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10 Lies Unproductive People Tell Themselves That You Should Avoid

10 Lies Unproductive People Tell Themselves That You Should Avoid
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Trying to be your most productive self? Yay! Good for you.

But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Well, let others be your guide on what not to do. Here are 10 lies that unproductive people tell themselves. Avoid telling yourself these lies and you’ll be all set to get some real work done.

1. “I’ll do it in an hour.”

As soon as you tell yourself that you’re going to do something later, it’s easy to keep on doing it. Once you have a task, try to tackle it as soon as you can. Try the 50/10 rule: work intensely for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. This ensures that you get a lot of work done without burning out too quickly.

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2. “I’m too tired.”

This is possibly the oldest excuse in the book. I’m guilty of using this excuse myself, but often I’m not actually too tired; it’s easy to confuse laziness and sleepiness. If you’re truly feeling tired and it’s the middle of the day, try drinking some coffee or taking a power nap. Otherwise, try to look past your “tiredness” and power through to getting some work done.

3. “Maybe someone else will do it.”

Take responsibility for the tasks that you need completed. This one is a big problem with tasks that are perhaps traded around among a group of people, such as taking out the trash in your office’s kitchen. Just get it done and everyone, including yourself, will thank you later.

4. “What if I don’t do it right?”

You’ll never know if you’re wrong if you don’t try first. Fear of messing up is not going to get you anywhere, so try to power ahead and ignore that nagging doubt. And if you do mess up a little bit, don’t worry about it! Just go for it and fix your mistakes later if you make any.

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5. “What if I fail?”

Fear of failure is even worse than a fear of making a few little mistakes. Yes, it can be really embarrassing to fail. But chances are, you won’t. If you’re really worried, just ask someone for a little guidance. It’s likely that that person will be happy to help.

6. “This won’t be my best work.”

If everyone were worried about not doing their best, nothing would ever get done. That’s the point of something being your “best work.” In order for it to be the best, other things have to be less stellar. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a go and try your best.

7. “Now it’ll be late.”

Better late than never, right? Not doing work should not be an option. Even if your work is late, face the consequences of that and move on. You shouldn’t let that hold you back from finishing a task that’s given to you, especially if it’s at your job. Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t let lateness become a habit. Try to keep on top of your work, and soon timeliness will become second nature.

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8. “What’s in it for me?”

Honestly, your satisfaction should come from a job well done. It’s hard to look past that sometimes, because many people today rely on praise or other rewards to encourage them to do their work in a timely manner. However, try to find happiness in other aspects of your work and have the rewards be internal.

9. “I shouldn’t start until I have all the pieces of the puzzle.”

You can make really good progress without having all the information you need. Focus on getting just a little work done and work on the task as more pieces of the puzzle come your way. This is also a good way to complete an assignment without really feeling like you’re tackling a big project. It automatically cuts things into bite-sized pieces.

10. “I’m not _____ enough.”

Smart enough, clever enough, fast enough, good enough, etc. None of this is true. Just because you’re not the best at something doesn’t mean you can’t do a good job if you work hard enough. So just give it a go and stop putting it off!

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Featured photo credit: Graham Reznick via flickr.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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