How to Stop Procrastination-Authentic study

by Darpan Sachdeva

-via James clear

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Procrastination is a challenge we have all faced at one point or another. For as long as humans have been around, we have been struggling with delaying, avoiding, and procrastinating on issues that matter to us.

During our more productive moments, when we temporarily figure out how to stop procrastinating, we feel satisfied and accomplished. Today, we’re going to talk about how to make those rare moments of productivity more routine. The purpose of this guide is to break down the science behind why we procrastinate, share proven frameworks you can use to beat procrastination, and cover useful strategies that will make it easier to take action.

What is Procrastination?

Human beings have been procrastinating for centuries. The problem is so timeless, in fact, that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia.

Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control.

Here’s a modern definition:

Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing a task or set of tasks. So, whether you refer to it as procrastination or akrasia or something else, it is the force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.

Before we get too deep into this discussion, let’s pause for just a second.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Ok, definitions are great and all, but why do we procrastinate? What is going on in the brain that causes us to avoid the things we know we should be doing?

This is a good time to bring some science into our discussion. Behavioral psychology research has revealed a phenomenon called “time inconsistency,” which helps explain why procrastination seems to pull us in despite our good intentions. Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.

The best way to understand this is by imagining that you have two selves: your Present Self and your Future Self. When you set goals for yourself — like losing weight or writing a book or learning a language — you are actually making plans for your Future Self. You are envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future. Researchers have found that when you think about your Future Self, it is quite easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits. The Future Self values long-term rewards.

However, while the Future Self can set goals, only the Present Self can take action. When the time comes to make a decision, you are no longer making a choice for your Future Self. Now you are in the present moment, and your brain is thinking about the Present Self. Researchers have discovered that the Present Self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff.

So, the Present Self and the Future Self are often at odds with one another. The Future Self wants to be trim and fit, but the Present Self wants a donut. Sure, everyone knows you should eat healthy today to avoid being overweight in 10 years. But consequences like an increased risk for diabetes or heart failure are years away.

Similarly, many young people know that saving for retirement in their 20s and 30s is crucial, but the benefit of doing so is decades off. It is far easier for the Present Self to see the value in buying a new pair of shoes than in socking away $100 for 70-year-old you. (If you’re curious, there are some very good evolutionary reasons for why our brain values immediate rewards more highly than long-term rewards.)

This is one reason why you might go to bed feeling motivated to make a change in your life, but when you wake up you find yourself falling back into old patterns. Your brain values long-term benefits when they are in the future (tomorrow), but it values immediate gratification when it comes to the present moment (today).

The Procrastination-Action Line

You cannot rely on long-term consequences and rewards to motivate the Present Self. Instead, you have to find a way to move future rewards and punishments into the present moment. You have to make the future consequences become present consequences.

This is exactly what happens during the moment when we finally move beyond procrastination and take action. For example, let’s say you have a report to write. You’ve known about it for weeks and continued to put it off day after day. You experience a little bit of nagging pain and anxiety thinking about this paper you have to write, but not enough to do anything about it. Then, suddenly, the day before the deadline, the future consequences turn into present consequences, and you write that report hours before it is due. The pain of procrastinating finally escalated and you crossed the “Action Line.”

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There is something important to note here. As soon as you cross the Action Line, the pain begins to subside. In fact, being in the middle of procrastination is often more painful than being in the middle of doing the work. Point A on the chart above is often more painful than Point B. The guilt, shame, and anxiety that you feel while procrastinating are usually worse than the effort and energy you have to put in while you’re working. The problem is not doingthe work, it’s starting the work.

If we want to stop procrastinating, then we need to make it as easy as possible for the Present Self to get started and trust that motivation and momentum will come after we begin. (Motivation often comes after starting, not before.)

Let’s talk about how to do that now.

II. How to Stop Procrastinating Right Now

There are a variety of strategies we can employ to stop procrastinating. Below, I’ll outline and explain each concept, then I’ll provide you with some examples of strategy in action.

