Some people are morning people. Some others prefer working late at night.
Some like analytical tasks. Some prefer creative work.
Some excel when working alone. Others thrive when working in teams.
We are all different, but there is one thing we all have in common: our brain is naturally lazy.
It can only focus for so long and it would rather prefer to wander while you take a rest rather than crunching numbers on a spreadsheet.
So we constantly have to fight against our natural tendency to look for distractions and which takes our attention away from getting the real work done.
What do we do? We set alarm clocks, set deadlines, create to-do lists but this is hardly enough to keep our discipline intact.
So here are five short insights to help overcome our natural laziness:
Start with One Big Thing To-do lists can give the illusion of accomplishing a lot by crossing many items off of it. But this pushes us to favor the short and easy over the difficult and important. Yet, in the long run, doing just one important thing every day is a better strategy. So start by identifying what is that one big thing and do it first in the morning.
No Morning Meetings
Your brain is the most clear and energetic in the morning, and this clarity and energy runs off throughout the day. Therefore it is better to focus on analytical tasks in the morning and push the more creative or social tasks to the afternoon or evening. Furthermore, our brain tends to be more creative when tired, simply because a less rational mind gives more room for thinking outside the box. A simple application is to avoid meetings in the morning.
Cut off draining distractions Your brain is like a fuel tank. It has a certain energy capacity it can allocate to do things throughout the day. So you better watch out how to use that fuel. Hint: reading the news and browsing socials takes quite a bit of it.
Avoid future commitments
One thing we are terrible at, is to understand our future self. What the “future You” may think can be very different than what the “present You” currently think. So don’t put burden on your future self based on what you want now. It’s easy to unload things you don’t want to do now by committing to do it later, only to realize that your future is already packed with past commitments, not giving the “future You” sufficient room to do new important things.
Things can wait
So you planned your day, time-boxing your task list, when suddenly you received that email dragging you away from your initial plan to address a so-called emergency. For one, you should always expect the unexpected, and it must be taken into account in your planning. But more importantly, ninety percent of the time, that so-called emergency is not that important and can wait. You must learn to say “No” and stick to your plan. You’ll also realize that many things end up being solved on their own if you give them some time.