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6 Ways Your Brain Attempts To Sabotage Your Goals & Dreams

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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Now we know that you should never make excuses for not sticking to your goals, and we understand that from time to time you will have your valid reasons, but what if it is not really you to blame for your failures and that your brain is actually out to sabotage your hopeful plans?

Well this article here explains the 6 ways that your brain plays tricks on you to sabotage your goals and dreams.

 

1.) Your brain can hurt your goals by fantasizing too much

Would you believe that fantasizing is the #1 way your brain can unintentionally ruin your goals?

It seems unlikely, right?

The thing is, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the research): psychologists have found that while positive thinking about the future is broadly beneficial, too much fantasy can have disastrous results on achieving goals.

Researchers tracked the progress of how people cope with four different types of challenges.

As an example, in one of those challenges (trying to find a fulfilling job), those who had spent the most time fantasizing performed the worst in a variety of critical data points:

  • they had applied for fewer jobs
  • they had been offered fewer jobs
  • if they were able to find work, they had lower salaries.

Why?

Why could fantasizing about a positive end take a turn for the worse?

Jeremy Dean, a psychological researcher at UCL London and the owner of PsyBlog had this to say about the researcher’s conclusions:

The problem with positive fantasies is that they allow us to anticipate success in the here and now. However, they don’t alert us to the problems we are likely to face along the way and can leave us with less motivation—after all, it feels like we’ve already reached our goal.

It’s one way in which our minds own brilliance lets us down. Because it’s so amazing at simulating our achievement of future events, it can actually undermine our attempts to achieve those goals in reality.

Our poor brain is thus a victim of itself.

Again, this is not to say that visualizing goals is necessarily a haphazard strategy for achieving them, it’s just that we need to be aware of the dangers of excessive fantasy.

Instead of being entranced with what the future may bring, we need to learn to love the work here and now.

Enjoying our day by day progress and realistic ‘checkpoints’ is a much more practical way to create our future; getting lost in grandiose dreams that focus on the ultimate end is not.

As they say, don’t give up on your dreams, but don’t fall under their spell either.

 

2.) Your brain procrastinates on big projects by visualizing the worst parts

Procrastination, of all of the things on this list, is likely the most recognizable: everybody realizes that they procrastinate from time to time, and it’s something we are forced to battle with every day.

How can we fight this persistent opponent?

Interesting research from Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik (of whom the Zeigarnik Effect is named after) reveals to us an interesting tidbit about the human mind: we are better at remember things that are partially done.

Ms. Zeigarnik came to this conclusion by testing the memory of folks doing simple “brain” tasks like puzzles or crafts.

She then interrupted them and asked them to recall (with specific detail) the tasks that they were doing or had completed.

She found that people were twice as likely to recall more detail about the tasks they had been interrupted in than in the tasks they had completed.

What does this have to do with procrastination?

Before we get to that, know this: in a study by Kenneth McGraw, participants were given a very tricky puzzle to solve with an “unlimited” amount of time.

The thing is, all of the participants were interrupted before they could finish, and then told that the study was over.

Guess what happened next…

Despite being told they were done, nearly 90% of participants continued working on the puzzle anyway.

What both of these studies teach us is that when people finally manage to start something, they are much more inclined to remember the task and finish it.

The Zeigarnik Effect and the subsequent McGraw study assure us that the best way to beat procrastination is to start somewhere… anywhere.

Our brain has the habit of envisioning the impending huge workload of an upcoming task.

It also tends to focus on the most difficult parts or sections, and this is where procrastination begins to set in: as we try to avoid the “hard work”, we find ways to skate around it and trick ourselves into thinking that we’re busy.

Just starting though, triggers our brain in a different way.

It’s the same way that cliffhangers are utilized to keep us coming back to our favorite TV shows; we’re primed to remember the last episode because the story was interrupted, and our brain wants a conclusion.

It’s the same with your tasks: start, and your brain will overcome the first hurdle.

This seemingly small milestone appears to be the most important one to overcome if you wish to defeat procrastination.

After starting a task, your brain will be more enticed to finish it to it’s “conclusion.”

You also tend to see that it’s not as big a mountain as you initially imagined, and that the work involved in completing this task won’t be so terrifying after all.

 

3.) Your brain will “abandon ship” at the first sign of distress

Anyone who’s fought the good fight with dieting will likely recognize this phenomenon.

Envision this:

You’re on a diet, and have been doing well for about 2 1/2 weeks, but you know your defenses are at risk.

To make matters work, you’re having dinner with friends tonight.

Instead of the healthy meal you could have made at home, you’re forced to use a restaurant menu.

The problem is this: At the bar before dinner, you had a little “cheat” moment by ordering snacks and drinks, after all, you’re with your pals tonight, right?

You know that those drinks and snacks, combined with the bread you had before dinner, leave you with one option to stay a bit over your caloric intake goals: you must eat a salad.

The thing is, your brain is yelling out “BURGER!”.

Instead of finishing the day a tad over your 2000 calorie goal, you order the burger with fries and don’t look back.

The crazy thing about this scenario?

It’s much more than a momentary act of weakness: psychologists have observed that this is much more likely to happen as a result of you missing a previously set goal.

Specifically, in research by Janet Polivy and her colleagues, people who were actually on diets were tested with pizza and cookies.

In the study, two groups of participants (those on diets and those not dieting) were told not to eat beforehand and then served exactly the same slice of pizza when they arrived to the lab.

Afterwards, they were then asked to taste and rate some cookies (I’m getting hungry already : )).

The thing was, the experimenters didn’t really care about the cookie’s rating, they just wanted to see how many people ate.

This is because they tricked some of the participants into thinking that they had received a larger slice than the others (using framing and false information). This was to make them believe that they had most certainly “ruined” their diet goals for the day.

The result?

When the cookies were weighed, it turned out that those who were on a diet and thought they’d blown their limit ate more of the cookies than those who weren’t on a diet.

