This morning I was thinking about my constant effort to improve my productivity and energy management. The world is fighting against people that want to be productive, smart, efficient and ambitious. You have to always be on your toes and proactively plan your life so life doesn’t take control of you. This post (like so many others) was written partially as a reminder to myself about the bad habits of the past that have killed my goals in life. I hope it opens your eyes and helps guide you towards the light of happiness.
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, procrastination may not be just a matter of laziness. It may also be related to a deep emotional strategy to avoid stress. That may explain why some people are always behind on projects, appointments, etc. Human beings will do anything to avoid stress – even if it comes at the cost of more stress later.
I personally get very annoyed when I get in a procrastination state because it is self-feeding. If I get behind on a single task or project, I have to delay other tasks to get it completed. It can be a downward spiral that is hard to dig out of.
Check out this list of five things you can do to help you out of that procrastination deathtrap:
Be more precise in your small goals. Most people live in a very general world. They plan to get something done tomorrow, next week, etc. Stop doing that. Pick a very precise time on your calendar and commit to working on ‘that thing’ at that time.
Be willing to live with “done > perfect”. A lot of people I know live in the constant state of getting ready to get ready. They are waiting for the perfect time, perfect amount of money, or perfect set of training before they embark on a new effort. There is no perfect anything. There is “as good as it is right now”. Stop waiting for perfection before attacking a task you want to avoid. If it’s something you don’t know how to do, search online. Someone has likely done it before and has written out step-by-step instructions online that you can follow.
If something is painful, get it done sooner than later. If you keep postponing something you don’t want to do because you find it painful or annoying, realize that it is not going to get LESS painful or annoying the more you put it off. Take control and knock that task out ASAP. It’s better to plan it and plow your way though than to wait for it to become a non-optional emergency. How painful will it be then?
Make it hard to procrastinate. This is especially if you work in front of a computer. Put roadblocks in your way that make you have to work really hard to put off working. There are countless utilities for your computer that can block your time wasting activities on and offline. If you are someone like me who lives a lot online the first thing you should do is install RescueTime. This will help you start measuring the time you are wasting. You can then install different browser plugins that block you visiting time-wasting websites and force you to focus. As I type this right now, I have “StayFocusd” and “Kill Facebook Newsfeed” Chrome extensions installed. The former gives me a limited amount of time on social media, news, viral, and other time-wasting sites each day. The latter blocks me from seeing my general Facebook news feed and allows me to hop in and only check messages specific groups that I want to monitor.
Build in small rewards for small goals. Do you have any BHAGs (Big Hair Arse Goals) ? I know I have several. And they may not happen for five or ten years. When you are strategic in your life and plan for the long-term, you may get discouraged a long the way. I am sure you know that your long-term should be broken down into several short-term goals. Be sure you celebrate the short-term goals. Make a big deal about them. The celebrations will lift your spirits and remind you of the coming BHAG. It’s hard to celebrate BHAG every day when you won’t see it for months or years. But if your goal is to lose 20 pounds and you lose five, make a big about it in your life. Celebrate all successes.
Share your favorite tactic from the five above
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[Tweet “Be willing to live with Done > Perfect”]
[Tweet “If something is painful, get it done sooner than later”]
What You Better Learn from Richard Branson about Overcoming Fear, Resistance, and Procrastination
Richard Branson sure is a cool dude. And he’s done some incredible stuff in his life.
He’s also had some stupid, massive failures.
Have you ever heard of Virgin Cola? Their bottles were called “The Pammy” because they were shaped like Pamela Anderson.
Really, Richard? You are the same guy that started Virgin Airlines?
How about Virgin Brides? Yikes. (Yes, that’s him in the picture dressed up as a bride.)
It’s easy to laugh at when he swung and missed, though we all know he’s the man. And a big reason is that he doesn’t let a few whiffs stop him from going balls in the next time. And the next time. And the next time.
How can you have the same go-for-it attitude that he does? Simple. The next time you want to make a change in your life—want to start something new—you Experiment.
Simple: we procrastinate because we don’t want to mess up. We are afraid of not being perfect.
(Want to know the psychological reasons why you procrastinate? Watch the video here.)
See, the purpose of an experiment is to learn. The great thing about it is that the only way you fail in an Experiment is not to conduct it. Because I don’t know about you, but I learn best by doing. There is no substitute for experience.
When someone learns to fly, he reads. Then he Experiments in a flight simulator. Then he Experiments by flying with someone else. Then he is ready to go solo.
Our brain gets freaked out when we want to make a change or try something new—especially if it’s something big.
When you want to make a change, how can you break that change down into the smallest experiment you can?
If you decide you want to run your first marathon, you might then become paralyzed with fear: Do I have the right shoes? Do I run before or after work? Am I ready to commit to running five times a week for the next fifteen weeks?
