Why you need to achieve Flow state

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

When it comes to doing quality work and achieving your goals, you need to work on your tasks with full concentration and free from distraction. But most people have unproductive work habits caused by unhappiness, dissatisfaction and displeasure. They do not enjoy performing the activities related to their work. Because of this they fail to optimise their performance and produce quality work. Whenever we get involved in doing a task that is interesting or enjoyable, we do it with total concentration and we lose track of time and everything around us be it the noise or people or other distractions seems to fade away. Many of us would have experienced such state at one point or another in our life like while playing a game or pursuing our hobbies or while learning a subject of our interest or while writing, dancing and so on. Such state where we feel intense, exhilarating and satisfying is called Flow state.

By achieving flow state, you can overcome the problems of dissatisfaction, unhappiness and other unproductive habits. Flow can lead to improved performance and can be the key to achieve happiness at work.

Flow state is not only limited to your work but it also optimises your performance in activities like sports, art, and learning. When you are in Flow, you can exhibit your creative skills and abilities quite easily and such state leads to your productive best irrespective of which work you are involved in.

What is ‘Flow’ state?

Flow is about enjoying what you do and is known as the state of optimal performance and engagement. Flow is often referred to as being “ in the zone” and it is directly proportional to being productive. Flow experience is mostly active and is complete immersion in an enjoyable activity. Activity can be playing a sport or pursuing a hobby or pursuing your goals. Sometimes both positive and negative behaviours can lead to state of flow. But the negative behaviour at some point will take you out of flow because of the risk involved when compared to that of a positive behaviour.

According to Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

According to him, we find more occasions of flow when we work rather than when we are at leisure or relaxed. This is because at work, we have clear set of goals that require appropriate response and it provides immediate feedback in terms of measurable goals completed. And also job/task tends to improve concentration and prevent distractions.

When do you experience the state of Flow?

Almost any activity can produce flow experience. You can find flow in your daily activities or while working. In fact we find more occasions of flow when we are dealing with challenging tasks than the easier ones. You also experience Flow when you push yourself to accomplish a difficult task, or while contemplating on difficult questions or recalling enjoyable experiences, or activities that keep you engaged in writing or learning about the topics you find most enjoyable. You get into a state of Flow when

• Your time spent on the task seems effortless.

• You have a sense of control over your actions.

• Your action and awareness merges during which you lose self consciousness.

• You experience timelessness.

• You receive direct and immediate feedback.

• Your goals are clearly defined.

• You are able to focus all your effort and attention in the task.

• The task is challenging, but it is doable.

• You are internally driven with a purpose and direction.

While flow experience has above components, but it is not necessary that all these need to take place together.

Almost everyone can learn to achieve flow. But those with passion, persistence and enthusiasm tend to experience more flow. On the contrary, those who are highly critical of themselves or anxious or self-conscious and self-centred experience less of flow state. Engaging in high-skill, high-challenge activities that contain clear goals and feedback structure and mastering challenging activities would allow one to experience more flow.

Why being in flow is important?

Being in flow is a sense of effortless action and if you can achieve flow state in your tasks, it allows you to focus on your goals that are clear and compatible. Research shows there is an association between Flow and peak performance where the benefits included enhanced well-being and self-concept. It triggers positive mindset, grit and creativity. Being in flow state enables you to focus your attention completely in the task at hand leaving no room for contradictions thereby leading to better choices, decisions and more positive outcomes. Flow can help you achieve happiness, satisfaction and productivity.

“The greatest athletes are the ones who ‘make it look easy’…The athletes and others in peak performance states are not ‘wanting’ to perform well but are engaged in the flow of doing.” – M. Hutchinson

People who experience flow are more productive as they tend to ignore distractions with more control over their thoughts. They pay close attention to details which often help them identify opportunities to act, set goals, gain feedback and go after bigger challenges. Flow activities in learning provide enthusiasm, provide intrinsic rewards and help you gain new skills.

How to achieve the Flow state?

Achieving a state of flow can be great way to make your routine chores or tasks more engaging and enjoyable. People who mastered certain skills often experience flow state and they make whatever they are doing look easy as they are totally engaged in it. You can achieve such a state by making the components of flow available in your work or other activities you pursue. Here are some ways to achieve the Flow state in your work.

Make your tasks more challenging

A boring task can be turned into more challenging by finding better ways to do it or to do it more efficiently or to find ways to accomplish more on the task by paying more attention to it. Approaching a challenging task without any prejudice and with more determination, you can make it more meaningful and can achieve a state of flow. One way to stay in flow is to consistently increase the challenge of your tasks, but not make them too hard. The task should be neither too demanding nor too simple for your abilities. It has to equal your skill level to tackle the difficulty or challenging part of the task.

