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By Applying This Rule, You Can Overcome Procrastination In 2 Minutes

By Applying This Rule, You Can Overcome Procrastination In 2 Minutes

We all know those people (or we are one of them) who have many great talents and could do so much, only if they weren’t procrastinating their way through life. They postpone their tasks till the last minute and make themselves suffer enormous amounts of stress and anxiety in order to get things done on time. The worst thing about it is that once they waste all their energy fighting the temptation for instant gratification when completing mundane tasks, they leave no room for the really important stuff, such as their favorite hobby, or any activity that boosts their self-growth and creativity.

2-minute rule that triggers immediate actions

If you came to a point when you realized how seriously procrastination affects your life and health, you have probably came across the 2-minute rule solution in your search for remedy. The approach works because it is ridiculously easy and it can be applied to any task at hand no matter its size. It affects the root of the procrastinating process – the problem of starting the activity. The more time-consuming the activity is, the bigger resistance to starting it is created in the mind of the procrastinator.

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Relative to the size of the task or project, the rule can be applied in two ways:

  • The first one is to do the short and easy tasks right away to avoid cluttering your space and mind.
  • The second way is applied to bigger projects and things that require more time and effort.

Originating from Newton’s first law of motion that states that objects in rest stay at rest and objects in motion stay in motion, the 2-minute rule in this case means finishing the project 2 minutes at a time. This helps the person who is performing it not to feel overwhelmed and discouraged, but to start lightly, and soon the action will gain momentum leading to longer hours of productivity. As proposed by researches at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, the way to start any bigger project is to break it down into as many micro tasks as possible whose completion will lead to increase in motivation needed for further action.

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Why do we procrastinate?

  • Feeling of not being good enough – For many people the reason behind putting things off for as long as possible is the belief that they don’t possess the right skills and talents.
  • Overwhelmed by the size of the task – Another common reason for procrastination is the resistance felt by people when facing great, time-consuming projects.
  • The need for instant gratification – In most cases people tend to postpone their tasks due to lack of willingness to fight the human impulse to do only the most pleasing and undemanding things.

The 2-minute rule provides solution in all three cases as it helps to push through the initial doubt, since with 2 minutes in the activity our confidence levels start to grow and our need for gratification lessens as the process itself becomes gratifying enough. As previously mentioned, the rule is equally efficient in larger assignments as it helps to shift the focus from big end product to small bite-size two-minute steps.

How to apply the 2-minute rule

1. Start small

Let’s take the task of losing weight for example. For most people who struggle to lose those extra pounds this is one of the bigger projects. Therefore, instead of immediately rushing to face the great challenge, you should prepare the way by working on small, unrelated things. Doing everyday chores while they are still in the 2-minute-task category will help you to set foundation for the doer mindset. As the time goes, the momentum will take over, making it more natural and effortless and you will soon be able to transfer the approach to more complex issues.

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2. Raise the bar

Once you have developed a habit of doing little tasks, it is time to apply the same principle to a greater project. By taking the different perspective and dividing the strategy for weight loss into 2-minute actions that help to start the process, the entire task won’t seem so demanding. In addition, as you go through easily achievable bits, your motivation will grow, making you more eager to continue. In the beginning, these 2-minute actions would be anything from preparing the low-calorie meal to getting dressed and leaving the house for jogging. As you go along, you will feel much more willing to set further challenges.

3. Postpone reward

As opposed to seeking instant gratification and risk losing energy doing things that are not of the utmost importance in that moment, you should postpone it for after the completion. This way, you enhance your motivation as you have something to look forward to for later. Treating yourself to a movie after finishing Pilates class will improve not only your looks and health, it will also give you rest from guilt as the reward comes as something you earned.

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Ana Erkic

Social Media Consultant, Online Marketing Strategist, Copywriter, CEO and Co-Founder of Growato

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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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