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10 Mini-Hacks to Overcome Procrastination

10 Mini-Hacks to Overcome Procrastination

I totally get it. You have big thoughts of what you want to get done for the day. Then your friend calls, so you talk for awhile. After that, you check Facebook for a few minutes. You get hungry, and decide to watch an episode of your favorite show while eating a snack. And pretty soon the day is gone with you wondering, “What did I even do today?”

We all have the same 24 hours in each day, yet some people seem to get a lot done and others seem to really struggle to get anything accomplished. When you really want to get things done, you’ll need to overcome procrastination.

Here are 10 mini-hacks to overcome procrastination.

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1. Set goals.

If you really want to accomplish big things, set goals. And don’t just think about the goals. Actually get your dreams out of your head and onto paper. Write down your goals. And make them as specific as possible.

There was an amazing study conducted on Harvard MBA graduates in the ’70s. Students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only 3% had written goals and plans. Ten years later, the group was interviewed again. The results? The 3% of the students who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!

Whether or not your goal is to make a lot of money, writing down your goals has been shown to help people get things done. When you write down specific, measurable goals, you will have something objective to work toward. For example, instead of writing “I will write a book,” write “By December 31st, I will write a 20 page children’s book and submit it to 5 publishers.”

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2. Break your goals down into tiny, doable chunks.

When you have big goals, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and procrastinate moving toward the goal. For this problem, I recommend breaking each of your big goals down into miniature goals. You don’t have to accomplish everything today. You just need to take one small step toward your goal. Using the children’s book example, you could make a tiny goal of writing 2 sentences per day.

3. Each night, write out your schedule for the following day.

If you want to be more productive, you’ll need to tell your time where to go. Planning out your schedule is incredibly helpful. It helps you maximize every hour you are awake. It’s very easy to get distracted by the many time-suckers that bombard you daily. Writing your schedule down will help you get things done!

4. Set deadlines for yourself.

Have you ever wondered why you can make your house immaculately clean when someone calls and says they’ll stop by in 15 minutes, or how hard you can cram for an exam you have the next morning? The answer lies in Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law says work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Therefore, the less time you have to complete a task, the more you’ll increase your effort. When you’re writing out your daily schedule, take advantage of Parkinson’s Law. Give yourself deadlines to accomplish tasks. Knowing you have a deadline will light a fire in you and help you get things done. One experiment discovered external deadlines (deadlines imposed on you by others) are even more beneficial that deadlines you set for yourself. Either way, having deadlines will help you move toward your goals.

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5. Eat the frog.

One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” If there is a task you intentionally procrastinate because you loathe it or it’s overwhelming, this is your frog. Eat it right away in the morning and move on.

6. Minimize distractions.

We’ve all tried to get things done while our smartphones buzz frequently. It doesn’t work. Remember the friend who called you at the beginning of this article, and one distraction led to another, and pretty soon your day was gone? One study showed that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to a task after an interruption. That’s a long time! When you really want to concentrate on something, unplug, focus, and get to work.

7. Combine a task you don’t like with something enjoyable.

Do you procrastinate exercising but love having lunch with friends? Instead of the lunch date, meet your friends for an early morning tennis match. Not only will you get your workout accomplished, you’ll also get the social time you enjoy.

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7. Learn to say “No.”

When your day is filled with things you dread doing, you’re likely to procrastinate. Say “no” when possible to obligations you dislike. Filling your schedule with your priorities and passions will energize you. Choose to live your life, not someone else’s, by saying “yes” only to activities that line up with your values.

8. Automate tasks whenever possible.

Relying on simply motivation to get you through your day isn’t a wise idea. Automating tasks is the key. The more you automate, the less opportunities you’ll have to procrastinate. This has really helped me. One trick I’ve tricked is going to bed in clean workout clothes with my shoes and music ready at the door. When I wake up, I’m already dressed to go running.

9. Tell a friend.

Tell an accountability partner what you’re procrastinating doing, and ask for encouragement. Better yet, tell them you’ll meet them for a fun night out but only after you get your task done.

10. Treat yourself well.

Giving yourself the proper dose of exercise and fueling your body with healthy foods can help you feel your best. When you feel well, you have more energy to get things done. Also, treating your body well can boost your self-confidence, which is needed to tackle the projects you fear instead of procrastinating them.

Featured photo credit: Working on Website Layout/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

Feeling Stuck? How to Never Get Stuck in Life Again How to Find the Purpose of Life (A Case Study of a High-Powered Woman) Don’t like your job? Here are some solutions. How People Make Decisions That Are Bad For Them How to Have a Successful Career and a Fulfilling Personal Life

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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