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Monthly Archives: September 2009

The main points:

  • you can fatigue your willpower just as you can fatigue your muscles
  • replenish willpower by resting or doing/watching something enjoyable
  • regular “exercise” of your willpower makes it stronger and gives you more reserves

Good article from the Globe and Mail:

Willpower is a muscle: Use it or lose it

Didn’t feel like working out today? A new study suggests that doing one task that depletes your self-control can make it difficult to sum up the willpower to do another – such as exercise

You resisted yelling at your son when he refused to eat his breakfast. You avoided checking Facebook on your BlackBerry during a board meeting. And you opted for an apple instead of a chocolate bar at lunch. You may not be physically tired at the end of the day, but you just don’t feel like working out.

A new study published yesterday in Psychology & Health suggests it may be because you’ve used up all your willpower.
Read More »


I was productive three days in a row last week, and I want to keep that momentum going. Today I’m starting a new system of daily and weekly goals and rewards. I’ll blog about it in more detail soon, but it’s all based on this little spark of genius:

” Without some sort of crutch, I find it’s really hard to maintain the momentum of continuous work, like writing or exercising every day. For me, the “chain method” works well – I have a printed calendar on the wall in my office and each day I accomplish my specific goal, I put a big colored X on that date on the calendar. When I get a string of them going, I *really* don’t like breaking that chain, so it gives me motivation to do it. “

Props to Trent at for the great idea!  I’ll let y’all know how it works out.

Do you have a method or mindset that helps you maintain momentum, or turn a good trend into a good habit?  Please post a comment and let me know!

-Johnny 0.

Alex Fayle, the author whom I referred to yesterday, has a thriving online business as an anti-procrastination coach at  There is lots here for the struggling procrastinator to leaf through (while avoiding more pressing work, naturally!): ebooks, free advice, descriptions of his coaching service, and a daily blog by Alex that’s full of interesting thoughts and useful tips.  If you feel like your dreams remain out of reach because of your own inertia, you may have “someday syndrome”; take some time to peruse the site.

Fayle is about to launch his second ebook, I’ll Get Around To It Someday, with a lab experiment starring a group of lab rats just like you and me: inveterate procrastinators who want to re-discover their mojos and awesome-up their lives.  In fact, Read More »

I came across a series of three great articles about beating procrastination.  The premises rang true for me, and I distilled out some useful tips:

Vanquish The Getting-Started Monster

  • When you’re having trouble starting a task, just start it. It will seem much less daunting once you have your feet wet.  Action is the best cure for inaction.

Banishing The No-Momentum Monster

  • When you keep losing momentum in the middle of a project, say Read More »

When I over-schedule myself with work and don’t leave time for my personal needs, then my personal needs invade my planned work time, like resilient little members of a resistance movement.  I have to make time for email, gaming, and fighting the good fight, or else those resistance fighters will follow me to work, take me hostage, and sabotage me there.

Today I’m finding it helpful that I have a list of things that I’m looking forward to doing after I finish my work. I’m motivated to get my work done early.

Maybe this one’s dead obvious to everyone else, but we already know I’m a recovering goofaholic.

It also helps that I have a specific goal today, “finish one project write-up,” and I know it’s something that I should be able to finish today with time to spare.  Staying focussed is a lot harder with goals like “work on project ABC today,” which doesn’t motivate you to do anything other than sit at your desk.

I’m visualizing myself getting a few hours of solid work done every morning, and then doing fun things and tackling some of those little jobs that we never seem to have time for, in the afternoon – and being extremely happy about it all.  Three hours of solid work per day would be an improvement over recent performance, and I can gradually increase from there.