Option 1: Make the Rewards of Taking Action More Immediate

If you can find a way to make the benefits of long-term choices more immediate, then it becomes easier to avoid procrastination. One of the best ways to bring future rewards into the present moment is with a strategy known as temptation bundling.

Temptation bundling is a concept that came out of behavioral economics research performed by Katy Milkman at The University of Pennsylvania. Simply put, the strategy suggests that you bundle a behavior that is good for you in the long-run with a behavior that feels good in the short-run.

The basic format is: Only do [THING YOU LOVE] while doing [THING YOU PROCRASTINATE ON].

Here are a few common examples of temptation bundling:

  • Only listen to audiobooks or podcasts you love while exercising.
  • Only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.
  • Only watch your favorite show while ironing or doing household chores.
  • Only eat at your favorite restaurant when conducting your monthly meeting with a difficult colleague.

Option 2: Make the Consequences of Procrastination More Immediate

There are many ways to force you to pay the costs of procrastination sooner rather than later. For example, if you are exercising alone, skipping your workout next week won’t impact your life much at all. Your health won’t deteriorate immediately because you missed that one workout. The cost of procrastinating on exercise only becomes painful after weeks and months of lazy behavior. However, if you commit to working out with a friend at 7 a.m. next Monday, then the cost of skipping your workout becomes more immediate. Miss this one workout and you look like a jerk.

Another common strategy is to use a service like Stickk to place a bet. If you don’t do what you say you’ll do, then the money goes to a charity you hate. The idea here is to put some skin in the game and create a new consequence that happens if you don’t do the behavior right now.

Option 3: Design Your Future Actions

One of the favorite tools psychologists use to overcome procrastination is called a “commitment device.” Commitment devices can help you stop procrastinating by designing your future actions ahead of time.

For example, you can curb your future eating habits by purchasing food in individual packages rather than in the bulk size. You can stop wasting time on your phone by deleting games or social media apps. (You could also block them on your computer.)

Similarly, you can reduce the likelihood of mindless channel surfing by hiding your TV in a closet and only taking it out on big game days. You can voluntarily ask to be added to the banned list at casinos and online gambling sites to prevent future gambling sprees. You can build an emergency fund by setting up an automatic transfer of funds to your savings account. These are all examples of commitment devices that help reduce the odds of procrastination.

Option 4: Make the Task More Achievable

As we have already covered, the friction that causes procrastination is usually centered around starting a behavior. Once you begin, it’s often less painful to keep working. This is one good reason to reduce the size of your habits because if your habits are small and easy to start, then you will be less likely to procrastinate.

One of my favorite ways to make habits easier is to use The 2-Minute Rule, which states,

“When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” The idea is to make it as easy as possible to get started and then trust that momentum will carry you further into the task after you begin. Once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue doing it. The 2–Minute Rule overcomes procrastination and laziness by making it so easy to start taking action that you can’t say no.

Another great way to make tasks more achievable is to break them down. For example, consider the remarkable productivity of the famous writer Anthony Trollope. He published 47 novels, 18 works of non-fiction, 12 short stories, 2 plays, and an assortment of articles and letters. How did he do it? Instead of measuring his progress based on the completion of chapters or books, Trollope measured his progress in 15-minute increments. He set a goal of 250 words every 15 minutes and he continued this pattern for three hours each day. This approach allowed him to enjoy feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment every 15 minutes while continuing to work on the large task of writing a book.

Making your tasks more achievable is important for two reasons.

  1. Small measures of progress help to maintain momentum over the long-run, which means you’re more likely to finish large tasks.
  2. The faster you complete a productive task, the more quickly your day develops an attitude of productivity and effectiveness

III. Being Consistent: How to Kick the Procrastination Habit

Alright, we’ve covered a variety of strategies for beating procrastination on a daily basis. Now, let’s discuss some ways to make productivity a long-term habit and prevent procrastination from creeping back into our lives.