This doesn’t paint the true picture though: they ate over 50% more!

On the flip side, the dieters that did think that they were in their caloric limit ate the same amount of cookies as those who weren’t on a diet at all.

Truly, our brain is geared towards a call of “Abandon ship!”, whenever we come short of our goals.

Don’t let this happen to you!

The best way to combat your brain from signaling ‘Mission Abort!’ after you’ve missed a short-term goal is to re-frame what just happened.

Yes, you did fall short or maybe mess up this time, but remember the progress that you’ve made.

With the diet example, you could look at all of the “good days” you’ve accumulated thus far: even if you fell after only a few days of starting your new diet, it’s still an accomplishment to have started one and to have set long-term goals for yourself.

Short-term lapses in your end-goal is not like a bad apple spoiling the bunch: you have gotten things accomplished so far and you need to stay focused on the long-term, not become distraught by a single mishap.

Research tells us that this is the best mindset to take for misfortune and failure in general: your progress and achievements go so much farther than that slip-up; don’t let your brain convince you that all is lost!

 

4.) Your brain loves mindless busywork disguised as progress

How fitting that this should be posted on a site that relates to social media!

One of the ways in which your brain continues it’s trickery is through busy work: work that gets “something” done, but not something that produces any measurable results.

In fact, research by John Bargh and colleagues reveals that our brain just loves to become robotic and to even mimic people out of habit.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that this is disastrous to achieving long-term goals!

This busy work is often a mechanism our brain uses in cohesion with avoiding big projects (mentioned above): instead of diving into the difficult tasks we KNOW we should get done, we’ll instead float around doing semi-related (read: barely related) menial tasks to make ourselves feelproductive without actually getting anything done.

Here’s the thing: you’re not going to build a thriving business or a successful blog with that kind of busy work.

It takes doing the hard work and it takes deliberate practice, there’s no way around it.

The thing is, your brain knows this, that’s why you have to remind it remind yourself that the challenging stuff is often the stuff that produces the results you desire.

Also remember that you can fight that procrastination by just getting started.

When you look back at what you’ve gotten done by the end of the day, make sure you’re proud of what you got accomplished, don’t let your brain ruin your goals by diverting you from what needs to be done!

 

5.) Your brain gives you a false sense of time.

Your brain says: “Relax, you’ve got plenty of time for this project.”
The reality: You are straight-up terrible at estimating how long it will take you to finish tasks. You’ll almost assuredly underestimate the time you’ll need.

When they started building the Sydney Opera House, the blokes in charge were all like, “No worries, mate. She’ll be done by 1963 and this $7 million budget should cover things nicely. Throw another shrimp on the barbie.” (Note: I am paraphrasing here.) Then they proceeded to tear through the $7 million faster than a kangaroo chasing a boomerang (fun with stereotypes!). The iconic building finally opened in 1973—ten years late and $95 million over budget.

You tend to underestimate how much time projects will take for you to complete. It’s called Planning Fallacy, and it’s why Afternoon-You looks at the to-do list made by Morning-You and says, “Were you under the impression that I am some sort of goddamn superhero or what?”

Psychologists think your overly optimistic planning is caused by a combination of wishful thinking and how you view similar projects you’ve done in the past, which is to say you subconsciously take credit for the progress that was made but blame outside forces for delays. The last article took so long to write because your computer crashed, your neighbor was playing “Rhythm Is A Dancer” on his damned guitar again, and you got stuck in traffic on the way to an interview. Those things weren’t your fault and won’t happen again, you say. But they might. And if they don’t, other time-sucks will show up to take their place.

Solutions:

  • Your brain isn’t as bad at determining how long it will take someone else to complete a task. You’ll overestimate in most cases, but it’s nothing compared to the wildly overoptimistic standards you’ll set for yourself. When you need to determine a time frame for a project, imagine someone else will be completing the task and your guess will be closer to the truth.
  • Planning Fallacy is going to tell you that writing your book will take, oh, maybe two weeks if you stop for meals. As always, it lies. For a goal as complex as that, the only way to get a remotely accurate estimate is to break it into the individual steps it will take to achieve it. Besides, it’s scary as hell to see “write novel” on today’s to-do list, but breaking it down into steps like “research alpaca breeding standards for book” or “write chapter seven” turns it into something that’s finite, specific, and easier to wrap your head around. Make a list. Write down how long each step will take. Add ’em up.
  • Make a note of how long similar tasks have taken, but don’t adjust for distractions or problems caused by outside sources.
  • Identify potential snags. Assume they’ll happen.

 

6.) Your brain is not good at “winging it” when it comes to planning… ever!

Every night before I go to sleep, I like to write a simple “to-do” list that I group into two categories.

I put some in category ‘A’ (must be done tomorrow) and some in category ‘B’ (must be worked on or done in 2-3 days).

I do this because when I sit down at the computer to do work without a plan, I tend to fall flat on my face.

My so-called “work time” turns into the not-so-productive “check email time” or “browse Reddit” time; nothing of any importance gets done.

It seems that I’m not alone!

In research by Gollwitzer and colleagues, the subject of “if-then” plans was discussed in relation to how we set and stay consistent with out goals, and the results are not surprising but reveal a lot of insight into how our brain reacts to planning (and even some great tips).

The thing is, researchers found that not only do well laid plans seem to get accomplished more often, but planning for failures along the way (“In case of emergency…”) helps people stay on task under duress.

Let’s continue our diet example from above.

Say you did have that lapse and go over your calories for the day.

Instead of “winging it” and letting your brain crumble to it’s likely response (discussed above), you should have a backup plan ready to know what to do when failure strikes.

This could be something like: “If I go over 2000 calories in a day, I’ll finish the day as close to 2000 as I can, and then the next morning, I’ll go for a 15 minute run as a ‘penance’, make sure I eat an extra healthy breakfast, and then continue the rest of my day as normal.”

