When you look at the kinds of dreams and aspirations that most people have, it quickly becomes apparent that they want more out of life than can be achieved by just going through the day-to-day routine, and “killing time” until the next day’s commute beckons.
For many of us, however, even if we know that we would ideally like to do more with our lives, it’s the “getting started” part of the equation that is one of the most significant stumbling blocks. Procrastination simply has a way of rearing its ugly head, and throwing even the best intentions off track.
Whether you want to create your own business and have the best possible chance of making it successful, or whether you want to get in shape and get more involved in physically active outdoor hobbies that take you away from the constant electric glow of your computer monitor or TV, there are various ways that you can adjust your lifestyle to reduce procrastination, and to make yourself more active and outgoing.
Here are a few tips for doing more and procrastinating less in life.
Get in the habit of just taking that first step, even if you don’t feel ready
Often, inactivity and procrastination are heavily driven by an insecure feeling that we are “just not ready” yet. This is especially likely to be the case when it comes to taking steps to pursue especially challenging, or ambitious, life goals.
No one wants to try to create a successful business only to have it flop, and no one wants to embark on a new fitness program only to become burned out, fail to see results, and lose motivation. And so it’s these fears and insecurities that often contribute to us putting things off, over and over again.
It’s important to realize, though, that it’s impossible to ever be so “ready” that you can have any sort of a guarantee that you won’t fail, or won’t look foolish when attempting something. Instead, what you will typically see consistently with high achievers across a broad range of different domains, is that they simply get in the habit of being active and taking the first step, and don’t get too hung up on making sure that the timing is perfect.
By simply taking the first step, you can effectively challenge and push past a lot of the excuses and mental chatter that you might have in place, and that might be preventing you from truly making progress and achieving your full potential.
Reduce overstimulation in your everyday life, to boost motivation
Obviously, everyone likes to experience pleasure and comfort in their lives – and there is certainly nothing wrong with these things at all. There is, however, something wrong with overindulging in highly stimulating activities and pastimes, and with being constantly driven to pursue more and more pleasure in any given situation.
The psychiatrist Anna Lembke has recently outlined in her book, “Dopamine Nation,” just how the continual engagement with overstimulating pleasures, activities, and forms of media, can lead to addiction and desensitization that can make it almost impossible to find pleasure or satisfaction in the “little things” in life.
This is even true for additions to things like playing video games, or compulsively engaging with social media.
According to Lembke, the way around this issue is to limit how much and how often you indulge in these highly stimulating activities, and to regularly do things that you find stressful or uncomfortable, to help reset the balance, and to keep you in a state of equilibrium. Many people find that cold showers and occasional fasting are useful activities for becoming more driven and energized in life.
Your motivation for things like work, or for your hobbies, or even things like doing the chores, will simply be higher if you haven’t conditioned yourself to only enjoy super-visceral and action-packed stimuli.
Realize that there are many ways to iteratively improve along the way
One thing that causes many people to procrastinate – or, at least, that ends up serving as a major contributing factor to procrastination and inaction – is the belief that it’s important to get everything perfectly planned and executed at the outset, otherwise the opportunity will be lost, and the end result will be mediocre.
There is a Catch 22 situation here, though, because no one ever gets everything right on the first go, or is able to account for every potential variable at the outset of an endeavor.
Rather than becoming too caught up in trying to get everything done perfectly at the outset, realize that there are many ways to iteratively improve along the way, almost regardless of what it is you are doing. In a business setting, iterative improvement could involve looking to add Chat on your website along the way, and then introducing new services as time goes on.
In the context of a fitness routine, iterative improvements can involve fine-tuning your diet, and swapping out certain exercises for others that you find more engaging and useful, as you gain experience.
In fact, if you want to be successful in just about anything in life, it’s necessary to get comfortable with the idea of looking for ways to consistently improve along the way, in and of itself. Allowing yourself to fall into the fallacy of believing that it’s “all or nothing” on day one will simply prevent you from taking action, and will turn you into the kind of “perfectionist” who never actually does anything at all.
Give yourself permission to not be very good when you’re just starting with something. It’s fine, in almost all cases. The important thing is actually getting started, so that you can get good along the way, instead of keeping things “perfect” in your own mind, and never actually taking action in the world.
Engage in regular physical activity – and aim to move around as much as you can during the day
It’s hardly a secret that engaging in regular physical activity is highly beneficial in all sorts of different ways. As various public health crises have emerged and skyrocketed in recent times, there’s been a growing amount of concern about the fact that more and more people are living sedentary lifestyles than ever before.
Getting regular physical activity is implicated in all sorts of positive health effects, ranging from a lower risk of various different diseases, to less likelihood of engaging in other activities which undermine health as well. In fact, regular physical activity has even been linked to better sleep at night.
At the same time, though, engaging in regular physical activity, and aiming to move around as much as you can during the day, also has all sorts of psychological benefits, and can significantly improve your capacity for taking action and getting things done.
When you are more physically active – including things like regularly getting up and pacing around during the day – you naturally move yourself more out of your own head, and into the immediate moment and your surroundings.
People who are more physically active are also more energized as a rule, and this can contribute directly to feelings of capability and motivation that would otherwise have been missing.
It’s worth pointing out that many influential inventors, discoverers, and even authors over the years have credited regular physical movement – particularly things like going for walks – with providing many of their most significant flashes of inspiration.
On the other hand, it’s all too easy to end up procrastinating if you are sitting down for the majority of the day in a comfy chair, and aren’t physically exerting any effort at all. Somehow, this seems to have a tendency to put people into a state of laziness, if they’re not careful.
Just one way of becoming more physically active by default during the day, is to get a standing desk. An adjustable standing desk can also help to reduce your risk of many of the undesirable health consequences that are associated with excess time spent sitting down.
Establish routines that help you to build momentum as early in the day as possible
Procrastination is one of those things that get worse the longer you let it establish itself. If you’ve been procrastinating on something for hours already, you’ll likely find that there’s even more psychological resistance to getting started than there was at the beginning.
Generating momentum as early in the day as you possibly can, can work wonders when it comes to helping you conquer procrastination, and to get in the habit of doing more, overall.
Establish routines that help you to begin “getting things done” as soon as possible after you first step out of bed.
These routines could involve things like doing some jumping jacks, having a shower, and getting dressed, or going for a quick stroll outdoors. Either way, “get the ball rolling,” early, before you can become too caught up in procrastination, or too comfortable with letting your attention wander to less meaningful things.