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How to Do What You Don’t Want to Do (but Have to Do Anyway)

How to Do What You Don’t Want to Do (but Have to Do Anyway)

Do you feel like your chores are piling up around you? Whether you’re inundated with housework, or you have a growing list of nagging tasks to complete at work, you are probably overwhelmed and frustrated. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all balked at completing these menial jobs.

As much as we’d rather go on an adventure or tackle that exciting work project, everybody has to spend time doing things they don’t enjoy. Your productivity and happiness is at stake if you can’t clear minor tasks out of the way. Most of these jobs take no longer than a few minutes to complete, but they can compound into a mountain of work if left unattended. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Every exciting work includes some tedious tasks, it’s inevitable.

Regardless of how your chores make you feel, you still have to do them. Having a negative view of your duties sets you up for failure. Instead of thinking of them with disdain, turn to them with gratitude. Even the most exciting assignments at work come with a certain amount of administrative baggage.

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Know that hacking through the red tape, filling out the forms, and answering your emails is just a means to get to the work that you enjoy. Envision how much more productive, healthy, and happy you will be if you keep up with your chores.

To accomplish things you don’t feel like doing, plan your tasks with strategies.

Balance your day.

Use the Pomodoro technique to maximize your time without burning yourself out. Start by establishing your to-do list and grouping similar items on your list. Then, work for a solid 25 minutes on your first task or set of tasks. Take five minutes to recharge your batteries, and repeat the pattern. After you have worked for four 25-minute intervals, take a 20-minute break.[1] By working this way, you spend about 75% of your time on task and 25% at rest.

Make routine tasks automatic.

Forwarding your emails to a single address can keep you from having to open several email services. Most email services also give you the option to set up filters to automatically sort your messages. If you generate the same types of documents or messages over and over, come up with a standard template. You can still customize your work, but it is a lot easier to change a few details in your message than it is to reinvent the wheel every day. Automating processes such as paying your bills and refilling your prescriptions means that you won’t have to spend your lunch break doing tedious tasks.[2]

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Make chores part of your schedule.

Block out time for them the same way you set aside time for appointments. Incorporate practices like the “One Touch Rule” to save time.[3] This rule requires you to take care of items right away so that you only handle them one time. For example, instead of throwing junk mail into a pile on your desk, throw it in the trash right away.

Do the things that require the most effort first.

Knock out your most challenging work early in the day. These might be things that require the greatest amount of creativity, or they could be the chores that you hate doing the most. You are less likely to experience decision fatigue[4] early in the day, and your levels of self-control will be higher.[5] You don’t want to spend all day dreading a task and then be too exhausted to complete it.

Complete tasks in batches.

When you tackle similar and related tasks in the same block of time, you will be able to complete them more quickly. Have a portion of your day set up specifically for making phone calls or completing orders. Designate times to check your email, and silence unnecessary notifications. Multitasking is rarely as effective as sustained focus on a single task.[6]

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Turn completing chores into a game and reward yourself.

Think about things that make you happy and try to connect your chores to them. If it’s a vacation that you crave, agree to put a few dollars in the travel fund for each day that you clear all the items out of your incoming and outgoing files. You not only get the benefit of thinking about that vacation, but you also turn completing your chores into a game.[7]

Ask for help when necessary.

Depending on your position, you may be able to get some additional help with those chores. It is often less expensive to enlist an experienced helper than it is to waste valuable time trying to teach yourself how to do everything well.[8] Even if you don’t have the power to hire an assistant, you can still have an honest discussion with your manager or coworkers if your workload is untenable.

If you want to make your chores more manageable, keep up with them.

Edward Young once said,

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“Procrastination is the thief of time.”

Putting off chores today only compounds the amount of time you’ll need to spend on them later. When you approach menial tasks with a positive attitude and complete your chores efficiently, you’ll have more time to enjoy the things you love.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Angelina Phebus

Writer, Yoga Instructor (RYT 200)

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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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