You are likely no stranger to feeling ashamed about getting off track, we’ve all been there.

Having those “In case of emergency…” plans help us to have a game plan in case we do falter, and including a small ‘penance’ like I discussed above can help us get over it quicker.

If you failed on your diet for a day and then ‘punish’ (again, just with a quick run) yourself by running in the morning, you can go about your day knowing that you got what you deserved, instead of sliding down the slippery slope of guilt through the rest of the day.

So remember to include an “If-Then” plan for your next big goal, you’ll be able to beat back your brain’s guilt over slipping up now and then and you won’t have to ever “wing it” in case something goes wrong!

 

And here is a bonus little meme from the good fellas over at Runt Of The Web that I am sure we can all relate to:

annoying songs brain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an article by Gregory Ciotti, founder of Sparring Mind.

I am the the Founder of Addicted2Success.com and I am so grateful you're here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring likeminded people to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances. I'm proud to say through my podcast and through this website we have impacted over 100 million lives in the last 6 and a half years.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Wojciech Krotoszyński

    Mar 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This is absolutely : “…a how to overcome my personal work problems guide.” -> Though I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for procrastinating another task I have to do.. :p

  2. andrea

    Nov 4, 2013 at 12:18 am

    This article is just brilliant! Keep up the good work!

  3. Chris

    Oct 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    so the question then is how can we retrain our brains to work for us instead of against us?

  4. Brain Hater

    Oct 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    That’s the reason I bang my head against the wall to discipline it. Now I’m going to bang it more

  5. Suriya Choudhary (@Supriyakc85)

    Jun 4, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Really, really nice article that explains us how our brains play fools with us! I have jotted these down to be constantly ‘aware’ that these don’t come in my way of success.

  6. Erica Roberts

    May 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Actually, I always OVERESTIMATE how long I will take to finish a project and end up finishing ahead of time. When I was much younger I underestimated it.. but then I learned..

  7. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

    Jan 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

    These are some great tips. I always make sure I have a plan. When I lay down in bed at night, I’ll do a quick run through of the things I want to do tomorrow. It helps me to be more productive.

  8. Dianne McLaren

    Dec 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Great tips …. Very interesting I will definitely share.

  9. Tim

    Nov 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    All of it true. I can relate to the entire list and have experienced all of them in my business. The hard part is retraining your brain to work in the opposite.

  10. Tammy

    Nov 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

    This is great! I just had to share it!

  11. Mary Gudzenovs

    Nov 15, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Brilliant. thanks. Will share this a link to this on my blog. And start practicing these tips!

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Success Advice

5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself to Stay Cool in Difficult Situations

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We all face challenging situations at work and in our personal lives, yet few of us deal with these experiences in a systematic way. We encounter obnoxious bosses, rude customers, and infuriating family members on a daily basis, yet we often don’t articulate the best way of dealing with these situations. Over time, these strains on our emotions and our mental resources take their toll, so it’s important to find ways to deal with challenging experiences efficiently and with the least about of work.

What do you do when you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or frustrated? Do you lash out or disengage from those around you? If you’re like me, you struggle to hold back your strong reactions when you experience a setback or a challenge.

Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to help slow down your reactive brain and assess your current situation so that you can respond more effectively to challenging situations:

1. Why do I feel triggered by this situation?

Start by asking yourself a broad question to assess the current situation. Why do you feel the way you do about this situation? This question allows you to take a brief pause to examine why you feel the way you do about a specific situation. Asking why is powerful because it forces you to consider your own feelings and emotions more closely. Sometimes, you may not even be fully aware that you are feeling stressed, angry, or threatened by a particular situation. Take the time to recognise those feelings and ask yourself why you are feeling them.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

2. What would I be thinking if I was in the other person’s shoes right now?

Often times, emotional stress or strain comes from an interaction with someone else – be it a work colleague, a client, or a loved one. Most of our lives we live in a bubble of “me”. We constantly think about our situation as it relates to ourselves, rather than those around us. Ask yourself what the other person is thinking in this situation, and why they might be acting the way they are. Maybe they aren’t lashing out at you because they’re rude, rather, they may be worried about their own job or career.

3. How would an outsider look at what is going on right now?

Take one more step back and look at the situation from the perspective of an outsider. If the situation is too close to your heart, chances are that putting yourself in the other person’s shoes may prove impossible. Instead, consider how an outsider would react to this situation if they were in the room with you. The outsider’s point of view will be more well rounded, and you will have the opportunity to judge whether your reactions are being influenced by the situation itself or by unconscious biases, thoughts, worries or concerns.

4. If I wasn’t tired, hungry, grumpy, sad, how would I react to this same experience?

Chances are, if you still feel the need to react or lash out in a forceful way, you may be experiencing a weakened mental state brought on by being tired, hungry, grumpy, sad, etc. By asking yourself how you might react if you were well rested and clear headed, you will give yourself a few much needed seconds to slow down and cool off before reacting emotionally. Just by realising that your mental state may be compromised, you will give yourself valuable insight before overreacting to a situation.

“I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.” – Estée Lauder

5. In a week’s time, what would your best self think about this situation?

By thinking about how your “best self” would react to a certain situation in a week’s time, you are doing two things. First, you are shifting your perspective to think about the problem through the lens of your “best self”. This means understanding that you are coming to this situation from a state that is less than perfect, and you must adjust your expectations. Second, you are distancing yourself from the situation by forcing your mind to consider what things would look like in a week’s time. By doing both of these things, you are ensuring you react in a balanced way.

The more you practice asking yourself these questions in times of stress, the better you will be at reacting to any challenges that come your way.

Are there any questions you ask yourself to frame problems or challenges differently?

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Success Advice

3 Ways to Uncover Your Blind Spots and Live Life on Your Terms

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Do you ever start to say something you know you shouldn’t, but cannot help to say it anyway? How about a specific relationship breaking down again, despite employing an array of differing strategies? I’m talking about the times where it seems no matter what you do, history has no choice but to repeat itself.

