Do you find that the day always seems to fly by and you never get anything done? Do you often find yourself saying "I'll do it tomorrow?”
If so, this article is for you. In this post, we will discuss 5 expert tips on how to stop being lazy and start getting more done. These tips can be used in all areas of your life – from personal tasks to professional projects at work.
Why You're Lazy
Laziness is a trait that most of us possess. It's often hard to get motivated and do the things we know we need to be doing or want to be doing.
Being lazy is a habit. It's something you've acquired over time that has become second nature to you. Over the years, your brain has learned what it takes to conserve energy and effort as well as how best to get things done in the most efficient way possible. However, this also means that being "lazy" is a lot easier and more convenient than being productive.
A lack of ambition, a lack of direction or interest, or even a sensation of overload can all lead to laziness. There's also the fact that we're biologically wired to do this. In order to conserve our energy, we are hard-wired to keep our distance. Netflix and chill in a never-ending cycle of quick delight and regret
Laziness can be both physical and mental depending on the task at hand. For example, you might have trouble getting out of bed in the morning because your body finds it too easy to just stay there rather than go through the effort of putting itself together to accomplish everything that you need to do that day.
You might also find yourself becoming mentally lazy because you've convinced yourself that a task sounds too difficult or is going to take way longer than it should, so why bother doing anything about it? In all actuality, the task itself might not be as bad as your brain has made it seem and could likely be accomplished in a shorter amount of time than you initially thought.
How do we stop being lazy and get more done? We all want to find out. I'm sure I want the answer.
There is indeed someone who can accomplish all of this and more - Cal Newport is insanely productive.
- He has a Ph.D. from MIT and a full-time job as a professor at Georgetown University means that he has to teach classes and meet with students all the time.
- He writes 6 or more peer-reviewed academic journal papers each year.
- He wrote "So Good They Can't Ignore You" among many other books.
- He is married and has a young child. He does all the things that come with being a husband and father.
- He writes a lot about productivity and expert performance on his blog.
And yet, his work is done by 5:00 p.m., and he rarely works on the weekends.
No, he doesn't have a staff of 15, nor does he have superpowers. So let's stop being jealous of him for a second and learn a little more about him.
Find out how Cal manages his time, stops being lazy, gets more done, and is done by 5:30. Let's get to work now.
How to Stop Being Lazy
When it comes to procrastinating, you're probably aware that you're at the procrastination level: expert. How can you stand taller and inch closer to your goals? That is what you need to know. Let's look at five expert tips from Cal on how to stop being lazy and start getting more done:
To-Do lists are bad. Everything should be planned.
The first tip on how to stop being lazy and get more done is to use a To-Do list. To-do lists are useless on their own. They're just the start. You have to make time for them on your calendar. Why?
In this case, it helps to be realistic about the things you can get done. It lets you do things when they're the most efficient, not just because they're the fourth one.
This will help you stay organized and on task, as well as make it easier for you to track your progress. Once you've made your list, break down each item into smaller steps that are easily accomplished. This way, you'll be able to see what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed.
You can then set the time aside in advance so that there's no chance of forgetting about something important later on. Before you put it on your calendar and give it an hour, it's just a list of things you want to happen.
Schedule every minute of your day, even the most mundane parts like checking email or taking a break at lunch. This way, there's no time for procrastination because everything is planned out in advance. You'll have specified times available to work on big projects as well as small tasks that can be accomplished in a short amount of time.
The only thing left to do is work hard during your scheduled times and get more done than you ever have before! Set the bar low at first, but then create systems for success. This way, you'll quickly realize just how much easier it is to stop being lazy when everything is organized and planned out.
The thing is, you select where you land, and setting a large, terrifying, off-the-radar objective is possible, but you must trust yourself to take the path to it. If you establish unrealistic expectations and fail to achieve them, anything challenging will be thrown out like last week's leftovers. You need to trust yourself, and that includes setting and achieving goals you know you can achieve. You'll eventually reach a point where you're unsure, even terrified, of your aspirations.
It's easy to plan your day backwards if you think you're going home at 5.
Work will fill the space it has. Give it 24 hours a day, and guess what?
For work/life balance, you need to set some rules. Even so, this makes you work better because it makes you think about how to be more efficient.
