How to Stop Being Lazy

There are a million theories about how to do more at work, but if you really want to stop putting things off, step one is to get comfortable with the idea of tricking yourself.

lazy cat 

(Photo Credit: papalars/Flickr)

Don't believe us? These techniques are based on the idea that we're often our own worst enemies when it comes to getting stuff done:

1. Set your alarm clock/phone/old-fashioned watch from the Victorian era X minutes early.

Where X equals the amount of time you're usually behind. This might sound like advice on how to not be late, but it's all the same thing at a certain point: if you feel behind, you probably also feel stressed out and unmotivated to do your best.

2. Write a to-do list that's longer than what you actually need to do.

Have you ever noticed that no matter how productive you are, there are always a few items left at the end of the day? Seriously, try it. You can have two things to do or 10: by EOD, there will always be at least one thing kicking around.

Take advantage of this phenomenon and add items that you don't need to accomplish during this particular day. That way, at 5 p.m., you'll have completed the tasks you needed to complete, and the leftovers will be low-priority items.

3. Write a to-do list with really simple tasks on it.

If you tend to think big picture with your lists, take it down a notch. Put in emails you'd send anyway and research you need to do before you start working on a project. It'll give you a sense of accomplishment and inspire you to work harder on the tasks that count.

4. Don't procrastinate.

When you get a new assignment, do a little something on it right away, before you get a chance to psych yourself out and make the project bigger and more frightening than it has to be.

5. Pay attention to what motivates you.

On The Jane Dough, Sarah Kaufman quotes "Strength Finder 2.0" author Tom Rath, who says, "You cannot be anything you want to be -- but you can be a lot more of what you already are."

Think about what makes you do your best work: is it praise, the pleasure of ticking off tasks, the sense that you've helped others? Once you figure out what motivates you, you can start trying to structure your day around the things that make you want to get stuff done.

OK, that last one isn't really a trick, but it might be a technique that can help you figure out how to stop being lazy -- and maybe even where your career should go next.

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