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Learning to Simplify

How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done

What sets apart adults from children and adolescents? How could adults stand to do all that cleaning and cooking and working day in and day out? Once you have freedom from school and could do anything you wanted to, how could you not be overwhelmed from all of the options available? How can you be a responsible adult, stop procrastinating, and get the important tasks done? These were the questions I asked myself in my late teens but couldn’t figure out.

How to stop procrastinating and get things done. The 5-second rule for grown ups. Title page.

As an adult, I found out that not all adults are able to accomplish the things they set out to do. The habits of procrastination that I had when I was a child had followed me into adulthood. The difference now is that I didn’t have my parents on my case to clean my room or do the dishes. So how could one be a responsible adult? An adult who gets the priority tasks or the daring tasks done?

My Grandpa’s Wisdom

I was visiting my grandparents in Russia and asked my grandpa these questions. It boggled my mind how he could just keep doing all of the work at home and in their huge garden day after day. His answer shifted my mindset and approach to tasks for forever. He said that there comes a moment in your life when you have to tell yourself

“I know I don’t want to do [fill in the blank], but I HAVE to”.

That, right there, changed my whole perspective and has helped me so much over the years. You stop the negotiation in your mind and simply get started on your tasks. You take the role of the parent in your life and start parenting yourself. I like the way Mel Robbins put it in her Ted Talk:

“What’s interesting about being an adult is that when you become eighteen, nobody tells you that it’s now your job to parent yourself.” “I mean it’s your job to make yourself do the crap you don’t want to do, so you can be everything you’re supposed to be.”

To watch Mel Robbin’s full Ted Talk “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over” just take a look at this video:

How to Use this Mindset

When I want to sleep but I must go to work, I sometimes talk to myself “Alisa, I know you don’t want to wake up and leave your warm bed, but you have to.” “I know you don’t want to clean the home right now, but you have to.”

It’s not even necessary to give a reason, just leave it at that “you have to”.  Something in the subconscious submits, stops resisting, and lets you get on with that task. Remember, you are in charge of your body and not the other way around. You can either let your body keep you lazy, playing games and eating junk food, much like a child would love to do. Or, you could instruct your body and mind to stop with the complaining and just get the work done. Mel Robbins says that this parenting of yourself is “simple, but not easy.” It actually requires you to push yourself to get into action.

If you don’t get into action right away, you risk having to fight with your mind’s logic about how staying right where you are is safer and better for you. So how do you get over your mind’s laziness and spring into action?

The 5-Second Rule

Based on the science of motivation and how our mind works, Mel Robbins created a simple hack to stop procrastination when doing a difficult or scary task. When you have an impulse to do something (ex. Go say hello to someone, go for a walk, do the laundry, finish your homework), you have 5 seconds to marry it to action before that impulse is taken over by the mind which halts that impulse from going into action.

What does it look like? Let’s say you got a moment of inspiration and actually want to go do a workout. You have to take action on it right away before your mind has a chance to convince you otherwise. The method Robbins suggests is counting down from 5. When you get to 1 you get up and start. That’s it. You put on your workout clothes, shoes, put on the music, start driving to the gym or start working out at home. Bam! You overcame your procrastination. You are the winner my friend. Now go get those things done that you’ve been putting off. I know you got this!

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