1. Eat That Frog
Mark Twain famously said that if the first thing you do in the morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Your frog is your worst task, and you should do it first thing in the morning. You don’t literally have to eat a live frog. Don’t do that or else, “knock knock, this is PETA”.
2. Slice That Pizza
Can you eat an extra-large pizza without slicing it? No?
What about a medium size pizza? Can you?
Okay… what about a regular size pizza?
Well, if you’re like most people I have eaten pizza with, I don’t think you can do so without slicing it. If you can, congratulations, you’re already a superhero, you don’t need this newsletter champ!
In a very similar way, every task looks dreadful until we break it into small steps. And that’s what we always skip to do. Specifying the details to achieve something is just a definition of Planning, and you know how our lazy brain runs away from making plans.
Do you know why that happens? It happens because humans are inherently lazy. No, you’re wrong, I’m not high. Considering evolutionary psychology, we react hastily to immediate rewards or dangers, because those are the things necessary for survival. We have lived for thousands of years with that survival mentality and it’s still here even when there are fewer immediate dangers than long-term dangers. Planning is more important now than it was a thousand years ago.
So the trick here is to be more specific with your tasks when making your to-do list. Instead of writing ‘make more money’, write, ‘make the first sales touch with 5 clients on LinkedIn”. The more detailed you are, the more confident you’d be.
3. Take the First Bite!
I know it sounds dumb but believe me, this the most helpful and effective tool to fight procrastination.
See, I get it, working on something that you’re procrastinating upon is like eating a boiled frog. But in the end, you have to eat it and maybe it’s doesn’t taste as unpleasant as it looks.
So, my point here is to start small. If you don’t want to spend 2 hours finishing a task, just commit to doing it for exactly 3 minutes. No more, no less. As I said, it will sound crazy but it is a super-helpful way to get started.
You cannot do anything in 3 minutes, but you can start doing almost anything in 3 minutes. And that’s what we need to achieve, to get started.
If your task is to write a 300-word blog, just sit to write a sentence or read a few related blog lines. If your task is to solve 10 maths problems, just sit to read and understand the first problem.
This will help you in two ways, first, it will make it clear whether you are actually interested in doing this task or not. Second, if you are interested, you will find yourself enjoying the task and would be willing to do it for more than 3 minutes.
As I’m writing this blog I didn’t actually want to write but I still opened the laptop to stare at my frog, and till then it’s been 40 minutes and I’m still writing.
My father used to say that the most difficult part of a task is to start it, after that, you start enjoying it.
4. Leverage Social Commitment
When you socially announce you’re going to do something, you put your reputation at stake. If you don’t stand up to it, your brain makes you feel shitty about it.
For instance, I’m socially committed to publishing a blog every Tuesday. The thought of skipping it never even came across my mind, why? because I have hundreds of readers and I’m committed to them.
Leverage the power of positive pressure by publicly committing to your goals. It can be as simple as telling a friend or posting a tweet or updating your Facebook status.
Pick something self-indulging that would make you very happy as a carrot for your limbic system. That’s your gift to yourself if you complete — even a little — one sub-item of the task you’ve been avoiding.
After I complete writing this blog, I will give myself a small treat by watching Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition. Do the same for yourself, give a small reward to yourself after you complete a small task. Decide the reward before starting the task and use it to motivate yourself.
Most of us push ourselves to suppress and control our emotions, which is impossible because our emotions are what make us human. Instead of suppressing your emotions try to channel them in a way that you become productive. Use them to drive you toward your goals.
That’s all for this week thinking bats, now I’m going to enjoy my movie. I wish you a productive week ahead.
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