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Force Yourself to be Productive with Conditional Events

Force Yourself to be Productive with Conditional Events
    Photo credit: gayle_n (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    I’ll be the first to admit it; doing stuff is difficult. By “stuff”, I don’t mean eating, or playing video games, or doing easy things – nope, I’m talking about the things in life we decide we’ll do because they’re good for us or will help us improve.

    Every day, I find things that I’d like to in order to live a better life, such as doing a certain exercise every day, drinking enough water, or writing morning pages. These are all things that I know will make me feel better or learn more.

    So why are they so friggin’ hard to do consistently?

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    My theory as to why these things are hard stems from Isaac Newton’s first law of motion: a body at rest tends to stay at rest. We humans operate kind of like lightening; we naturally want to take the path of least resistance. Most of us live a in a country prosperous enough to afford us a comfortable living in exchange for work that is oftentimes sedentary and mentally easy after the initial learning period. Because we can get along fine doing this kind of work, we’re content to spend the rest of our time diverting attention to TV, video games, and other things that are easy to consume.

    Still, we all have goals and know we could be doing more to reach them. Maybe it’s being leaner. Maybe it’s learning a new skill. Maybe it’s a big goal like writing a novel. Whatever our goals may be, the steps we need to take to achieve them are usually right in front of our faces. The hard part is getting up off our butts and doing them.

    Today I’m going to detail a technique I use to make myself do the things I know are necessary for reaching my goals. This technique involves removing the need to internally motivate yourself by setting up conditional events that make doing things necessary, or at least very, very easy.

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    So, What Are Conditional Events?

    The way I think of conditional events is in the context of computer programming. In a computer program, a conditional event describes something that will be done once a certain condition is met. Most programming languages use “if” statements or “while” statements to accomplish this. Here’s a small example that anyone should be able to understand:

    if (user logs in) {

    display welcome message

    }

    This is pseudocode, meaning it’s not written in any particular language, but it should still illustrate the concept well. Basically, a conditional statement makes something happen every time something else happens.

    How Can I Apply This To My Life?

    Applying the logic of conditional events is quite easy, actually. I have a four-step process for incorporating a conditional statement into my own life that you can follow:

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    1. Pick a specific goal you have
    2. Isolate one action that needs to be taken to work towards achieving the goal
    3. Tie this action to another action you already do (we’ll call this the parent action), making sure the pairing makes sense
    4. Make sure you do the conditional action every time you do the parent action

    Building conditional actions into your life in this manner has a very powerful effect: it eliminates much of the preparation involved in doing the desired action, thus removing any reason you could use to justify not doing it. Essentially, it makes working towards your goals a part of your daily routine. This is a really important fact, as something that’s part of your routine will take a lot less of your mental energy to do than something that’s been added on.

    Now that you know how to build conditional statements into your daily life, as well as why doing so is beneficial, let me provide you with a few examples of conditional statements I use in my own life. I’m sure you’ll be able to use at least one of them!

    • Goal: Drink at least a gallon of water a day. Conditional: Every time I use the bathroom, I down a 20 ounce bottle of water and refill it. This essentially creates a loop that keeps me well hydrated.
    • Goal: Be able to do at least 15 pullups. Conditional: I put a pullup bar in my dorm room. Every time I come in, I do five pullups. This is a conditional I took from the Army; many basic training camps will make cadets do a few pullups before entering the mess hall for meals.
    • Goal: Write down my thoughts every morning in a journal. Conditional: I made my computer be my alarm. Every morning, it wakes me up and I have to turn on my monitors to disable it. At this point, I’m already at my computer, so I sit down and write.

    These are just a few ideas; there are literally endless possibilities for conditional statements you can build into your own life. Come up with some of your own, and start making headway on your goals! If you like, you can also share the ones you create in the comments to give inspiration to others.

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    Last Updated on May 7, 2021

    Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

    Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

    I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

    Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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    Relocate your alarm clock.

    Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

    Scrap the snooze.

    The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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    Change up your buzzer

    If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

    Make a puzzle

    If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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    Get into a routine

    Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

    Have a reason

    Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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    As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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