You make goals… but then you procrastinate.
You write a to-do list… but then you don’t follow through.
And this happens again and again and again. Seriously, what’s the problem?
Why are we so good at thinking of what to do but so terrible at actually doing those things?
The problem is you’re skipping an essential step. Here’s what it is…
The Mistake Every Productivity System Makes
Productivity systems rarely take emotions into account. And feelings are a fundamental and unavoidable part of why humans do what they do.
We can’t ignore our emotions. Because of the way our brains are structured, when thought and feelings compete, feelings almost always win.
And we can’t fight our feelings. Research shows this just makes them stronger.
We need to think to plan but we need to feel to act.
So if you’ve got the thinking part out of the way – how do you rile up those emotions and get things done?
Here are three steps:
1) Get Positive
When do we procrastinate the most? When we’re in a bad mood.
Meanwhile, research shows happiness increases productivity and makes you more successful.
What does the military teach recruits in order to mentally toughen them up? No, it’s not hand-to-hand combat.
It’s optimism. So how do you get optimistic if you’re not feeling it?
Monitor the progress you’re making and celebrate it. Harvard’s Teresa Amabile‘s research found that nothing is more motivating than progress.
2) Get Rewarded
Rewards feel good. Penalties feel bad. And that’s why they both can work well for motivating you.
Research shows that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of why you do things.
So treat yourself whenever you complete something on your to-do list. (Yes, this is how you train a dog but it will work for you too.)
Having trouble finding a reward awesome enough to get you off your butt? Try a “commitment device” instead:
Give your friend €100. If you get a task done by 5PM, you get your €100 back. If you don’t complete it, you lose the €100.
3) Get Peer Pressure
Research shows peer pressure helps kids more than it hurts them.
(And face it, you’re still a big kid, you just have to pretend to be an adult most of the time — and it’s exhausting.)
Surround yourself with people you want to be and it’s far less taxing to do what you should be doing.