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How to Avoid Procrastination and Laziness Once and for All

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How to Avoid Procrastination and Laziness Once and for All

Your to-do list is bigger than you are. You can’t keep doing this. You’ve got tasks and goals lined up from here to forever. Most of them are dated today and tomorrow.

Sure, it’s good to be busy, but not this busy. And not for this long without a break. When’s the last time you stopped worrying about everything?

Desperately struggling to achieve perfect time management and productivity is wearing you out. Let laziness back into your life.

I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done, right? There’s so much stuff you have to do, and you can’t just skip it or hand it off to somebody else.

Actually, you mostly can do that. You just have to beat your fear first. Fear? Yes., you’ve got a serious phobia of goofing off.

Here I’m going to share with you how to avoid procrastination and laziness:

1. Embrace your laziness

Like you, most Lifehack readers are keen to be as productive as possible at all times. There’s a problem with that:

Humans are not built for 24/7 productivity. Nobody’s perfect at time management every single second.

One of the best things you can do to boost your productivity is give yourself a break.

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No matter what you’re doing, if you’ve been doing it for more than 30 or 40 minutes, your brain’s getting too accustomed to it. That means you’ll start to make mistakes.

A very short break will let you maintain your mental focus, and a longer break will refresh your whole body, as well as your mind.

As for time management, it should come as no surprise to you that if you have fewer things to do, managing your time suddenly gets easier.

If you’re genuinely struggling to manage time, rather than energy and motivation, maybe you simply have too many tasks on the go.

The easiest way to test this theory is to reduce your to-do list. If that helps, problem solved. If you’re still struggling after halving your tasks, then you’re probably procrastinating.

Trouble is, you’re doing it wrong.

2. Procrastinate productively

When most people procrastinate, they do it in an aimless daze.

Sharpen your procrastination skills and you’ll discover that procrastination is a tool, not a problem.

Every time you feel like avoiding a task, look at why you feel that way about it.

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  • Is it scary, like going to the dentist?
  • Depressing or morbid, like drawing up a will?
  • Tiring, like cleaning out your garage?
  • Do you feel like you don’t know how to begin?

Once you’ve identified the source of your procrastination inclinations, address it.

Take a friend with you to the dentists for support. Arrange to meet up with your extended family after finalizing your will. Ask for help cleaning out the garage.

Figure out the first step to overcome your initial paralysis.

Get procrastination working for you by telling you how you can make your tasks easier to handle.

The other key thing about procrastinating is that it follows the same principles as the classic productivity advice to “action, defer, delegate, or delete” any task that crosses our path.

In this case, the aim is to de-stress by delaying, delegating, and abandoning as many tasks as possible.

3. Abandon what you can

Seriously, does this item on your to-do list have to be done? What will happen if it never gets done at all?

If you can live with the consequences, ditch the task.

Does that sound scary? Are you thinking, “What if it turns out to be important after all?” No problem.

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Lay that fear to rest by keeping a list of your abandoned tasks, so that you can move them back onto your active to-do list later on if you want to.

Weirdly, some people call this approach a productivity technique while others call it laziness. I say if it works, use it.

4. Delegate responsibly

Can you get someone else to do this for you? Really? You sure?

Most people overestimate their own importance in the completion of a task. It’s easy to think that your family/business/universe would collapse if you weren’t there working hard to keep it going.

The simple fact is that there’s usually someone else who can handle it. They just aren’t right now, because they can see you’ve got it already.

More importantly, can you find someone to delegate to who’ll perform well enough that you won’t feel disappointed? The biggest delegation screw-up is turning to somebody who’s willing, but not able.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by delegating to somebody just because they’re available. Look for the most reputable person with the most relevant skills that you can find, so that you can relax knowing the task’s getting done right.

Lifehack’s CEO, Leon has some good advice on how to delegate:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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5. Do it later

No matter what you hear about Inbox Zero and other done-at-first-sight productivity tactics, they don’t work for everybody.

If you’re so obsessed with emptying your inbox that you don’t get anything else done, that isn’t a productive day!

Assess the urgency and importance of any tasks you can’t abandon or delegate. Today, do only tasks that:

  • need to be done today or tomorrow, like buying more milk before the store closes.
  • have a lot riding on them, like revising for an exam or booking your next vacation.

Everything else can be added to your “to do later” list, where it can stay until it becomes important enough to do today (or, ideally, until you find someone to do it for you instead).

How do you feel about laziness and procrastination now?

Don’t let fear of imagined consequences blind you to the real benefits of doing less. Goofing off is vital to your productive lifestyle!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Sophie Lizard

A writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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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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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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