Who doesn’t procrastinate?

  • I am too busy.
  • I am too tired.
  • I don’t have the energy.
  • I am too scared.
  • I don’t know where to start.

These are the most common excuses people use when they procrastinate—delay doing what they need to do. How many of these have you personally used?

According to the American Psychological Association, almost 80% of the people surveyed admit to lying to themselves about the reasons they put off doing things.

So, who doesn’t procrastinate?    The short answer is–nobody.  You’re human, and nobody is productive 100% of the time. But some people have allowed procrastination to thoroughly pervade their lives so much that they don’t realize how much of this non-renewable resource they’re losing.  Whatever kind of future, lifestyle, quest you seek, you need time to achieve mastery and time to make it stick.   

Procrastination is often confused with laziness or plain lack of self-discipline. The truth is that people who procrastinate frequently do so because they are perfectionists who fear making mistakes.  When we face difficult or unpleasant tasks, our brains may choose to ignore our long term interests and goal for immediate pleasure. This can lead to a vicious cycle of poor performance and low self-esteem.

So, what are you to do? Procrastinate effectively! But if we make small changes in our environment, this can help us overcome our negative feelings and increase productivity.

Simplify Your House, Simplify Your Life

Organize your house! Sometimes it’s hard for us to focus on important tasks because we have too many other little stressors creep up on us and accumulate. Physical clutter is a form of sensory overload–a stressor, can lead to mental chaos.  So use your procrastinated time to organize around your house. Take out the trash, wash the dishes, vacuum the floor, get rid of things you haven’t seen or touched for the last 24 months and probably won’t ever again 😉

The key to staying organized is focusing on one shelf or drawer at a time, tackling each one as efficiently as possible so that every part of your home stays tidy.

This “mental” state of clutter has been associated with depression and anxiety, among other conditions. Once you have removed your physical clutter, you’ll gain mental clarity and will have some space in your head to tackle the real work.

p.s. Once you’re done with the physical clutter, you might want to do a digital decluttering of your devices.

Offload Your Mental Tabs

No wonder you can’t concentrate on work!  Your mind is constantly going through all the calls you need to make, keeping track of to do list, and basically trying to make sure you survive well. Help yourself right now by making those important calls and writing down all your to do’s.  You’ve got a lot going on inside the brain, and when you can write down your appointments and to do’s, why stress your brain out by keeping them only in your mind?  If your brain were a browser, you don’t want to open up 100 different tabs at the same time.  Even Einstein’s brain would start to process slower with the strain!

Real Connections

You feel guilty–you’ve been meaning to check in on some very important people in your life and return those calls and emails, but your schedule has been hectic. Well, what are you doing now, procrastinating? No time is better than now. There are people who are important to you, right? So, use that non-working time on them.

Humans are social creatures, we need human connections in order to be emotionally and mentally healthy.  Meaningful relationships where you’ll get these real connections can only be sustained if they are bilateral.  We can’t have strong relationship if we’re not there for the people who matter.

Discover Yourself

Take the time to unlock what’s truly within you through curaFUN’s guided journals and fun quizzes that help build emotional wellness, confidence, resilience and discipline. Download the Quest Depot app now to learn more! Spend your procrastination time in a more meaningful way to appreciate who you are as a person, learn and grow, and develop within. You’ll come out of this ready to take on any work project put in front of you.

Circulate

We all have those days where we just sit at our desk and nothing comes out of our brains.  If so, why not move around a bit to get your circulation going.  Countless research tells us that exercise not only help reduce stress levels and provide energy, but it also improves moods and can improve cognitive performance.

So go outside and take a walk around the block or a local park. Even 6 minutes of exercise can make a big difference. 

Some physical activity may be just what you need to get back to your focused, productive self. You’ll become better able to handle that project, and your body will thank you too.

.True Rest

This is probably what you’ve been needing all along. Modern life drags us in a zillion different directions—work, family, social media, fitness, finances, school, friends….and the list goes on.  If you find yourself more distracted and procrastinating more, your body may begging you for some true rest.

