By Maen AlDassin
Sometimes you can feel lost when you keep putting off important tasks, and you don’t recognize your priorities. You can also feel like you’re stuck in an unproductive daily routine and can’t decide for yourself most of the time. The following are four (not in ranked order) things you should try to better yourself in these areas:
I. Stop Procrastinating
Procrastination is a timeless problem. So much so that ancient Greek Philosophers came up with a word to describe this behavior: Akrasia, which is the lack of self-control or the habit of acting against one’s better judgment.
A big reason why you procrastinate is referred to by behavioral psychologists as “time inconsistency.” It relates to the problem of the brain, valuing immediate rewards more than future rewards. For example, you could say you want to lose weight. However, the reward of this goal is in the future. While right now, you just want a snack. Here are two options you can try:
1. Make the Future Rewards More Immediate
This method came directly from the cause of the problem. You can attempt to do it using many ways that are subjective and differ from one person to another. One way you could try is called temptation bundling. Essentially, It’s a way of being more productive by bundling what you love to do with what you should do. For instance, only listen to music while you work on an assignment.
Similarly, you can make the consequences of procrastination more immediate. As an example, skipping a study session for an exam that’s a month away won’t affect you immediately. But, if you study with a friend, they will give you a hard time about skipping it.
2. Set Smart Goals and Use Commitment Devices
The smart goals method helps break down general goals into smaller ones that are easier to achieve; therefore, making your goal seem easy and doable and reducing the likelihood of procrastinating it. The word “smart” is an acronym for:
- S: Specific (What do you want to do? How? When? Where?)
- M: Measurable (How do you want to track your progress?)
- A: Achievable (Why do you think you can reach this goal?)
- R: Relevant (Why is your goal important to you?)
- T: Timed (When do you want to reach your goal?)
Additionally, commitment devices are things psychologists like to use to overcome procrastination. They help hinder your daily habits that contribute to long-term procrastination. Suppose you want to stop getting distracted by your phone while studying. In that case, you can use an application that blocks non-essential apps for a predetermined amount of time, which helps you commit more to the work at hand.
II. Manage Your Priorities
You may have read a lot about time management and how to manage your time. But how can you manage your time without managing your priorities? Many of us have a handful of daily tasks that range from being professional, personal, or social. And it could be hard to swiftly shift between them without messing up one of them for the sake of another.
To manage your priorities better, you can try the Eisenhower method. Eisenhower said, “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”. This simple matrix has been produced to illustrate the concept further:
The Eisenhower method classifies tasks into four categories based on their importance and urgency.
- Important & urgent: Things that have a close deadline or require immediate action. Otherwise, there will be negative consequences.
- Important & not urgent: Things that are due in the future or are not bound to a particular time, such as a presentation next month or spending family time.
- Unimportant & urgent: Paying the bills, catching your favorite TV show, interruptions like a request from someone else, or a random call from a friend.
- Unimportant & not urgent: Wasting time on social media, reading irrelevant news, or playing games for hours.
III. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Comfort zones differ from one person to another. It is generally a state of mind where a person feels relaxed and comfortable because it is familiar to them and doesn’t induce stress or anxiety.
Many of us argue that we don’t like change, but we all agree that we want to grow. It’s important to note that getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean going into stress and anxiety. It can indeed make you feel vulnerable and uneasy, but it’s the first step on your path to growth.
Getting out of your comfort zone also requires you to accept yourself and the possibility of failure. The only thing stopping you is you. You want to be perfect all the time, but you often forget that you are only human. You are unique because you can challenge yourself, face your fears, grow, and learn from your mistakes, not avoid them altogether.
Consider adding new things to your daily routine to get out of your comfort zone. Here are a few ideas:
- Do some volunteer work.
- Talk to strangers, especially your neighbors!
- Learn a new skill or language.
- Eliminate sugar for a week.
On the other hand, you might consider removing things from your daily routine instead of adding new ones. To do this, you need to have some self-reflection on what you don’t want to do and why.
IIII. Be More Decisive
Decision-making is a skill like any other skill; it requires development and practice. It’s also an essential skill in harmony with all three of the four horsemen mentioned previously. Decisiveness is being able to learn from your past experiences, recognize the pros and cons, and believe in yourself.
There are several things you can do to become more adept at decision-making:
- Quit the pursuit of perfection because sometimes good enough is perfect.
- Question the cause of your hesitation and examine possible outcomes of your decision.
- Take your time and avoid stressing over making decisions.
- Overcome your fears and take calculated risks.
- Don’t overanalyze; you can’t be entirely sure of something.
- Most importantly, learn to be confident and believe in yourself. Even if you make a terrible decision, trust that you will do better.