The Daily Routine Experts Recommend for Peak Productivity

One reason it is so easy to slip back into procrastination time after time is because we don’t have a clear system for deciding what is important and what we should work on first. (This is yet another example of the system often being more important than the goal.)

One of the best productivity systems I have found is also one of the most simple. It’s called The Ivy Lee Method and it has six steps:

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

How to Avoid Chronic Procrastination With Visual Cues

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Another way to overcome the trap of chronic procrastination is to use visual cues to trigger your habits and measure your progress.

A visual cue is something you can see (a visual reminder) that prompts you to take action. Here’s why they are important for beating procrastination:

Visual cues remind you to start a behavior. We often lie to ourselves about our ability to remember to perform a new habit. (“I’m going to start eating healthier. For real this time.”) A few days later, however, the motivation fades and the busyness of life begins to take over again. Hoping you will simply remember to do a new habit is usually a recipe for failure. This is why a visual stimulus can be so useful. It is much easier to stick with good habits when your environment nudges you in the right direction.

Visual cues display your progress on a behavior. Everyone knows consistency is an essential component of success, but few people actually measure how consistent they are in real life. Having a visual cue—like a calendar that tracks your progress—avoids that pitfall because it is a built-in measuring system. One look at your calendar and you immediately have a measure of your progress.

Visual cues can have an additive effect on motivation. As the visual evidence of your progress mounts, it is natural to become more motivated to continue the habit. The more visual progress you see, the more motivated you will become to finish the task. There are a variety of popular behavioral economics studies that refer to this as the Endowed Progress Effect. Seeing your previous progress is a great way to trigger your next productive action.

Two of my favorite strategies that use visual cues are The Paper Clip Strategy, which is helpful for beating procrastination day-after-day, and The Seinfeld Strategy, which is great for maintaining consistency over longer periods of time.

I hope you found this short guide on procrastination useful.

Blog PhotoDarpan Sachdeva is the CEO and Founder of Nobel thoughts.com. With a long time passion for Entrepreneurship, Self development & Success, Darpan started his website with the intention of educating and inspiring like-minded people all over the world to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances.To keep going and never get disheartened and learn from every adversity.

 

9 Life Lessons To Success From The Richest Man In Asia

by Darpan Sachdeva

This man’s name is Li Ka-Shing.

Li ka shing

Mr. Li is the richest man in Asia with a net worth of $28.8 billion. From high school dropout to self-made billionaire, Li came from very humble beginnings when he was growing up in China. He wrote an article a while back outlining a plan that anyone can follow to be able to buy a car and a house within five years; something like “The Art of War” for how entrepreneurs and success seekers should act. That article was recently translated to English by Edmund Ng of CeoConnectz. Check out and study these eight points from Li Ka-Shing to master the art of success.

1. Buy lunch for people more important than you.

“Always remember to buy lunch for people who are more knowledgeable than you, richer than you or people who have helped you in your career. Make sure you do that every month. After one year, your circle of friends should have generated tremendous value for you. Your reputation, influence, and added value will be clearly recognized. You’ll also enhance your image of being kind and generous.”

2. Become a bookworm.

“When you buy the books, read them carefully and learn the lessons and strategies that are being taught in the book. For each book, after you read them, put them into your own language to tell the stories. Sharing with others can improve your credibility and enhance the affinity. “

3. Learn to sell like a wolf.

“It would be great to find a part-time sales job. Doing sales is challenging but it’s the fastest way for you to acquire the art of selling and this is a very deep skill that you will be able to use for the rest of your career. All successful entrepreneurs are good salespeople. They have the ability to sell their dream and visions. You’ll also meet many people that will be of value to you in the later part of your career. Once you’re in sales, you will also learn what sells and what doesn’t. Use the sensitivity of detecting market sentiments as a platform for running your business and in the identification of product winners in the future. “

4. Don’t wear clothes you can barely afford.

“Try to buy minimal clothes and shoes. You can buy them all you want when you’re rich. Save your money and instead buy gifts for your loved ones and tell them your plans and your financial goals. Tell them why you are so thrifty. Tell them your efforts, direction and your dreams.”

