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10 Powerful Hacks to Overcome Procrastination

10 Powerful Hacks to Overcome Procrastination

I will do it later. That is the refrain of the procrastinator. Unfortunately, later never comes, or when it does arrive, it comes with panic and the need to rush. Neither is a good thing.

Procrastinating steals productivity and can cause a variety of negative consequences. So, how do you stop procrastinating so much? You can begin by applying these ten hacks to your life.

1. Revamp Your To-Do List

to do list

    Your to-do list should probably be a lot shorter than it is. Why is that? If you already know you are going to do a particular task, do not bother writing it down. Instead, limit the items on your to-do list to the tasks that tempt you to procrastinate.

    The simple act of writing these jobs down can have the psychological effect of making your need to finish them even greater. After all, it does suck to end the day without crossing things off your to do list.

    2. Identify Your Procrastination Source

    look for

      If you find yourself putting off a task, try to figure out why. Are you lacking energy? Is the task too intimidating? Are you afraid that you will not do an adequate job?

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      Identify the reason why you are procrastinating, and you might be able to solve the underlying problem. Then, you can get back to being productive.

      3. Set a Timer And Get to Work

      set timer

        If you have ever tried to get a child to clean their room, you might have set a time and encouraged them to beat the clock. Believe it or not, this often works for adults. In fact, there is an entire productivity and time management philosophy that is known as the Pomodoro Method.

        This involves setting a timer and working in bursts of 25 minutes with 5-minute breaks in between.

        The idea is to spend the 25 minutes working at a furious pace on the task at hand and then rewarding yourself with that small break. It is much easier to work if you know you have a break coming up. You can also compete with yourself to get more done during each work spree.

        4. Tackle The Miserable Tasks First

        sunset girl

          There are two factors that have a big impact on procrastination. The first is the time of day. The later it is, the less likely you will be able to push through that urge to put things off.

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          The second factor is the misery factor. Knowing this, try to structure your day so that you will work on those tasks that seem like drudgery. Save the tasks that are easier or more enjoyable for the afternoon. Your tired brain and body will appreciate it.

          5. Take Planned Breaks Throughout The Day

          relax

            If you are a procrastinator, you may not be taking enough breaks. That is right! Your problem may not be that you spend too much time relaxing, but that you spend too little. The issue is that many people will take lunch and work breaks, but when they do, they stay in work mode.

            How many lunches have you taken as you read work related emails? How many breaks have you spent talking to a co-worker about a current project? Take your breaks, and make sure that you spend them truly disengaged. Eat, relax, surf the net, take a walk. You will come back prepared to knock out the next task on your list.

            6. Make a List of Commercial Break Tasks

            Ben & Cat Photoshoot

              Think about all of the jobs that you put off in a given day. How many of them can be accomplished during a television commercial break?

              Chores such as switching over laundry, taking out the kitchen trash, wiping down the counters, and feeding the pets can all be finished in the time that a few commercials run during your favorite shows.

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              Even if you do not watch television, you can use this technique to push yourself into getting up and just doing it.

              7. Break Big Jobs Into Smaller Tasks

              folders

                If you try to tackle a huge project, the intimidation factor alone can make procrastination seem very attractive. For example, rewriting the employee manual seems like an albatross of a task that could take weeks to finish. Break that down into smaller tasks that you can chip away at one at a time, and suddenly the job seems easier:

                • Write 200 words of the employee manual introduction
                • Think of titles for each section
                • Send email to company present to clarify policy on tardiness

                Don’t these smaller tasks seem much more ‘doable’?

                8. Take Care of Yourself

                yoga

                  Do not assume that your procrastination issue is a laziness problem. You might simply have drained your energy reserves. Help yourself stay on track by getting enough sleep, eating enough healthy foods, and getting at least a bit of exercise.

                  If you are feeling particularly lethargic and unmotivated, talk to your doctor. Your body could be struggling with a vitamin deficiency or even depression. When you are healthier, procrastination will often become less and less of an issue.

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                  9. Reward Yourself

                  play games

                    If you want to stop procrastinating, give yourself a reason to get back to work. Reward your own accomplishments by treating yourself. For smaller tasks, you can create a list of small rewards such as a five-minute break to play a favorite game on one of the top sites for gaming or a small amount of desert.

                    If you tackle something that was particularly difficult, then make your reward bigger. Get that big project knocked out, and maybe you have earned a Friday night out on the town.

                    10. Go Off The Grid For a Day

                    work place

                      If you are like most people, electronic distractions can be a real source of your procrastination. It is easy to put tasks off in favor of hanging out on Facebook. It is also much more tempting to avoid getting things done when you ‘have to’ respond to all of those emails and messages.

                      To combat this, consider taking yourself off the grid every so often. Switch your devices to airplane mode, let people know that you will unavailable for the day. Then, put your head down and start plowing through all of those tasks that you would normally avoid. This is a great technique for getting your offline tasks finished and out of the way.

                      Conclusion

                      Procrastinating is a bad habit that limits your productivity and can carry a variety of other negative consequences. Fortunately, you retrain yourself and learn to drop or modify the behaviors that can lead to putting tasks off.

                      The next time you feel tempted to delay an important job, try applying a few of these techniques. Before long, getting up and getting things done will be just as deeply ingrained as procrastination. This is when you will know that you have truly beaten your procrastination habit.

                      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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                      Dante Munnis

                      content manager

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                      Last Updated on September 24, 2020

                      17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

                      17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

                      In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

                      The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

                      Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

                      1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

                      Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

                      For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

                      2. Use the Pareto Principle

                      Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

                      Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

                      3. Make Stakes

                      Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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                      However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

                      4. Record Yourself

                      Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

                      5. Join a Group

                      There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

                      6. Time Travel

                      Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

                      Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

                      7. Be a Chameleon

                      When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

                      Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

                      “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

                      Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

                      8. Focus

                      Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

                      Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

                      9. Visualize

                      The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

                      Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

                      Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

                      10. Find a Mentor

                      Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

                      Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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                      If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

                      11. Sleep on It

                      Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

                      Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

                      12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

                      Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

                      His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

                      Check out his video to find out more:

                      13. Learn by Doing

                      It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

                      Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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                      14. Complete Short Sprints

                      Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

                      One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

                      15. Ditch the Distractions

                      Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

                      Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

                      16. Use Nootropics

                      Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

                      Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

                      Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

                      17. Celebrate

                      For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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                      The Bottom Line

                      Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

                      More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

                      Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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