Procrastination is something that can ruin your day, damage your career and negatively impact on your relationships.
Often, we laugh about procrastination as though it were an amusing habit and sometimes it can be. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t also incredibly destructive. Imagine it’s 4pm and you have work you desperately need to finish by 5pm but you can’t stop browsing Facebook or making trips to the kitchen for cups of coffee.
What happens? One option is that you end up going home very late and lose out on time with your family. Another option is that you end up not finishing the work and starting the next day incredibly behind.
Either way, this is a serious problem.
So, what can you do about it? Here are a few tricks that can help.
Start the Most Enjoyable Task First
One effective way to reduce your proneness to procrastination is to take on the easiest/most enjoyable task first. Our natural inclination is very often to handle the most difficult task first and to that way get it out of the way.
But if you’re struggling with motivation, then this is going to be a big up-hill struggle to get yourself to commit.
Instead, if the first task is something easier and more fun, then you’ll find you can work more easily without being distracted. And once you’ve done that, you should be in a slightly more work-oriented frame of mind.
Make it More Interesting
Procrastination often comes from one simple fact: the job you should be doing is boring. Hence you would rather be doing something else.
One simple solution is to make said task more enjoyable or interesting. This might mean turning letter stuffing into a game. Or it might mean providing yourself with a little stimulation: I will often write articles while watching videos on silent just to ensure that I have a bit of stimulation.
If you’re writing, then try to make the topic more interesting so that you’ll be less likely to be bored. If you’re bored writing it, then it’s probably not going to be great to read!
Finally, note that we are much more prone to procrastination when we’re tired. Why? Because will-power requires energy.
When you take that energy away, it becomes much easier to be distracted or interested with other things. Give yourself more energy by sleeping better, by eating supplements that boost energy levels and by avoiding stressful events wherever possible.
If you want to upgrade your brain like Eddie Mora from Limitless, then unfortunately you won’t find it to be as easy as taking a single pill. Instead, you’re going to have to look at more arduous and lengthy strategies, including such things as brain training or improving your overall health.
If you choose to go the brain-training route though, there is one especially effective and ‘easy’ method that you may find helps you to see the kinds of results you’re looking for. That method is to focus your training on working memory. But what does that actually mean?
What is Working Memory?
The traditional view of memory split out capacity for storing information into three separate categories. Those were: working memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.
Short-term memory was described as containing all the information that you remember for a while, but that would ultimately be ‘sent to trash’. This includes such things as people’s names, or what you had for breakfast. Long-term memory meanwhile includes all that information that you will remember indefinitely: the names of your friends, the night you proposed, how to tell the time etc.
Working memory, based on this description, was effectively your brain’s equivalent of RAM. This is where information would be stored that would only be required for a very short amount of time. The most popular example is a phone number that you are going to write down.
In turn, the working memory – based on the traditional view – could be broken down into a ‘visuo-spatial scratchpad’ where we would visualize things and a ‘phonological loop’ where we would repeat things to ourselves in a bid to not forget them.
Today though, psychologists are recognizing that working memory has much more in-common with visualization in general. This is our ability to internalize information, whether that’s memory, imagination or something else.
In short, this is our ability to create a representation of the world whether for predictive purposes or something else. In conversation, this means keeping track of what’s been said and what’s next. In sports, it means knowing where everyone is on the pitch. When working, it’s what allows us to multitask and switch between different things. This is nothing short of crucial for your ability to work quickly and effectively.
How to Train It
The good news is that there is a proven method for increasing working memory and that is to train using something called the N Back test. Use this and you can gradually improve your ability to hold information in your mind with incredible results.
When you are trying to build a successful social media page that will help to sell your products and build you a big following, what’s important is to try and ‘sell the dream’.
So what does that mean? It means focusing on you value proposition.
A value proposition meanwhile is the way in which your product or your service can change people’s lives for the better. What is it that people should get from your product if all goes well? The old saying goes that you don’t sell hats, you sell warm heads!
This is to say that people don’t buy hats because they want to wrap fabric around their heads – they buy them for an end goal that will make life a little more comfortable. Your product and your service are more than the sum of their parts.
The Emotional Hook
This is even more important when what you’re selling has an ‘emotional hook’. The ideal example here is the ‘Make Money Ebook’. This is just a PDF with lots of words, which in itself doesn’t offer that much value.