Develop your skills

You can achieve state of flow by engaging in challenging tasks or work that are doable. Achieving flow state is enjoying what you do. so by developing your skills, you can match up to the challenging tasks which otherwise seem much harder than they actually are. When you are devoting all of your energy to learn new skills that are required to achieve a larger goal, this puts your thoughts, feelings and action in harmony achieving a state of flow.

“If challenges are too low, one gets back to flow by increasing them. If they are too great, one can return to flow state by learning new skills.” – csikszentmihalyi

Set clear goals

Flow is about achieving your goals to your satisfaction. Goals add motivation and structure to what you are doing. Whether you are in learning or working or in creative field, learning to set effective goals helps you to gain focus you need and working towards achieving them. Gain clarity about your circumstances and the behaviours you are indulging in. Setting goals and aspirations provide you with a sense of direction that will help you to get in the state of flow. A clearly defined passionate life purpose can help you bring back to flow state.

Establish your priorities

Your core values will determine how you you prioritise your life. If your priorities have meaning and aligned with your life’s purpose, then this will help you find the motivation you need to get into flow state. By prioritising, you can match your skills with whatever tasks at hand or your purpose. And also figure out the required skills you need to achieve your goals and can extend yourself beyond your current ability level. Slight stretching of your ability is a good way to a experience flow state. Reevaluate your core values and priorities by checking if there are any specific habits and fears that might be holding you back from entering the flow state.

Expand your possibilities

A personal evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses let’s you identify the skills you need to build or work upon. Sometimes you may not find your flow because you have closed yourself off to new experiences. Find your flow by opening yourself to new possibilities or by gathering new insights and by exposing yourself to new ideas and opportunities. Surround yourself with people who motivate and inspire you and those who tend to challenge you. This way you can step out of your comfort zone to open up to new possibilities.

Find your motivation

Being in flow state is by doing a intrinsically rewarding task. If you are Extrinsically motivated, motivation lasts as long as you receive a reward and can avoid a negative outcome. Such motivation is short-lived and doesn’t make you intrinsically driven which is important to find your flow. You can attain flow through voluntary engagement in a task that you find enjoyable. Without intrinsic motivation, you will fall back to indulging in unhelpful and limiting habits that obstruct your flow. By being intrinsically driven, that is doing a task for the sake of doing and not because of external factors, you will always find your flow.

Strike a balance

We experience many emotional states when trying to perform a task depending on the difficulty of the task and our skill level. If the work or the task isn’t challenging, we experience boredom and if our skill levels don’t match any challenging task, we could experience anxiety and worry. Similarly when we are not motivated enough and under too much or too little pressure, our performance often declines and becomes unproductive. According to inverted U model created by Psychologists Roger Yerkes & John Dodson, there is a perfect medium of pressure where people perform at their best. According to them, when we are overloaded with work or under high pressure, our negative emotions like stress and anxiety increases. Instead by balancing your skills with the difficulty of the task or work you are pursuing, you can enter a state of Flow.

Finally,

Guide your focus

If you control how you interpret the events that become part of your conscious experience, you are more likely to experience happiness and therefore more flow. Attention is an important tool that can be used to control your flow experience. When your focus is not guided like when you are idle or distracted, your mind tends to lean towards the negative paying more attention to negative experiences and information than to the positive. Guiding your freed-up focus for goal-striving or towards your intentions, and focusing your attention on one task at a time improves your flow experience.

You can only put your conscious attention on one thing at a time. If that’s all that has your attention, you’re in flow.”

Conclusion

To sum up. If you are willing to create conditions that would allow you to experience flow at work by having clear goals, establishing your priorities, receiving feedback, emphasising on focused attention, you can use your skills to their fullest capacity to create things that matter. Follow the above mentioned suggestions to achieve a state of flow in your everyday life be it personal or professional. Having a purpose and right direction, you can make better decisions about to what to pay attention to in any given moment , which, in turn, allows you to engage more fully in your activities, making them more engaging and enjoyable thereby making Flow a more likely outcome.

How to deal with toxic behaviour

In order to be successful in the work you do, you need to dedicate your time, effort and mental strength to what you pursue. But sometimes what makes your work difficult is the toxic behaviour of difficult people around you that fuel negativity, stir up doubt and generally make your work harder. Some people may cause endless interpersonal conflict and tend to make others feel bad about themselves on a regular basis. Toxic people deplete your energy, distract your thoughts and derail your progress and make you question your abilities.

We all encounter such people even in our personal lives or outside of our work places. We may also find traits of toxic behaviour that are undesirable in our coworkers, amongst our friends, or even in our family. Your interactions with such people in your life or workplace can be damaging to your self-image and create anxiety and stress.

