Another Lazy Day
Another day ends. You know you could have done more, you turn the lights out, lay your head down on the pillow and shut your eyes with unfinished business.
You feel defensive, thinking, “It doesn’t matter. At least I got in those hours of TV shows, memes, and made funnier and scarier Snapchat videos. At least I friended more people and read some fake news.”
Maybe you feel super guilty, studying, projects, chores, cleaning… you didn’t do any of it or you didn’t do all of it. You feel the way my friend Anthony DeStefano describes in his book, A Travel Guide to Life: “You just want to pull the covers over your head and sleep for a hundred years.” Or… maybe you don’t feel guilty at all.
The Truth Doesn’t Care
“Facts are stubborn things.” – John Adams
Here’s the point, we can care or not care but our to-do-list is still there! Feelings come and go all the time, but the place we’re going to be in five years just keeps coming and coming.
Deep down you and I know we can’t laze around again and again and still realize our dreams, we also know we don’t have to give in to laziness, no one should.
How to Stop Being Lazy
Take a short trip with me through 10 ways to stop being lazy and start controlling your life.
1. Be Easy on Yourself
Don’t cry over spilled milk.
You slacked-off and fell farther from your goals than ever, everyone has done that. Making up the lost ground is going to be hard, it would help to forgive yourself because hard work is still ahead of you.
2. One Step Ahead
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
You can never finish if you can’t get started, but starting means overcoming the voice inside screaming “quit now.” To ensure you don’t, start small and build up.
The sink is always full of dirty dishes and you don’t do them because there’s so many it’s overwhelming.
- Clean the pots right after you use them and put the dishes in the dishwasher after you eat off them.
You always leave yourself two days to write a term paper, and you have to stay up all night to finish it.
- Take out your phone and set a 15-minute alarm and work on it twice per day for three weeks.
You haven’t ever run regularly but want to get into shape.
- Start jogging for 15 minutes a few times a week.
3. Eliminate Perfectionism
Nobody’s perfect. Nothing you work on is ever going to be “just right.” Perfectionism is the false thinking that you can avoid things like mistakes and criticism in your work.
It can paralyze you and even make you feel, well, lazy. Your biggest enemy isn’t making mistakes, it’s believing that avoiding failure is worth never accomplishing your goals.
Focus on getting your work done and putting it out there for people so you can continue building an excuse-free work ethic.
“Seeing is believing.” – Unknown
Everyone has goals and knows they matter but many never accomplish them. Start making mental movies of yourself writing that term paper, exercising every day, starting a successful business, organizing your space, doing all the tasks that lead to your short-term and long-term success.
Sport stars like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan have talked about seeing themselves making the winning shots and plays that lead to victory. They literally rehearse amazing performances over and over and this sets them up to win when the spotlight is on, everyone is watching, and the stakes are huge.
How it Works
Go to a quiet place or turn on some music that helps you focus and imagine knocking out all of your to-do-list.
Research on the human brain shows that the cells responsible for passing on information, neurons, interpret images just like real-life. Visualizing doing something generates an impulse telling the neurons to actually do it. Every time you do this, a new neural pathway is created that tells your body to act out what you visualized.
Because we aren’t famous athletes and need to accomplish things that most ordinary people need to accomplish, we need to use process visualization. To do this, we visualize completing each step in the process of study, work, organization, etc. to achieve these goals.
It involves envisioning each of the actions necessary to achieve the outcome you want. Focus on completing each of the steps you need to achieve your goal, but not on the overall goal itself.
5. Journaling for Productivity
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about the benefits of “keystone habits.” For Duhigg, these are “small changes or habits people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
What an idea! Just one “keystone” habit can start to make us more productive. According to Duhigg, keeping a journal is the most powerful habit.
How to do it
If you are like most generation Y or millennial people, you check your phone in the first 15 minutes of being awake every day. Medical research findings have revealed that the prefrontal cortex is in its most active and creative state right after you wake up.