So the value proposition is tied to what those words can do for the person. And of course this means that you’re going to help your readers to become richer.
More than that, you’re going to help them end the stress of debt and you’re going to help them to be more attractive to the opposite sex. They can go on lots of holidays and buy nice watches that make them feel more confident!
That’s the emotional hook and if you were trying to sell the product on a sales page, that’s what you’d focus on.
In social media, you don’t want to be so ‘on the nose’. Instead, your objective will be to focus on the lifestyle that is associated with the product you’re selling and to promote this through your channel.
How to Sell the Lifestyle
So how might you do this? A quick look on Instagram will quickly show you how people are selling fitness products and clothing: they do it by creating a lifestyle and sharing images and videos of themselves working out, or just looking generally attractive in their clothes.
And this helps to gain them followers who want that lifestyle and who want to live vicariously. And it also generates a lot of sales – more effectively than any on-the-nose marketing attempt!
In neuroscience, the concept of ‘flow’ is currently all the rage.
Flow describes a specific mental state that allows us to focus intensely on a single task or subject matter. In this state, time will actually appear to dilate and slow around us, giving us more time to react and improving our performance significantly. At the same time, we become faster at solving problems and reacting and we can completely block out all distracting thoughts and temptations.
So, what is this ‘flow’ exactly and how does it come about?
Flow is a certain mental state in much the same way that the ‘fight or flight’ puts us into a particular state of mind. In fact, a flow state is very similar to the fight or flight response with the primary difference being that fight or flight makes us more panicked and distracted whereas flow is slightly calmer and more positive.
Both states though are triggered by a sense of danger and importance. When the body detects that it is in danger, or working toward a highly important goal, then it will produce chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine and cortisol. These increase the heart rate, contract the muscles and generally make us more highly alert and ready for action.
The difference is that a flow state also produces serotonin (the feel good hormone) and anandamide (the ‘bliss’ hormone). This makes the sensation far more euphoric and also makes us more creatively inclined. In other words: this is danger/importance with enjoyment and excitement.
Common ‘triggers’ of flow states include surfing, snow boarding and sports. This is any moment when you have lost track of time and what you are and instead begun to move purely through space without distraction.
This can also happen when you’re performing in a band and you become ‘one with the music’. Or when you’re engaged in fascinating discussion and you lose all track of time.
How to Access Flow
So how do you access this incredible mental state and find your flow? The answer is that it requires you to focus 100% on what you’re doing by building up its importance in your mind. Using meditation can help you to generally improve your focus, while practicing CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can teach you to change the way you feel about different activities.
Ultimately though, you have to remind yourself why what you’re doing is important and to fully engage in that moment. Only then can you tap into your flow!
This might sound like the cheesy-kind of advice your parents might have given you, but it really is true that confidence can get you pretty much whatever you want. That and being yourself.
If you want to get a date, succeed in your career or otherwise take any aspect of your life to the next level, then boosting your confidence is one of the best ways to accomplish that. Here’s why…
What Confidence Really Means
If you have ever met an alpha male, or a woman who just seems to have everything under control, then you might have noticed that they are usually very confident. The truth is that the whole reason they appear so successful is that confidence. That’s because confidence sends a powerful signal – it says ‘I consider myself to be a catch’.
Speaking in evolutionary terms, confidence suggests that you are a good potential mate, or a superior competitor. Even if someone is short, poorly dressed and unappealing – if they are supremely confidence then it will seem as though they know something you don’t. The assumption is that they must have a reason to be that confident.
And thus we instantly assume that this person is somehow our superior: that we should try to impress them, or try to be more like them. That’s why we gravitate toward confident people, want to date them and want to be liked by them.
A lot of people don’t realize the importance of confidence and they think it is enough to be nice. They assume that by acting nice, they will get people to like them and they can that way overcome their looks, their stature, or their status.
But if you don’t have any self-confidence and you act very nice, then this can actually backfire: it starts to seem as though you want something and that you are being a creep in order to get it.
Conversely, if you act a little less needy, if you can show yourself to be highly capable and impressive and then you chat to someone in a friendly and open manner… then people will be won over by your charm and your appeal. This niceness seems much more genuine because you appear like you don’t need help from everyone.
So guys: stop trying to win the girl by being nice.
Employees, stop trying to get the job by being self-deprecating.
Act like you know your worth and then layer niceness on top of that. That is the winning combination!