When we come across toxic behaviour in our personal lives or in workplaces, it can be quite destabilising and has negative emotional impact with feeling of being deeply discounted or deflated, robs us of our enthusiasm and can lead to confusion or chaos. Your attitude to your own self is important, but it is more so when you have to deal with difficult persons who tend to rub you the wrong way. They usually are mean and grudging about everything and have an aura of unpleasantness about them. Toxic behaviour of such people not only inflicts a personal hurt, but also negatively impacts your success, wellness and productivity.

Toxicity of difficult people

People can be either easy to deal with, or difficult to deal with. Our relations with the former remain pleasant and smooth. We like such people. Relations with the latter are often under strain and friction. We often tend to dislike them as they create unnecessary complexity, strife, stress and toxic environment around them and others. You may experience toxic behaviour from anyone be it a parent or sibling or a friend or a co-worker or a superior in your workplace. One thing is common about such behaviour is that they try to justify their behaviour and they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions.

Toxic behaviour can be of different forms like bullying, humiliating in the presence of others, or intimidation which is not only hurtful in the moment but makes you feel worthless and fearful in the future. Even blaming others, gossiping and rumour mongering are considered as subtle forms of toxic behaviours. Avoidance or ignoring a person in meetings or social events can be also be a toxic way of putting someone down.

Toxic behaviour can be a product of certain kinds of environments and it is important to know how to recognise such behaviour and how to deal with it effectively. Here are some character traits to identify toxic people in your life or at workplace.

Narcissistic: They are all about themselves and view themselves as more desirable and talented than anyone else around. They want to mange through fear and relate to others in a condescending manner and they even take credit for others successes and have a habit of manipulating thereby giving less importance to others or trust or teamwork.

Judgmental: They are highly judgmental and can be quite arrogant and intimidating. They have a habit of criticising making negative conclusions about your choices, or ideas without any reason and never give you a constructive feedback.

Controlling: These people control through manipulation and deceit and they exploit your weaknesses. They tend to inhibit your creativity and ignore your ideas or decisions because of their know-it-all attitude. They think they are never wrong.

Pessimistic: They have a habit of bringing everyone down by going on about downsides about every idea. They might drag you into their negativity, stirring up doubt and disappointment with in you. They tend to play victim card and never own up to their mistakes.

Retrogressive: They are unwilling to go along with others, greedy, clingy, dishonest, angry, insecure, greedy and mostly are non-believers. They often resort to gossip and telling lies that breeds suspicion and will make your environment unproductive.

Non-empathetic: They cut down your plans and ideas in front of others, belittle your actions, and create feelings of low self-esteem. They lack empathy and can resort to harmful ways to bring others down and this also makes them deflect their ability to consider the consequences of their actions.

Complainers: They are fault finding, blaming and often wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They are certain about what should be done and they never seem able to correct the situation by themselves.

Hostile people: They tend to react violently and can be cynical, argumentative and have trouble being in the wrong. They can be egotistical and are often difficult to deal with. They often engage in toxic behaviour trying to cover up their own insecurity and avoid taking responsibility for a problem and blame others.

Other character traits like aggression, paranoia, or sadism can also be attributed to toxic behaviour. Toxic behaviour is the result of prioritising self-interest above everyone else’s, inability to consider another person’s perspective or emotional state, and not caring enough to acknowledge how their behaviour affects others.

How toxic behaviour affects productivity in workplace

People look for meaningful work and they want to be part of teams that are efficient, engaging and one that contributes to the work place’s purpose and success. Any organisation’s or a workplace’s success is attributed to its culture which becomes its character. In today’s work culture, where people work in teams and project-based models, with daily interactions, there is more probability of facing or come across toxic behaviour of difficult teammates or coworkers. If some toxic behaviours are tolerated for some reason, it not only makes the good talent leave the organisation, but they also fail to attract the right talent.

Certain workplaces might give importance to expertise or other measurable skills thereby undermining the toxic behaviour as they might think losing an expertise can impact their work or business. But if tolerated can have long-term implications by negatively impacting the culture of workplace, their growth, right talent, and productivity. If a workplace is toxic,

• It results in unhealthy and damaging communication patterns like complaining, blaming thereby causing lack of trust. Poor communication, or withholding information, or giving misleading information which makes the place not only dysfunctional but also makes it difficult to follow and implement proper procedures resulting in creating inconsistencies and low productive work.

• It is often difficult for people to work together and accomplish their tasks in toxic environments. People who work in such environments often have emotional issues like depression, anxiety, irritability and a sense of fear or failure.

• Toxic culture might lead to biased behaviour which can lead to poor level of motivation and commitment to work.

• Unhealthy competition can lead to toxic behaviours like lack of cooperation, blame-game, gossiping, or unhealthy work environment.

If you work or live in a toxic environment where toxic behaviour becomes a fixed way of operating, then you become a target of hostility, rudeness, bullying or other forms. As a result, your productivity, morale, and engagement in work decreases.