This, ladies and gentlemen, can be attributed to our blind spots. The areas where our ways of thinking hide the key to unlocking our full potential. We assert we’ve looked everywhere, but we cannot look where we cannot see. These barriers to awareness cannot be distinguished with the same thinking that got us there. A new mind and a new heart must be fashioned to break old, embedded patterns. For a life we truly love, we must take to the hills for a new vantage point.

Here are three essentials to uncovering your blind spots and living life on your terms:

1. Deal With Your Ego

Your ego, more than anything, is a protective device. Fashioned from the most primitive parts of your brain, such as the amygdala, your ego puts up a wall as you make mistakes or fall victim to your weaknesses. This component of your psyche, essentially your false self, makes it increasingly difficult for you to address your shortcomings logically and riddle them with emotion.

Because your survival and safety is paramount, responsibility is dodged and allocated elsewhere. Worse off, these areas of the brain are not accessible to our conscious awareness.

The saving grace however, is the part of the brain responsible for logic and reason. This higher-level, non-reactive consciousness can guide you in the right direction if you allow it. Understanding you have a war going on in your mind is the first step — with the second being, who you allow to win.

Your ego is insecure, underdeveloped, irrational, and painfully selfish. Calling it out when it attempts to run wild is up to you. Ironically, because it will stop at nothing to ensure your superficial needs — attention, love, praise, connection, etc. — are met, it typically jeopardizes them by being too attached. It’s a question of what you want the most versus what you want right now. You’ve got Jekyll and Hyde at odds in your head — who are you going to give the hammer to?

“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” – Dwayne Johnson

2. Question Everything

Success is not final. What works in producing results may not work for as long as we want to believe. With certain approaches having produced results for us in the past, we’re naturally inclined to lean into a sunk-cost bias and ride them out ignorantly. No one wants to give up their beliefs. Where we are in our lives right now is because of a sum of the choices we’ve made based on those beliefs.

Of the same token, what got you here won’t get you there. This is where many people struggle to stay in the game and begin to suffer — helplessness sets in when it appears all you know won’t make any difference. The only way to keep the door open to possibility is through inquiry.

By constantly questioning the approach, the mindset, the attitude and the focus on which you employ, you sift through the options objectively until you land on what you choose to try. Even if you’re wrong the first time, you simply go back to the drawing board and try something else. It gets messy when we over-identify with what we think. You can have strong opinions, but go easy on the Kung Fu grip.

3. Seek Feedback From Thoughtful People

This step is listed last for obvious reasons — it’s the most difficult. Putting yourself out there in the open for potential harm is no easy feat. When you realize the reward far outweighs the risk however, you’ll act every time.

Find a few close confidants whose opinions you value. Maybe they’ve accomplished some success in their lives or maybe they just know how to strike a chord with you. Set up regular conversations with them to provide feedback on what you’re up to in life, assuring them your feelings are suspended throughout the sit-down. Create a safe space for them to provide honest, thoughtful feedback for you to look at from a third person perspective and make a decision on whether or not you’re going to add it to your arsenal. Remember, they can see what you cannot.

This isn’t an open forum for someone to trash you. It’s simply a training ground for you to be with the perceptions that you’ve created for yourself through your attitudes and actions. By honoring and valuing others’ opinions, you’ll be one step closer to getting in the minds and hearts of the people you wish to influence most — as well as one step further away from your ego.

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” John C. Maxwell

People can’t appreciate what they don’t know is there. There’s more than one lens in life and you just happen to possess one of the billions. Life isn’t the way you see it, but merely the way it is. Staying grounded in situations and seeing your emotions for what they are (i.e. a cry for help) will allow you to continue to heighten your perspective and gain a panoramic view.

You don’t access your peripherals without stretching your sight. Try these three techniques today to take a break from informational learning and discover for yourself what’s been in your way this whole time.

How do you discover what’s holding you back from achieving success in your life? Do you have any techniques? If so, please let us know in the comments below!

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7 of the Best Time Management Tips From the Master of Success, Jim Rohn

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Becoming a master at time management will allow you to design and improve every aspect of your life. Jim Rohn was one of the most influential speakers when it came to this. His tips and tricks are very actionable and revive a sense of motivation in millions of people to date. Managing your time meticulously is easier said than done but just like anything great you will ever accomplish, the hardest step is to begin. Try not to just read through these steps but to put them into action.

Here are 7 time management tips from Jim Rohn:

1. If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan

Designing your life is a nice way of saying ‘don’t let life happen to you, make your life happen’. A ship that leaves its dock without a planned destination will wonder the seas aimlessly and guess what, it will never get to where it was meant to be. Every day is an accumulation of time, therefore, managing your time is managing your day. This will lead to having your life planned out, day by day until you realize you have achieved most, if not all, of your goals.

2. Think on paper

Write down your goals and dreams. This might be a document, app, or the old-fashioned pen to paper, but this is not an option. There is something special that happens when we jot down our goals, because the mind begins to see them as actionable steps not just dreams.

Most people say they want to be successful and dream about being great, but have never written it out the steps to get there. Meticulously plan and schedule your life in real time on paper. This will lead to the next step which is planning out how you will achieve your goals.

3. When you don’t control your time, your time will control you

Have you ever experienced a day in which you did not plan out your time and before you knew it, you had gotten nothing done? This is how most people’s lives go by. They have no specific plan for their time and therefore for their lives. Your choices determine the person you end up being. See every moment as an opportunity to savor the time and make the most of it.. If you control how you spend your time, you can control your successes and failures.

Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.” – Jim Rohn

4. If it’s easy to do, it’s easy to NOT do

We kid ourselves, ‘Ah, that’s simple, why should I plan it out, I’ll just do it!’ This has proven not to work time and time again. Simply because if it’s easy to do, it is easy not to do. We are a product of the things we continuously do.