When you set a time limit of 5:30 and then schedule tasks, you can get your hands on that whirlpool of tasks. The tasks overlap and you get a great feeling of progress.
Some people find it helpful to ask themselves, "What's the most important thing I can do in this next hour?" And then do that. Then they move on to what's most important after an hour, even if there are still things they haven't finished yet.
When you're done with the most important thing, you can then move on to the next task.
If everything is scheduled and planned out, it's easier to stay focused and get more done. You'll be less likely to become overwhelmed or distracted by other things that may come up throughout the day.
It's also helpful to take breaks at regular intervals so that you can recharge and come back to your tasks with fresh eyes.
A "fixed schedule productivity" is what Cal calls it.
"Set your ideal schedule, then work backward to make everything fit. You'll cut down on obligations, turn people down, become hard to reach, and get rid of tasks that aren't very important. Making that fixed schedule a reality forces me to make a lot of really smart and useful decisions right now."
You've drawn a line in the sand and worked backward, assigning time to each of your activities. When it comes to long-term initiatives, how do you deal with them?
Making a new habit can be challenging. Your brain, on the other hand, misses that action when you don't perform it consistently for a long period of time. Routines and systems arise in the brain. It is our habits that determine whether or not we achieve our goals, according to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business.
Developing a habit is a deliberate act. After a period of time and a sufficient number of repetitions, it becomes a habitual act. A new formula is simply created by your brain.
Plan Out Your Week in Advance.
Think about it: I think you'll agree that short-term thinking is not what this world needs more of.
If you have a big project, then break out the larger chunks of it and do those tasks in advance. If there's something like preparation to be done for an upcoming presentation or meeting, try doing some prep work ahead of time.
You don't want to spend all day scrambling around trying to get ready for a client
You can't get ahead of the game if you only look at today and don't think about tomorrow.
You need to think about tomorrow and what you can do today to put yourself in a better position tomorrow. This includes being proactive instead of reactive, setting goals and planning for them, and taking action on those plans.
To be a good parent and write books, you have to be able to do all these things at the same time. Plan for the week.
"People don't think about the bigger picture when it comes to their time and schedules. Each day, I know what I'm going to do with each hour of the day. If I know each day of the week and each week of the month, I know what I'm going to do."
Do you have a smirk on your face right now? Is it too much to ask? I promise you, it's far easier than you imagine. Is there anything else that should be done?
Every Monday morning, for one hour.
I make a weekly plan on Monday and stick to it. I go through my emails, my to-do list, and my calendar to determine the best use of each day this week. If I write it down and send it to myself, I'll be reminded of it throughout the day since I'll see it in my inbox where I know I'll see it.
It's important to keep in mind how to get started, which necessitates a certain amount of resolve. But don't be discouraged if you've never been good with willpower before. You don't require willpower to complete the task. For the first few minutes of each time block, all you need is a little bit of willpower. This is because it's much easier to keep moving once you get going.
Do Only a Few Things Well, and Do Them Exceptionally Well.
You might be thinking: I'm just swamped with work right now. If I had so much to do in that little time, I wouldn't be able to finish.
You can't be good at everything.
"I use the Pareto principle to choose which tasks I work on," Cal says. "The 80/20 rule is a popular tool for working with limited resources — it's not just about money, but also time."
The biggest challenge when you're facing an overabundance of tasks is to make a conscious effort not to do everything at once.
This can be tough because it's easy and tempting to think that you're being more efficient by doing many tasks at the same time — but in reality, multitasking creates stress and doesn't get anything done faster or better than focusing on one thing at a time.
And Cal acknowledges that you may be correct. However, giving up and working till 10 p.m. is not the solution.
It's time to narrow down your workload. In the end, nothing is necessary. You're more likely than not to say "yes" to things you shouldn't.
"Pick two or three things and do them well," he says. "In the world of business, this is called being a specialist."
When it comes to avoiding laziness, the capacity to focus on just one tiny part of the job and then make a commitment to doing it is important. Look for the part of a large job that can be completed in five minutes or less, for example. Then, identify a ten-minute task that will complete the project. You'll soon be able to do 45-minute activities with ease. Do a few things exceptionally well and leave the rest for another day.
Do you know what adds true value to your life? Then get rid of the remainder of it as much as you can.
This is the key to getting more done. You have to be ruthless with your time and eliminate everything that doesn't add value to your life.