How to deal with toxic behaviour

Whether in our personal or work lives, we likely have encountered such people with toxic behaviour and some difficult personality traits, while some may have developed the ability to deal with them in a peaceful manner, others seem to struggle in dealing with difficult people. Whether it’s your co-worker, your neighbour, or your friend or your family member, sometimes people can be overwhelmingly difficult. If you have to deal with someone who puts up resistance, things can go quickly out of your control.

To deal with toxic behaviour effectively, you need to hone certain strategies that can enable you to control what you can and eliminate what you cannot. If you can develop the ability to remain calm and manage your emotions when faced with difficult people and deal with them in an appropriate way, you can gain more control of the situation. Handling difficult people may not be easy, but it is important for your well-being. Here are some strategies to deal with toxic behaviour in your personal or work situations.

Set firm boundaries

Toxic person is one who refuses to hear your perspective. Any attempts to explain yourself or being reasonable only frustrates you as they refuse to understand your perspective. Be assertive in saying no to the demands that feel unreasonable without explaining or justifying yourself. Avoid interactions with them that increases their aggressiveness or that encourages intense emotions. If you work on a team with toxic people, set a clear boundary by limiting the time you spend with him or her. Keep your communications short and clear without getting bogged down with too much emotion. You don’t need to convince them as they will not see your point of view. Avoid being defensive and don’t waste time proving that you are right. If you don’t set limits, you are bound to find yourself constantly embroiled in difficult conversations. Minimise your interaction and try to keep things short by excusing yourself from conversation or by bringing a third party into the conversation.

Control your response

We normally respond immediately when we feel challenged wth unreasonable behaviour of people. Difficult people most of the times are irrational and are not creatures of logic. They are full of prejudice and are motivated by arrogance. So, there is no point in responding to them emotionally and get sucked into their negative emotional spiral. Distance yourself from them emotionally and take time before you speak or respond. When you find yourself with a person who is engaged in a toxic behaviour, decide when it is worth your efforts to discuss or when the issue must be addressed. Choose better time to resolve or to communicate. Don’t give them opportunity to manipulate you or twist your words. Do not resort to name-calling or react impulsively, instead the more calmer you remain the more likely it is that the other will reflect on his/ her behaviour.

Communicate with clarity

While communicating with aggressive and intimidating people, the best way to deal is by not engaging in an argument. Being polite and precise in your language can give them less room to engage in their toxic behaviour. Don’t focus on their criticism or inappropriateness, instead focus on your actions and response. You should know you are in the right to deal with arrogant people. Validating and getting to know their perspective can help them turn their behaviour around.

When dealing with chronic complainers, the best way is to allow them to complain unless they also present a solution to the issue. This will reduce their ability to affect you or fellow team members or those around you. Setting time limits and list of things to be accomplished to those who stall or procrastinate or unfocused or disorganised can reduce your stress and frustration. Communicating the consequences of their actions and behaviour can make them change it.

Find your support-system

Sometimes it will be entirely ineffective putting up with such behaviour alone or tackling it by yourself if you have emotionally invested in such behaviour. Tap into your support system to gain a perspective on the person involved and his or her behaviour. Identify people outside your work or team or family and those who root for you and ready to support you and seek their help to deal with such behaviour. Strengthen your ties with your friends and others you trust. This can help balance your perspective and having your point validated can boost your self-esteem. Find activities that keep you away from the toxic people and toxic environment.

Seeking support sometimes can be more helpful as others can be a solution as they are not emotionally invested in the situation.

Know when to move on

Before we seriously think about dealing with difficult people, we must accept a basic principle of living – we can do nothing about the way people are. Sometimes, we cannot deal with the way they are. In such cases, it is better to know when to move on by being practical and realistic. There is no point wasting time dealing with people who make no efforts to acknowledge their behaviour and change it.

If their behaviour persists, it is better to step back and reevaluate the situation. If you develop an ability to look at your part in the situation, you can choose whether you may want to tactfully correct their behaviour or want to pursue a conversation and try to resolve the differences in a calm and rational way. Sometimes if their behaviour is deliberate and habitual, then it is better to avoid any further engagements with such people because their perspective may not change.

Finally,

Focus on solution, and not on problem

When you are in conflict with a toxic person, your unchecked emotions can be damaging. When you fixate too much on the problem, you create a prolonged negative emotions and stress. Fixating on how difficult they are gives them power over you. Instead if you focus on solutions to deal with such behaviour, you can create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and reduces stress. Stop thinking about how troubling or difficult the person or his/ her behaviour is and focus on how you are going to handle them.

