“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King
As much as I’d love to believe that willpower is all I need to drive myself to do something, this isn’t really the case. We’re always told that we need more willpower and if we just put our minds to something we’ll be able to accomplish it. This romantic notion is certainly inspiring, but it’s also very misleading.
Several studies suggest that willpower is an exhaustible resource that has a limit and requires recharging – referred to as ego depletion. We can tell ourselves all day that we will do something and then never do it. I know this has happened to me on many occasions. In fact, it has been proven that genetics play a large role in your ability to be productive. There are some of us who are more prone to being lazy and some of us who are unable to sit still.
Hope is not lost, however! Just because you are genetically prone to be lazier doesn’t mean that you are doomed to remain lazy for the rest of your days.
When you envision a task you want to complete, we tend to imagine the entirety of the task and then get overwhelmed, staring off into space, swimming in anxiety – but, our brains have an amazing defense mechanism against this inherent behavior: referred to as the Zeigarnik Effect, when we simply begin a task our minds are compelled to finish that task. If we don’t finish a task, this effect takes hold and we feel a constant nagging because of the task we’ve left undone, leaving us obligated to complete it.
Sometimes starting a task is only part of the solution. Time management also plays a crucial role in helping us complete something. Those who study music, more often than not, rely on habit and discipline rather than willpower. Instead of playing all day every day, they have intense practice sessions with breaks in between, so that they don’t wear themselves out and keep themselves to a schedule.
Keeping a schedule goes a long way. Writing out what needs to be done the next day before you go to bed can help you solidify your tasks in your mind. Rather than collecting all of your thoughts in the morning and constantly guessing at what should be done next, using the night before to collect yourself will allow you to strategically plan the following day.
It all comes back to discipline and daily action – it is impossible to have one without the other. And these are only two of the seven principles required to live your life of happiness, health, and success.
Please share some of your tricks and actions that help you be more productive!