It’s all in the mind. That’s what they say, right? I’d be a fool to not agree with them.
We are all lazy by nature, and procrastinators. Imagine, if the stone age men had all that they needed, readily available in nature, and no animals ever attacked them, they wouldn’t ever go hunting (some crazy ones might do it for fun though, as some still do). They’d be spending their time chilling in the caves and talking to each other in their sign language. They wouldn’t have felt the need to make weapons, or start farming, or invent wheel.
And what about you? If someone told you, you don’t have to work anymore, your basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and internet, and the extravagant ones such as holidaying and shopping, would be taken care of, how would you be spending most of your time? Watching Netflix perhaps.
What I’m trying to say is that if given a choice between doing something and not doing something, we’ll always choose the latter option. And then, only when we are bored of not doing anything, do we feel like doing something.
Being lazy is our intrinsic nature. Our body wants to rest so it could save energy and so do our minds. Therefore, it can be concluded that everybody who gets work done has to fight this core human nature. It’s easier to fight this nature when our survival depends on it. That explains, why most of us find ourselves at our work stations every morning even if we’d rather be spending that time sleeping at home. Sure, there are other motivators also, such as success, growth, achieving goals, doing what one loves and more. But, in each of these cases, we have to fight the urge of being lazy.
Some of us are good at this and some of us aren’t.
No! I’d like to rephrase that a bit.
Some of us are good at controlling our minds and some of us aren’t.
That’s the only difference between people who get things done and those who don’t. They know exactly how to use, manipulate, trick, or play games with their minds, to get shit done.
And that’s what this is. Some easy ways to trick your mind into doing the things you want to (and you should) but don’t feel like…because of the monsters called laziness, procrastination, or whatever it is that’s stopping you. I call it the human nature.
It’s time to show your mind, who’s the boss. It’s time to play some games. Shall we?
Make one good thing happen
One of the most prominent reasons for me to not do something is to tell myself that I’m not in the right state of mind. I want to do X, Y and Z, I’m well aware of that. But, I had a squabble with my partner and now I don’t feel like doing anything. Or my mother’s sick and I can’t concentrate on my work. Or my last project was a failure, I don’t want to spend time on any other project right now. Or I recently suffered a breakup, let me just sulk for a couple months, I deserve this after all that I’ve had to go through.
All valid points and totally agreeable. And we’re humans, we’re bound to feel sad and negative when battling issues such as these. However, barring certain grave problems, for most issues that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, here’s what you can tell yourself (and your mind), instead.
You have so many things not working for you at the moment. At least, let’s try and make something work, the things that you can control.
Maybe have a nice workout. Or spend time on your passion project. Or a hobby. Or talk to your parents, partner, or your best friend. Do anything that makes you happy and puts you in the right frame of mind.
Instead of waiting for the right frame of mind to do something, do something to create the right frame of mind.
And once you are in a positive state, you will find little to no difficulty in completing the X, Y and Z things that you were so conveniently going to put aside. Do try it!
Imagine the future
You pledged to yourself to become fitter. The alarm goes off at 5 AM. You want to get up. You have to go for a run. You know you should. But, you don’t really have to. You could just go back to sleeping, you know. So, you end up choosing sleep over fitness. Just this one day. You will start from tomorrow. You promise yourself.
And you give in to the demands of your mind which tries to convince you with excuses like — I slept quite late last night, I should sleep some more if I need to feel fresh, and skipping my run for a day won’t make a difference.
When you find yourself doing this, in that state of subdued consciousness, just try to imagine yourself having finished that run.
How do you feel when the light morning breeze caresses your cheeks that are glowing due to sweat?
Do you look forward to coming home and making yourself that well-deserved coffee?
Do you feel happy?
Do you feel like a winner already, having not given in to the devious temptations of the mind?
I bet, that feeling is 10 times better than the feeling you get after an hour of extra sleep. The latter would make you feel terrible and like a loser, right at the beginning of the day. How do I know? Well, I have been there more than I would have liked. That’s how.
Imagine the future, experience how you’d feel after you’ve completed the task at hand. That feeling, more often than not, is enough to get you out of your bed..
This moment is not coming back
Next time, you feel like putting aside any work for later and spend that time doing a mindless task such as scrolling through your social media feeds for hours, stop and remind yourself that this moment that’s passing by you right now, will be gone forever. The ticking of clock doesn’t ever stop and the ticks don’t repeat. You have a limited time on this planet.
At this moment, you have all the thing you need to do the work, except that you can’t put your mind to it, or so you say. Who knows, what happens at the time when you have decided to do that task in the future? Maybe, you have to attend a meeting, maybe guests arrive unannounced, maybe you fall sick.
Future is never predictable and this is exactly what you have to tell yourself when you postpone something for the future. This moment is all there is. Learned this the hard way, too…
Set goals that make you instantly feel like a winner
You are going to write a book. Your next goal is to finish the first draft of the book. You have set a deadline for yourself which is after 6 months. This means you don’t come to know till 6 months have passed, whether or not you’d meet the goal, whether or not you’ve won.
Is this goal enough to convince you to spend at least an hour everyday writing? No, because 6 months is a long time and if you didn’t work on it today, you’d convince yourself that you’d put in double the time tomorrow. Except that, it doesn’t happen. You go for days without working on your book, only to realize much later that you’ve wasted a lot of time.
Instead, what if your goal is just what you should be doing, to reach your long-term goal? What if, you set yourself a goal to write for an hour everyday? Now, that means you get to know whether or not you’ve met your goal right now. Soon after you finish the task, and not sometime in the distant future.
These are the goals that reflect your growth and progress, and not focus on achievements. Because, like they say, it’s the journey that matters. Focus on the journey and before you know it, you’ll be staring at your destination straight in the eye!
Compare the task at hand with a far more difficult one
I have to give a presentation. Despite not being new to public speaking, every time I have to speak in front of an audience, I find myself wanting to chicken out. Of course, I do end up speaking, but not without this often prolonged phase where I feel like escaping somewhere or wanting to be swallowed by earth. I just wouldn’t want to do it.
So, here’s this mind trick that I often follow in such situations. I try to remind myself of the occasions where I have done similar but more difficult or challenging tasks in the past, without having gotten myself killed. If I could do it back then, there’s no reason why I can’t do it now.
Now, there may be times when you have to do something that you’ve never done before. In that case, you can imagine a situation that’s more difficult than the one you’re in. Tell yourself, that instead of what you are about to do now, you could be somewhere in the middle of a forest left alone to fight a tiger or anything that makes your mind think that the situation could be far more dangerous or challenging than what you’re about to face, and realize that you’re lucky it isn’t.
Now, these may be very small things, but would help consciously tackle the mental challenges we face quite often. If you have an enemy in front of your eyes, it’s easy to fight them. But, it gets tricky when you have to deal with the challenges that stem from within you. Playing these mind tricks regularly can help us understand the functioning of our minds on a much deeper level, which means controlling it becomes all the more easy.
Now, I’m not saying that we have to be productive all the time. We are not machines and we need our time to rest, relax, and chill. But, all I’m saying is that we got to be more aware of who is taking the call, the lazy mind or the sensible one. And if it’s the former one, you need to show it who’s the boss!