Rest

noun
the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep:a good night’s rest.
refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor:to allow an hour for rest.
relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.
a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquillity:to go away for a rest.
mental or spiritual calm; tranquillity.

I’ve included the dictionary definition of rest here because so many of us stay on our devices to take a break when we’ve been working online all day long.  True rest means giving yourself a break from what you’ve been doing–some elements of inactivity is necessary to achieve this. 

Without proper rest, it’s hard to show up and shine, especially when you face challenges. Clear your mind and incorporate meditation in that rest period, do some breathing exercises. Sometimes just closing your eyes and listening to some good music puts us right where we need to be.  

The next time you find yourself endlessly “looking for inspirations” on Instagram, Pinterest, Deviantart, TikTok…., try one of the tips in this article, you may find the genius is within yourself.

When we procrastinate, we almost always doom our futures and create more stress. Time is not a commodity. We can never get it back and we should always be aware of that. When we waste time, we are wasting our most valuable resource. The key to beating procrastination is finding the right balance between short-term mood repairs and longer-term goals.

This is why Quest Depot is invaluable to people who procrastinate.  Quest Depot is an unconventional personal growth system that replaces goal setting guides, progress trackers, guided journals, reward charts, and automatically applies the right motivation methods for you and proven productivity proven tools and techniques, so you achieve and live life to the fullest!

It’s time to get things done. If you’re going to procrastinate, do it effectively and still achieve all of your goals every time. Give yourself a chance. There’s nothing to lose. Take your power back at Quest Depot today!

Why Do We Procrastinate And How Can We Beat The Urge?

Why Do We Procrastinate And How Can We Beat The Urge?

The problem with procrastination: by replacing important tasks with easy admin, we’re getting a … [+] Ever find yourself eagerly logging your expenses, or clearing the furthest reaches of your inbox while contemplating whether you’ll ever find the will to finish that report, crunch those numbers or fix that problem?

You’re not alone. Procrastination, which often means doing low-value tasks to avoid difficult, more important ones–or else doing things we enjoy rather than things we don’t–is all too common.

One theory is that it’s hyperbolic discounting in action: the tendency to choose smaller rewards now over larger rewards later.

This concept is normally applied to economics (do you want $10 today or $50 in five months’ time), but it applies here too because, by replacing important tasks with easy admin, we’re getting a really bad value exchange in return for a brief burst of satisfaction.

And for entrepreneurs, who ought to be solely focused on the jobs that are important and urgent, it’s a false efficiency. Succumbing to the draw of simple, repetitive tasks can become a serious issue for the health and growth of our businesses. So, how do we get a grip on it?

Gaining self-awareness

First, we must grasp why we procrastinate in the first place. A 2013 study by the University of Sheffield proposes that we are prioritizing the regulation of the mood of the present self over the consequences to the future self (another good reason to never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry).

Knowing this, we can convert a lengthy, difficult job into a series of smaller, more manageable steps that can be performed with speed, giving us the sense of satisfaction we crave.

Greater self-awareness can also help us work out if the jobs on our to-do list should be there at all. While it’s always useful to have a basic level of understanding about areas that lie outside your expertise, tasks you’re putting off may be best left to those who know more.

For example, you’ve identified a pressing problem in your business: your website is doing a poor job of turning visitors to customers, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

This job is both important and urgent, because it’s hurting new business and your bottom line with every day that passes, but it’s also overwhelming if you don’t know what to fix.

So, let’s break it down and work out what the job really entails:

> Do some internet research and teach myself a little about website user behaviour and psychology, so I can be more informed Look at our analytics to see if these reveal anything obvious about my website’s failings Write a short project brief, outlining the problem and what a […]

Need More Self-Control? Try a Simple Ritual

Need More Self-Control? Try a Simple Ritual

Many of our most vexing problems, from overeating to not saving enough for retirement to not working out enough have something in common: lack of self-control. Self-control is what gives us the capacity to say no to choices that are immediately gratifying but costly in the long term—that piece of chocolate cake (instead of an apple), that afternoon in front of the couch (instead of a visit to the gym). Despite our best intentions, we often fail to meet our lofty goals.