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is structured around a simple principle. Every single action, no matter how small, if done over and over again will compound to a much larger product. The small things we ignore and don’t do because we never plan for them will eventually accumulate to some big action we now have to take which will be much harder.

5. Without a sense of urgency, desire loses value

If you don’t plan out your time you are not putting a timeline on your goals. Having deadlines creates a sense of urgency. This is why we start to work on a month-long project around the last week to the deadline. The pressure makes it seem dire and will act as a type of motivator to completing and accomplishing our goals. Put a deadline on your dreams, otherwise they are just that, dreams.

6. Study the art of setting goals

Every day, write your goals fresh without focusing on yesterday. This is a good way to weed out non-priorities and refocus on your true goals. Focus is something lacking in today’s society. Don’t fall ‘victim’ to this, so review your goals on a daily basis to reinforce them and make realizing them practical. Derek Mills suggests a Daily Standards system where we don’t necessarily work towards a long time goal but focus on daily goals which eventually turn into long-term successes.

Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

7. We all have the same amount of time in a day  

Start where you are, it doesn’t matter where you are now. 90% of millionaires started out broke. The key to success is taking a lot of action on a great idea and the only way to do this is to manage your time. Plan around every single action, no matter how simple. You can turn your life around at any given moment. The best way to do this is by time management.

Start simple by having a notebook where you write down how you spend every hour of your time. If you surf the web for 2 hours, write it down. If it takes you 30 minutes to stalk your favourite celebrity, write it down. Everything you do, for one week, write it down. In the end, you will see where most of your time goes.

You will also start to resent having to write down that you spent one hour looking at pictures of a car you could only afford if you actually used that time wisely. This is a great place to start, from there you can follow the many time management tips available to you and see what works best for you.

How do you manage your time to get the best results? Let us know in the comments below!

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8 Ways to Help You Stay Productive Even When You Think You Can’t

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To succeed big, you must work your butt off. I just read a book about the routines of billionaires and some of history]s most successful figures, and every single one of them were super productive…and you should be too. If you want better things in your life, then you must stay productive regardless of how lazy you feel or how hard a task seems to you.  

Here are 8 ways to help you stay productive even when you think you can’t:

1. Calm the HALT down

HALT is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These four moments are when you`re emotionally at your lowest, and all you can think of is bad food and a bed. Ever notice that you eat more on the days you feel tired or lonely? A great productivity tip is to take notice of when you’re at the HALT, and take some time to cool down before getting back to work. Take some time off, call a friend, take a nap, see a movie or eat something refreshing. The key is to realize that what you’re feeling is normal and to be okay with it. Once you feel better, you can get back to work.

2. Take tasks to their simplest form

“Open Gmail + type client’s email address.” This is a task I scheduled on my calendar yesterday. I was negotiating new rates with a client and because asking for a raise will always be intimidating, no matter how often you do it, I chose only to schedule the first step (Open my Gmail, then type in the client`s email), and let the ball roll from there.

I’ve been using this anti-procrastination trick for a decade, and it has never failed me. And in case you`re wondering, I wrote the email and scheduled a Zoom meeting. He said no, and we broke off. But I’m overbooked and happy.

Whenever I’m intimidated by a task, I look for the easiest thing I can do about it, and I do it. Then I look for the new “easiest” thing to do, and again I do it. Then again and again until I`m invested in the task that I no longer want to quit until I finish it.

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” – Margaret Bonnano

3. Put everything on a calendar

I couldn`t believe how much working with a calendar was awesome until I tried it. The best thing about using a calendar is that it puts time constraints on everything you do. Each task has its start and end time which makes you feel like a player before a scheduled game; you can`t reschedule the game or delay it, so you`d better pull your things together and get back to work.

4. Take no emails when you feel bad

Avoid taking emails early in the morning or when you feel bad. It`s part of the anti-HALT process discussed shortly. Emails usually come with an unexpected change in plans and sometimes worse —take an angry customer for example. So, it makes sense that you schedule emails two or three hours after you wake up to stay in a perfect mood for productivity. It`s what many productivity experts do, including Tim Ferris.

5. Eat your frog first

Eat the frog is a term made by Brian Tracy, the Steph Curry of productivity. The frog is the most significant, most difficult and the most important task on your calendar and to Tracy, that should be the first thing you do every morning. Guess what? Eating the frog does work, and if you make a habit of it, you`ll be extraordinarily productive because of the amount of motivation it will give you. It`s like passing the first exam of the semester, which happens to be the toughest. All the following will be pieces of cake to you.

6. Try the power pose

Anytime you feel unproductive, stand up, breathe deeply and take the power pose or do some stretches. Changing your physiology can improve your mood, that`s what science discovered many years ago. If your time allows, you can hit the gym or go for a run. The pump you feel, and the accomplishment will regulate your mood and motivate you to take more action.

“To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goeth

7. Work from the most boring place you can find

A tiny mean room with just a bed, a bible and a deck of cards – that`s where Maya Angelou, the great poet, did her daily writing. “I can’t work in a pretty surrounding. It throws me,” she said in an interview. Maybe this can work for you too. My first ever writing coach gave this tip in my quest to make writing a daily habit. He told me the reason why most writers, including Angelou, love to write in dull environments is that it rushes them to get things done. It makes sense because if you can`t stand the place, then you`d do anything to get out.

8. Every now and then, Work only when you feel like working

When it comes to productivity, Georges Simenon is the man. He lived 86 years and wrote over 425 novels while only working two weeks every other month. As Mason Currey wrote about him in his book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, “The Belgian-French novelist worked in intense bursts of literary activity, each lasting two or three weeks, separated by weeks or months of no writing at all. Even during his productive weeks, Simenon didn’t write for very long each day” writes Currey.

