We all enjoy a lazy afternoon now and then, maybe even a relaxed weekend. But when lazy days turn into weeks, you have a problem. Once you become accustomed to the comfort of inaction—and the more you fall behind—the harder it gets to become an active person who gets things done.
Here are some effective techniques to get up off the couch and get something going again:
1. Create a Checklist
It’s easy to procrastinate, especially with boring everyday tasks. A simple fix is to create a system for every multi-step task. Think of creating a checklist that walks you through the tedious part of your daily routine—not to dictate you but to make it easy to follow things and get them done quickly.
2. Time Yourself
If you dread the long stretches of work required by a lengthy task, set a timer for 10 minutes. Commit to doing the task for 10 minutes with full concentration and focus, then give yourself a break. Working with a timer can help you with focus and momentum.
3. Batch Tasks
Sometimes the smallest tasks get lost between the cracks. A simple solution is to batch tasks together when you have several small items that require the same kind of attention. Batching tasks is a great way to get things done rapidly and without distraction.
4. Start Exceedingly Small
When you have a big, challenging task, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and come up with every excuse you can think of to avoid dealing with it. Break the project up into exceedingly small tasks so you can get a toehold. The trick is to develop a mindset where you can motivate yourself even if you’re not in the mood, because the task is so small that it will take just a moment.
5. Focus on What’s Most Important
Even a small shift amounts to enormous change over time. Every day, identify the three (or whatever number) most important tasks you have to get done—the ones with the biggest impact and highest priority—and get them done first thing in the morning. You’ll have made some progress, and starting the day with a sense of achievement may motivate you to do more.
6. Get Second-Hand Motivation
When you can’t force yourself to work, listen to something that can. Find a productivity podcast or a TED Talk to connect to. Set a half hour a day aside to connect to a source of motivation.
7. Create a Sense of Urgency
Lazy people will procrastinate until it’s the last minute and a simple task has turned into an emergency. Take advantage of that trait by developing a habit of self-imposed deadlines. Tell yourself it has to be done within a set timeframe or else.
8. Capture Your Ideas
One theory is that laziness is actually a way of coping with overload. If that’s the case for you, it may be helpful to regularly empty your head of all the things you need to remember and do. Write it all down in any format and order that works for you—just get it all out of your head so you can stay focused on the task at hand.
9. Enforce the Two-Minute Rule
This is a strategy of David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done: : The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. He has a two-minute rule for email—if he can deal with it in two minutes or less he handles it immediately; otherwise he reserves it for later or deletes it.
10. Recruit a Partner-in-Crime
If you’re having a hard time getting things done by yourself, find yourself a partner who can keep you accountable and responsible. If you can find a hyper-driven Type A to partner with, so much the better!
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