The problem of self-control has puzzled psychologists and behavioral scientists for decades. A great deal of research has identified situations in which self-control failures are likely to happen and tools to help people exercise better control. For instance, research has found that people persist for longer on tasks that require self-control when they know they’ll be paid for their efforts, or when they are told that their work will benefit others (such as helping find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease). These motivating incentives can increase our self-control, at least up to a point.

Entrepreneurs have also become interested in self-control, as is evident from the many diet and exercise apps and gadgets on the market. To take one notable example, on the commitment contract website stickK.com, users put down some money (say, $200) and state a goal they want to achieve (such as to lose ten pounds in a month). They also need to state what will happen to the money if they don’t stick to their commitments (eg, it’ll go to a friend or to a charity they do not like). If they meet their goal, they earn their money back. If they don’t, they lose the money.

Tools like stickK.com can be effective, but they are often difficult to implement; you may need to enlist someone to help monitor your efforts. New research my colleagues and I conducted point to a different solution that may be easier to implement: using rituals.

A ritual is a series of steps we take while attaching some kind of symbolic meaning. Players in all sorts of sports have rituals that involve actions such as eating the same foods in exactly the same order before a game or listening to the same pre-ordered playlist a given number of times. From the way some prepare their coffee to the way people celebrate important life events, like weddings or graduations, rituals are a part of our daily life. And though they may seem useless, or even silly, research has found that rituals are powerful.

In the past, my colleagues and I have found that rituals reduce anxiety before stressful tasks, and improve performance. They allow us to enjoy our family holidays more. And they also give us a greater sense of control after experiencing a loss, whether a loved one or in a lottery. Given the power of rituals, we thought we might test their effectiveness in resisting temptation.

Is Your House a Pressure Cooker? How To Fight Less And Reduce Family Conflicts

Are you more polite/considerate/presentable/tidier/ in public or at home with family?  

Amazingly, many people treat complete strangers better than they treat their own spouse or children. We blurt out hurtful comments, leave a mess, expect 24/7 help and behave in ways we wouldn’t dare with people who care less about us and people who should matter less than those closest to us.  As important as it is to treat others well, it’s even more important to treat those we love better.

Home should be a safe harbor, but unless you live alone, you’ll inevitably get into arguments at home.  The trick is to learn how to reduce family conflicts, negotiate effectively and show appreciation frequently.  We decide what goals, relationships or vices we nurture with how we spend our time each day.  I discussed self-discipline and time-management in the blog post, Wield the Power of Discipline Towards Your Goal. Make sure you invest enough time creating shared experiences with your spouse and children to deepen your family ties.

Boost Communication Skills To Reduce Conflicts

Most family conflicts are rooted in miscommunication, so developing communication skills and finding out how each member of your family prefers to communicate help to improve your family dynamics. (Plus taking personality quizzes is fun!)  During difficult conversations, a good tip is to respond by repeating what the other person has said so there’s no doubt about their intended meaning. This simple step improves communication in multiple ways.  First, no two people have exactly the same life experiences and perspectives, and no matter how well you know your spouse/parent/child, don’t assume you know exactly how they feel and communicate 100% of the time.  The second benefit of this communication tip lies in our need to connect.   People often communicate to get recognition and acceptance of how they feel, and the simple act of repeating what they have said is the best support you can offer.

Quiz Cat: No Quiz found

Eyeroll, contemptuous glance, dismissive smirk…  Our non-verbal communication matters just as much as what we say.  So be mindful of your tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.  When you speak in a kind tone, arguments are less likely to start. You can further improve your family’s communication by letting everyone know that all feelings are ok but not all behaviors are.  Feelings are just one of our senses just like sight and touch.  Not much good comes from trying to dispute how another person feels.  But we do have a choice in how we think, express and do about our emotions.  Make your home a safe harbor for your entire family by keeping communication open and building trust.  When in doubt, give each the benefit of the doubt.

How to Negotiate Well

Why do fights/conflicts/arguments occur? They happen when someone’s needs aren’t being met.  So when arguments do arise, focus on the purpose and root cause of the arguments.  You can boost communications skills to avoid miscommunication and conflicts.