So, instead of texting and Googling, grab your pen, tablet stylus, or other physical or digital writing utensil, sit down with your coffee and write out your thoughts. Doing it daily helps you to release strong emotions and to organize your thoughts.
What it Gives You
Journaling is a productive activity where you, the creator, create the content. Checking social media, news, and IM’s are passive activities where you, the receiver, digest the content.
Produce journals that articulate your ultimate goals and map out paths for accomplishing them daily, be proactive, not passive, and your achievement list will grow as your to-do-list shrinks.
6. Body Maintenance
Feeling horrible can steal your motivation and productivity and make you lazy.
As a child, New York Times best-selling author Tom Rath was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that caused cancerous growths to spread everywhere in his body.
Since then, he has devoted countless hours of his life learning to “eat, sleep and move well,” by researching healthy eating, exercising and sleeping habits for thousands of hours. He is a successful professional, attentive parent, and a very healthy man with an excellent chance at enjoying a normal lifespan.
What Exercise Gives You
- More happiness – Exercising can be thrilling! It releases endorphins that make us feel happy and euphoric.
- A Quicker Mind – Maybe you can win a Nobel Prize after all. Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise creates new brain cells.
- A Better Memory – Exercise can increase the production of cells in the brain that are responsible for learning and memory.
- MORE ACCOMPLISHMENTS!!! – People who exercise regularly are more productive and have more energy at work than non-exercisers.
The Mayo Clinic recommends getting at least 150 minutes of “moderate” or 75 minutes of “vigorous” aerobic activity per week. That’s a tiny commitment! Go sweat laziness away!
What Eating Well Gives You
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day is healthy for the body and the mind.
A paper in the July 2014 British Journal of Healthy Psychology reveals how enormous an effect food has on our daily lives. The research indicates that the more healthy food people consumed, the happier, more attentive and creative they were.
7. Tunnel Vision
Because our lives are filled with all kinds of opportunities, obligations, and deadlines, we have to incur what economists call “opportunity costs” daily.
Whatever tasks you do, meetings you attend and free-time activities you spend with others, you are choosing not to do other things. Saying yes, being too passive, can lead to frustration because our goals are left unaccomplished.
Business author, marketer, and former dot-com business executive Seth Godin said, “If you talk to just about anyone doing a lot of output, they are good at saying no.”
8. MITs First
Your most important tasks (MITs) come first and you need to be consistent about doing them first every time, it’s a huge productivity booster. Pareto’s 80/20 rule:
- 20% of your tasks produce 80% of your results.
How it Works
Laziness and its close relative, procrastination, sometimes visit us because we feel overwhelmed and can’t face our tasks. It simplifies things to focus on the urgent tasks before the long-term tasks.
For homework, work on that quiz you have to turn in tomorrow before you spend an hour researching for an end-of-term paper.
9. Organize Your Space
A US News and World Report shows:
- Average Americans spend one year of their lives looking for things — misplaced items.
Go through your inbox and delete what you don’t need. Get some new filing boxes and folders and organize the piled-up papers. Save your sanity so you can focus on what matters!
10. Time-Saving Technology
You already have to spend half of your waking hours on smartphones and computers. Make every moment count with software and apps, apps like scheduling software AnyTime Organizer Deluxe. Simply sending an email containing your daily schedules to yourself like Cal Newport is another efficient way to cut the time corner.
Lazy traps are everywhere when we use the internet. Super-productive business executive Seth Godin said, “I’m not sure if that’s (being on Twitter/Facebook) a waste, all I’m saying is that I can’t do it very well and also do the other things that I want to do.”
Designed to temporarily rid you of all online distractions, software that can block any website that causes you to waste time or be unproductive can keep you focused on your tasks.
Enjoy your sense of accomplishment as laziness disappears from your routine, but try to have fun.
The problem with goals is that when they’re accomplished, new goals take their place, goals come and go. Try, as much as you can, to enjoy the hard working journey toward them.