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11 Tips for Nuking Laziness Without Becoming a Workaholic

11 Tips for Nuking Laziness Without Becoming a Workaholic
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    Rest is important for productivity. Trying to work straight without recovering your energies leads to a wandering attention, procrastination and, in extreme cases, death. But when does “recovering your energies” just become an excuse to waste time? How do you draw the line between constructive rest and laziness?

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    I don’t believe this question has an easy answer. The most productive people I know have a high quitting point. They can put in extra energy to get big projects complete when most people would give up. At the same time, trying to work non-stop can defeat itself if you need an injection of caffeine just to keep your eyes open.

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    Signs You Should Be Taking a Break

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    Instead of a strict rule to define what are useful breaks and what are just excuses to procrastinate, I prefer a few guidelines. These can’t be perfect all the time, but by using them as a mental checklist you can ask yourself whether you are best off continuing work or taking a breather.

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    Here are some signs you should take a break and recover your energies:

    1. You’ve just finished a major task. I’m against breaking in-between work. That breaks the flow of concentration that would otherwise be helpful in completing a task. Once you’ve completed a big task (writing an essay, emptying your inbox, etc.) giving yourself a few minutes to rest can be useful.
    2. You’ve been working hard. Look back at the last few days. Ask yourself whether you have been more or less productive than your average. Taking a day off after several highly productive days can be useful. But resting after three days of accomplishing nothing will probably only make your procrastination worse.
    3. You need to switch gears. I often write several articles at once, but I usually take a small break in-between. Taking a break during a task is wasteful because you interrupt the natural thinking flow of work. But if you need to start a new task, you may have to interrupt that flow anyways. Look for logical breaks in your work to plan out rest times.

    Tips for Productive Rest

    The more habitual you can make your resting strategy, the less you need to rely on willpower to keep working. It will be an automatic strategy to stay focused. Here are a few more guidelines you can use when trying to decide whether you need a break:

    1. Plan Daily and Weekly Goals. The best method to avoid burnout and laziness is by using a quota. Simply set for yourself all the tasks you want to accomplish in the week and day. When these tasks are done, you can use any time left over to rest.
    2. Keep Work and Play Separate. Although I’m not perfect in application, I strive to follow the “work hard, play hard” mantra. This means that when you allocate time for working on big projects, you focus entirely on that for a set period of time. The time you have remaining is yours to use however you like. This removes the guilt during rest periods and urge to procrastinate during work periods.
    3. Keep a Varied Lifestyle. Focusing all of your energies onto just one task can be useful, for a short time. But having diversified interests can keep you emotionally balanced and your energies high. If work is your only pursuit, it can be easy to burnout. Having other hobbies, social activities and interests to occupy your time can be helpful in staying productive while resting.
    4. Have “Lazy” Days. I put “lazy” in quotations because the end result is often the opposite. Having days where you try to do things as slowly as possible can keep you focused on the days when tasks threaten to overwhelm you.
    5. The 20% Rule. Not to be confused with the 80/20 Rule, this is a rule that is useful for building self-discipline or overcoming your fears. Put simply, the 20% rule states that you notice when you first feel a strong urge to give up. You then commit to go 20% further before taking a long break. This helps smooth over temporary feelings of laziness and builds your internal discipline.
    6. Have a Motivation Refuel. Physical fatigue isn’t the only threat to your energy. Emotional fatigue in the form of rejections, disappointments or making mistakes can all dampen your motivation. Having a motivation refuel means having a day, hour or even a few minutes where you go over your goals, listen to motivational tapes, meditate or do whatever will recharge your drive.
    7. Don’t Rely on Substances. I don’t drink coffee. Occasionally I’ll drink caffeinated tea, but never as a performance drug. Yet, I see many people who rely on their triple-espresso as a crutch to just get through the day. This isn’t a lecture about heath consequences, but about productivity. Your body can’t maintain an artificial source of energy, so if you constantly use stimulants to keep yourself going, you’ll lose the natural ability to tell what your energy levels are. Try going without caffeine for a month (or cut back your usage or switch to teas) and see what effect it has.
    8. Productive Benchmarks. Monitor how much work you can do over an average day, week or month. This can set a productive benchmark that can allow you to decide where to set hourly, daily and weekly goals. By lining up your quotas with a productive benchmark, you can avoid feeling guilty about taking a rest when you truly need one.

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    Scott H Young

    Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

    How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways to Try Now How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick 18 Tips for Killer Presentations

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

    Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

    Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

    What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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    If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

    Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

    These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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    Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

    On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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