Realizing that all you need is three hours of hard work before calling it a day may motivate you.  It`s bizarre, uncommon, and may not work for you, but maybe it does. So, why not give it a try? Pick a day this week, or the next, and set to work for only three, undistracted, hours then try to squeeze out every ounce of creativity and work in those hours. Once the clock ticks, take the rest of the day off.

How do you stay productive? Comment below!

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5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself to Stay Cool in Difficult Situations

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We all face challenging situations at work and in our personal lives, yet few of us deal with these experiences in a systematic way. We encounter obnoxious bosses, rude customers, and infuriating family members on a daily basis, yet we often don’t articulate the best way of dealing with these situations. Over time, these strains on our emotions and our mental resources take their toll, so it’s important to find ways to deal with challenging experiences efficiently and with the least about of work. (more…)

McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Wojciech Krotoszyński

    Mar 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This is absolutely : “…a how to overcome my personal work problems guide.” -> Though I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for procrastinating another task I have to do.. :p

  2. andrea

    Nov 4, 2013 at 12:18 am

    This article is just brilliant! Keep up the good work!

  3. Chris

    Oct 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    so the question then is how can we retrain our brains to work for us instead of against us?

  4. Brain Hater

    Oct 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    That’s the reason I bang my head against the wall to discipline it. Now I’m going to bang it more

  5. Suriya Choudhary (@Supriyakc85)

    Jun 4, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Really, really nice article that explains us how our brains play fools with us! I have jotted these down to be constantly ‘aware’ that these don’t come in my way of success.

  6. Erica Roberts

    May 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Actually, I always OVERESTIMATE how long I will take to finish a project and end up finishing ahead of time. When I was much younger I underestimated it.. but then I learned..

  7. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

    Jan 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

    These are some great tips. I always make sure I have a plan. When I lay down in bed at night, I’ll do a quick run through of the things I want to do tomorrow. It helps me to be more productive.

  8. Dianne McLaren

    Dec 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Great tips …. Very interesting I will definitely share.

  9. Tim

    Nov 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    All of it true. I can relate to the entire list and have experienced all of them in my business. The hard part is retraining your brain to work in the opposite.

  10. Tammy

    Nov 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

    This is great! I just had to share it!

  11. Mary Gudzenovs

    Nov 15, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Brilliant. thanks. Will share this a link to this on my blog. And start practicing these tips!

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Success Advice

5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself to Stay Cool in Difficult Situations

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how to stay calm
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We all face challenging situations at work and in our personal lives, yet few of us deal with these experiences in a systematic way. We encounter obnoxious bosses, rude customers, and infuriating family members on a daily basis, yet we often don’t articulate the best way of dealing with these situations. Over time, these strains on our emotions and our mental resources take their toll, so it’s important to find ways to deal with challenging experiences efficiently and with the least about of work.

What do you do when you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or frustrated? Do you lash out or disengage from those around you? If you’re like me, you struggle to hold back your strong reactions when you experience a setback or a challenge.

Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to help slow down your reactive brain and assess your current situation so that you can respond more effectively to challenging situations:

1. Why do I feel triggered by this situation?

Start by asking yourself a broad question to assess the current situation. Why do you feel the way you do about this situation? This question allows you to take a brief pause to examine why you feel the way you do about a specific situation. Asking why is powerful because it forces you to consider your own feelings and emotions more closely. Sometimes, you may not even be fully aware that you are feeling stressed, angry, or threatened by a particular situation. Take the time to recognise those feelings and ask yourself why you are feeling them.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

2. What would I be thinking if I was in the other person’s shoes right now?

Often times, emotional stress or strain comes from an interaction with someone else – be it a work colleague, a client, or a loved one. Most of our lives we live in a bubble of “me”. We constantly think about our situation as it relates to ourselves, rather than those around us. Ask yourself what the other person is thinking in this situation, and why they might be acting the way they are. Maybe they aren’t lashing out at you because they’re rude, rather, they may be worried about their own job or career.

3. How would an outsider look at what is going on right now?

Take one more step back and look at the situation from the perspective of an outsider. If the situation is too close to your heart, chances are that putting yourself in the other person’s shoes may prove impossible. Instead, consider how an outsider would react to this situation if they were in the room with you. The outsider’s point of view will be more well rounded, and you will have the opportunity to judge whether your reactions are being influenced by the situation itself or by unconscious biases, thoughts, worries or concerns.

4. If I wasn’t tired, hungry, grumpy, sad, how would I react to this same experience?

Chances are, if you still feel the need to react or lash out in a forceful way, you may be experiencing a weakened mental state brought on by being tired, hungry, grumpy, sad, etc. By asking yourself how you might react if you were well rested and clear headed, you will give yourself a few much needed seconds to slow down and cool off before reacting emotionally. Just by realising that your mental state may be compromised, you will give yourself valuable insight before overreacting to a situation.

“I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it.” – Estée Lauder

5. In a week’s time, what would your best self think about this situation?

By thinking about how your “best self” would react to a certain situation in a week’s time, you are doing two things. First, you are shifting your perspective to think about the problem through the lens of your “best self”. This means understanding that you are coming to this situation from a state that is less than perfect, and you must adjust your expectations. Second, you are distancing yourself from the situation by forcing your mind to consider what things would look like in a week’s time. By doing both of these things, you are ensuring you react in a balanced way.

The more you practice asking yourself these questions in times of stress, the better you will be at reacting to any challenges that come your way.

Are there any questions you ask yourself to frame problems or challenges differently?

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3 Ways to Uncover Your Blind Spots and Live Life on Your Terms

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Do you ever start to say something you know you shouldn’t, but cannot help to say it anyway? How about a specific relationship breaking down again, despite employing an array of differing strategies? I’m talking about the times where it seems no matter what you do, history has no choice but to repeat itself.