  1. Clear Request  

Household arguments often escalate and go on and on because there are no clear requests. One person dishes out one complaint after another while the person on the receiving end gets defensive and responds with insults or attacks.  When you complain, make sure to let the other person know what you want.  Here is a system that you may want to try:

It bugs me when you ____________________.  I wish you would ________________________.

  1. Time out! 

Take a step back if it becomes a shouting match with one insult after another. Ask for five minutes to think about what’s already been said.   When people disagree, it’s easy to turn confrontational, competitive and escalate trivial disagreements into power struggles.  A short time out can remind you that you love each other not enemies to conquer.  Agree as a household that it’s ok to have a time out during arguments. 

Bravely Apologize.  Weak communicators sometimes argue, insult and yell as a form of reaching out for help.   Remember conflicts occur only when needs are unmet. You may have said or done something unknowingly that hurt the other person through no fault of your own. Listen to the other person’s side of the story before jumping to defend yourself.  If apologies are due, be brave enough to apologize.  

Tips specific to reducing conflicts between your kids.

1.     Avoid comparing your children.  Kids are always on the lookout for any signs of unfairness so don’t give them a chance!   Be sure to let your children know how special they are. They’re individuals and should be treated that way

2.     Establish boundaries and household responsibilities. This will let them know what’s expected of them. Include rules about how they should treat one another. Let them know that hitting and name-calling are off limits in your home. Decide as a family what the consequences will be if they break the rules. 

3.     Give each child 1-on-1 attention. Sibling rivalry usually stems from perceived favoritism and trying to get more of their parent’s attention and love.

Consider taking each of your children on their own “dates.”  Children want to feel special and crave your attention.  Your dates don’t need to be extravagant.  Even a walk in the park followed by a treat will be treasured by your child when you let them know this date is JUST for them.  Invent your own special ritual. If you reinforce to each child that they’re special and that you love them, they’ll have less reason for arguing and more reason to dwell in the family’s love.

In the long run, we each have the power to decide whether or not to argue. If you decide that you won’t be dragged into an argument, the argument will often end of its own accord.

Wield The Power of Discipline Toward Your Dreams

Have you ever envied anyone who has better grades, bigger house, more recognition, popularity.. and grumbled “Why did she get xxx and not me?!?*#”  It’s easy to look at people who seem to have it all–beauty, fitness, great career, wealth, freedom and tell ourselves that it’s all luck.  Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his bestseller book, Outliers, that all successful people who achieved mastery in any area have devoted at least 10,000 hours to it. No exceptions.  

We live in a culture of instant gratification and overnight fame.  The youtube star that you believe to have gained fame overnight has hours of disciplined practice that people don’t see. . 10,000 seems like an insurmountable number, but when you’re consistent, a small step forward each day adds up to a lot of mileage over time.    Your life is too important to just leave it to chance. To guarantee success, harness the power of discipline. 

Free Success Fortune Telling Chart

What it takes to top the Billboard chart, win the Wimbleton, best-selling author, Nobel prize winning scientist, world renowned violinist

5 days a week 6 days a weekEveryday 
1 hour / day38.5 years (260 hours / yr)32 years(312 hours / yr)27 years(365 hours / yr)
2 hours / day19 years(520 hours / yr16 years624 hours / yr14 years730 hours/ yr
3 hours / day13 years78011 years9369 years1095
4 hours / day10 years10408 years12486.8 years1460
5 hours / day7.7 years13006.4 years15605.5 years1825

P.s. If you’re aiming for the best in your city, country, the bar would lower and you’d get to your target level of mastery sooner than what the chart below indicates.

Time is an egalitarian, limited commodity.  No matter your age, race, intelligence, wealth, we all have the same number of hours each day.  The power to steer the direction of your life is in your hands!  How do you choose to spend your time? Are the little things you do each day adding up to something positive? Do they lead you to where you want to go in life? 

