What are some tricks to prevent laziness and procrastination?

Guess what: everybody experiences bouts of laziness and procrastination!Don’t believe people who tell you they’ve never been there (chances are they’re lying, and also nobody is perfect). That said, keep your eyes and ears open so that you can hear about shortcuts. Shortcuts are awesome: they’re usually simple, easy, and oh-my-god-why-haven’t-I-thought-of-this-myself QUICK ways to get through something that is challenging in some ways but important to you.

Below are several shortcuts. Read through them and then experiment with them. Try one or try them all! See which ones can save you time and still get you to where you need to be. And if something works, share it with someone else. Discuss it. Come up with a way to tweak it some more and make it even better. Create a super-shortcut. And then come back and tell us how you did it!

Ready for some shortcuts to tackle laziness and procrastination head on?

Here are a few:

  • Start with a little self-discipline by taking care of yourself:
  • Begin the day with one powerful question first thing in the morning: What is the ONE THING I am committed to completing today? There are many benefits to this technique: it keeps things simple, it helps your brain focus better, makes you prioritize your goals, and streamlines the work you need to do on that particular day so you don’t feel overwhelmed with making too many choices. Here’s how to do it:
    • Put it in writing; write it in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall.
    • Read it out loud as you start each day, and come up with an answer in a minute or so; don’t wait till later to contemplate it.
    • Then, schedule your time to complete what’s most important to you for that specific day.
  • Set a deadline to achieve one specific goal in a limited time frame. For example:
    • I am committed to focusing on my studies in the next 30 days so that I can pass all three of my exams and not have to retake any of them.
    • I am committed to finding a job in 3 months that is both a good fit for my skill set in and is in a company whose values I respect.
    • I am committed to building my physical endurance by running 4 times a week for 6 months so that I can be prepared to participate in a marathon.
  • Get down to work. This means:
    • Do what is necessary: finish up your outstanding tasks, read the textbook, complete the assignment.
    • Don’t find excuses to postpone your work or ignore it because you’re too busy doing something else.
    • Don’t let others distract you from what you need to do; instead, politely turn down invitations and tell people you’re busy until you’ve completed what you need to do on that day.
  • Become a time management pro. It’s incredibly tough to focus if you believe you’ll be spending hours working with no end in sight. Try a different approach to work. When you’re ready to begin, use a timer to divide up your day into manageable increments to allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way.
    • Set the timer to 60 minute increments to maximize concentration.
    • Try the Pomodoro technique which consists of 25 minute blocks of time, followed by 5 minute breaks.
    • When you’re done with one segment, step away from your desk and do something completely unrelated to work to give your brain a chance to rest: take a 5-minute walk to get some fresh air, turn on some music, or grab a cup of coffee or tea and have a snack to go with it.
  • Ignore your distractions. Reading email and checking your Instagram or Twitter feed every few minutes is distracting, prevents you from focusing, and can contribute to your feeling overwhelmed. Not only that: studies have shown that multitasking can lower your IQ by 10 points! Make a conscious effort to avoid distractions whenever possible:
    • Set expectations with others by letting them know you won’t be available in the next few hours.
    • Set your phone to Airplane mode or turn off the volume and put it away so you don’t see it while you’re working.
    • Check your email and social media apps 2–3 times a day (around lunchtime, in the afternoon and in the evening).
    • Avoid browsing the Internet or reading the daily news early; do these activities later after you’re done with your work or studies.
  • Think about how self-discipline can become an advantage. Here are a few resources:
    • Watch this short video to better understand why doing the hard work can set you apart from others.
    • Read a book for more ideas, for example:
  • Always have the big picture in mind. In other words, keep your eye on what is your ultimate goal:
    • Don’t just walk away from something just because it seems impossible to do at that very moment. If you keep at it, chances are it will get easier the next time you try it.
    • Fight the urge to give up when things get tough. Instead, embrace the difficulty and brainstorm different ways to overcome it. Keep experimenting until you find a better solution.
    • When you fail at something, chalk it up to inexperience and nothing more. Stay focused on what you need to do. Then do your best to get up, dust yourself off, and keep going. Always maintain a positive attitude about your efforts to get closer to a goal.
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