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15 Productivity Hacks For Procrastinators

15 Productivity Hacks For Procrastinators

There are more than six billion people in this world and I am willing to bet that the majority of us are probably procrastinators. It is just an easy habit to fall into. Think of procrastination as if it were like quick sand. It is easy to stumble and sink into and hard to get out of. Not to worry though, here are some tips that can help pull you out of the procrastination pit.

1.Set an abundant amount of alarms.

As a procrastinator, you all know the feeling of waiting until about fifteen minutes passed your alarm to actually get up. Set several alarms to force you out of bed and to give you time to transition from morning yawns and sighs to being ready for a new day. Also, make hitting the snooze alarm harder to hit to make you get out of bed with each alarm.

2.Write things down!

It is best to start out with a dry erase calendar to remind you of what you are needing to do. Big bright letters or bold black letters are going to be best to make sure it catches your eye when you walk by. Keep it up there and cross it out as you complete the tasks you must finish.

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3.Set things out.

To save you some time, try setting the things you need the night before, as oppose to the day of. It gives you time to start your day off right instead of frantically searching for something in the morning and pushing everything on your schedule forward.

4.Minimize distractions.

Having the TV on while you clean, or while you are doing homework works for a few people, but more than likely it takes more time. If you’re like me, you probably stop a few minutes here and there to actually watch what is going on the screen rather than working on an assignment due in a few days. Try putting music on if you need white noise in the background and place it further from you. This will help keep the procrastinator in you from grabbing your phone to “change the song” and ending up on facebook.

5.Reward yourself.

Remember when you were a child and your parents rewarded you for doing simple things every once in a while? Remember how excited you got? It helps out to reward yourself after completing that paper that was due or cleaning your house. Set aside a DVD or a slice of chocolate cake for you to enjoy after your tasks are completed. It works! Trust me!

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6.Set time aside to do activities you do when procrastinating.

It is important to set time aside for mindless news feed scrolling, game playing, and sleeping. Even though we are super humans, our brains need rest every once in a while. Set time aside to just lay around. Set a timer and give yourself about fifteen minutes

7.Snack on food that gives you energy.

Stay away from heavy snacks that make you sleepy and lazy. Grab an apple or an orange and enjoy mother nature’s pick me up. You will feel better and your body will be more energized to get tasks done.

8.Minimize your To-Do list.

Instead of trying to accomplish a huge goal all at once, break it down into little goals. For example, instead of trying to re-arrange and clean the whole house by next Tuesday, break it down by room each day. Clean the kitchen one day, the living room the next day, etc. It will give you a list that will seem do-able and not so overwhelming.

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9.In your office/study area/ work area set the clock 10 minutes fast.

This is for the ones that like to wait until last minute to start making dinner or getting ready. It won’t give you too much time, but it will at least give you a head start on things.

10.Get up earlier.

There are a lot of people that get more done in their day than I do in mine. If you think you are not going to have time in a day to get everything done, set your alarm to wake up earlier. You will give yourself an extra two to three hours that you usually don’t have to finish all that needs to be done.

11.Take breaks.

It is important to give your brain a break when trying to finish something like a paper or a take home test. Take ten minutes here and there between each hour to stand outside or grab a snack.

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12.Don’t sit down right after work.

We are all guilty of it and we all can’t deny that we do this. Sitting down after work when there is a lot to be done is a huge mistake for us procrastinators. We sit down and everything we needed to do is either out the window or an extreme inconvenience from then on to finish. Our bodies get comfortable, and our brain starts to shut down.

13.Have an organized friend be your mentor.

Ever heard of “if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas?” It is usually used when someone is hanging around bad company, but it also works on the opposite side of the spectrum too. If you hang out with someone who is organized, does everything in a timely manner, you will slowly start to as well. It can go either way though, so make sure you chose wisely.

14. Use Post-It Notes

When you don’t see the dry erase board telling you what to do, place post-it notes on the things you do walk by daily. On the fridge would be an ideal spot and it would be perfect to remind you to have a healthy snack before your meeting in an hour. It will also remind you to do little things like “finish cleaning the guest room” so you can check it off the list.

15. Accept it.

On the days you find yourself still in bed binge watching Netflix just remember, you are not perfect and neither is anyone else. Sometimes we need those kind of days. The keyword being sometimes.If all else fails, accept it. Accept it and get help. Remember, it takes two weeks for something to turn into habit and a month for something to be a regular routine.

Featured photo credit: Gradeeation- Andrea Van Orsouw via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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