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5 Secrets to Instantly Stop Laziness In Its Tracks

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5 Secrets to Instantly Stop Laziness In Its Tracks

Let’s face it, all of us have lazy days. You know, the ones where you’re moving as slow as molasses — if you’re moving at all. Everything seems more important than what is actually on your to-do list…like binge watching that new series on Netflix and eating takeout. In your pajamas.

The problem with laziness is that it can snowball downhill, and fast. You put off work, more work piles on, you feel overwhelmed and choose to avoid your tasks and all of a sudden, you are buried under a heap of things you have to do. All this can add to stress and anxiety, which can get pretty ugly. As they say, prevention is the best medicine.

Here are 5 ways you can instantly stop laziness before you have to dig yourself out of a stress pit.

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Break Big Tasks Into Smaller Ones

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This ancient Chinese proverb has stood the test of time because it applies to all the big projects we undertake. When you feel bit by the lazy bug, it is probably caused by fear.

If the fear of starting a huge task is bigger than the task itself, do yourself a favor and break it down into it’s smaller components. Have a proposal to write? Break down “write proposal” into stages: research, outline, first draft, edit, revisions, polish. Take breathers when you finish a component so you can approach the next bite-size chunk with a clean palate. If the top productivity pros are preaching this, it’s a probably an approach worth exploring.

Enlist Someone to Keep You Accountable

Studies have shown that when people hit the gym with a workout buddy, they’re more likely to stick to their fitness regimen. Knowing someone else wants you to reach your goals can keep you motivated and encouraged.

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If you are struggling with getting your work done, ask a colleague or mentor to help keep you accountable. Set up a weekly 10 minute call to review what you have to do that week and a follow up end-of-the-week call where you report what you were able to accomplish. Knowing that someone will ask how productive you were this week can push you to get more done.

Have a Cheat Day

Got a huge proposal off your plate or hit a grand-slam with a presentation? Worked effectively two days in a row? Why not reward yourself with a complete unplugging or a half day. Do something completely for yourself.

This “cheat” can help keep you balanced and happy. Knowing you have something to look forward to, like a trip to the spa or just a nice coffee with an old friend, will help you stay on track before and feel rejuvenated afterwards.

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Outsource Tasks Not Worth Your Time

Treat your time, working and non-working hours, as billable. Assign an hourly rate for yourself and then assess the tasks that take up your valuable time but could be more cost-effective to delegate to someone else.

You can outsource to an intern, hire a part-time assistant or a virtual assistant. If you are spending one hour of creative thinking time cleaning your house or running errands, compare the two on value: creative thinking at $100/hour can create a new revenue stream, cleaning your house at $100/hour can give you peace of mind and fresh smelling sheets.  Find someone to take some things off your plate at a better rate than yours and more things can get done simultaneously.

Automate Your Life As Much As Possible

Automation is laziness in action. What does that mean? If laziness is a resistance to work and exertion, then finding ways to automate means even less work and exertion.

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Technology has made automation even more accessible for everyone. Make sure your weekly items are populated in your digital calendar with reminders. Use software to keep your networking contacts organized and budgeting apps to keep an eye on your finances. Whenever you can automate and better organize yourself, you give yourself one less excuse to get things done and take more things off your mind so you can stay focused to the tasks in front of you.

Now don’t get us wrong. A lazy day here and there is completely reasonable. Netflix can be a gold mine! But the laziness you’re trying to stop exhibits as consistent mental blocks that can derail you so far off track, you find yourself frustratingly hamster-wheeling your way back. Try a few of these tips and start feeling energized every day.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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