Your instant gratification monkey wants you to procrastinate — here’s how to stop him.
Did you know that we all have an instant gratification monkey inside our heads? It’s true. The monkey is the one who constantly tries to distract us from the things we really should be focusing on.
I discovered this concept after watching this awesome TED talk on how to avoid procrastination and become a master of productivity.
I realize this post is shaping up to be quite similar to my one from yesterday, but that’s because it’s such an important issue in today’s world.
How can we avoid the constant temptation to stop what we’re doing and pull out our phones for immediate gratification/stimulus, whether it be a new like on Instagram, a new follower on Twitter, an incoming text message, push notifications, or anything else.
When I spoke yesterday about making the change to only check emails once a day, the idea was to utilize the concept of batching, which helps focus on the important things in front of us by building self-discipline to avoid the need for instant gratification.
For today, I’m going to continue this trend by only visiting Medium once a day.
While I’ve made the change to delete most of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram), I’ve noticed that my instant gratification monkey has quickly shifted towards Medium, where I find myself checking my account for new likes and notifications more and more frequently. It’s a bit embarrassing to acknowledge this, but that’s the fact.
Question for those reading — What does your instant gratification monkey turn to as a means of procrastination, and what techniques have you tried using to to stay focused?
A few months ago, I realized that I wasn’t satisfied with where I was in life and wanted to do something about it. The only problem was that the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be seemed daunting. That’s why I decided to start making micro-changes in my life on a regular basis*. On March 11, 2017, I decided to start making at least one change in my life each day.
*Note: if you improve yourself by 1% everyday for an entire year, you will grow by 38x (1³⁶⁵=37.8)
Here’s what the journey has looked like so far:
11-Mar-17: Starting taking cold showers (for the last 60 seconds)
12-Mar-17: Set goal of learning one new song per week on the guitar
13-Mar-17: Started listening to Audiobooks at 3–4x the speed
14-Mar-17: Started keeping my shoes organized
15-Mar-17: Decided to learn to juggle, practicing a few min daily
16-Mar-17: Began reading 3 book summaries (~10 min each) daily
17-Mar-17: Limit eating out to bare minimum, learn new recipe weekly
18-Mar-17: Limit alcohol to a bare minimum
19-Mar-17: No more snoozing alarm clocks, no more than 7 hrs sleep/night
20-Mar-17: Build tracker for bills as a reminder
21-Mar-17: Limit TV usage to 2 hours per day
22-Mar-17: Saying people’s names when I say hello, brushing teeth with weak hand, do one charitable thing a day, stretch for 10 minutes a day, spend 15 minutes a day on personal improvement
23-Mar-17: Picking up one piece of litter a day
24-Mar-17: Drink 3L of water a day
25-Mar-17: Start keeping track of calories with myfitnesspal
26-Mar-17: Try a day without the internet next weekend
27-Mar-17: Start attending weekly Toastmasters sessions to become a better public speaker, start meditating 5 minutes daily, take one online course at all times, learn to play the game “Go”
28-Mar-17: Sketch one thing at least once a month for the rest of 2017
29-Mar-17: Find a mentor by the end of April (to chat with on a regular basis)
30-Mar-17: Make it to work on time everyday, and start posting on Medium in the mornings
31-Mar-17: Start volunteering at least once a month (look into options and find a place by April 7th)
1-Apr-17: Start quizzing myself in Chinese for 10 min daily using a flashcard app; start shampooing hair every other day (as opposed to every day)
2-Apr-17: Explore downtown Toronto by riding bike each weekend in spring, summer, and fall of 2017; Bike the 24km to my parent’s place uptown and back at least once this summer
3-Apr-17: Start donating blood, register as an organ donor, use less energy heating and cooling home, start buying some fair-trade products, start using reusable bags when grocery shopping
4-Apr-17: Eat an orange in the shower each morning, keep kitchen clean, jot down 10 ideas every day
5-Apr-17: Read fiction for 5–10 minutes a day
6-Apr-17: Ignore eNewsletters until the end of the day, and write down lesson learned from each book I read
7-Apr-17: Strike up a 1+ minute conversation with a stranger each day, read over Medium posts for grammar
8-Apr-17: Include a header image on all Medium posts
9-Apr-17: Drink a class of kefir each morning
10-Apr-17: Run at least one mile every single day
11-Apr-17: Plank once a day for as long as possible
12-Apr-17: Substitute baby carrots for regular carrots for morning smoothies
13-Apr-17: Buy a foam roller and start using for 5 minutes daily
14-Apr-17: Take the stairs (as opposed to escalator) wherever possible
15-Apr-17: Climb the stairs in my apartment building from ground to 50+ once a week
16-Apr-17: Play Spikeball with friends on at least 10 occasions this summer
17-Apr-17: Take one picture every day
18-Apr-17: Hold the door open for others for one straight minute each day
19-Apr-17: Wearing earplugs from now on at loud events
20-Apr-17: Add a “quote of the week” to the whiteboard in my room for inspiration
21-Apr-17: No longer dispose of cardboard in the recycling chute (which we are not supposed to do)
22-Apr-17: Recording and posting a one-minute video each day
23-Apr-17: Using an RSS reader for news consumption
24-Apr-17: Set a timer for 5 minutes before bed and spend the time jotting down all the things I want to accomplish the following day
25-Apr-17: Stop cracking knuckles
26-Apr-17: Stay disconnected for the first hour after getting up each morning
27-Apr-17 to 9-May-17: Quit my job to start non-profit, drink green tea at least once a day, write down one mistake I made each day that I can learn from, do at least one run and one bike for the cure each year, call grandparents at least 3 times a week, get a compost bin and start using it, start standing while playing the guitar, start cutting my own hair, spend 25 minutes a day on self-improvement, become a vegetarian within 100 days, made rule to never accept more than $75k annually in personal income, spend 5 minutes a day learning to type properly, learn to drive stick
10-May-17: Spend a few minutes each day reviewing this growing list of changes
11-May-17: Take daily mood quiz on moodscope.com
12-May-17: Writing down 3 things a day that I am grateful for
13-May-17: Draw something every day
14-May-17: Add a slice of lemon to a glass of water daily
15-May-17: Creating a Vision Board and reviewing it monthly
16-May-17: Stop using Instagram
17-May-17: Smiling & saying hi to strangers in the elevator
18-May-17: Putting my phone and wallet/keys in opposite pockets
19-May-17: Reach out to one new person a day for advice on my startup
20-May-17: Using the pomodoro technique to manage time
21-May-17: Start 30-day wall sit challenge, and then continue to do one 5-minute wall sit a day
22-May-17: Learn one new word a day
23-May-17: Brainstorm and write down 10 uses for a random object each day
24-May-17: Write at least 100 words daily on any topic
25-May-17: Use the Rule of 3 to identify the three most important things I want to focus on accomplishing each day at work
26-May-17: Using the ‘5 Why’ technique to get to the root cause of problems
27-May-17: Switching my iPhone wallpaper during work hours as a reminder to leave my work at work
28-May-17: Try again with online iOS development course and commit to 15 minutes of learning per day
29-May-17: Only checking and responding to emails once each morning
30-May-17: Only visiting Medium once a day