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Filtering by Tag: productivity

Lie to yourself (The right way)

Arthur Zargaryan

We often lie to ourselves when it comes to working, but we do it in the wrong way:

“I will start working in 10 minutes”… 1 hour later “I will start working tomorrow”-everyone

We are delusional creatures and despite already knowing what’s going to happen, we still convince ourselves otherwise. Interestingly enough the things we might do instead of working aren’t even that interesting. The reason we do them, however, is that the initial effort required to initiate those activities is so low. Comparatively the initial effort and mental power required to start writing an essay is much higher than that of opening YouTube and just clicking through videos. Worst of all is that the satisfaction that we gain from completing that assignment (that we always put off) is much greater than that of watching 15 videos in a row (well, the satisfaction in the long term at least).

The issue at hand seems to be overcoming initial effort required to get us moving and working. So, how do we do this?

Well, we lie to ourselves.

Instead of looking at an assignment as a large block we should break it down mentally into its smaller components. Let’s take writing an essay; upon first glance we might think that the task of doing it breaks into the following sections: Planning, Writing, and Proofreading. But we can break it down into even smaller components. Planning could be broken down into the following sections: reading the assignment, brainstorming, creating thesis, structuring the contents of the essay. Looking at these small tasks they seem so easy and remedial that procrastinating over doing them just seems ridiculous…. Well let’s use that our advantage, Instead of telling ourselves:

“I will start working in 10 minutes”… 1 hour later “I will start working tomorrow”-everyone

We should tell ourselves:

“Let me just look over the assignment and think about it, once that’s done I can have a 20 minute break and then start working for real.” -you

What happens is magical, because the task is so small and it would literally take 2 minutes to accomplish you get to it without hesitating. As you have breached at this point the initial barrier, and have given yourself some working momentum you will find it easier to continue working. By the time you end up finishing the first task you will want to continue, or at least your guilt will nudge you to do so (and as the initial working barrier has been overcome you are more likely to continue the task).

It seems ridiculous that this would even work, but it does. We are such delusional creatures that lying to ourselves is so easy, there is a reason behind why it is said that “we are our own enemy”. So let’s shift the whole paradigm upside down and lie for a better cause.

Another lesson to be learned from this is that breaking things down can help, it can help a lot. Tasks which might seem impossible at first will become do-able. Taking this example even further, how do you think companies such as google arose? They took it a step at a time, they knew they could never be perfect from the first try, so they didn’t plan themselves to perfection. They had a bias for action, once they went over basic planning, they begun work, taking each step at a time. 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -Laozi


-Arthur Zargaryan

Arthur: How to Get Through Christmas

Arthur Zargaryan

….. So what do you do, do you choose to ignore all of them and just relax and do absolutely nothing the entire break, or do you choose to work (which is nearly impossible as you are completely burned out from the last few months of suffering, so you end up procrastinating your break away). It’s a lose-lose situation!

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