5. Learn from others by offering to help them.

“Businessmen everywhere need help. Offer yourself to do part-time work for any kind of opportunity. This will help to hone your will and improve your skills. You will start to develop eloquence and soon, you’ll be closer to your financial goals.”

6. Start planning A.S.A.P.

“Life can be designed. Careers can be planned. Happiness can be prepared. You should start planning now. When you are poor, spend less time at home and more time outside. When you are rich, stay at home more and less outside. This is the art of living. When you are poor, spend money on others. When you’re rich, spend money on yourself. Many people are doing the opposite.”

7. Don’t let your ego rule you.

“When you are poor, be good to others. Don’t be calculative. When you are rich, you must learn to let others be good to you. You have to learn to be good to yourself even more. When you are poor, you have to throw yourself out in the open and let people make good use of you. When you are rich, you have to conserve yourself well and not let people easily make use of you. These are the intricate ways of life that many people don’t understand.”

8. Don’t ever flash your wealth to others.

“When you are poor, spend money so that people can see it. When you are rich, don’t show off, but silently spend the money on yourself. When you are poor, you must be generous. When you are rich, you must not be seen as a spendthrift. Your life would have come full circle and reached its basics. There is tranquility at this stage.”

9. Discipline yourself and stay focused.

“There is nothing wrong with being young. You don’t need to be afraid of being poor. You need to know how to invest in yourself and increase your wisdom and stature. You need to know what is important in life and what is worth investing in. You also need to know what you should avoid spending your money on. This is the essence of discipline. Try to avoid spending money on clothes but buy a selective number of items that have class. Try to eat out less. If you do go out to eat, make sure it’s for lunch or dinner and always foot the bill. When buying people dinner, make sure you buy dinner for people who have bigger dreams than you and who work harder than you.”



Blog PhotoDarpan Sachdeva is the CEO and Founder of Nobelthoughts.com. With a long time passion for Entrepreneurship, Self development & Success, Darpan started his website with the intention of educating and inspiring like minded people all over the world to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances.To keep going and never get disheartened and learn from every adversity.

 

10 of Most Moving Quotes from Martin Luther King,Jr

by  Darpan Sachdeva

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Here are 10 not so common inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King,Jr quite enough to fill in Leadership,Motivation and hope within us.

1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”


2. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”


3. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”


4. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”


5. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”


6. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”


7. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


8. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


9. “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”


10. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

 




Blog PhotoDarpan Sachdeva is the CEO and Founder of Nobelthoughts.com. With a long time passion for Entrepreneurship, Self development & Success, Darpan started his website with the intention of educating and inspiring like minded people all over the world to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances.To keep going and never get disheartened and learn from every adversity.

 

The 13 Best TED Talks for all faces of life

by  Darpan Sachdeva

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There’s a quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. that says the following: “The human mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

That’s what the TED conferences do: they stretch the dimensions of your mind. Each TED speaker has 18 minutes to present an idea worth spreading in the most innovative and impactful way they can. Speakers range from Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, to a young man living in a remote village in Malawi who–at the age of 14– built a windmill for his family, from an old textbook.

Below you’ll find what I consider to be the 13 best TED talks for all faces of life. This is a massive post, so I suggest you bookmark it, and then come back to it when you have time to select the talks that interest you.

Medical Science

Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained brain scientist who suffered a stroke in 1996, at the age of 37, in the left hemisphere of her brain. She spoke of her experience at TED and wrote a memoir about the experience titled “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey”.

Although the talk is, in part, about a brain scientist observing firsthand what it’s like to have a stroke, it goes much deeper than that. Dr. Taylor also explains her discovery that through the right hemisphere of the brain, the part of her brain that was untouched by the stroke, inner peace is just a thought away.

 

William Li – Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?