With consistent action over the next 10 or 20 years, what could you accomplish? 30 minutes of extra math practice each day / 5 days per week equals 130 hours in 1 year–surely a time investment that would get you an improvement of a full letter grade in math.  Five small pieces of chocolate over the same duration is roughly 25,000 calories, or the equivalent of over 7 lbs.  4 hours in front of the TV everyday gets you to become a world class TV watcher in less than 7 years. 

Are your consistent behaviors helping or harming where you want to go in life? Be disciplined enough to make your dreams come true.  

Groundhog Day 

If you re-live today for the next 10 years, where would you end up? (It’s a classic.  Go watch it here if you haven’t seen it yet.”)

An effective way to predict your success is to honestly examine your average day and project the likely logical outcome into the future. It’s a no brainer that  if you saved just a small amount of money each day, you’d eventually be wealthy. If you overeat slightly each day, you are guaranteed to gain weight. Your teeth aren’t clean because you brushed them for an hour straight. They’re healthy because you brushed them for 2 minutes twice a day for 365 days straight.

For one week, carefully record how you spend your time in 30-minute increments everyday.  Consider where your daily habits and behaviors are leading you academically,  financially, socially, spiritually, and physically. What logical conclusions do your daily activities predict?

3 Steps for More Self-Discipline

1.   Set success on auto-pilot.     Good habits decrease resistance and help make self-discipline easier because research shows that people have a finite amount of self-discipline .  By building good habits, you’re creating helpful, positive actions that are automatic and don’t require you to use up your reserve of self-discipline. Relying on discipline day after day is an uphill battle. While discipline can grow with effort and the right training, having helpful habits is more effective and much less painful.  To make sure habits stick, Tie them to environmental triggers or something you already do to encourage consistency.  I discussed habits more in this article.

2. Just do it.  The greatest barrier to self-discipline is procrastination. Each day, you have the choice to get closer to making your dreams come true.  Each day lost is lost forever, so if it’s the right thing to do, then isn’t it worth doing right now?

3.  Have reasonable expectations. When your time horizon is unrealistic or when you ask too much of yourself too soon, disappointment and frustration are sure to follow, and  you doom yourself to give up. Be positive and enthusiastic, but be reasonable. Focus on your trajectory and aim for regular and consistent improvement. Perfection isn’t required.

Whatever your dreams are, you need self-discipline to make it happen.  What you do once in a while doesn’t impact your life significantly. Rather, it’s what you do consistently with discipline.  All of curaFUN’s social emotional training programs build up children’s self-discipline with consistent practice of critical skills in dynamic, gamified formats. Click here to find a program appropriate for your child today with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

How to get your kids to……
Motivate Your Kids to Get Things Done

“Put the dishes away when you’re done.”

            “Don’t take your sister’s toys without asking her first.”

How often do you feel like a broken record?  Between after school activities, homework, video games, soccer practice, and just keeping up with life, getting your kids to do what they’re supposed to do sometimes feel herculean and impossible.  You ask nicely, repeatedly, and nobody does anything until you Jekyll and Hyde into the yelling, mean parent!

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could motivate your kids and get them to do as you say?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for motivating your children.  What works for one may backfires and turn another into an oppositional defiant beast!   As parents, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be your children’s friend, wanting them to like you, but they depend on you as their first and most important teacher, guide, and motivator!

Some surefire tips to motivate your children:

 1. Recognize

By encouraging them and praising them fairly, consistently and immediately, you utilize the three most important aspects of positive reinforcement (and make your job as a parent much easier.) My previous blog post Junk Food for the Soul discusses the importance of “catch them being good” throughout the day, and not waiting until an external achievement milestone (i.e. winning the spelling bee, scoring xxx on the PSAT) to praise in order to celebrate true effort and progress rather than only the final outcomes.

2. Reward

This one is a no brainer, but what is the difference between rewarding and bribing your child?  Will your kids keep up the good behavior once the reward is faded?

The answer lies in how, when and what you use as rewards.  You’re rewarding not only for good behavior, but to develop your child’s intrinsic motivation. Countless research affirms the importance and superior long-term effectiveness of intrinsic motivation, which is self-motivation—not through external punishment or reward. What’s effective as a reward differs from person to person and influence how successful you’ll be in getting your kids to listen to you or any other goal.

curaFUN has made a fun rewards chart that you can use with your child to track behaviors or goals. You may download a pdf version here.

