit procrastination and manage to move all my important tasks?

Before we start, I just want to remind you (and me) to keep things simple. Don’t allow yourself to think about a seemingly never-ending project you need to start working on, but instead on a pen or table you will use. Focus on searching car’s keys instead of the two hour drive that is ahead of you. And then on radio station you are going to listen while driving, and so on. Enjoy life in a simplified series steps.

1. I need to find out what motivates me

  • I may connect with a friend and ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean I’m a loser. It means I`m getting closer to solution.
  • I might talk about this problem (it could be fear) with other authors who have encountered similar problems in the past.
  • I can set a list of reminders that help me focusing on big tasks. The awareness of what’s going on is many times more important than solution itself. That’s why I need to remind myself to be aware and start focusing on priorities. That leads me to outsourced motivation.

2. Get leverage – establish “why’s” to avoid going back to the past

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Right at the beginning of setting goals or daydreaming huge ideas I need to declare myself why I want to do this.

  • Is this my passion?
  • Will this help me solving my problems?
  • Will I be able to work nights and long Mondays even If I think this project is a piece of cake?

If I don’t have something to focus on, it will be easier to start paying attention on new social media feeds or phone calls or any kind of unimportant stuff going on in my surroundings.

When I think of leverage I visualize the moment of accomplished task. It’s a moment of joy. But the problem is I need to remind myself over and over. Your reminders serve the purpose of propelling my actions forward and reaching the moment of being rewarded.

3. Setting goals and deadlines

I know this sounds a little stressful. I don`t like setting goals. I rather do what excites me and when it excites me. But sometimes, and for some bigger challenges, setting goals is highly recommended and essential. Especially when the project is extensive and we can easily get out of hand. Deadlines are important because they put my projects in motion.

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4. Reward yourself, take a break, and celebrate minor milestones

I love to imagine or visualize the accomplished mission, e.g. my fresh novel on a shelf or reaching 10,000 fans on social media. But that sounds more like a motivation than a reward.

The idea is to reward myself with small indulgencies for hitting those milestones. For instance: a new sofa that helps me to write more comfortably or a fancy pen (for those moments when I don’t feel like typing but writing on paper). The reward could also be a simple celebration with close friends or coworkers the way we all prefer. Just remember to not get so caught up in rewards that you can’t get anything done.

5. Have a partner

Working with someone else makes most tasks easier. That doesn’t mean I can’t create a business on my own. A partner could be a virtual assistant or an accountability partner. Someone I can share my obstacles, challenges and hindrances with. In the past I had difficulties with partnering. What I did was nothing new. I continued on the project on my own until I could partner with others.

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But how?

I started to write down tasks, thoughts, smart and stupid endless ideas etc. I posted it all over my place: on the table, on the closet, on the fridge, screen, practically everywhere. My bag was always full of small papers. That’s how I started. And most of the time it worked.

Then one day I needed to get organized as I found it difficult to follow and even more difficult to setup linked ideas.

I started using a notebook and filled it with hundreds of incentives that have helped me to move on with my projects. 

Bonus: Share big task with others or set a public commitment

If I share my ideas, my excuse and what’s preventing me to achieve goals I find myself in position where it’s more difficult to avoid.

  • I can cooperate with accountability partners – those who share similar difficulties with me in order to motivate each other.
  • I can share ideas with close friend who I trust and don’t lose the fear of stolen ideas.
  • I can post reminders all over my home and write goals and deadlines in my notebook and outlook.
  • I can work on my project in public place (e.g. writing book in library or park).

Featured photo credit: female hands with pen writing on notebook via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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