Angiogenesis is the process our body uses to grow new blood vessels. A typical adult has 60,000 miles worth of blood vessels. The smallest blood vessels are called capillaries–we have 19 billion of them in our bodies–, and they’re the vessels of life; however, they can also be the vessels of death. We get most of our blood vessels in the womb. Blood vessels grow in adults only under special circumstances, such as when we have an injury.

The body has the ability to regulate the amount of blood vessels that are present at any given time, through an elaborate system of checks and balances.  When we need a burst of blood vessels, the body can do this by releasing stimulators.  When those excess blood vessels are no longer needed, the body prunes them back.

However, sometimes there’s a defect in the system, and the body can’t prune back excess blood vessels, or it can’t grow new ones at the right place and at the right time.  This causes disease; there are about  70 diseases that have an imbalance in angiogenesis as their common denominator. Cancer is one of these diseases.

Cancers start out as a small, microscopic nest of cells.  This nest of cells can’t get any larger, because it doesn’t have a blood supply; so it doesn’t have enough oxygen or nutrients to grow.  Although most people have microscopic cancers in their bodies after a certain age, most will never grow to be dangerous.  This is because of the body’s ability to balance angiogenesis, which prevents excess blood vessels from growing and feeding cancers.

One way to treat cancer,  Li explains, is to cut off the blood supply.  However, Li argues that instead of concentrating on curing cancer once it happens, we should concentrate on preventing cancer. Li goes on to say that diet accounts for 30 to 35% of environmentally caused cancers.  So Li asked, “What could we add to our diet that would prevent our bodies from creating the blood vessels that feed microscopic cancers?”  That is, “Can we eat to starve cancer?” The answer is, “yes”.

Here are some examples of foods which inhibit abnormal angiogenesis:

  • Red grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Soy beans
  • Green tea
  • Lemons
  • Apples
  • Nutmeg
  • Tomatoes

Li explains more about these foods, and their role in preventing cancer, in his talk.



 

Personal Development

Tony Robbins – Why We Do What We Do and How We Can Do It Better

Personal development author and speaker Anthony Robbins explains in his TED talk that when people fail to achieve something, the defining factor is a lack of resourcefulness. He adds that if people are resourceful enough–if they’re creative and determined enough–they’ll find a way to achieve what they’re after.

In addition, Robbins explains that our ability to be resourceful largely depends on what we choose to focus on. Every moment of your life you’re making the following three decisions:

  1. What am I going to focus on?
  2. What does it mean? (The minute you focus on something you give it meaning. And whatever meaning you give to it produces emotion.)
  3. What am I going to do? (Emotion then drives you toward taking action.)

Robbins then gives examples of how these three decisions shape your life. As an aside, during the talk there’s a great exchange between Robbins and Al Gore, who’s sitting in the audience.

 

Matthieu Ricard: Habits of Happiness

Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard explains in his TED talk that we can train our minds in habits of happiness. He explains that often, in our quest for happiness, we look outside of ourselves. We think that if we get this or that, we’ll be happy. However, our control over the outside world is limited, temporary, and often illusory. So, if our happiness relies on something external, we’re on shaky ground.

The way to achieve happiness–which is a sense of well-being, serenity, and fulfillment–, is to look inside of ourselves, instead of looking outside. We need to realize that it’s the mind that translates what happens outside of us as either joy or suffering. Therefore, it all comes down to training the mind. Ricard adds that the best way to train the mind is through meditation.



Education

Do Schools Kill creativity? | Sir Ken Robinson

 

Ken Robinson argues in his TED talk that, today, creativity is as important in education as literacy. However, the way in which the educational system is set up, we’re educating children out of their creative capacity. He refers to a quote attributed to Pablo Picasso by saying that all children are born artists; the challenge is for them to remain artists as they grow up, given the way in which they’re schooled.

For example, Robinson explains that if you’re not prepared to be wrong, then you’ll never come up with anything original. Kids will risk being wrong; but by the time they grow up, most of them have lost this capacity. They’ve become frightened of being wrong. We’re running the educational system in such a way that we’re stigmatizing making mistakes.