Your failure to understand a person also results in ‘his’ becoming difficult. For a proper understanding of difficult people, it is important to understand yourself as others see you. Make sure others meet the real you. And you meet the real other person. Sometimes even having high expectations without thinking of others’ rights and limitations, puts too heavy strain on others where they are forced to react unfavourably and they get difficult to deal with. Focusing on solutions makes you more in control in dealing with toxic behaviour.

To Do:

Consider which of the strategies above will be most helpful to deal with difficult people in your life or at your workplace or business. When you find yourself in specific scenario where you find signs of toxic behaviour, consider asking yourself the following questions.

Am I part of the problem or am I trying to cast blame?

What will happen if I just let it be or what will happen if I take control of the situation?

Am I in the right frame of mind to deal appropriately with the person or situation?

What can I do to prevent such toxic behaviour happening in future?

Take some time to think before you act or respond if you are angry. Go to the person and deal with it and if you think you cannot deal with the difficult person all by yourself, seek support from a friend, or closed one or a coworker if it is in a workplace to get a read on your feelings.

Implementing healthy strategies while dealing with difficult people will prepare you to better handle stress and hbetter equipped to deal with any difficult person.

Overcome your habit of procrastination

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
-Abraham Lincoln

We all procrastinate and put off doing important tasks by postponing our work to do tomorrow or later and this tomorrow never comes and before we know it, time goes by without any progress made on the set goals. “Procrastination is the thief of time” and affects your productivity. The habit of putting off important tasks can rob you of your hours of achievement and success. By delaying your important tasks because they take time or difficult to do, you in fact delay your dreams or goals. When you neglect your work, or delay a task given to you, chances are that you will continue to delay it unless you make some changes in your thinking or habits.

Procrastination is a chronic cycle. Slacking, hiding from work, doing unimportant tasks, putting off and then the loop repeats. You cannot find a solution to your procrastinating habit unless you realize that you are procrastinating. The solution lies in being aware of the reasons behind your procrastinating habit.

What happens when you Procrastinate?

We all have tendency to procrastinate because our minds naturally like to be in a relaxed state. Sometimes we have trouble focusing and we put off a difficult task for as long as possible. But when you finally get around to doing the task, you have tough time finding ways to push past your lack of momentum to get the task done.

Some people feel that doing things at the last minute creates urgency, which pushes them to act. They feel that this will help them to be more efficient without realizing that this wastes their precious time that could be otherwise used productively. It creates unneeded anxiety as deciding to put off the task for later only makes you think about it from time to time causing unnecessary worry. The continuous avoidance forms a distorted image of how intimidating the task is in your mind, compare to what it really is creating an exaggerated amount of fear of the task you are supposed to do.

By leaving little time for your important tasks, the final output will be always short of what you are really capable of as you’ve insufficient time to deliver quality results. When you delay or defer your important tasks to the later time, it snowballs into a huge impact on your productivity and well-being. Everything you do in a day, from the little decisions you make to the amount of time you allot to act on your goals, plays a big role in what you achieve. Delaying something by a day or a week may seem inconsequential as you experience short-term relief from not having to deal with immediately, but makes a big difference in the long run.

What is Procrastination?

The word Procrastination comes from the Latin word procrastinatus, which means “to put off till tomorrow, defer, delay.” It is a natural human tendency to avoid important tasks because either they are unpleasant, stressful, or difficult. We tend to replace them with less important tasks that are either easy, less stressful or because you find them interesting. It is a common belief that people with poor time management skills often procrastinate, but this may not be the only reason. Research shows that people who are poor in their emotional or stress management skills often resort to procrastination. This is mainly due to their inability to cope with their moods, or negative emotions like fear or self-doubt which makes them negative, uncertain, or unmotivated towards their tasks.

What causes Procrastination?

Procrastination is a kind of avoidance and at times and it can become a frustrating habit to keep delaying important tasks without knowing how to stop. When working towards overcoming your procrastinating habit, it is important to address on the primary root causes of the behavior rather than the habit itself. By truly understanding what causes you to procrastinate, you can uncover the real reasons behind it. We tend to procrastinate for multiple reasons and they differ from person to person. Here are Some common root causes.