There are always things vying for our attention, but if we're not careful, they can easily consume our day without us realizing it.
"Is it better to do a few things well than many things poorly? If you want to be as successful as possible, you should do fewer things well but do them better. People agree to too many things. Most of the time, I say no. I'm very strict about skipping or getting rid of tasks if I know they're not worth it."
There's so much to do that it feels like you don't have any time.
So you should do less. And be great at those things, too.
Everything is in order, thanks to your meticulous planning and the fact that you are doing less. What remains to be answered, however, is what you should be doing with your time.
Decreases the Shallow Work and Increases the Deep Stuff.
All work is not the same. There are two types of work done by people who know a lot of things: Shallow and Deep.
"You do "shallow work" when you send emails, hold meetings, and move information around. Things that don't use your skills. In deep work, you push your current abilities to the limit. It gives you high-value results and makes you better at what you do."
"Most people do shallow work because it's easier and doesn't require much effort."
To get more done, you need to focus on deep work. This is the type of work that requires your full attention and uses your skills and abilities. It's high-value and results in you becoming better at what you do.
What's wrong with this? Most of us are "drowning in the shallows."
By comparison, those who are most frequently occupied get far less done than those who can quit at 5 PM every day. That's because their professional life has become a sea of shallows, and they need to work nights and weekends to keep up. They're a human network router, responding to messages and moving data around. These tasks take a lot of time and are of little benefit.
When it comes to being a CEO, no one ever made it because they answered more emails or attended meetings. Bubba, that's not going to happen.
Deep work is what gets you promoted, not shallow work that keeps you from getting fired.
Allow yourself long stretches of uninterrupted time to focus on creating something worthwhile. Exactly where should I begin?
The first thing in the morning, don't check your email.
In his international best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek, author Tim Ferriss explains:
"...avoid checking email for the first hour or two of the day wherever possible. Some individuals have a hard time picturing it. "How do I go about doing that?" My most crucial one or two tasks require me to check my email, so I need to accomplish that first."
As it turns out, it's far from always the case. If you want to do all of your most crucial tasks, you may need to log into your email account. But can you accomplish work before your rat brain explodes with fear, dopamine excitement, and stress panic when you go into Gmail? Yes."
How do you know what type of work is deep and shallow? For me, it's easier if I think about my goals for the day or week in terms of three types of activities: Plan – Create – Produce. Some tasks fall into all three categories, but not many. If a task falls only into one category, it's usually pretty easy to determine if it's shallow or deep.
Planning is moving data around; creating is using your skills, and producing is getting high-value results. So ask yourself this question: "Does this task move data around, use my skills, or produce high-value results?" If the answer is no, it's probably a shallow task.
Planning and creating are both deep works while producing is usually shallow work. If you can focus on creating instead of producing, you'll be more successful in the long run.
It's going to be difficult to alter your behavior if you find yourself defending it. But if you're willing to alter your habits, the ones that worked for you in the past won't. Every day, affirm your willingness to change, and when you're feeling down, break it down even further. The best way to keep yourself motivated is to remind yourself of why you're doing what you're doing. At IWT, we refer to this as the "rich life" since this is where you bring out your "dream life map." Imagine the kind of life you'll lead if you stick with your ambitions and don't give up.
So, how can we connect all of this?
Here are Cal's five most important pointers:
- To-Do lists are bad. Everything should be planned.
- It's easy to plan your day backward if you think you're going home at 5.
- Plan Out Your Week in Advance.
- Do Only a Few Things Well, and Do Them Exceptionally Well.
- Decreases the Shallow Work and Increases the Deep Stuff.
This may sound cold and clinical, but the end outcome is far from it. You've freed up your time to do important things, and you're getting better at the things you do. That's a winning combination.
To get more done, we must learn how to focus on deep work and eliminate everything else. We need to be ruthless with our time and only do those things that are worth our time.
You'll have more time to spend with your loved ones, and you'll be able to produce work that you can be proud of.
Here's what Cal says:
"Craftsmanship is just knowledge labor. Information, not carved wood, is what you're working with. You're coming up with new concepts. Think of yourself as a craftsman and you'll be happier and more fulfilled, as well as more successful, in the process of creating knowledge from raw materials."
In the workplace of the world, there could be a few more proud craftsmen than cubicle drones.