This, ladies and gentlemen, can be attributed to our blind spots. The areas where our ways of thinking hide the key to unlocking our full potential. We assert we’ve looked everywhere, but we cannot look where we cannot see. These barriers to awareness cannot be distinguished with the same thinking that got us there. A new mind and a new heart must be fashioned to break old, embedded patterns. For a life we truly love, we must take to the hills for a new vantage point.

Here are three essentials to uncovering your blind spots and living life on your terms:

1. Deal With Your Ego

Your ego, more than anything, is a protective device. Fashioned from the most primitive parts of your brain, such as the amygdala, your ego puts up a wall as you make mistakes or fall victim to your weaknesses. This component of your psyche, essentially your false self, makes it increasingly difficult for you to address your shortcomings logically and riddle them with emotion.

Because your survival and safety is paramount, responsibility is dodged and allocated elsewhere. Worse off, these areas of the brain are not accessible to our conscious awareness.

The saving grace however, is the part of the brain responsible for logic and reason. This higher-level, non-reactive consciousness can guide you in the right direction if you allow it. Understanding you have a war going on in your mind is the first step — with the second being, who you allow to win.

Your ego is insecure, underdeveloped, irrational, and painfully selfish. Calling it out when it attempts to run wild is up to you. Ironically, because it will stop at nothing to ensure your superficial needs — attention, love, praise, connection, etc. — are met, it typically jeopardizes them by being too attached. It’s a question of what you want the most versus what you want right now. You’ve got Jekyll and Hyde at odds in your head — who are you going to give the hammer to?

“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” – Dwayne Johnson

2. Question Everything

Success is not final. What works in producing results may not work for as long as we want to believe. With certain approaches having produced results for us in the past, we’re naturally inclined to lean into a sunk-cost bias and ride them out ignorantly. No one wants to give up their beliefs. Where we are in our lives right now is because of a sum of the choices we’ve made based on those beliefs.

Of the same token, what got you here won’t get you there. This is where many people struggle to stay in the game and begin to suffer — helplessness sets in when it appears all you know won’t make any difference. The only way to keep the door open to possibility is through inquiry.

By constantly questioning the approach, the mindset, the attitude and the focus on which you employ, you sift through the options objectively until you land on what you choose to try. Even if you’re wrong the first time, you simply go back to the drawing board and try something else. It gets messy when we over-identify with what we think. You can have strong opinions, but go easy on the Kung Fu grip.

3. Seek Feedback From Thoughtful People

This step is listed last for obvious reasons — it’s the most difficult. Putting yourself out there in the open for potential harm is no easy feat. When you realize the reward far outweighs the risk however, you’ll act every time.

Find a few close confidants whose opinions you value. Maybe they’ve accomplished some success in their lives or maybe they just know how to strike a chord with you. Set up regular conversations with them to provide feedback on what you’re up to in life, assuring them your feelings are suspended throughout the sit-down. Create a safe space for them to provide honest, thoughtful feedback for you to look at from a third person perspective and make a decision on whether or not you’re going to add it to your arsenal. Remember, they can see what you cannot.

This isn’t an open forum for someone to trash you. It’s simply a training ground for you to be with the perceptions that you’ve created for yourself through your attitudes and actions. By honoring and valuing others’ opinions, you’ll be one step closer to getting in the minds and hearts of the people you wish to influence most — as well as one step further away from your ego.

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” John C. Maxwell

People can’t appreciate what they don’t know is there. There’s more than one lens in life and you just happen to possess one of the billions. Life isn’t the way you see it, but merely the way it is. Staying grounded in situations and seeing your emotions for what they are (i.e. a cry for help) will allow you to continue to heighten your perspective and gain a panoramic view.

You don’t access your peripherals without stretching your sight. Try these three techniques today to take a break from informational learning and discover for yourself what’s been in your way this whole time.

How do you discover what’s holding you back from achieving success in your life? Do you have any techniques? If so, please let us know in the comments below!

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7 of the Best Time Management Tips From the Master of Success, Jim Rohn

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Becoming a master at time management will allow you to design and improve every aspect of your life. Jim Rohn was one of the most influential speakers when it came to this. His tips and tricks are very actionable and revive a sense of motivation in millions of people to date. Managing your time meticulously is easier said than done but just like anything great you will ever accomplish, the hardest step is to begin. Try not to just read through these steps but to put them into action.

Here are 7 time management tips from Jim Rohn:

1. If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan

Designing your life is a nice way of saying ‘don’t let life happen to you, make your life happen’. A ship that leaves its dock without a planned destination will wonder the seas aimlessly and guess what, it will never get to where it was meant to be. Every day is an accumulation of time, therefore, managing your time is managing your day. This will lead to having your life planned out, day by day until you realize you have achieved most, if not all, of your goals.

2. Think on paper

Write down your goals and dreams. This might be a document, app, or the old-fashioned pen to paper, but this is not an option. There is something special that happens when we jot down our goals, because the mind begins to see them as actionable steps not just dreams.

Most people say they want to be successful and dream about being great, but have never written it out the steps to get there. Meticulously plan and schedule your life in real time on paper. This will lead to the next step which is planning out how you will achieve your goals.

3. When you don’t control your time, your time will control you

Have you ever experienced a day in which you did not plan out your time and before you knew it, you had gotten nothing done? This is how most people’s lives go by. They have no specific plan for their time and therefore for their lives. Your choices determine the person you end up being. See every moment as an opportunity to savor the time and make the most of it.. If you control how you spend your time, you can control your successes and failures.

Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.” – Jim Rohn

4. If it’s easy to do, it’s easy to NOT do

We kid ourselves, ‘Ah, that’s simple, why should I plan it out, I’ll just do it!’ This has proven not to work time and time again. Simply because if it’s easy to do, it is easy not to do. We are a product of the things we continuously do.

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is structured around a simple principle. Every single action, no matter how small, if done over and over again will compound to a much larger product. The small things we ignore and don’t do because we never plan for them will eventually accumulate to some big action we now have to take which will be much harder.