  • Lack of discipline or laziness or giving into your habitual urges to do something easier or more comfortable.
  • Unwillingness to do hard tasks. Our minds focus on the hard parts of tasks that we are procrastinating on. We tend to label them as difficult, scary, time-consuming, and so on without being fully aware of the tasks.
  • Procrastination is most of the times is about fear. Fear of failure, fear of uncertainty, fear of rejection, or fear of doing something in a less perfect manner or fear of being incapable. Once you are aware of your fears, you can see that they are misconceived beliefs and can immediately address them.
  • Lack of motivation can fuel your procrastination habit. If your are not motivated, either intrinsically or extrinsically, you lack the desire to act on your task. Having an ideal vision that inspires you from within can motivate you intrinsically and you could create sources of extrinsic motivation to get overcome your procrastination habit.
  • Not able to prioritizing your tasks. When there are too many things to be completed, in a conflict of what is more important and which task should be tackled first makes you procrastinate on important tasks. It is hard to know which tasks are important if you are not organised. By prioritizing, you can focus on what you need to and make time for thereby you can avoid getting caught up in less important tasks.
  • Fear of missing out on something or need to be up-to-date on everything causes distractions and creates habitual urges to go to something easier and more comfortable spiraling you into procrastination.
  • People who experience anxiety or lack of confidence in their ability to complete a task procrastinate in order to avoid failure in short-term. Procrastination is used as a coping strategy when stressed or overwhelmed or when we become anxious.

When you become aware of the root causes to your habit of procratination, you can work towards ocercoming it.

How to overcome Procrastination

You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.

— Benjamin Franklin

Long-term procrastination is often associated with stress, difficulty with completing your daily tasks, reduced mental health, and lower levels of well-being. Putting off your important responsibilities leads to self-defeating behavior and underperformance affecting you personally and professionally. Overcoming your procrastinating habit is necessary for your productivity, emotional-wellbeing and time-management. Here are some strategies to overcome your procrastination.

Know your triggers.

Some of the common triggers for putting things off are confusion, boredom, frustrating, difficulty, unstructured, not intrinsically motivating, lacks meaning or purpose.  When these triggers are set off, trying to resist the urges to procratinate may help you deal with them.

When you are getting started on a task and feel an urge to do something else, then try to curb your distraction by thinking differently.  Finding an interesting way of doing a boring task can help you start a task you have been procrastinating.

Disabling digital distractions ahead of time gives you no choice but to work on what is important.

Reminding yourself of the purpose and meaning of the task can help you stay motivated. If there is mood issue or health concern that is contributing to procrastination, address the underlying condition to reduce your tendency to procrastinate. By identifying the triggers, you can replace self-defeating thoughts with more productive thoughts to overcome your habit of procrastination.

Structure your to-do lists

The other strategy to deal with procrastination is to structure your to-do lists. We often procrastinate when there are too many things to be completed, and we cannot prioritize. Writing your top “to-do’s” for the day can bring structure to your tasks and can keep you stay on track with your tasks.

Many people try to fill their lists with too many things and go haywire trying to complete all the tasks together and in the bargain, they will end up doing less important ones and end up procrastinating on the important tasks. Keeping your lists manageable, measurbale and meaningful can help you complete your tasks without putting them off for later.

Follow “one-three-five-rule” when putting together your daily list of things to accomplish. This means set nine daily tasks for yourself which should have one big goal to tackle, three medium tasks and five small tasks. This way you can keep your tasks manageble and you can prioritize your tasks to the things that matter most and also keeps you from feeling cluttered with an endless list of things to-do. One of the other ways to structure your lists is by keeping a “won’t-do” list. Write a checklist of things you plan to do and those you won’t do, but plan to do in the future. As you finish your “to-do” tasks, you can move onto “won’t-do” tasks.

Follow “Two-minute-rule”

To avoid procrastination on routine tasks that still have to be done, use the two-minute rule. Following this rule, you can avoid tons of unimportant things and you can focus on your priorities. If a task takes just 2 minutes of your time, do it right away. Don’t add it to your to-do list and don’t postpone it for later.  There are tons of trivial tasks that take less than 2 minutes that you need to do every day. If it takes more than 2 minutes, start it and continue doing it to for at least 2 minutes. This way you will set a momentum for your bigger tasks.

Overcome yes but thinking

When you procrastinate, check to see if your thoughts include yes but thinking. ‘yes’ signals that you accept that task is important, and ‘but’ signals that you intend to put it off for some reason or the other. For instance, thoughts like yes, ‘but now is not the time to work on this’ or ‘but I am under stress’ or ‘but I am not keen’ or “but i am not ready.’

Yes but thinking may give you a short-term relief, but you end up getting caught in this thought trap. When you procrastinate, check to see if your thoughts include yes but thoughts and write down what buts you tell yourself to procrastinate working towards your goals.  Maybe you are momentarily anxious about doing that task. Ask yourself “What is the very worst thing that could happen if I did it today?” Vividly picture how free you will feel once the task is completed. Free from anxiety.

When doing things which you are not so keen on doing, combine things you want to do with the things you should do with “temptation building”, that is, finding tasks you dread and pairing them with something you like. Combining two different but complementary activities increases the probability of doing things that you are not keen and thereby helping you to get used to a positive habit.

Accept Imperfections

Most of us procrastinate in wanting to do our tasks perfectly. Perfection needs time and we often delay our tasks in search of that required time to perfect them. Perfecting things can be so intimidating that you dont even want to get started, even if you do you might lack your momentum to carry on with the task later. We often procrastinate to avoid having to deal with difficult tasks and having to make tough decisions.

