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What Not to do to Get More Done

What Not to do to Get More Done

    There are many great articles that tell you what to do in order to get things done. Some advocate very practical steps, like breaking the task into smaller pieces, or delegate more. Others are more high-level, about maintaining discipline or mindfulness and gratitude. For the record, I highly recommend such approaches, and use them myself.

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    Not doing gives you more time to do

    One of the most powerful tools I have found in my quest for greater productivity and effectiveness is to look for what I can stop or avoid doing, since this frees up time and energy which can be used for really important stuff. So, without further ado, if you want to get more done, try not doing the following:

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    1. Pointless email. I know, I know. You think every email you get is important, but really it’s not. Try cutting back checking your email to twice a day, and never look at email first thing in the morning, before you have a chance to set your direction for the day. Why? Most email really isn’t that important, but crafting thoughtful responses takes up a lot of time, and really doesn’t get much done. This is the junk food of  the productivity world, it fills you up without nourishing you. This goes for both personal and work email.
    2. Reading your pointless email during a meeting. As if email isn’t bad enough, now you’re reading it during a meeting, when you should be participating?! Total waste of time, yours and theirs. Get involved or get out.
    3. Useless meetings If you’re not contributing something or gaining useful insight, then speak up, or get out, or say no next time this person calls one. Chances are you aren’t the only person who thinks  that way, so you’ll be seen as a real get-things-done kinda guy or gal.
    4.  Complaining. So yes, it feels good to blow off some steam and vent about the boss, your finances, your spouse, but in the end, it only reinforces a counterproductive mindset: that they are the problem and you are a victim. So just stop. Instead, try to see things from their perspective, and start looking for a solution, instead of griping.
    5. Watching TV. There are some TV shows that actually improve your ability to get things, but for the most part, TV is an anaesthetic; it zones you out and leaves you more tired, not relaxed. So, rather than watch TV, go out and do something useful, put on some music and straighten up your desk, or write a letter or an article (or that book you’ve always dreamed of!), or practice a musical instrument. Think about it from this angle: no one, on their deathbed, wishes they had watched more TV.
    6. Hanging around negative people, or people who indulge in the above behaviors. You become more and more like the people you spend time with. Think about that. If you hang around with people who gripe and complain, or who work hard and don’t get much done (or don’t work hard and don’t get much done), you will become, and remain, one of them.
    So, what do you do if you are not doing these things above? That’s up to you, but you will find that when your time and energy isn’t being sucked up by trivialities you will be able to take on and accomplish the sorts of rewarding and satisfying challenges that you had previously only dreamed of.
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    Dave Kaiser

    An Executive Coach who helps people make better use of their time, from productivity to living their life's mission.

    A New Year’s Resolution Worksheet That Will Make Your Resolutions Stick Want Life to Be Easy? Get a System! Why Joy Can Be Your Enemy Why You Need to Give It Away What Not to do to Get More Done

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

    Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

    However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

    Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

    Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

    Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

    In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

    What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

    To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

    The Biology

    Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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    Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

    The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

    A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

    Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

    So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

    Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

    Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

    Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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    Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

    The Psychology

    Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

    Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

    Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

    Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

    What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

    Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

    Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

    1. Identify Your Habits

    As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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    2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

    Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

    It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

    3. Apply Logic

    You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

    Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

    4. Choose an Alternative

    As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

    Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

    5. Remove Triggers

    Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

    Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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    6. Visualize Change

    Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

    For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

    7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

    Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

    Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

    Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

    More About Changing Habits

    Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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