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How do I Get Over My Bad Habit of Procrastinating?

How do I Get Over My Bad Habit of Procrastinating?

Procrastination is a topic we have covered many times on Lifehack, it’s a bad habit and an unnecessary evil, but this answer found on Quora by Oliver Emberton has become one of the most popular and upvoted answers and we just had to share it with you…

someday is not a day of the week

    I’ll answer your question, but first I need to explain all of human civilisation in 2 minutes with the aid of a cartoon snake. Humans like to think we’re a clever lot. Yet those magnificent, mighty brains that allow us to split the atom and touch the moon are the same stupid brains that can’t start an assignment until the day before it’s due.

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    We evolved from primitive creatures, but we never quite shed ourselves of their legacy. You know the clever, rational part of your brain you think of as your human consciousness? Let’s call him Albert. He lives in your brain alongside an impulsive baby reptile called Rex:

    rex

      (Rex is your basal ganglia, but that’s not very catchy so I’m sticking with Rex).

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      Rex evolved millions of years ago – unsurprisingly enough, in the brains of reptiles – and his instincts guide and motivate you to this day. Hunger. Fear. Love. Lust. Rex’s thoughts are primitive and without language.

      Here’s the bit you’re not going to like. Rex makes the final call on all your decisions. Every. Single. One.

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      rex2

        We like to think of Albert as “our true self” – the conscious part of your brain. He’s the talking, reasoning part. When we decide to go to the gym or write that term paper, Albert made that decision. Rex does listen to Albert. Like a child, he will do a lot of what he’s told, as long as he wants to. But if Rex prefers to crash on the sofa to watch Survivor and eat Cheetos, that’s what you’re going to do.

        The incredible ascension of mankind that surrounds us is largely possible because we’ve developed systems to nurture our reptilian brains, to subdue, soothe and subvert them. Much of this system we call “civilisation”. Widely available food and shelter take care of a lot. So does a system of law, and justice. Mandatory education. Entertainment. Monogamy. All of it calms Rex down for long enough for Albert to do something useful – like discover penicillin, or invent Cheetos.

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        albert

          Now let’s look at your procrastination.

          You’re making a decision with your conscious mind and wondering why you’re not carrying it out. The truth is the real decision maker – Rex – is not nearly so mature. Imagine you had to constantly convince a young child to do what you wanted. For simple actions, asserting your authority might be enough. “It’s time for dinner”. But if that child doesn’t want to do something, it won’t listen.

          You need to cajole it:

          • Forget logic. Once you’ve decided to do something, logic and rationale won’t help you. Your inner reptile can be placated, scared and excited. But it doesn’t speak with language and cannot be reasoned with.
          • Comfort matters. If you’re hungry, tired or depressed your baby reptile will rebel. Fail to take care of yourself, and he’ll wail and scream and refuse to do a damn thing you say. That’s what he’s for. Eat, sleep and make time for fun.
          • Nurture discipline. Build a routine of positive and negative reinforcement. If you want a child to eat their vegetables, don’t give them dessert first. Reward yourself for successes, and set up assured punishments for your failure. Classic examples include committing to a public goal, or working in a team – social pressure can influence Rex.
          • Incite emotion. Your reptile brain responds to emotion. That is its language. So get yourself pumped, or terrified. Motivational talks, movies and articles can work, for a while. I use dramatic music (one of my favourite playlists is called Music to conquer worlds by). Picture the bliss associated with getting something done, or the horrors of failing. Make your imagination vivid enough that it shakes you. We use similar tricks on children for a reason: “brush your teeth or they’ll fall out”.
          • Force a start. The most important thing you can do is start. Much of Rex’s instincts are to avoid change, and once you begin something those instincts start to tip into your favour. With enough time, you can even convince Rex to love doing the things he hated. There’s a reason we force kids to go to school or to try piano lessons.
          • Bias your environment. Rex is short sighted and not terribly bright. If he sees a Facebook icon, he’ll want it. It’s like showing a child the start of a cool TV program immediately before bedtime. Design your environment to be free from such distractions: sign out of instant messenger, turn off notifications, turn off email. Have separate places for work and fun, and ideally separate computers (or at least accounts).

          Once you know what to look for, you’ll start to recognise the patterns and control them.

          There’s an impulsive baby reptile in your brain, and unfortunately he has the steering wheel. If you can be a good parent to him he’ll mostly do what you say, and serve you well. Just remember who’s in charge.

           

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          Hoi Wan

          Hoi is a mobilist who blogs about technology trends and productivity.

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          Last Updated on April 9, 2020

          10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness

          10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness

          Do you ever secretly wish that you could achieve more with your time? You are not alone. Most people want more from their lives but simply don’t know where to start.

          The good news is that learning to accomplish greatness in your life is totally possible if you learn to study other successful high achievers.

          Find out what sparkling new patterns you want to implement in your own life by studying what real high achievers do in the round up below.

          1. They Know What They Want.

          That seems pretty obvious, but if you don’t have a clear goal, dream or desire in mind, how will you know when you’ve gotten where you wanted to be?

          Successful people have clear goals and a clear vision for how to get there.

          For example, Albert Einstein remained obsessed with the big questions and problems of physics, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do: he wanted to answer the questions and solve the problems that no one else had been able to. And guess what? He did just that.

          High achievers dream specific, plan smart, and confidently strive toward success.

          2. They Focus on Their Goals.

          Once achievers know what they want, they are tenacious and focused on forward progress toward their goals. They don’t run over people or deliberately hurt people to get what they want, but they do stay focused on the end goal in all their interactions and daily tasks.

