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We’re Born To Want To Put Things Off But Here’s What You Can Do To Get Over It

We’re Born To Want To Put Things Off But Here’s What You Can Do To Get Over It

We all know the feeling of having to do something and putting it off. 'I'll do it tomorrow', you say to yourself, but you said that yesterday. That book you meant to write, that running habit, getting to work on time. Whatever it is, you can change it. And here's one idea that might help you change your behaviour so you can get to doing what you really want to do.

Akrasia

Akrasia is a word created by ancient philosophers, Socrates and Aristotle, to describe that dissonance we feel when our higher self is telling us to do one thing, and our immediate self is vying for another activity. (It's that feeling when you hear the words in your mind 'Don't eat the chocolate cake' when you've already had a piece.) Our desire in the moment for the temporary reward often overwrites the deeper desire to be healthy and to choose fresh and juicy fruit and veg instead.

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This is simply how humans work, for the most part. But there are some strategies we can incorporate into our lives when dealing with Akrasia. So what can you do about it? You could try the 'if… then' strategy.

'If… then'

Using this strategy can help clarify what you are going to do, and to ensure you are focused on it. When there is no other option than doing what you have planned, it becomes extremely likely that you will do it. This is because then there is no deliberation, it becomes a certainty, so procrastination doesn't get a look in.

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To use this simple strategy, plan what you are going to be doing in a certain situation, time or place:

'If it is 8am, then I will get up and do some yoga and meditation.'

'If it is 10am, then I will begin writing my novel.'

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The 'if then' strategy has shown to increase levels of productivity 200-300% on average. That's some pretty good stats.

This is because it cuts out any thoughts that mean you can listen to the many excuses your mind will come up with to get you to put it off for a bit, or to think of the reasons you might change your mind and do something else instead.

Another practice that helps with this is trying cold showers, in which you hear all of your excuses not to do it, and do it anyway. Becoming aware of these thoughts is the first step to getting confident in the art of just doing it and being aligned with who you really are, and being able to do what you were brought here to do.

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Setting up a new habit is challenging, so don't be too hard on yourself about whether you make it to the gym every single time. Just the fact that you are trying to change is enough for now. And the easiest way to begin is to make starting as easy as possible. Once you've gotten over that hurdle, and have done so consistently, the habit will begin to feel more natural. If you begin to make it a part of your identity as in 'I'm a runner now', then you know you have won most of the battle.

Maya Angelou said that success is "liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it." Hopefully this little tip will allow you to be more of yourself and to contribute more of your time to enjoying the fullness of life, instead of worrying about what you have not done. That's pretty powerful stuff, and it all starts with your habits.

For more tips on creating healthy habits, check this out.

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Daniel Owen van Dommelen

Coder, Director, Writer, Human

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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