If you are a student with a homework assignment, a parent with a home project, or a CEO with an important meeting to prepare for, we all share a common struggle: laziness.
“People will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure” – Tony Robbins
Accomplishing a task takes mental effort to stay focused. It is often met with internal resistance as your brain looks for an excuse to put it off.
Self-discipline sounds like something you’ve heard about through some 10 step program. Actually, it is a very simple and fundamental approach that will have multiplicative effects on your productivity and your success.
How To Stop Being Lazy And Increase Your Productivity
Before you find the solution, you must first identify the problem.
Why am I so lazy?
Most people assume you’re being lazy because of your actions. You sat around on your phone all day? You must be lazy!
Actually, it is possible to trace your actions to your beliefs. What you believe will directly affect how you act and perform. Ask yourself the following:
- What recent project did I procrastinate on?
- What beliefs did I have that caused me to be lazy?
- “I’ll do it later”
- “It’s not important right now”
- “I’ll just check my phone for one more minute”
- What were the consequences of my beliefs?
Imagine how your life would change if you were to modify those beliefs and get more things done. With this understanding, now you can begin to break old habits and build positive ones.
How to defeat the selfish person inside of you
Let’s face it…
If you’re making the decision to put off doing something you said you would do, you are being selfish. You can treat yourself in the same manner that you would any selfish person.
- Identify that you’re choosing something else over what you promised to do
- Set clear boundaries on what you will do to accomplish your goals and what you will not tolerate
A word of caution: don’t be too hard on yourself. Having a head full of negative statements is just as bad for your productivity as choosing to sit on Facebook for the entire afternoon.
Everyone gets off the path now and then, it’s not the end of the world. Conquering your laziness is something that takes time as you rewire your brain to reject distractions and remain focused.
Learning how to not be lazy and stop procrastinating
Now that you have taken the first step to realize that you are being lazy, you can implement techniques to motivate yourself and improve your productivity. There is no magic pill here, it all starts with belief, which builds a foundation for technique.
Start by writing goals for you or your project. Having these to read in front of yourself will hold you accountable.
Add a due date for your goal and begin working towards it. Remember not to give yourself too much time or you’ll fall back into the habit of procrastinating. There are ways to balance your task size and due dates, such as…
To push yourself further, break your tasks into smaller chunks.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones” – Confucius
Have you ever looked at a task that seemed as though it would take you days or weeks to complete? Do you think you would be motivated to start on it immediately, or to put it off?
Use your own psychology to your advantage by breaking up your tasks and take advantage of small wins. Chipping away at a huge task without getting much accomplished can be disheartening.
Instead, break the huge task into several small tasks that you can accomplish and mark off your to-do list. This will give you confidence to keep up the good work, without feeling overwhelmed.
Choosing the right environment
Habits are more than just things we do repeatedly, they are heavily influenced by our environment that we work from.
Think about it.
- Is your phone nearby?
- Is the radio on?
- Is your email open?
- Are there other people walking around in the room?
Distractions may seem small, but can quickly add up and cause you to lose your train of thought. Choose a work environment that is conducive to your work style.
Some people can work in a busy café with headphones in, others work best in a closed room with only a lamp. There is no wrong answer.
Track your progress to multiply your success
“What gets measured, gets managed” – Peter Drucker
If you want to lose weight and you aren’t tracking the calories into and out of your body, how do you expect to have consistent success?
Tracking your goals is no different!
You can use old school methods, like pen and paper, or use a helpful goal tracking service, but you need to be recording your progress. Plus, there’s something oddly satisfying about scratching something off of your to-do list.
Learn to hold yourself accountable for your new lifestyle. Being accountable leads into my next topic…
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
As you create the new habits and break your routine of laziness, you want to track your progress and reward yourself.
You’re putting in a lot of work writing that paper on ancient Korean martial arts. Take a break and give yourself a reward – a few minutes of downtime, a walk outside, a nap, a snack.
Don’t be tempted to watch TV for an hour!
Great athletes know how to rest and recover. By stressing your mental muscles and properly recovering, you will continue to build your self-discipline.
One last thing I’d like to say about combating laziness is this: start slow.
Everyone starts this journey with good intentions, but maybe they didn’t understand their beliefs, or know how to reward their progress, or simply expected way too much of themselves, they fail and quit.
Did you know that you can fail and not quit? If you find yourself slipping into old habits, don’t beat yourself up over it. Acknowledge what happened and then start back. Get back up and on the path to a more successful version of yourself!
- What the last two projects you did not accomplish on time, or had to rush to complete? What beliefs did you have? (ex. I’ll do it later)
- What are two ways you will change those beliefs?
- How will you track and reward your progress?
- What are two ways your life will improve once you conquer your lazy habits?
As William Shakespeare said:
“Between the acting of a dreadful thing and the first motion, all the interim is like a phantasma, or a hideous dream”
After reading this, you have all the tools in front of you to know how to not be lazy. There’s only one thing left to do – take action. The hardest part is taking that first step: putting the phone down, closing the emails, putting a list of your goals together.
We hope you found this article helpful! Leave us a note in the comments section. What helps you stay motivated and on task?
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