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9 Productive Things To Do Instead of Complaining

9 Productive Things To Do Instead of Complaining
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Are you guilty of a little negativity from time to time?

Do you relish in gossip or take comfort in complaining?

They say our thoughts create our own reality, that our mind is more powerful than we could ever imagine. If this is the case, negative thoughts and complaining won’t get us far in life. Complaining about the actions of others, and the misfortune in our own life is futile. Why not do something more productive with your time instead of complaining?

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If you are in the habit of complaining and thinking negatively, it may be necessary to break the habit. The easiest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a new positive habit. Here are a few suggestions of productive positive habits to replace your habit of complaining.

1. Practice gratitude.

The act of giving thanks has become a well respected means for creating a happier life. Scientists have found that the habit of gratitude can reduce the symptoms of depression, increase well being and make for an all around happier person. So start by creating a gratitude list: write down all the things you are grateful for and add to it daily. You will find that it is difficult to feel sad or sorry for yourself when you are feeling grateful.

2. Praise others.

Time to bring out the compliments. Just like the act of gratitude, making someone else happy by giving them praise and recognition will make you happier. Why not make someone else feel good and spread the joy around? Acknowledge all good deeds and recognize when someone has done a good job both in work and at home. Why not thank your husband or wife for the meal they prepared or for the good job they did cleaning the kitchen. We all love praise and recognition for our efforts.

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3. Focus on success.

The self fulfilling prophecy claims that our lives will turn out just as we imagine. If we believe we will be successful, we will be. If we think poverty is our future, it probably will be. This is the reason people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to remain part of a disadvantaged group. They are primed to stay in the same circumstances. If you want to create a successful future then stop complaining about your life and start focusing on success.

4. Let go.

Holding on to past regrets and hurts are of no benefit to our present life. Let go of things that are beyond your control and act on the things that you can control.

“Living in the past is living with regret, living in the future is living with anxiety, living in the present is living in peace.”
—Lao Tzu

5. Take responsibility.

Complainers are usually the people who play victim. Are you a victim of your circumstance or are you in control of your own destiny? Rather than complain about your life, why not take steps to change it? Your future life is in your control; it’s up to you to take action.

6. Take action.

Very often, the people who sit around complaining are the people who don’t take action. If you want to change your situation you have to take action. Start small; ten minutes a day can help you to make progress in working towards making your life happier and more successful.

7. Make a plan.

If you are not happy with the way things are and you have decided to take responsibility for changing it, you may welcome a plan to make things happen. It can be difficult to get started, so by writing everything down, you will have more clarity and focus. Use your calendar to schedule time and you will be in a much strong position from the start.

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8. Exercise.

Creating the habit of exercise is a great way to shift from negative to positive. Exercise is good for you in so many ways, and it also acts as a catalyst for change. If you can bring exercise into your day, you will see how everything in your life will change for the better.

9. Happiness.

And lastly, don’t forget to focus on happiness. Happiness is within your grasp and it starts with a decision. Decide to be happy now. As Lao Tzu also said, “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” Don’t sit around waiting for your life to change; go out and change it. If something makes you unhappier, don’t sit around complaining—do something about it. Focus on all the good in your life and do the things that make you happy now. There are plenty of ways to be happier and more productive instead of complaining

Featured photo credit: A Howling Monkey by Bob Holt via flickr.com

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More by this author

Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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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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