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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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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, 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.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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