We all have those mornings—the sky is grey, it’s drizzly outside, and the weather is undeniably Lithuanian. Your bed has never felt more warm and welcoming, and the list of things to do is almost two pages long. Unsurprisingly, all you want to do is to is to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.
But do you think Mark Zuckerberg feels like managing his multi-billion dollar company every single day? I doubt it. However, I’m sure that he has productivity techniques in place to help him get more done within 24 hours and to kick start all mornings no matter what.
Mistakenly more often than not, giving into thoughts such as ‘15 more minutes’ or ‘I’ll go for a run tomorrow’ are not as much about lack of willpower or self-discipline, but more about your ineffective habits and distraction-filled environment.
In a sense, human beings are pretty primitive creatures, most of the time we operate in an autopilot mode. The process saves our brain power for more important stuff like the quarterly sales report or learning how to play the ukulele.
It’s all natural, and it all makes sense; however, not all hard-wired behavioural patterns serve us any good. Our primate brain fears all that is different and challenging, and it just wants to keep us comfortable and safe.
Here’s the trick though, to get things done, often you don’t need to feel like it, you just simply have to start. Try one of these easy tips, and you’ll notice that even a slight change in your routine can be felt all throughout the day and sometimes, in the long run, make a world of a difference.
5 to 1 countdown
When the self-sabotaging strikes or the turmoil of thoughts and feelings begins, put a simple method called the 5 Second Rule to the test. Its creator, Mel Robbins, says that knowing what to do doesn’t really mean much if you don’t act on the knowledge straight away.
To break out of the procrastination loop, simply countdown— 5-4-3-2-1— and do a basic action towards your goal. If you contemplate for too long, the brain is very likely to persuade you to do it tomorrow (we both know what that means).
When you physically act on a goal, and even better, do something out of the ordinary, then you start to rewire your brain and create new habits. Next time when you find yourself reaching out for that cheesecake, try the countdown and then get up and make yourself a cup of coffee instead.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Ciriclio, is a productivity method which is used to improve deliberate focus and get more done in a shorter span of time. A pomodoro is considered to be a 25-minute block of time. You start working on a task, and when the timer goes off after 25 minutes, then you take a 5-minute break. After four pomodoros, you can have a longer break.
The reason for applying this method in your daily practice is two fold. First, if you keep on putting off a project, it’s likely that you perceive it as too complex. So when you divide the project into chunks, you put your mind at ease because then it seems more manageable. Second, the Pomodoro Technique helps to track and manage your time more effectively. Often we tend to either drift off while working or overstate how much time we’ll actually spend on a single assignment.
After a few rounds of pomodoros, you’re more likely to catch yourself in a blissful workflow which feels intuitive. There is a wide choice of pomodoro related tools to choose from. Personally, I prefer Strict Workflow chrome extension, but you can also set the alarm or timer on your phone.
Make it irresistible to start
Make the beginning of your routine as easy as possible because once you start, you’ll gain momentum where one task almost effortlessly leads to another. When you repeat the steps time and time again, you can actually turn the autopilot mode into your favour, and do most things habitually, without even thinking about them too much.
Have you ever wondered why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit on a daily basis? It’s not because of a lack of taste in style. The Apple co-founder wanted to make as few choices as possible throughout the day to save his mental energy for things that matter most and avoid a phenomenon called decision fatigue.
Use a similar principle to approach your everyday routine. If you want to start exercising, get everything ready the night before. When I say everything, I mean everything: lay out your gym card, training shoes and even your jacket in an easy reach. Do it consistently enough, and you’ll gradually build up to the level of performance you strive for.
Have you tried any of these three little things yet? And if yes, how did it go?