Best from neuroscience to stop procrastinating and build habits fast.
Procrastination Killer Question: What future am I killing by not taking this action step today❓
1. When you want to procrastinate, Step 1: make the reward BIGGER, closer, more meaningful, Step 2: make the cost smaller, clear, manageable.
Whenever you procrastinate - your brain decided that the costs outweigh the benefits. The brain's primary purpose - manage energy, so we don't die. But... here's a trick, you can, through self-talk and visualization, make the reward bigger and the cost smaller. (Read more in my blog "Procrastination. It’s simply about your brain doing mathematics.")
2. Start with "firsts".
Researchers did some research :). They learned that people tend to stick with habits and habitual actions more often when they link them to a "clean sheet" state - birthdays, new year, moving to a new country, getting a job promotion, Mondays.
3. Materialize progress.
Put calendars with checkmarks on the wall, draw something every time you do the action, do something special every time you take the new desired action. It works. It makes your brain see the reward, that's coming VS assuming it's all a waste of time and most importantly energy.
4. Build recipes with "hot" triggers to prevent forgetfulness.
When trying to make people vote researchers called them and asked, "How? When? and Where? are you going to vote?" The show-up rate increased by a lot. You can do the same for yourself for any action you tend to forget, How? When? and Where? exactly are you gonna do it? A superboost? Make "HOT" triggers - the reminders in your environment that you'll see at the exact moment when you can perform the action.
5. Use your working/living space to help you. Make desired "easy" - Make unwanted "hard".
If you want to eat more vegetables - put them in the fridge, washed and ready-to-eat. If you want to eat fewer cookies - leave them at the store.
6. Bundle temptations: more of what you need - less of what you want.
Want to start reading more and watching Netflix less? How about a rule, "I can only watch one episode of Netflix when I read for 30 minutes?". Want binge-watch something? Well, somebody has some reading to do!
7. Use commitment devices. Make quitting costly.
Register somewhere to pay a fee if you fail to do a workout consistently. Or make a bet with a friend or your partner - you'll do something truly humiliating if you fail to do the action.
8. Link/sandwich habits.
Simply put a new action between the actions you already easily do. Don't forget to install some reminders and say out loud, "As soon as I finish brushing my teeth I'll do 5 minutes of foam rolling in the bedroom".
9. Have "mistakes" allowance and stay progress-focused.
To prevent yourself from tripping into negative self-talk plan some "failures" in advance and count, track the progress, the getting better part, how far you've come, not how far you have to go still.
10. Build your "new habit tribe" - but be aware of the "skill gap" that backfires.
"People like us do things like this" - Seth Godin's favorite saying to nudge certain cultural norms. Surround yourself with people, and make new friends who already consistently do what you want to do BUT if you are a beginner gym goer - don't choose Olympic athletes friends, you'll get discouraged and decide to quit even faster than without any support at all.
As usual, let me know what's your favorite brainy idea? 🧠