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5 Tips to Get Started Working NOW

5 Tips to Get Started Working NOW

Does this seem familiar?

“You get to your desk and prepare to work. You look around to make sure all your gear is there; pen, paper, desktop… All good. You check the clock, and it’s just about time to start. And then just as you get to it, your mind kicks into over drive.”

  • This is going to suck.
  • I know this’ll be boring.
  • I don’t feel like doing this.
  • Do I REALLY have to go through with this?

Recognize these thoughts? Of course you do, we all do. It’s what we think when we don’t feel like doing something.

You see, whenever we sit down to work, there’s always a chance that we’ll ruin our productivity before we’ve done a single thing, and it’s because it only takes a single thought of doing work to set off a chain reaction of procrastination inducing thoughts.

Is there no way to prevent this? Are we always at the whim of a single thought ruining our productivity?

No, there is something you can do about it, and all it takes is a couple of smart tips.

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You just don’t “feel” like working

It’s true, and you’re not alone. Even if you love your work, sometimes you’re going to sit down and realize that you just don’t feel like doing it. It’s a common problem, which makes it all the more important that you figure out how to fix it.

You rely on willpower to do all your work

Willpower certainly has it’s place when it comes to being productive, but not as the sole force behind getting to work. Relying on it guarantees you’ll burnout long before the day has ended.

5 tips for getting to work

If you want to know how to get to work without draining every ounce of willpower you have, you’re going to need to know how to leverage the willpower you have.

And you can do that by using your willpower on these tips instead.

1. Make a work-time ritual

The most important part of being able to work when you need to, is making it a habit.

When work is habitual, the transition into it is more seamless. There’s much less chance of thoughts like “I don’t feel like it” to make you procrastinate, and it’s because habits are something we compulsively do.

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(Even when it comes to working).

The ritual is all about what comes before the actual work, and is very personal. Here’s some things you can do to ritualize your work process:

  • Light a candle
  • Turn on some music (or whatever you use as background noise).
  • Have a piece of candy
  • Organize your work space
  • Prepare a cup of tea/coffee

These actions can serve as cues that prepare the brain for the work that follows. Once you do it enough times, you won’t even realize that you’ve sat down and started working.

2. Create a to-do list beforehand

The reason a to-do list is helpful is because you prevent ambiguity from ruining your work session. If you don’t know what work you have to do, then eventually you’ll drift into semi important tasks because you have no direction.

A to-do list take the guesswork out of doing your work, meaning you expend less mental energy deciding what to do and more on actually working.

Here’s a basic template to get you started:

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1x3x5 method – Pick one important task, three medium important tasks, and 5 random tasks to accomplish each day. Do them in order of importance, and that’s all there is to it.

3. Work on the tiniest/easiest task

Often times we feel overwhelmed by the amount of work we need to do. When this happens, we back away from the work because we feel a lot of pressure to complete it.

To combat this, don’t look at your work as a whole. Instead, focus on the smallest, easiest thing you can do, and imagine it’s all you have to do. If you do that, you’ll have a significantly easier time engaging with it and prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed.

4. Work for 2 minutes only

Another simple hack is to say to yourself “I only need to work for two minutes, then I can stop if I want.” This lowers the expectation of long, tedious work to follow and makes work engagement easier.

You’ll find that by simply starting to work, you’re able to push past two minutes and – more often than not – work to your designated break time.

If two minutes still seems too long, feel free to lower it. The key is to start working, once that occurs you’ll naturally want to continue.

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5. Use gamification apps

Sometimes using an app or tool can bring some freshness to the work process, and motivate you to work just so you can use the app.

With gamification, tasks feel more like game and can even be fun. Here are some good ones to try out:

  1. HabitRPG
  2. TaskHammer
  3. EpicWin

If you’re a video game lover, then this is perfect for you to try out.

Do you have any tips that get you in the mood to work? Leave your answer below because I’d love to hear it :)

Featured photo credit: BK via secure.flickr.com

More by this author

Ericson Ay Mires

Ericson is a writer who shares about work and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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