Procrastination is a huge problem for a lot of people.
It was also always a huge problem for me for the longest time. Enough so that I had a Pearls Before Swine comic tacked to my office door to remind me not behave that way (protip: turns out taping funny comics to your door doesn’t do much to help productivity).
Chances are good you’re even reading this while putting off work right now, in which case I apologize for the link to the comics. That probably didn’t help you much.
To make up for it, I’d like to share my personal favorite strategy for killing procrastination and ensuring that you get a good bit of productivity out of each and every day.
I play a lot of video games.
At least, I do when I don’t keep too close of an eye on myself. I, like many others who would self identify as ‘nerdy’, have that particular combination of addictive personality and attraction to escapism that leads to looking away from the screen for a moment and thinking, “4 a.m.? Wasn’t it just 10:00 a minute ago?”
Uncontrolled this can be a problem – my bank account and productivity levels both suffer when a bunch of new games come out all at once – but looked at the right way I’ve found it actually can be extremely helpful.
The same things that make you determined to do whatever it takes and burn up entire days to finish that level, get that new item or earn that really hard achievement can also make you finally get fit, learn a language or do whatever else it is you’ve always wanted to accomplish.
Of all our most basic, primal urges hunger is probably the most compelling.
Sure there’s practically an entire sub-genre of TV and movies about the crazy (often comedic) things people will do for sex, sure people hallucinate of thirst in the desert, but there is a unique power to hunger. Hunger will make people steal, kill and completely abandon any rationality outside of getting something to eat. Extreme hunger can essentially make you lose control of your actions.
The thing is, most people who I expect to be reading this don’t ever experience real hunger. Most people living in a developed nation are lucky enough to never have to feel real hunger unless they choose to.
I think, at least once, they should choose to.
To get motivated when you aren’t, you first need to find the motivation to motivate yourself.
I recognize that sounds like word soup or an antimetabole, and it kind of is. At the very least it suffers from the problem of infinite regression. After all, how can you get up the motivation to motivate yourself if you don’t have enough motivation to be motivated in the first place? Turtles all the way down.
Thankfully, there are some forces that are a lot more powerful than our conscious minds. Forces we can use as an external push to provide a solid foundation for all those turtles and kick start some motivation without effort on our part.
For a long time now it’s been believed that your willpower, loosely defined here as your capacity to make yourself do/not do something contrary to your desires, is a finite resource.
It was said that you have a reservoir of willpower and every time you exercise your will to resist overeating, study or work when you don’t want to or anything else like that it drained a little willpower from your tank. In terms I’m more familiar with, your willpower is like your MP (Magic/Mana Points for anyone scratching their head) – a reserve of limited mystical power that allows you to do awesome things until you run out of it, then you need a bit of sleep or some manner of potion to recharge it.
The thing is, it turns out there’s a cheat that gives you nearly unlimited mana – er, willpower – by making it so it recharges every time you use it.
As 2013 draws to a close we wanted to collect together all the articles from last year that were both our personal favorites and the favorites of our readers. We think that every year the most important thing you can do is be a little bit better that year than you were the previous, so hopefully these will give you a head start on 2014. Chronological order is boring, so they aren’t sorted in any particular order.
Lead by Attila and his descendants the Huns were one of the most successful civilizations of their time militarily, finding victory even over the Roman Empire and building an empire that stretched from southern Russia and Iran all the way to what’s now France. Attila even gets referenced in the Volsunga Saga of Norse mythology.
The success of Attila and the Huns obviously can’t be boiled down to a single factor, but the one that gets referenced the most is definitely the skill of their horsemen.
Like the Mongols centuries later, the popular legend is that the Huns learned to ride horses before they even learned to walk. They were claimed to live almost their whole lives in the saddle, and as a result they became some of the most expert horsemen that the world has ever seen.
While nowadays you probably don’t need to master your horsemanship, we can apply this same principle to get exceedingly good at any other skill you want to master.
The holidays are stressful.
Whether it’s fighting through the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving trying to find the last few ingredients on your list, having to listen to a semi-inebriated rant by that one relative whose ideas on equality hail from a time when the phrase ‘coloreds only’ didn’t necessarily mean you were doing laundry or dealing with the near anarchy of a major retailer on Black Friday – it helps to have some way to maintain your centeredness. When you factor in all the horrible physical side effects of stress not having some way to deal with it all may genuinely be killing you.
Thankfully, one moment meditation is an easy technique you can use at any time anywhere to regain a little bit of your inner peace.
We wanted to wish a warm welcome to everyone coming over to visit from Fluent In 3 Months! If you’re here and have no idea what I’m talking about, Benny over at FluentIn3Months.com was kind enough to feature one of our articles on his site about language learning for introverts.
If you’ve not been to Benny’s site before and are learning a language, don’t even finish reading this. Go click that link. Also, if you’re anything like me, get ready to wind up with a lot of browser tabs open.
Anyway, everyone who’s new to the site if you’d like to know a little more about us and what we do, you can check out our about page.
Time management is a big deal for a lot of people, especially if you’re in the category of people concerned with accomplishing a lot of things. I’ve written about time management before along with other strategies like timeboxing for getting the most out of your time.
The problem is I see a lot of people focus entirely on time management at the expense of other areas. They become obsessed with trying to squeeze every little productive moment out of their day and in the end wind up less productive than they were before. Their problem isn’t that they’re poor at managing their time.
Their problem is they don’t know how to manage their energy.