Consistent

When rewards are consistent, children can easily identify the causal relationship you’re establishing to the desired behavior whereas inconsistent rewarding may lead them to either associating the wrong behavior to the reward or a decreased in motivation.

Example scenario: “If I finish all my homework before 6pm, then mom will allow me to play x minutes of video games after dinner.” But if you allow your child to play video games when you’re too tired to enforce your reward system, then you’ve created extra resistance to getting your kids to doing what you want them to do.

Fair

A fair reward is one that is proportional to the true effort your child put into the task.  When I was getting my daughters to brush their teeth independently long ago, I rewarded them for the behavior daily for 8 months before it became a habit, at which time the behavior no longer needs any external reward. Many families use a reward chart system.  Review the rewards that you’ve set up and see how each reward measure up when you’re comparing them based on the required effort.  Also, choose your rewards carefully.  Just like someone who’s working on losing weight shouldn’t reward themselves with cream and chips when they lose a pound, your rewards should never be an item/behavior you are trying to extinguish.

Timeliness

Rewards are most powerful when they are immediate.  Children elementary school or younger perform better when they receive their earned rewards daily (or even smaller increments like half days, or after every class period depending on the child).  Self-discipline is an inner strength that needs to be developed step by step.

Some ideas for behavior rewards:

  • Letting them select the movie for family movie night.
  • A one-on-one afternoon tea date with you
  • Read an extra bedtime story.
  • Choose a restaurant for the family.

Rewards serve as concrete milestones and help when you’re aiming for bigger goals.

3. Model

Children are like sponges.  They observe your behavior carefully and try to emulate.  Kids who see their parents lose their temper, yelling and cursing when things don’t go their way are being shown that such behavior is acceptable and expected.  They also observe more subtle ways: how you de-stress, problem solve, persevere, learn, spend your time.

It’s important to remember children’s perspectives and explain your actions in a way they can understand.  When my kids were in kindergarten, I heard my daughter tell her teacher, “My mom’s job is shopping,” to which I was dumbfounded because I launched products, placed PR events, landed deals, and shopping is one of my least favorite things! I worked a long-hour, high-stress, long-commute job, and often didn’t see them until dinner.  The highlight of their lives back then was going grocery shopping with mom.   Shopping was the main task they observe me do, so naturally they assumed all I did was shop ☹

4. Consequence

Consequences are very different from punishment. What most parents need to do more of is simply to allow natural consequences to occur.  When your children don’t do the things they’re supposed to do, you determine, with your response, whether they learn how their actions or inactions impact their lives and the lives of others.  If you’re unable to influence the natural consequence, make something away for a short period and explain why you’re doing it and how they can earn it back.

Examples scenario: Your son procrastinated on his project for the science fair, and barely filled up 1/3 of his presentation poster before the fair.  Do you have the heart to let him experience the bad grade, embarrassment, etc. his behavior caused him?

It’s difficult for children to remain motivated when parents remove natural consequences and “take care of everything.”  A rule of thumb that I generally use is compare the benefits of lesson to be learned from the natural consequence to actual risk.  I ask myself “will they suffer irreparable harm from my allowing them to experience this consequence?”

When my daughter forgot her lunch, I decided to let her experience the consequence—a few hours of hunger.  Months later, when she forgot her water bottle and was running the mile under the hot California sun, I promptly delivered her water bottle.   After she got home, I explicitly explained what should have been the natural consequence of her inattention, and why I decided to bail her out (due to the dehydration danger to her respiratory condition.)  We then agreed on a replacement consequence.

Motivating your children isn’t easy. It takes unrelenting commitment to applying all the principles (recognition, reward, model, consequence) we discussed above, and just getting things done for them will often be easier and quicker, which is why parenting is often cited as one of the most difficult jobs!  Feel free to ask me questions or leave a comment below. Your efforts now shape your children’s futures.

p.s. You don’t want to be delivering forgotten lunchboxes when your son/daughter is 30!