You don’t have to answer any of these questions. All you have to do is perform an Experiment this next week. Try two Experiments: run once, for 15 minutes before work, and run again for 15 minutes after work. See which one fits best in your schedule. See if you need better shoes. Is it easier to commit to running almost every day for the next four months, or twice over the next week?
This concept works so well that I’ve written a whole book about it, which has become a #1 bestseller in both the Creativity and Business Leadership Training categories. It is a modern business fable, where a business owner—who wants to make changes in his personal and work life—meets a coach, who walks him through these changes through a variety of Experiments.
Take the next project you have. Is it a book? Starting a business? Getting healthy? What is the tiniest step you can take? Do that step. Then evaluate; what worked? What didn’t? What is your next step from there?
What do you think Richard Branson’s next Experiment will be? Virgin Butter? Virgin Flypaper?
Doesn’t really matter, because he’s still the coolest guy in the world. And he’s going to keep Experimenting until he dies. And his Experiments change the world.
R. Michael Anderson, M.B.A., M.A., is a global speaker, radio show host, and author who specializes in leading businesspeople to happier lives. In fact, his new book, The Experiment, has reached the #1 Bestselling spot on Amazon in the Self-Help -> Creativity and the Business -> Leadership Training categories.
If you are stressed, overwhelmed, or burned out, visit ExperimentToday.com NOW to start reclaiming your life!
I live online. And I am highly engaged in the world of social media. Sometimes it is the first thing I check in the morning for new communications, and the last thing I check at night to see if there has been any new activity in my private groups. If I’m not careful I could easily spend a full day participating in discussions on private Facebook groups. In this podcast I talk about how to be sure that your time is managed well while you are online. If you are running a business and trying to find balance in your world, then this is a great episode to listen to.
Listen to the podcast. Watch the video. And then share your thoughts with me in the comments.
Do you ever wish you could go back to that very last day in high school and talk to yourself? I wish that all of the time. What you learned in high school does not even come close to preparing you for the real world. There are so many life lessons I’d share with myself. But more importantly I’d lay down a good set of ground rules and beliefs to guide me for the new few decades. It is great when you learn how the world is structured. But sometimes it takes too long to figure out.
I hope this post accelerates your learning curve or the learning curve of a high schooler. Please help me share it.
The link for the video and the podcast of the show are below. We can also be found on Stitcher and Soundcloud. Take care and stay hungry my friends – Patrick
This is a great reminder that we succeed and fail by the small steps we take every day, not by the big ones. The inches that we fight for are how we win. Enjoy the video and the transcript of the speech below the video.
I don’t know what to say really.
to the biggest battle of our professional lives
all comes down to today.
Well look at that. It’s December 1st. If you are of the typical mindset, you probably have thoughts creeping in your head about winding down another year. It’s the end of the year so life and business are slowing down. Time to plan out how your 2014 is going to line up. You should spend December outlining your goals for 2014 so you can get started on them January 1st when you wake up. Because 2014 is going to be your year to shine.
Every time a speaker/author/marketer tells you that “the rules have changed” in life/business/marketing, they are likely bullshitting you. Don’t buy into the same message that is constantly polished and repackaged. The rules on how to kick ass at life have been the same for a long time:
Be a great person. Don’t be a bullshit artist.
Help other people be great.
Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Don’t even come close.
Spend time improving your own house and less time commenting on someone else’s.
There are many other rules. But if you focus on these four you’ll pretty have your life covered.
Spend time improving your own house and less time commenting on someone else’s
No matter your lot in life, remember to never be vain with what you have or jealous of what you don’t have.
Nobody likes a vain person.
You never feel above or better than another human being because of your house, your bank account, your car, your job or your title. Be proud of what you earned, but leave vanity for the less educated. Use the value that you bring to this world as your measuring stick. Always bring more value and improve the lives around you with your success. Be charitable. Lift other around you with your good fortune. There is no better feeling in the world that to help a fellow human being to the point that they smile.
Don’t be jealous of the house, money, car or station in life that somebody else has.
They worked very hard to get there. That person does not owe you or the world anything. And if you want their station in life then you need to work as hard or harder to attain what they have. Use them as a role model. Ask them how they did it and if they will help you do it. But jealousy will make you a bitter and hateful person. And it robs you of the time and energy you need to improve yourself.
A true high achiever knows to share what they know, and work hard to learn what they don't know. Vanity or jealousy should never be part of the high achiever equation.
Take a moment and think about how your day unfolds every day. What actions are you taking from the moment you wake up until you lay your head on your pillow at night. If it is anything like most people your day probably goes on autopilot and looks something like this:
Get up to alarm. Dread throwing off the covers
Clean up, eat, help get the family out the door, get out the door yourself
Work through a series of tasks and appointments pushed at you by your job
Watch the clock and get happy when the end of the day has arrived
Head home. Decompress. Eat. Fit in some personal time