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10 Ways To Get Out Of Your Own Way And Get Things Done

10 Ways To Get Out Of Your Own Way And Get Things Done
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You probably have plenty of reasons why you don’t get things done. Many of them are outside of your control. But instead of focusing on things you can’t control, focus on the biggest barrier, the one which you have the most control over: you.

You’re probably standing in your own way, so here are 10 things that will help you get out of your own way. Even if you do only three, you’ll finally be able to get things done.

1. Remember why you are doing it

Knowing why you are doing something is critical to getting it done. Humans hate doing things for no reason. Whether it’s washing the dishes, starting a business or filling out job applications, it must contribute to some larger purpose. If it doesn’t, quit doing it.

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    2. Think about the outcome

    What are you going to get from doing this thing? When you don’t feel like doing it, focus on the outcome you’re seeking. Think about how that outcome will make your life better, no matter how big or small the improvement is. If that outcome doesn’t excite you, that’s probably why you aren’t doing it. Cross it off the list.

    3. Focus on the important stuff

    Nothing will drain your energy faster than working on or putting off tedious things that won’t move you toward your goal. For example, if you’re starting a business, stop moving commas and periods around in your business plan and go out and talk to some prospects. Sell something or get feedback to improve. Focusing on what will make a difference will motivate you and skyrocket your results.

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      4. Listen to music

      There’s a reason music is so popular. It has a huge effect on how you feel. Use it as a tool to change your mood to whatever you want it to be. Create a playlist of songs that motivate the crap out of you. Play it while you work and while you procrastinate.

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      5. When you get tired, move around

      Do some jumping jacks, some simple exercises, or (my personal favorite) just dance like an idiot for a few minutes. Despite common beliefs, you actually get energy from being active. Your body did not evolve to sit at a computer and work for hours at a time. You can do it, but you have to work to create the energy. Combine with point #4 for accelerated results.

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        6. When you get frustrated, meditate

        You’re probably thinking too much. Calm down. Sit in a comfortable spot, relax and take some deep breaths to clear your mind for 10 minutes. If you really want to boost your productivity, meditate before you get frustrated in order to keep your mind clear, stay relaxed and avoid the frustration that stops you from getting things done.

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        7. Stop comparing yourself to other people

        You know the feeling. You’re working on something and you suddenly stop in despair because you realize it’s not going to be as good as [insert celebrity, colleague, friend, relative] would do it. It stops you in your tracks. You say to yourself, “Why bother? It’s going to suck anyway.” First, this is probably not true. You are probably just as good or better than that person. Second, even if you can’t do it as well as that person, no problem. This is practice to make you better. Either way, there’s no reason to stop.

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          8. Give up the ridiculous idea of perfection

          Perfection is a theoretical concept that does not exist in reality. You are probably waiting until the conditions are just right for it to be perfect. It will never be. That’s cool. You only have two choices: imperfect or nothing. Stop waiting to learn one more thing, get one more opinion, or make one last tweak. Just be OK with imperfection.

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          9. Pat yourself on the back — a lot

          Your need for instant gratification is probably keeping you from getting things done. You’re jumping over to Facebook to see if anyone has commented on your status, or checking Twitter for an endorphin rush. You’ll probably get it there. But if you read this far, you want to get things done. Instead of turning to social media for instant gratification, tell yourself how awesome you are after you accomplish each little thing. I’m doing that after I write each of these 10 things. It works.

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            10. Help someone else

            We love to help each other. It’s addictive for humans. When you are working on a project and just can’t seem to move forward, pick up the phone and call someone you can help. Offer some advice, feedback or expertise. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment. You’ll feel good about yourself and happy that you’ve contributed to someone else’s life. That’s a much better endorphin source than Facebook.

            There are always external things you can’t control. They suck, but focusing on them won’t do any good. Focus on any three of these 10 things to get more done and feel better about what you have accomplished.

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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.

            More on Building Habits

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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            Reference

            [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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