Your productivity has an effect on your life and relationships. After experimenting, this man offers six ways to win.
Being eaten alive is an idea that fascinates and terrifies me.
I watched National Geographic as a child (and adult). I distinctly remember from my childhood an episode about Venus Fly Traps.
You’ve seen them at zoos or TV. A plant developed the ability to create pedals that are motion censored to trap anything. Flies are lured by the smell of a plant, once landed, the trap springs. The fly suffers a long death by enzymes that slowly eat away at its exoskeleton. Gross.
Like the Venus fly trap, the Procrastination Trap slowly kills ambitions from becoming reality. Rather than write that book or go to the gym, we would rather put it off.
The Procrastination Trap calls out to us like the Venus Fly Trap’s sweet smell. It says things like:
- “You’ve worked hard today. You should rest up. What’s on TV?”
- “Just one more episode of DareDevil, and then you’ll be done.”
- “This project is hard. You should check email just one more time.”
- “Oh! Someone just messaged you on Facebook. It would be rude to not answer now.”
- “You can wake up early tomorrow. Just go back to sleep for another 10 minutes.”
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned through my struggles of procrastination.
1. Schedule a Meeting With Yourself
On Day 15 of my experiment, I shared my major struggles of maintaining habits. The Procrastination Trap was one of my top struggles. Take a listen here:
Struggles of Maintaining a Habit and How to Overcome Them – Day 15
Before you get distracted by the Venus Fly Trap of Procrastination, create a scheduled time to do your most important tasks first. At five a.m. every morning, I identify the task that needs to be finished first (usually the most difficult task) and then allocate time to work on it.
2. Find an Emotional Connection
On Day 17 of my 66 Day Experiment, I spoke about a previous article I wrote for GMP. But I had “writer’s block.” Everything within me desired to not write the article. I wanted to do anything but not put in the hard work. But I also shared how finding an emotional connection with my work helped me overcome the luring of the Procrastination Trap.
Can You Stop Procrastination? – Day 17
3. Create a Trigger that STICKS
If only the fly knew that he was about to enter his death before landing on the Fly Trap. Unlike you, my dear human, the fly does not have the ability to learn from mistakes. Mistakes usually mean death.
You know what distracts you the most. You may have a secret guilt about it. I feel guilty whenever I spend too much time on Facebook debating my friends on the new Star Wars movie.
A great way to overcome the Procrastination Trap is by using a trigger. A trigger is something external that invokes an automatic response within you. For example, seeing your toothbrush in the morning likely causes you to brush your teeth without even thinking about it.
On Day one of my 66 Day Experiment, I read a powerful book called The Power of Habit by Charles DuHigg. In this episode, I share how to use triggers to your advantage. There’s a simple step by step method below on how to change your current habits into healthy.
How to Make or Break Any Habit – Day 1
Another way to override social media Procrastination Triggers (like Facebook messages), is to use productivity tools. For example, Self Control App for Mac stops you from entering time-wasteful websites. I also have 150+ other tools for Life and Business Hackers here.
4. Break It Down
On day 25 of the experiment, I read David Allan’s classic book Get Things Done. David makes the complicated practice of busyness into simple, actionable steps to make life simpler.
I learned that I make simple tasks like “Change the car oil” is a lot more complicated than it seems, which in turn causes procrastination.
Find out how David Allan makes a productive life simple in this episode:
Create Stress-Free Productivity – Day 25
5. Allow the Trap to Win… at times
You can’t always win. I’m highly competitive when it comes to board games. So much so that when I’m losing, I’ll pout and make accusations of cheating. Yes, I go that low.
After watching a friend complain and pout during Settler’s of Catan (yes, I’m a nerd that trades sheep for brick), I realized that his behavior made everyone uncomfortable. I learned that it’s better to be a allow others to win than be a sore loser.
Be willing to admit defeat against the Procrastination Trap. Sometimes the lures are too powerful, and you’ll be sucked into two hours of Facebook stalking. Don’t be a sore loser and beat yourself up for wasting time.
The way to make this less unproductive is by allocating “time for defeat.” After 8:30 PM, I let myself search Facebook as much as I want. I watch countless cat-fail videos without stopping myself. But I only let myself do that during that designated time.
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the Procrastination Trap during your most precious and productive hours.
6. Create Inner Accountability
Jerry Seinfeld is famously known in the self-help world for saying, “Don’t break the chain.” The short story is Jerry used a calendar to mark a red X on every day he wrote jokes. Jerry believes this habit is what lead to his success (Seinfeld’s 9th season paid Jerry $1,000,000 per episode). He told an aspiring comedian once that the key to success is “don’t break the chain.”
You need a simple way to measure your habits. The best way to beat procrastination is to choose a daily habit, commit to it, and measure your progress. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
I created a tool for my 66 Day Experiment to help me beat procrastination and “don’t break the chain.” Sign up for our inner experimenter community over at www.66dayexperiment.com to receive this Habit Tracker Tool.
Photo: Flickr/ CHEZ ANDRE 1