Robinson argues that the school system creates people who live in their heads; and slightly to one side (since the subjects taught in school are mostly left-hemisphere subjects). He adds that the system is predicated on academic ability, because it was created to meet the needs of industrialism. You probably heard the following as a child:

  • Don’t go into music; you won’t find a job as a musician.
  • Don’t study painting; you don’t want to be a starving artist.

The consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people, think that they’re not very smart; the things that they’re good at were not valued in school.  Robinson argues that we can’t afford to go on that way.

 

Technology:

Juliana Rotich: Meet BRCK, Internet access built for Africa

Tech communities are booming all over Africa, says Nairobi-based Juliana Rotich, co founder of the open-source software Ushahidi. But it remains challenging to get and stay connected in a region with frequent blackouts and spotty Internet hookups. So Rotich and friends developed BRCK, offering resilient connectivity for the developing world.

 

Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of sixthSense technology

At TEDIndia, Pranav Mistry demos several tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data — including a deep look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper “laptop.” In an onstage Q&A, Mistry says he’ll open-source the software behind SixthSense, to open its possibilities to all.



Motivation

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers — and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.

 

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Drawing from some of the most pivotal points in his life, Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself — at the university’s 114th Commencement on June 12, 2005.

 

Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating

Elizabeth Gilbert knows a thing or two about failure. Publishers rejected the former diner waitress’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love (Penguin Books, 2007) for almost six years. Once the book finally broke through, it wasn’t long before Oprah — and the rest of the world — couldn’t stop talking about it. Then it was adapted for the big screen and became a global box office hit.

Gilbert had made it big. The pressure was on for a repeat. In her TED Talk, she says it was all too much. She considered quitting while she “was behind,” but she didn’t.

“I knew that the task was that I had to find some way to gin up the inspiration to write the next book, regardless of its inevitable negative outcome,” she says.

Gilbert did write that second book and it bombed. She had failed again, but didn’t throw in the towel.

She describes how she found strength in identifying with her former unpublished, struggling aspiring writer self. In facing a new challenge, she did the same thing she did when she was a failure: She got her ass back to work, as she says.

“My point is that I’m writing another one now, and I’ll write another book after that and another and another and another and many of them will fail, and some of them might succeed,” she says, “but I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live.”

Her advice: No matter how many times you fall down, fight the urge to stay down. Get up. Again and again, get up.

 

Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win

Hard truth: Not everything you do will be a masterpiece, especially when you’re first starting out.

In her eloquent speech, art historian and critic Sarah Lewis talks about the benefits of almost but not quite succeeding, which she calls the “near-win.” The Harvard grad and current Yale faculty member argues that our almost-failures are necessary, even crucial, steps along the way to success. Failing to reach your goal can actually sharpen your game plan and strengthen your resolve to go after it. Never give up.

“What gets us to forward thrust more is to value the near-win,” Lewis says. “A near-win gets us to focus on what right now we plan to do to address that mountain in our sights.”

Philanthropy

Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we’ve done

In 1993, Bill and Melinda Gates took a walk on the beach and made a big decision: to give their Microsoft wealth back to society. In conversation with Chris Anderson, the couple talks about their work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as their marriage, their children, their failures and the satisfaction of giving most of their money away.



Innovation

Can India become a global hub for innovation? Nirmalya Kumar thinks it already has. He details four types of “invisible innovation” coming out of India and explains why companies that used to just outsource manufacturing jobs are starting to move top management positions overseas, too.

Blog PhotoDarpan Sachdeva is the CEO and Founder of Nobelthoughts.com. With a long time passion for Entrepreneurship, Self development & Success, Darpan started his website with the intention of educating and inspiring like minded people all over the world to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances.To keep going and never get disheartened and learn from every adversity.

How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

BY JAMES CLEAR

eishenhower

Dwight Eisenhower lived one of the most productive lives you can imagine.

Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, serving two terms from 1953 to 1961. During his time in office, he launched programs that directly led to the development of the Interstate Highway System in the United States, the launch of the internet (DARPA), the exploration of space (NASA), and the peaceful use of alternative energy sources (Atomic Energy Act).