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          Elon Musk, with a net worth of $21.2 billion, is considered revolutionary.[1] Some might have seen his plans to totally reinvent transportation methods, including fantasy-like transportation methods in outer space, a little silly. But Musk proved them all wrong by staying focused on his goals with hawk-like attention to detail. He spends hours and hours at the office focusing on his goals in order to achieve them.

          Learn How to Stay Focused on Your Goals in a Distracting World.

          3. They Are Passionate.

          It’s very helpful when reaching for a big goal to not just get excited by it, but to truly be passionate about it.

          High achievers often talk about how much fun they are having, or say that they would do what they do even if they weren’t getting paid (and in the beginning, they probably weren’t). That’s the kind of passion and positive outlook you need to achieve your highest goals.

          Bill Gates, creator of Microsoft, began his successful career early in life by simply being excited about things like video games and computers. You can be like Gates too. Identify your passions and pursue them in your career.

          4. They Don’t Procrastinate.

          Some of the things we have to do to meet our goals or achieve our dreams are not very easy, but high achievers are able to focus on what needs to get done and actually do it instead of living in a world of dreams. They have a plan and they can follow it starting right now.

          Even though you may not be into arts, you must have heard of Vincent van Gogh, one of the most influential artists of all time. He is a perfect example of someone who not only dared to dream, but also dared to act.

          Instead of procrastinating or staying in a rut, he made a choice to pursue art and dove in head-first. Although he only worked for about ten years due to a tragically short life, van Gogh produced an estimated 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings.[2]

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          If you want to get more out of your life, then stop dreaming and start taking actions today, not tomorrow: How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

          5. They Create Their Own Opportunities.

          True achievers know that they don’t have to be stuck in a box – they can create their own story through hard work.

          Brené Brown is a respected social researcher and increasingly popular speaker and author. She has been hosted on Oprah. She has written and published a slew of popular self-help books, and she has one of the most-watched TEDx talks in history.

          Interestingly, Brown didn’t start her story in a glamorous way. In fact, many social sciences professionals scoffed at her unusual methods of research and her passion for the topic of vulnerability and shame. Brown, however, continued forging her own path until she reached her destination: greatness.

          Brown is a striking example of a person who knew what she wanted and paved her way into her own story of success with dedication. High achievers know that nothing good comes without hard work. They are willing to create their own opportunities and don’t expect to be handed cookie-cutter dreams in life.

          6. They Have Positive Attitudes.

          Studies of high-performing students find that the happiest students are those who excel most academically.[3] The same holds true for adults in business and in life.

          If you have a good attitude, enjoy what you’re doing and remember that setbacks are temporary, it’s a lot easier to be successful. Without negativity, there’s nothing to hold you back from achieving whatever it is you want to achieve.

          A positive attitude also helps people to think of what they are doing as important, which is a great way to stay motivated and working toward a goal.

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          Jim Carey, the famous comedian and actor, began looking for gigs as a teenager. At age fifteen, he performed onstage and completely disappointed the crowd with a less-than-successful first performance. Carey ultimately succeeded, though, by maintaining a positive outlook. He is known for visualizing success, staying positive, and continuing to work hard.

          7. They Have a Team They Can Count On.

          High achievers know they can’t do everything themselves. There’s a time very early on when you can go it alone, but even the smallest startups need help. It’s actually easier for a company‒or a dream‒to grow more quickly if there are more people engaged in making it work.

          Your team could even be one or two trusted individuals who have your back when things get hard. Stephen King, an iconic author, submitted one of his first novels, “Carrie”, to more than 30 publishers. He received rejection after rejection and even threw his manuscript in the trash. His wife was his team; she pulled the manuscript out of the trash and asked him to try again. “Carrie” was a hit and became a springboard to a successful writing career spanning more than 50 bestsellers.

          High achievers are able to foster great relationships and build teams that can help them achieve what they want even faster. They tend to have an eye for talent and are good at attracting the right people to their teams.

          If you want to be a better leader, these tips can help: How to Master Your Management Skills and Build a Strong Team

          8. They Take Time for Themselves.

          Amid all this hard work, multitasking and big dreaming, high achievers know they need to take care of themselves too. Getting sick in the middle of a major launch isn’t good for anyone.

          So a lot of stories you read about people who’ve had a lot of success will note that they eat well, exercise regularly, try to get enough sleep and even occasionally take time away from the office to refuel.

          Emma Stone, a highly esteemed actress, is open with the media about her struggle with anxiety and stress.[4] She reportedly practices self-compassion, meditation, and self-kindness to take care of herself.

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          Successful people know that sacrifice is often required for success, but they understand what they need to do to keep their bodies and minds performing well.

          9. They Don’t Bad-Mouth Others.

          High achievers know better than to burn bridges. They practice the advice that you shouldn’t say bad things about others, and they usually listen more than they speak.

          They also tend not to compare themselves to others or get envious. They’re so focused on what they want to do that they don’t stop to look around at what others are doing.

          10. They Never Quit.

          Tyler Perry, an accomplished director, writer, and performer, faced early failures in both his personal life and professional life. Perry pushed through these personal challenges and dealt with failure after failure with his first production. Finally, his production gained momentum, and he is now successful because he never gave up.

          High achievers are tenacious, sticking to their plans and goals as long as they need to in order to get where they want to be. If they didn’t stick with it, they wouldn’t achieve anything.

          Final Thoughts

          Success and achievement are not just for the people mentioned above — they are for you, too!

          Unlock your future by finding your passions and goals, and working hard. Pay attention to what other high achievers around you are doing, and follow suit.

          Before you know it, you will be creating your own famous success story.

          More Tips About Achieving Success

          Featured photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia via unsplash.com

          Reference

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