Instead of always aiming for perfection, you can start working on your difficult tasks by just getting started. You may not come up with a perfect idea immediately, but it is easier to keep going with a task after you have overcome the initial jump of starting it in the first place.

Getting started on something forces you to work and you will find less triggers than you originally anticipated. By just starting on a task that has been put off, you can continue to process it and this makes you more likely to work later on and eventually you will be able to come up with better ways of perfecting the task.

Finally, Embrace your procrastinating nature

Come to accept that no matter how much you want to avoid it, there will always be times when you defer your tasks for later. We are natural procrastinators and no matter how much you want to avoid it, it is just our nature that whenever there is something that need to be done, our instincts are to start later or to put it off until tomorrow. you cannot overcome your habit of procrastination unless you know that you are procrastinating. Become self aware and accept it and find ways to overcome it.

Is there something you are procrastinating on in your life? your goals? work? health? Find small ways to to start on a task that’s been put off. This can reduce your chances of procrastinating on it in future. Develop an ability to organize your daily tasks and approach them in a desciplined way to achieve your time-bound goals. Have a strong desire that can act as a self-motivator to help you overcome procrastination.

To-Do:

Next time, when you find yourself procrastinating, Take five minutes to identify what is triggering you to put off your important task.  Take coreective measures to curb your urge to delay the task for later. Action eliminates anxiety. If getting started is difficult, set a designated time slot to do the task. Don’t worry perfecting the task, what counts is effort and not the result.  Set meaningful, measurable and manageable goals and follow the above strategies to overcome procrastination in order to achieve them. Do important tasks now before they become urgent.

“The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.” 

– Norman Vincent Peale

 

Related links

https://sscascades.org/2019/01/15/are-you-distracted-by-busyness/

https://sscascades.org/2018/12/02/embrace-productive-discomfort/

 

 

 

Practice being non-judgmental

“You May judge others only according to your knowledge of yourself.”- Kahlil Gibran

We all have a natural innate tendency to be drawn to those similar to us and judge or criticise those who are different. Whenever we come across people who have different values, lifestyles or preferences, we tend to categorise them in a negative way or either criticise or think that they are wrong. Compartmentalizing, better known as judging, aids us in defining who and what we are. Sometimes, we judge a whole group of people by the action of one individual and make assumptions about their behaviour based on single person’s actions. Many of us are aware that prejudice or being judgmental is wrong, but get trapped eventually into biased thought patterns. In order to become non-judgmental and to be aware of our preconceived notions about others, we need to change our view of others and how we ourselves.

What is being judgmental?

Being judgmental is the tendency to criticise or form an opinion or to come to a conclusion about something too quickly without totally being aware of the person or the situation involved. To infer, think or hold as an opinion, or assess or conclude without knowing all the facts leads to assumptions. These assumptions can be on a person’s behaviour, morals, actions or beliefs. Assumptions often lead to inaccurate judgment. Even if your opinions are justified, criticising others ususally makes them wary and defensive of their faults or mistakes.

Jumping to conclusions rather easily, making up your mind before you hear all the facts, or not even keen on listening to what others are saying, all these traits indicate that you are being judgmental. While no one necessarily likes to admit that they evaluate and label others, sometimes it happens so subconsciously that we don’t even realize we’re judfing. Because judgments are ingrained so deeply that it can be hard to break the habit of labeling others or generalizing a person or situation.

“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.”– Wayne Dyer

Why do we judge others?

We all like judging others and pass our judgments of others very publicly. It feels harmless to pass our judgment of others as it can give you an instant high and create a temporary sense of power and make you feel good. But, there’s a downside to us being judgmental. It causes unhappiness, guilt, and negativity. We almost become opinionated about many things and people. Due to increased access to one another, we develop a judgmental attitude on just about everything and everyone, from choices, tastes, habits, views and beliefs.

The main reason we become judgmental is because of our own perception of ourselves in comparison to others and could also be a sign of deeper negativity. Here are some reasons why we judge others. We judge

  • When we are ignorant of what the other person is going through.
  • When we don’t understand the situation.
  • When we have unrealistic expectations of people.
  • When we are being superior to others.
  • Being self-centered and not being grateful or curious.

Being judgmental of people and situations only signifies your discontentment and the more you judge, the more you fear being judged. This undermines your self-esteem and makes you turn to your inner-critic giving rise to fallacies and biases. According to a research, the more positively someone described the other person, the more likely they were to be happy, kind-hearted, and emotionally stable themselves. Those who are judgmental were harsh and more likely to be narcissistic and unstable.

