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How to Improve Impulse Control for More Success with Simple Tips

How to Improve Impulse Control for More Success with Simple Tips

Improving Impulse control is difficult for many to develop and becomes more and more difficult each year but it is vital in dealing with issues with procrastination, addiction and productive action.

No one begins their life with good impulse control as it is a learned behavior. The ability to resist acting on something you want immediately, even when the consequences are very negative, can take years to develop. Our advanced technological world makes this even more difficult to obtain. So, many things are now fast and easy to obtain: instant credit, fast food, feelings of success via video games, instant celebrity on YouTube or reality television, not to mention medication and illegal drugs.

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There are two stages in impulse control: the ability to pause to think it through, and the discipline to maintain the resistance after the initial pause. A breakdown in either of these stages produces problems that can have a great impact on your life.

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Most of us have a tendency to do easy, quick tasks instead of more difficult tasks, even if the more difficult ones are immensely more valuable. If you control that impulse to do that easy job and stop to think about what action would give the most benefit, you will be more effective in reaching your goals.

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Improving Impulse Control

Here are a few simple ways to do handle those 2 stages.

Interrupt the Impulse

  • Setting up conditions to delay your ability to perform the act immediately is the first part of improving impulse control. If the temptation is not readily at hand and takes extra effort to satisfy, the chances are much greater that you will be able to control the impulse.  Here are a few examples:
    • Remove snacks from your house when you go on a diet.
    • Throw away the cigarettes.
    • Remove bookmarks from your web browser so it takes more effort to go to your favorite distracting sites (Face Book, games….).
    • Lock up the video gamesl
    • Unplug the TV or just put the remote in a hard to reach spot.
    • Drive a different route to bypass the tempting store where you want to stop.

Maintain the Impulse Control

  • Maintaining impulse control is the second part. It involves not giving in to the desire after the impulse is interrupted and is just as hard, if not harder, to do as interrupting it in the first place. It is also much more complex but there are a number of ways to do this.
    • To fight temptation, try substituting a healthierm more immediate reward for the less desirable treat you crave. For example, put a dollar into a vacation fund every time you resist the urge to have a drink.
    • Make a bet with yourself, ir with others is even better, that you will resist temptation and reach your goal.
    • Satisfy the need in a controlled manner. Allow yourself 1 desert each week. This can keep the desire from becoming too intense to resist, which can lead to an uncontrolled binge.
    • Leave yourself notes expounding the reasons to maintain the resistance.
      • Put notes about the health benefits of healthy eating on the refrigerator or snack cupboard.
      • Put notes on why you should not smoke in your pocket where you keeopyour cigarettes.
      • Wrap your credit cards up in such notes.
    • Poison those inducements by imagining them as completely disgusting or horrific. You can be quite creative here.
      • Imagine that those potato chips are old and stale. They are so greasy and soggy! Eating them will give you major indigestion. Throwing up until you are too weak to crawl into bed.
      • Think of the TV or Video games as time vampires sucking your limited amount of time out of your life. When you pick up the remote control, it is a tube stuck in your hand. The more you watch and play, the moe life is sucked out of you. You fade away, out of existence, even while your mind is screaming that you didn’t do what you always wanted to do.

 Reduce Stress

  • For both of the above stages, it’s important to reduce stress. When you are over stressed the part of the brain that is responsible for impulse control cannot do its job effectively. You brain is too busy to react in anyway except by habit when the brain is overtaxed. The more you’ve got on your mind, the easier it is to give in to temptation.

Improving impulse control is like strengthening a muscle, the more you exercise it, the more it can handle. But it can also become over used and strained if continuously pushed, so use these tips judiciously.

Can you think of any other tips for impulse control?

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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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