I used to hate TV. Not because of the shows that were on (although many of them were terrible), but because it killed my productivity.
It was a love/hate relationship. When I was stressed out and my brain had been overwhelmed all day, I’d use television to escape for a few hours and recharge. It sure made me feel better, but then I would feel guilty sitting there on the couch, thinking of all the things I could have gotten done!
Going to the gym was also a stressful activity. I knew it was good for me, but there never seemed to be enough time, and I subconsciously avoided the hard work that went along with it.
So one day I made a rule for myself: I would only watch TV while at the gym!
It was combining the best of both worlds. I no longer felt guilty about watching TV because I was getting great exercise, and I had an incentive to get myself to the gym if I didn’t want to miss a show!
The benefit was immediate and profound. Pretty soon, I was spending an hour a day, four days per week, at the gym (after all I liked watching TV). And while it wasn’t easy to really pay attention while lifting weights, getting an hour of cardio done was easier when I could reward myself.
Of course, sometimes I’d cheat (movies in particular I deemed “exempt” from the rule), but overall it worked quite well.
You can also apply this concept to other areas of your life. I call it “getting leverage on yourself” (I don’t think i came up with this, but can’t remember where I heard it first).
The basic idea is to create a simple rule for yourself that AUTOMATICALLY causes you to accomplish your goal. After all, you probably know yourself pretty well after all these years. You know what will cause you to take action, and what will probably never get done. Try to structure incentives and punishments for yourself that will give you this “leverage” on yourself.
Here are some other examples of getting leverage on yourself:
- If you have a tendency to waste time on instant messenger, and you KNOW you can’t ignore it, then make a rule you will turn it off during the day, and only turn it on once your top three items are done.
- Let’s say you’ve set a goal to call at least 100 new prospective clients. Give $100 to your best friend, and tell them to give you back $20 for every 20 calls you make in the next month. (By the way, this works for any goal that requires you to do something over and over again. It could be to write 100 pages, approach 100 people, or to do 100 push ups.) Your friends will happily agree, sensing the opportunity to earn some cash, and I guarantee you will think about making those calls every day!
- Get an accountability partner who will make you feel guilty when you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.
Getting leverage on yourself is a lot like what your parents did when you were younger: “if you don’t eat your green beans, you can’t have any desert!” But now you are being your own parent, and creating the rules for yourself.
If you’d like to spend less time watching TV and more time at the gym, try getting leverage on yourself by making that a rule: I can only watch TV when I’m at the gym.
Give it a try and you might just be surprised with the results!
Brian Armstrong is an authority on time management and how to quit your job to work for yourself! You can download three FREE chapters of his book and sign up for his free online course, “Successful Entrepreneurship”, by clicking here now: How to Start Your Own Business