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Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Ah, spring. Even if your doorstep is still under a foot of snow, more pleasant weather is on the way and there’s no better time to spring into shape and adopt a new, active lifestyle.

It doesn’t really matter where you live, what your age is, or whether you’re single and uncommitted or married with kids, most – if not all – of these tips are achievable for everyone. Just think how much better you could feel by the time summer rolls around if you’ve found the courage to jump into completely different pursuits that will lead to a healthier, happier life.

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1. Find Fitness That’s Fun

Bored with your current exercise routine? Can’t find enough time, or perhaps motivation, to get in shape? Don’t work out at all? The solution could be trying something completely different, from boxercise or military-style fitness classes to hot yoga, aqua-fitness or even ping pong. Is there a new fitness activity you could try with your partner or children, such as learning to sail as a family? Or perhaps finding a running club or getting a friend to join you in training for a long-distance biking event? The more people you rope in, the better your chances of sticking with an exercise regime you actually enjoy.

2. Try A New Hobby

Sure, you could take up tennis, return to a childhood love of dance or join a team sport, but hobbies don’t have to involve physical fitness to benefit your health. The mental stimulation of taking a writing class, learning a new skill such as needlework or even just doing a daily crossword puzzle could improve your cognitive agility and generally boost your mood. The social benefits of interacting with new people also shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you do this through a workshop or volunteering with a local charity.

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3. Get A Pet

The positive effects of having a pet are well documented. If you get a dog in particular, you’ll be forced to get out and exercise even if you otherwise would find an excuse not to. Plus, pets can encourage owners in other unexpected ways: once you are responsible for feeding another creature, you realize how important a healthy diet is – for people and for pets. Caring for someone else can hold up a mirror on your behavior: pets and people should have preventative health checks and treatments, if necessary. If nothing else, dogs make an excellent, non-judgmental companion when you just need some company.

4. Walk!

Dog or no, going for a walk is the perfect tonic for anything that ails you. A walk can clear your head, focus your thoughts, aid creativity and wake you up, all while burning calories as a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Walking is environmentally friendly, too, and puts you in touch with nature and the changes in the seasons, even if you never leave pavement. You might be surprised how far you can stroll once you get the hang of it. Soon you’ll be looking for new walking routes everywhere you go, and you might even encourage a friend (either the two- or four-legged variety).

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5. Get Growing

Spring is all about new starts and new life, so why not get in the vibe by planting something? Flowers or herbs in a windowsill or window box, or something more ambitious, such as a fruit tree, a pot of tomatoes or even a whole vegetable patch. Don’t worry if you’re a novice: there are countless websites to help everyone from green-fingered experts to the first-time gardener. Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t need to make a huge investment – seeds and small plants are cheap, as is soil (if you even need to buy it) and many household items can be used as starter pots (such as egg boxes) and other supplies (freezer bags for covering seedlings on a window sill, for instance). Best case scenario, you have a wholesome new hobby that feeds you, too.

6. Investigate Your Food

Have you ever visited a farmers’ market or shop, garden center, orchard or pick-your-own fruit farm? Nothing tastes better than produce fresh from the tree or field, especially if you can find out more about how it’s been grown and if it has any particular health benefits. The grower might not always know these things, but it’s still good to talk to the folks who produce what we eat, not least because it enhances our understanding of where and how our food is made. You might also try something new or pick up recipe ideas that will help you stick to a well-balanced diet.

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7. Appreciate What’s Around You

Is there a nearby park you’re vaguely aware of but have never actually set foot in? A wildlife reserve where you or your children can go along to learn about migrating birds, bats’ feeding patterns, the importance of bees or the life cycle of amphibians? Or just a lovely lake, woods or field that’s open to the public? Spring is possibly the best time to get outdoors and explore, or rekindle a love of nature. Do a little investigating to find out what green spaces could help you rejuvenate after a long, tiresome winter.

Featured photo credit: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr Creative Commons

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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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