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Decrease Procrastination with A Reminder Planner

Decrease Procrastination with A Reminder Planner
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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

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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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