productivity

Make a Resolution Not to Make a Resolution This Time

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So my salonist was telling me about how they’re not allowed to take a holiday in Dec because it’s their peak time of the year. Apparently, some of their customers believe that cutting your hair before the new year is a way of leaving your troubles behind (because naturally, your troubles happen to reside in your hair).

But we’re approaching that time of the year when people will go to sleep on Dec. 31 and wake up as totally new people on January 1, resolving to eat healthy, lose weight, wake up early, drink kale smoothies, lift weights, go running, change the world…
Until January 12, that is.

I’m not a big fan of the virtual switch that people pretend to turn on at the beginning of every year, simply because I think it gives people yet another excuse not to start on a Personal Development program (oh, it didn’t work out this year…maybe next year).
If you think about it, setting up New Year’s Resolutions are one of the most effective procrastination techniques ever invented.

So if you want to join the anti-NYR group, here a few other things you might want to try;
– Do a 30 day challenge (statistically speaking you’re more likely to finish a 30 day challenge than a 365 day one). Matt Cutts made those famous in his TED talk.
– List a 100 things you’re grateful for. Basically, put your Attitude of Gratitude on steroids.
– Audit your life, don’t overhaul it. Most people try to do so much so fast and fail miserably. So instead of all that, just take a 30,000 ft view of your life and see which areas would need improvements, and which ones seem to be okay.
– Get to know your future self. One of the biggest weaknesses of resolutions is that it’s a promise your today self makes to your future self. “I resolve to lose 50 lbs by next year make yourself.” But the thing with promises — and I’ve written this over and over again — is that they’re hard to keep because the mentality with which the promise is made is usually different from the mentality with which it has to be kept. That’s why, instead of promising your future self something, get to know them. How do you want them to feel? How do you want them to look like? What do you want them to have?
Once you’re clear on how your future self is, start taking actions. Small, consistent, action.

And that my friends, are the first steps to being great without the whole resolve-shame-disappointment cycle that plagues people every year.
What are your opinions on this? I’d like to hear from you on twitter @ahechoes #antiNYR
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Also, check out my short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast,” and the book summarizing a lot of ideas in the personal development field if you want to change your life but don’t know where to start, Mine Your Inner Resources.

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Fix a BRT Lane for your days

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Once my brother explained to me a story about how some town or city wanted to clear a lane to allow a Bus Rapid Transit system. However most of the roads were already so jammed that it didn’t make sense to one of the officials to clear an entire lane for the BRT, so they suggested to give the BRT planners a lane in one of those areas that didn’t suffer from so much traffic. Which totally misses the point, because the whole point of a BRT system was to help clear the traffic jams.

For some reason I remembered the story today when I was reading about how everybody should take some time everyday to plan out their day and write down what they need to get done. Some people might say, “We’re so busy, we don’t have time to waste on something like planning for the day and reviewing whether or not we’ve achieved whatever tasks we set out to achieve.” Some might claim that it’s better to do such things on days when they have less things to do and are more free. But the whole point of to-do lists and a proper planning system is to help clear the traffic jam of your day, prioritize to make you see what tasks are most important for the day and which ones can be ignored later, so you can easily breeze through the day the way a bus breezes down a BRT Lane.

So how do you plan for the day? What system do you like to use? Simple to-do lists on post-it notes or daily planner? Write down your comments in the comments section below…

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Start with a list

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So a blogger friend of mine sent me a message the other day saying, “I’ve lost my writing mojo.”

I replied back with, “You’re not the only one,” considering I haven’t been as consistent on my blog as I usually am.

But then she said she had to write an important report and couldn’t even get that done. So my suggestion was to start with a list. Just bullet points. Incomplete sentences. Grammarless English. Or Sheng.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of lists. Whether you’re trying to break out of writer’s block or a prolonged procrastination period, lists usually do the trick because they’re so simple.  My personal favorite list is one I saw spreading on social media. It fools you into thinking you’re so productive.

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Joking aside, there’s no rule of where to write your list or how it should look like. You may write it on a post-it note and stick it on your laptop screen to increase its visibility (though that doesn’t always work because your mind gets trained to ignore it).

However, the single best advice I’ve heard about daily to-do lists is “Limit your to-do list to three tasks.” No less, no more. Having more than three items on your list can be a bit overwhelming especially when the tasks take hours. Also, finishing the day without crossing out everything on the list makes your mind think it’s okay to put off today’s work until tomorrow and that enables the procrastinator in you.

So what type of lists are you used to writing? Leave your comments below and feel free to share.

5 ways you’re procrastinating without knowing it

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They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Procrastination is one of those insidious problems many of us struggle with yet we don’t always recognize it as procrastination because it takes many forms. So this post might not be useful enough to tell you how to fix procrastination, but at least it’ll help you with recognizing it.

1) You complain. A lot. About all the work you have to do.Maybe you make a quick trip to the library (since you have a lot of work to do) and end up running into a couple of people on the way, but you feel this urge to stop and complain to each one of them, rant out about the extent of your misery because of all the things you have to do…It’s pretty obvious that if you had spent less time complaining and more time actually working, you would get a lot of things done. But no. Complaining is the path of least resistance, which is what procrastination is all about…

2) Organizing. This one’s incredible because it fools you into thinking you’re actually making important progress when you’re not. You sit down to work and then you look at your cluttered table and think that you’d be more efficient if you cleaned up a bit. Which might be true to some extent. But then while you’re cleaning you recognize that it would be better if all your papers were organized. But since you don’t have folders, paper trays and magazine file boxes maybe you can just run to the store to get them. And you end up strolling in the stationary store instead of actually working….

3) Googling/Youtubing things for ‘research’ (and other forms of distraction). We all know the internet is the black hole of the new era; its gravity can get so strong that it prevents us from escaping. One website links to another and another and another….and four hours later you snap out of it and wonder where all the time has gone. And maybe it all started innocently with a short video explaining the basics of the Lattice Boltzmann method and somehow you end up watching a video explaining, “How to make visheti”.

4) Talking about visheti’s, hunger is a very efficient procrastination technique. It especially works for people who are stress eaters. The stress triggers the hunger so they can think of nothing else but food.

5) Non-urgent items on your to-do list. Some of these are pesky items that have been on your to-do list for the past six months. But because you have something really important that you have to do right now and maybe because it’s a little bit unpleasant, it seems easier to just take care of the other pesky items around it so that you feel a sense of accomplishment with your to-do list shorter.

So which procrastination technique are you guilty of most of the time? Leave your comments below.
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