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How To Do What You Don’t Want To Do

How To Do What You Don’t Want To Do

We all have to do things in life we don’t want to do. For me, it’s laundry, cooking and exercising. For others, it’s something else. Some of these things we need to do on a daily basis, while others are more long-term goals. In a world where every person seems to be a procrastinator, how do you find the willpower to do those dreaded activities in your life? Here are 10 tips to help you do what you don’t want to:

1. Make a decision to grow by facing your fear.

Not all of the things you need to accomplish are based in fear (think cooking, laundry). But many of them are. What if you have to give a big presentation but you feel like you’d rather put a bullet in your brain than speak in front of a group? Many of the things you need to do can lead to self-growth. Facing your fears head-on will make you a better person. And remember, the more you do something, the easier it gets. But you have to stop putting it off and just do it.

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2. Remember how it affects you in the long run.

Let’s say you know you need to eat healthier and exercise (don’t we all?). Procrastinating is only hurting you. The longer you wait, the more your body will deteriorate. It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone, but some of the time, your comfort zone has negative consequences for your future. So the trick is to think long-term. Think about how your actions (or inaction) today will be affecting your tomorrow or 10-20 years from now.

3. Realize it might affect other people.

Maybe your spouse has been asking you to clean up your huge pile of junk in the kitchen for a long time. And the reason the junk pile is there is because you hate dealing with the details of paper, mail and all the other random stuff that has collected in that spot. Putting off cleaning is probably creating resentment toward you from your spouse. Not only is your inaction affecting him/her, but also the overall quality of your relationship. So suck it up and do what you need to do – if not for you, then for someone you love.

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4. Break it down into smaller steps.

Sometimes the tasks you need to accomplish seem so daunting and overwhelming you don’t know where to begin. So what happens? You do nothing. And accomplish nothing, too. Before I started my Ph.D. program, the thought of writing a dissertation that was several hundred pages long seemed like an impossibility. But once I reframed it and thought of it as several shorter “papers” put together, then it didn’t seem so bad. Breaking it down into smaller tasks helps immensely.

5. Don’t do it all at once.

If you need to clean that junk pile, don’t feel like it all has to be done in one sitting. Any effort toward your end goal is progress. Even if you’re pursuing a degree or doing your taxes, any small effort counts. And if you’re like me, it helps to not have to do it all at once. So give your self permission to take the time to get the job done. But you have to stick with it – don’t forget about it and give up. And you also can’t leave it until the last minute because then you will have no choice but to do it all at once.

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6. Prioritize steps.

Once you have the small steps mapped out, rank order them on what is most important. Start with that. What is the most immediate need? What is the least? Maybe you’ve been putting off paying your bills (that’s a dangerous one), but if that sounds like you, make sure you first pay the ones due soon. As obvious as it sounds, many people don’t prioritize like that. Even if it’s cleaning your house you are procrastinating about, start with the room you think is the dirtiest.

7. Put the steps on a calendar.

I am addicted to my calendar. Without it, I would accomplish nothing. But I do know people who don’t keep a calendar. If that’s you, then get a calendar. Heck, most smart phones these days have calendars on there for you. Put your tasks down on particular days. So when you get up that morning and look at what you have to do that day, you will see your tasks and will be more likely to accomplish them because it’s on your daily to-do list.

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8. Remember the end result.

Some goals don’t show results quickly. Those are the most difficult ones to start. If you need to lose 50 pounds (or more), you’re probably not going to see the scale move a whole lot for the first week or two. So it’s easy to become discouraged when you are not seeing the results of your efforts. But stick with it. Remember how great it will feel once you accomplish your goal.

9. Discover an appreciation for what you have to do.

If you’re grumbling about cleaning your house, doing your laundry, paying your bills, or cooking, remember how lucky you are to have a house, clothes, food and money to pay for it all. Not every activity you do is fun, but you can always find some appreciation in whatever you need to do.

10. Reward yourself.

Grab a hot fudge sundae or treat yourself to a long, hot bath and some wine when you’re done! It’s okay to spoil yourself. And when you decide to reward yourself after you have accomplished what you don’t want to do, it will serve as more of an incentive to get it done!

Doing what you need to do doesn’t have to be a horrible experience. If you follow these 10 steps, you’ll have your goal finished in no time!

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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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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