Psychology research finds that you can do yourself a favor in the morning and be set up for a successful day. A successful day starts with a successful morning. Do yourself a favor to beat procrastination and start the day off on the right foot!
Refer back to the concept of Deliberate Action. Here, we explored how starting off on the right foot is key to successful steps in the future. If you stumble at first, you’ll end up falling if you don’t take a moment to reground yourself. It is easier to take a steady step when the previous step was also steady. It’s easier to carry deliberate action from one moment to the next, than it is to recoup steadiness after you’re already tripping.
This leads right in to how you can beat procrastination. Build moment by doing yourself a favor that you’ll thank yourself later for.
Beat Procrastination: Do Yourself a Favor
You will have the most energy after a good night of sleep. Don’t waste the morning.
Do your most urgent tasks first thing in the morning. Each early win will build momentum that will carry with you throughout the day.
From my post: Willpower is NOT Like a Muscle: Latest Research, I mentioned that I find it even increases my willpower to stack big wins early in the morning. This was the key strategy that I used when training for my marathons. I use this EVERY DAY, from doing workouts, homework, studying, and even organizing how I eat food with this mentality. I “save the best for last”, doing the least enjoyable thing first.
This is a mentality that shapes 95% of my decisions. I (subconsciously) ask myself: “what is the least enjoyable thing on my TODO list”, then I engage in that, PERIOD.
Since I have saved the “best for last”, there is always something to look forward to, something that pulls me through. This mentality, paired with the discipline to reward and punish yourself if you don’t follow through, has been a key contributor to my discipline.
You are more exhausted later in the day, so why put off doing the hardest, most grueling things until later in the day?
Willpower isn’t like a muscle because the use of it early on, with a shock, increases its strength later on, with no need for a rest. A muscle doesn’t have consciousness to override its default behavior.
Your ability to push through the hard things all comes down to mental discipline. Discipline is a personality trait, something you can develop, it is intertwined with your identity. The fact that it’s intertwined with your identity is the key for how willpower isn’t something that can be exhausted.
If you identify yourself as “someone who does hard things”, then you will act in alignment with that. If you identify yourself as “someone who is lazy” or “a victim”, then.. you will act in alignment with that. To not act in alignment with how you subconsciously identify yourself, will feel like death.
The death of the identity is the death of your experience, which is the death of your consciousness. This is death as we know it.
Stacking small wins is one of the best ways to build momentum. The wording of “building momentum” even suggests that it comes from a piece at a time. After engaging in intentional, delayed gratification for almost a decade, I find myself frequently slipping in to a flow cycle, one previous win building on the next. I have an overwhelming gratitude for my past self for having done something such as build the habit of fitness, nutrition, health, learning, discipline, etc. Regularly, I experience the compounding impacts of these habits, and so can you.
Set yourself up for success, do yourself a favor, and beat procrastination, by scheduling your day with the most important tasks early on.
Don’t give yourself the chance to rationalize away the pressing tasks. This comes down to the Law of Diminishing Intent. The more you put something off, the less likely you will do it. Shorten the delay between impulse and action to build momentum.
You can do this by:
- Want to run a marathon?
- Schedule your training runs immediately after waking, put your outfit right by your bed. Wake up, put the outfit on, and be out the door, running within 10 minutes.
- Want to lose weight?
- Practice intermittent fasting. Only eat your food between the hours 12 PM and 8 PM.
- Want to ace that exam?
- Before even touching your phone in the morning, have at least 30 minutes under your belt of uninterrupted study time. This time should be deliberate, avoid crutches, such as passively (re-)reading notes. Keep your studying deliberate by actively recalling the information with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper. Do this 30 minutes, 5 days a week, and watch how your recall will be better. Deliberate Action allows you to do more in less time.
Whether you want to improve fitness, health, or learning speed, you can do yourself a favor to beat procrastination.
Daily, don’t set the bar low and hope to build up from there. Starting off strong builds momentum that you can carry with you throughout the day.
Your body is phenomenal at adapting to what you throw at it. Get used to the feeling of a slight challenge each morning. This will pay dividends as time goes on.
Use apps to organize yourself. HabitBull is a wonderful place to start. You can track habit progression here and there is a community to keep you going!
Have a routine that promotes thanking yourself for the work you’ve put in. Do yourself a favor to beat procrastination.
- Clean up your workspace after you’re done for the day.
- This is an easy activity, so you don’t have to worry about needing too much energy to complete it and it prepares you for the next day.
- At the end of any activity, end by preparing for the start of it the next time.
- End a run? Lay out the outfit for the next day’s run before going to bed.
- Removing the barriers to entry will make you more likely to engage in the activity the next time and make it easier to get going.
- Just start writing for that blog post, even if you throw it away.
- Throughout the week, capture “writing prompts” for when you feel inspired. I do this for when I go off on internal rants about topics I’m passionate about. Capture that rant and expand on it when you’re at a place you can write a blog post.
Having something to build off of is like having a head start for when you actually need to do the work. You’ll thank yourself when you sit down to do that work.
Thank you for reading!
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