Before becoming president, Eisenhower was a five-star general in the United States Army, served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II, and was responsible for planning and executing invasions of North Africa, France, and Germany.

At other points along the way, he served as President of Columbia University, became the first Supreme Commander of NATO, and somehow found time to pursue hobbies like golfing and oil painting.

Eisenhower had an incredible ability to sustain his productivity not just for weeks or months, but for decades. And for that reason, it is no surprise that his methods for time management, task management, and productivity have been studied by many people.

His most famous productivity strategy is known as the Eisenhower Box and it’s a simple decision-making tool that you can use right now. Let’s talk about how to be more productive and how Eisenhower’s strategy works.

The Eisenhower Box: How to be more productive

Eisenhower’s strategy for taking action and organizing tasks is simple. Using the decision matrix below, you will separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately)
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later)
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else)
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate)

The great thing about this matrix is that it can be used for broad productivity plans (“How should I spend my time each week?”) and for smaller, daily plans (“What should I do today?”).

Here is an example of what my Eisenhower Box looks like for today:

eisenhower-box 2 Note: I created a spreadsheet template of the Eisenhower Box. You can download that spreadsheet template for your own use at the bottom of this article.

The Difference between urgent and important

Urgent tasks are things that you feel you need to react to: emails, phone calls, texts, news stories. Meanwhile, in the words of Brett McKay, “Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals.”

Separating these differences is simple enough to do once, but doing so continually can be tough. The reason I like Eisenhower’s method is that it provides a clear framework for making the decisions over and over again. And, like anything in life, consistency is the hard part.

Here are some other observations I’ve made from using this method.

Elimination before optimization

A few years ago, I was reading about computer programming when I came across an interesting quote by Kevlin Henney: “There is no code faster than no code.”

In other words, the fastest way to get something done—whether it is having a computer read a line of code or crossing a task off your to-do list—is to eliminate that task entirely. There is no faster way to do something than not doing it at all. That should not be seen as a reason to be lazy, but rather a suggestion to force yourself to make hard decisions and delete any task that does not lead you toward your mission, your values, and your goals.

Too often, we use productivity, time management, and optimization as an excuse to avoid the really difficult question: “Do I actually need to be doing this?” It is much easier to remain busy and tell yourself that you just need to be a little more efficient or to “work a little later tonight” than to endure the pain of eliminating a task that you are comfortable with doing, but that isn’t the best use of your time.

As Tim Ferriss says, “Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

I find that the Eisenhower Box is particularly useful because it pushes me to question whether an action is really necessary, which means I’m more likely to move tasks to the “Delete” quadrant rather than mindlessly repeating them. And to be honest, if you simply eliminated all of the things you waste time on each day then you probably wouldn’t need any tips on how to be more productive at the things that matter.

Does this help me accomplish my goal?

One final note: it can be hard to eliminate time wasting activities if you aren’t sure what you are working toward. In my experience, there are two questions that can help clarify the entire process behind the Eisenhower method:

  1. What am I working toward?
  2. What are the core values that drive my life?

These are questions that I have asked myself in my Annual Review and my Integrity Report. Answering these questions has helped me clarify the categories for certain tasks in my life. Deciding which tasks to do and which tasks to delete becomes much easier when you are clear about what is important to you.

The Eisenhower Box isn’t a perfect strategy, but I have found it to be a useful decision-making tool for increasing my productivity and eliminating the behaviors that take up mental energy, waste time, and rarely move me toward my goals. I hope you’ll find it useful too.

Free Download: I created a spreadsheet template of the Eisenhower Box that you can download and use whenever you want to improve your productivity and eliminate time wasting activities. Click here to download the spreadsheet now.

This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

James ClearJames Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he writes about scientific research and real-world experiences that help you rethink your health and improve your life. To get more ideas on mastering your habits, optimizing your performance, and improving your health, join his free newsletter.