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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.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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