Advertising
Advertising

The Best of Lifehack: April 2012

The Best of Lifehack: April 2012


    April has come and gone, and so it’s time for another installment in our Best of Lifehack series. This series showcases articles from the month just gone by, just in case you missed some of what we offer each and each every day at Lifehack.

    This month we delivered posts on a wide variety of topics, focusing on fitness, nutrition, communication and overall productivity. You may have also noticed a lot of new contributors have joined the fold, largely as a result of our “How to Write for Lifehack” post that was published back in March. The result has been a slew of great articles from some very talented writers — and we’re going to bring even more of that to you from this month onward.

    Advertising

    As we bid April farewell, here is The Best of Lifehack from the past month.

    How to Get Stuff Done: A Quick Guide

    Have you ever felt like your to do list is completely out of control and you’re just not getting anywhere? You have jobs piling up and you just don’t know where to start? Zoe B. has put together a primer on how to get stuff done that’s well worth checking out.

    7 Things You Should Add to Your Stop Doing List…Right Now!

    You probably make lists of things to do and follow them through. But what about the things you should stop doing? Successful people do not do the following things but chances are you still do. Paul Sloane recommends that you make a decision to add 7 things to your “stop doing list” starting today.

    Advertising

    Hack Your Weight Loss Workout – Lose Weight In 15 Minutes a Day

    A weight loss workout doesn’t have to be boring. It shouldn’t require you to workout for hours every day to be effective either. You can actually lose weight and excess body fat in just 15 minutes a day. Lifehack contributor Curt Pedersen explains how you can do just that.

    The 3 Best iPhone Apps to Help You Remember

    Regular Lifehack contributor Royale Scuderi has discovered many very useful apps in her quest for better life management. Here are a few of the best iPhone apps to help your remember and that she has found to be very helpful.

    Productivity Hacks: 8 Things That Are Hurting Your Productivity

    Fixing minor issues can sometimes play a big role in enhancing your overall productivity and allow your creativity to flow like never before. Uttoran Sen offers up 8 things that are hurting your productivity — and how to hack them.

    Advertising

    Lifehack Presents: A Mini-Guide for Weight Loss for Men

    Lifehack Associate Editor CM Smith has been assembling some excellent mini-guides over the past couple of months, and this one is no exception. If you’re a guy who’s looking to lose some excess pounds, give this a good read. And then follow through!

    Top 10 Reasons Why People Don’t Reach Their Goals

    With everything that happens around us, it is sometimes difficult to reach our goals. Robert Chen hasn’t just listed the top 10 reasons why people don’t reach their goals, but he’s also included a quick fix for each of them.

    20 Encouraging Quotes to Level Up Your Life

    With everything that happens around us, it is sometimes difficult to reach our goals. Robert Chen hasn’t just assembled the top 10 reasons why people don’t reach their goals, but he’s also included a quick fix for each of them.

    Advertising

    How to Be 25% Happier in Five Minutes a Day

    Remember when you got a raise and bought a new car, and you were happy ever since? Neither does Cara Stein. So rather than dwell on that, she outlines ways that you can be 25% happier in just five minutes — each and every day.

    Seven Truths About You

    In this excerpt from the book Kiss That Frog: 12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work, Brian Tracy and Christina Tracy Stein explain that no matter where you are today, or what you have done or not done in the past, you need to accept seven essential truths about you as a person.

    (Photo credit: Golden leader of business team via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

    4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    Trending in Featured

    1 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed 2 12 Rules for Self-Management 3 How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 How to Master the Art of Prioritization

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

    Advertising

    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

    Advertising

    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

    Advertising

    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

    Advertising

    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next