5 Ways To Stop Lazy Thinking
For as long as I can remember I have struggled with mental clutter. This most likely stems from anxiety and behaviours that fuel those anxious thoughts, where if I allow one thought to creep in it opens the flood gates for dozens more to incapacitate me. While this isn’t always the case (regular workouts help to release the anxiety and establish focus) it is something that I’ve had to face openly in order to begin the process of change.
For today’s post I wanted to discuss my experience with lazy thinking and the steps that have helped me become a bit more focused and productive throughout the day.
Force A Change Of Habit
Any other freelancers that work from home will understand the struggle of falling into a rut. Seeing as I like set routines, it’s all too easy for me to be repeating the same bad habits everyday without even realizing it. However, once I noticed that a certain routine was letting me fall into lazy thinking I knew it was time to make some sort of change.
Now, it’s not exactly easy to change a habit, especially if it acts as a coping mechanism for anxious thoughts. My best advice for anyone who also deals with this is to force yourself out of the habit as soon as you recognize it. If you are feeling too lazy to work out, that is the precise moment you should get undressed and put on your work out clothes—you’ve already gone too far to turn back. If you feel like spending a few more minutes in bed scrolling through Reddit, that’s when you should jump out from under your cozy covers and run to the washroom to do your morning skin care routine, getting your day started.
The important thing is to not surrender to these thoughts. Remember, you are thinking them, they aren’t thinking you. You can exist without them and probably much more successfully than when you let them win.
Establish A Purpose
By far the biggest game changer when it came to breaking my lazy thinking habits was uncovering my ‘why’. Your ‘why’ is whatever fuels you to do what you do (or what you have to do) every day. For some it’s to provide for their families, for others it’s to pay off their student loans before they hit 30—whatever yours is, hone it and use it as a way to guide your focus.
Like many 20-something year olds, I never really forced myself to establish my purpose. I settled for jobs that paid me, but never really looked for positions that I wholeheartedly felt would satisfy me. With time (and a lot of work with my therapist) I began to uncover what it is that drives me. What I want to wake up to every morning and what I feel comfortable thinking about before I go to sleep without sending myself into a stressful spiral.
Your ‘why’ doesn’t have to be your sole purpose for living, but rather a reason for putting in that extra bit of effort to do well rather than just be satisfactory. Realistically, figuring out your ‘why’ sooner rather than later will make a world of difference when it comes to lazy thinking and bad habits.
Document Moments Of Lazy Thinking
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—journaling is a great tool for clearing your mind and recognizing your behavioural patterns. Any time I notice myself getting into lazy thinking I make it a point to journal about it and really draw out what it is that is causing it. More often than not, the lazy thinking is stemming from something else, like a fear of failure that’s preventing me from trying or external stressers like friends and family.
Documenting your moments of lazing thinking doesn’t give your mind a chance to sweep the root causes under the carpet. It forces you to face them head on, making it that much more pertinent to find a solution. Sometimes these solutions are easy, sometimes they are a bit more complicated and might take time to sort out. The key is to recognize them and put a plan in motion to change your behaviour.
Growing up I was always taught that multitasking is something to be proud of. The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized how much of a myth that actually is. Multitasking doesn’t allow you to put all your focus into one task at a time, making it more likely that you’ll make errors that could have been avoided.
While I am someone that gets a bit bored doing the same work for a long period of time, I always make sure that when I do move onto something else I step away completely from my other tasks. When it’s time to do work for my clients, then that’s what I’m focusing on, even if it’s only for 30 minutes.
I’ve found that the more I put on my plate in one sitting, the more likely I am to feel overwhelmed and want to slink back into my bed or watch something on Netflix. Whenever I allow myself to take the necessary time to work on one task, the more confident I feel in my capabilities and the final product.
An easy way to avoid multitasking is to schedule your days out thoroughly. Dedicate your mornings to specific work and your afternoons to something else. Know exactly what you need to be working on every hour so that you aren’t bouncing from one task to the other and causing confusion or burn out in the process.
Step Away From Distractions
This tip is by far the most important one for my productivity. Whenever I sit down for a day of writing and client work, I always make sure to remove distractions that I know I can’t resist. My phone is shoved into a desk drawer, my iTunes isn’t open, and my laptop is kept somewhere in the background where I don’t feel tempted to watch Netflix while working.
For me, out of sight, out of mind is a vital motto. If I can’t see it then I’ll probably forget about it while I focus on something more important. If you find that you are still tempted by your phone then I’d recommend putting it in a completely different room while you’re trying to focus. That way you’ll have to get up and walk to a different area in order to mindlessly scroll through it and that’s not as satisfying as if it were at arms length.
At some point you will train your mind to ignore these distractions even if they are close by.