5. Without a sense of urgency, desire loses value

If you don’t plan out your time you are not putting a timeline on your goals. Having deadlines creates a sense of urgency. This is why we start to work on a month-long project around the last week to the deadline. The pressure makes it seem dire and will act as a type of motivator to completing and accomplishing our goals. Put a deadline on your dreams, otherwise they are just that, dreams.

6. Study the art of setting goals

Every day, write your goals fresh without focusing on yesterday. This is a good way to weed out non-priorities and refocus on your true goals. Focus is something lacking in today’s society. Don’t fall ‘victim’ to this, so review your goals on a daily basis to reinforce them and make realizing them practical. Derek Mills suggests a Daily Standards system where we don’t necessarily work towards a long time goal but focus on daily goals which eventually turn into long-term successes.

Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

7. We all have the same amount of time in a day  

Start where you are, it doesn’t matter where you are now. 90% of millionaires started out broke. The key to success is taking a lot of action on a great idea and the only way to do this is to manage your time. Plan around every single action, no matter how simple. You can turn your life around at any given moment. The best way to do this is by time management.

Start simple by having a notebook where you write down how you spend every hour of your time. If you surf the web for 2 hours, write it down. If it takes you 30 minutes to stalk your favourite celebrity, write it down. Everything you do, for one week, write it down. In the end, you will see where most of your time goes.

You will also start to resent having to write down that you spent one hour looking at pictures of a car you could only afford if you actually used that time wisely. This is a great place to start, from there you can follow the many time management tips available to you and see what works best for you.

How do you manage your time to get the best results? Let us know in the comments below!

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8 Ways to Help You Stay Productive Even When You Think You Can’t

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To succeed big, you must work your butt off. I just read a book about the routines of billionaires and some of history]s most successful figures, and every single one of them were super productive…and you should be too. If you want better things in your life, then you must stay productive regardless of how lazy you feel or how hard a task seems to you.  

Here are 8 ways to help you stay productive even when you think you can’t:

1. Calm the HALT down

HALT is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These four moments are when you`re emotionally at your lowest, and all you can think of is bad food and a bed. Ever notice that you eat more on the days you feel tired or lonely? A great productivity tip is to take notice of when you’re at the HALT, and take some time to cool down before getting back to work. Take some time off, call a friend, take a nap, see a movie or eat something refreshing. The key is to realize that what you’re feeling is normal and to be okay with it. Once you feel better, you can get back to work.

2. Take tasks to their simplest form

“Open Gmail + type client’s email address.” This is a task I scheduled on my calendar yesterday. I was negotiating new rates with a client and because asking for a raise will always be intimidating, no matter how often you do it, I chose only to schedule the first step (Open my Gmail, then type in the client`s email), and let the ball roll from there.

I’ve been using this anti-procrastination trick for a decade, and it has never failed me. And in case you`re wondering, I wrote the email and scheduled a Zoom meeting. He said no, and we broke off. But I’m overbooked and happy.

Whenever I’m intimidated by a task, I look for the easiest thing I can do about it, and I do it. Then I look for the new “easiest” thing to do, and again I do it. Then again and again until I`m invested in the task that I no longer want to quit until I finish it.

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” – Margaret Bonnano

3. Put everything on a calendar

I couldn`t believe how much working with a calendar was awesome until I tried it. The best thing about using a calendar is that it puts time constraints on everything you do. Each task has its start and end time which makes you feel like a player before a scheduled game; you can`t reschedule the game or delay it, so you`d better pull your things together and get back to work.

4. Take no emails when you feel bad

Avoid taking emails early in the morning or when you feel bad. It`s part of the anti-HALT process discussed shortly. Emails usually come with an unexpected change in plans and sometimes worse —take an angry customer for example. So, it makes sense that you schedule emails two or three hours after you wake up to stay in a perfect mood for productivity. It`s what many productivity experts do, including Tim Ferris.

5. Eat your frog first

Eat the frog is a term made by Brian Tracy, the Steph Curry of productivity. The frog is the most significant, most difficult and the most important task on your calendar and to Tracy, that should be the first thing you do every morning. Guess what? Eating the frog does work, and if you make a habit of it, you`ll be extraordinarily productive because of the amount of motivation it will give you. It`s like passing the first exam of the semester, which happens to be the toughest. All the following will be pieces of cake to you.

6. Try the power pose

Anytime you feel unproductive, stand up, breathe deeply and take the power pose or do some stretches. Changing your physiology can improve your mood, that`s what science discovered many years ago. If your time allows, you can hit the gym or go for a run. The pump you feel, and the accomplishment will regulate your mood and motivate you to take more action.

“To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goeth

7. Work from the most boring place you can find

A tiny mean room with just a bed, a bible and a deck of cards – that`s where Maya Angelou, the great poet, did her daily writing. “I can’t work in a pretty surrounding. It throws me,” she said in an interview. Maybe this can work for you too. My first ever writing coach gave this tip in my quest to make writing a daily habit. He told me the reason why most writers, including Angelou, love to write in dull environments is that it rushes them to get things done. It makes sense because if you can`t stand the place, then you`d do anything to get out.

8. Every now and then, Work only when you feel like working

When it comes to productivity, Georges Simenon is the man. He lived 86 years and wrote over 425 novels while only working two weeks every other month. As Mason Currey wrote about him in his book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, “The Belgian-French novelist worked in intense bursts of literary activity, each lasting two or three weeks, separated by weeks or months of no writing at all. Even during his productive weeks, Simenon didn’t write for very long each day” writes Currey.

Realizing that all you need is three hours of hard work before calling it a day may motivate you.  It`s bizarre, uncommon, and may not work for you, but maybe it does. So, why not give it a try? Pick a day this week, or the next, and set to work for only three, undistracted, hours then try to squeeze out every ounce of creativity and work in those hours. Once the clock ticks, take the rest of the day off.

How do you stay productive? Comment below!

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