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Working at Night is for Raccoons – Not You!

Working at Night is for Raccoons – Not You!

Working at Night is for Racoons!

    If you’re packing your computer or briefcase and lugging it home to do more work most days you gotta ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” When you’re sitting in front of the keyboard writing an email to someone at the office at midnight would your friends ask, “Aren’t there other things you’d rather be doing?” When you get your paycheck do you think, “I sure get paid well, that’s why I work all the time!” (I won’t even delve into you being hunched over your crackberry during meals, meetings, and otherwise merry-making time.)

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    You are not really wired for working day and night. Raccoons are nocturnal, lions are nocturnal, and bats are nocturnal. Humans are not nocturnal. Those animals have special accommodations for functioning optimally in the dark – their hearing is enhanced, their eye sight is developed for low light situations (in fact, they don’t like daylight), and they sleep during the day so they’re rested and ready for their evening forays. You, however, have been designed for daylight activity. You are meant to get up with the sun and do your work while it shines. You eyes work best in daylight. Your energy ramps up after you break fast (you do eat breakfast, don’t you!?). You can best take care of your basic needs during the day – get food and maintain shelter.

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    Results of night time and usually overworking are:

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    • Constant fatigue
    • Disconnection from family and friends
    • Waste of time, energy, money, resources
    • Loneliness
    • Failure to achieve your goals as an employee, business owner, parent, partner, spiritual being, or other important area
    • Stress
    • Resentment of the unending demands
    • Sickness. The NIH (National Health Institute) points as stress as the #1 contributor to sickness.

    Signals of night-time working mentioned above could be the result of some of these actions:

    • You don’t negotiate ‘No’ as in , “No I couldn’t get that done by the deadline without missing other deadlines I’m committed to making.”
    • You engage in long conversations with colleagues rather than keeping it brief
    • You treat all work as equal rather than selecting the truly impactful and meaningful assignments
    • You do more of what you enjoy than what advances your career
    • You need an assistant and have the okay to hire one but don’t take the time to find him
    • Your boss rarely gives you recognition for a job well done
    • You have a lousy time when you get home so you burrow in to work rather than go ‘there’

    If this describes you at all you can flip things around and contain work within work hours. To put it right out here in black in white rather than hope you’ll take the time to extrapolate some of the solutions here are some steps to take:

    • Turn your crackberry off after a fixed hour. To be polite record a message informing callers that you’re putting boundaries around your work and will get back to them during the next morning.
    • Do not bring your computer home or login to work on your computer at home.
    • Curtail time consuming and unproductive activities at work.
    • Make and honor commitments with people outside work. Take your spouse on a date once a week, schedule time with a trainer, make the evening run, ride or racquetball game with your club, attend the kids’ games at least once a week, and volunteer nearby.
    • Go to bed 7.5 hours before you want to get up.
    • Get up with an hour to get ready for the day. Eat well, shower, dress, and take time to chat with someone
    • Limit the time you spend in front of a screen (of any connection – game, Internet, etc).
    • Examine your work with the 80/20 rule in mind. 80% of your reward will come from 20% of the projects you’re asked to do so spend 80% of your time on the 20% with big payoff

    Those are some observations from my desk — what do you see from yours with regard to leaving work at work?

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    More by this author

    Productivity & Organizing Myth #5 – the right planner (tool) is all you need Put yourself on the line Working at Night is for Raccoons – Not You! Where You Are Depends on How You Look at Things How to Use a Notebook to Make 2008 the Best Year Ever

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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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