Why you should stop being judgmental

Being prejudiced can be bad for your well-being. You sabotage your confidence and potential by being too judgmental of yourself and others. Here is why you should stop being judgmental

  • Being prejudiced, you may stop yourself from trying something new because you already come to conclusions that either you wouldn’t like to do or may not be worth doing a particular task. These conclusions may or may not be true. Instead, by being non-judgmental, you can open yourself to new experiences and try doing something new which you may eventually find it exciting.
  • You cannot build better relations if you are always judgmental as others feel hesitant to share everything about them because you either ridicule them or judge them. However, by being non-judgmental, you create a safe environment to share and they can trust you to do so and can build better relationships with others.
  • Being judgmental leads to non-acceptance of things as they are and makes you resistant to change or adopt yourself to new and different environments and beliefs.  Being non-judgmental leads to acceptance of things as they are and you can develop more resilience to other people’s judgment of you.  This way, you don’t get weigh down by trying to figure out the opinions of others.
  • By frequently forming conclusions or judgments of others, you end up creating lot of negativity in yourself and in those around you. You cannot attain freedom of being your true self and also cannot see others inherent true self. You cannot find your inner-peace as it makes you frustrated and unhappy.

How do you become non-judgmental?

If we realize how habitually we come judgmental, we can try and unlearn that behavior. We cannot solve a problem or help any situation form place of judgment. One of the best changes you can make to help yourself be happier is by learning to let go of your judgment of others.  Here are few ways to let go of your prejudice and become non-judgmental.

Develop awareness of others before you get judgmental about them. Sometimes we grow unhappy with the things we notice in our friends or kids or co-workers because we judge them for what they are doing. It may be their unhealthy habits, or behavior and so on. we start labeling them without understanding what they are going through. We are all human. We must remind ourselves that we all have our own weaknesses; we all make wrong decisions.There might be other reasons behind their such behavior, maybe it is their health problem, either they are feeling stuck, or scared. Focus on their positives to try and understand the reason behind and get curious in knowing what they are going through.

Be aware of your judgmental thoughts. Explore how being judgmental about others makes you feel. If you feel angry or dismissive of someone, if you’re complaining of someone, commenting or gossiping about them, these are the signs that you are judging. Pay attention to such thoughts and instead of coming to conclusions, ask yourself, “why are you judging?”, “What unrealistic expectations you have about others or yourself?’, “what can you appreciate in other person?”, “what would you do if you were going through similar situation?”, “Where is this thought coming from?”, ‘Is this thought fair?’ or ‘Are you making any assumptions?’. Once you understand the irrational nature of your judgmental thoughts, you will be able to actively challenge your assumptions and can see your prejudice irrational.

Figure out the roots of your judgmental thoughts. Look for some past beliefs you have that are influencing your preconceived opinions. Past prejudiced beliefs which you may have learned overtime may be the reason behind you being judgmental. Your true self is a combination of natural tendencies, experiences you have had and the choices you have made. When you have deep-seated beliefs about a group of people or a person, you begin to see those beliefs reflected in being judgmental towards others. Checking whether your beliefs are really true can help you to handle situations that are against your beliefs. This way, you can still respect the person who holds different views and beliefs than yours.

Be mindful of thoughts that are coming to your mind and words that you speak. it is okay to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by other people. But it doesnt give you the right to judge them just because you dont agree with them. You must be mindful of how you respond, represent, and react to others. When you feel the urge to judge or speak in an unloving way,  practice to pause for a moment, and rephrase your internal thoughts before you communicate it to them. Dont deem someone’s actions as bad or good and avoid using words that are overtly negative or condescending.  The communication must be positive or at the very least not ill-spirited.

Consider others perspective before judging. Everyone has their personality that affects their behaviour. Before leaping to judgment or evaluating someone else’s actions or personality, place yourself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from and their perspective. Everyone makes choices according to their life circumstances. Not everyone has same experiences you have had. You must accept the fact that everyone has a free will to decide what they want to do and how they want to live. It is all relative to their story, values, and beliefs.  Be empathetic and look for basic goodness in everyone. By developing a helpful outlook to others, you can practice being non-judgmental towards them.

Finally, exposing yourself to different places, cultures, and people, you can begin to break your prejudiced thought patterns and you can adopt alternative ways of thinking. Sometimes what we consider normal in one place or culture may be different in other. The more you are able to accept the differences, the more you can practice being non-judgmental.

Conclusion

Judging is rooted deep within all of us. We pass unrighteous judgment on others based on our observations and interactions which creates the tone for why we place people into categories. But it is always possible to avoid our judgment of others if we practice being non-judgmental in our day to day behaviours and interpretations. Next time when you find yourself judging others, question yourself “am I judging them” and if you are, remind yourself of above mentioned strategies to break the cycle of judging.

“Be curious, not judgmental.” – Walt Whitman