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Can You Beat Procrastination 1% At A Time?

I have spent my life doing the absolute minimum that was required. In my job I always did enough, but only ever just enough.

DIY?  I hesitated, prevaricated and finally, only when it absolutely couldn't be avoided, I did what had to be done, reluctantly and ungraciously.

Exercise? Exercise was something that other people did. Fit, sweaty, panting people who have something to prove. I had nothing to prove, so I didn't exercise. Well, that wasn't strictly true, I did walk the dogs over the fields we had at the back of our house. My wife could watch my progress from the fleeting glimpses of excitable labradors and the trail of cigar smoke I left in my wake.

Healthy eating? One look at my figure would immediately tell you my views on healthy eating. 

Let's just say that the McDonald's, red wine, and Saturday night curry years had not been kind. To describe me as curvaceous bordered on the ridiculous. I drank what I wanted, I ate what I wanted and I paid the price. My health was crumbling, I either slept too much or too little and what little creativity I possessed had shrivelled to the point of being almost non-existent. 

Something had to give, and it did, my heart went on strike and without the swift intervention of some amazing doctors and nurses at our local hospital these words would never have been written

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Can You Beat Procrastination 1% At A Time?

I have spent my life doing the absolute minimum that was required. In my job I always did enough, but only ever just enough.

DIY?  I hesitated, prevaricated and finally, only when it absolutely couldn't be avoided, I did what had to be done, reluctantly and ungraciously.

Exercise? Exercise was something that other people did. Fit, sweaty, panting people who have something to prove. I had nothing to prove, so I didn't exercise. Well, that wasn't strictly true, I did walk the dogs over the fields we had at the back of our house. My wife could watch my progress from the fleeting glimpses of excitable labradors and the trail of cigar smoke I left in my wake.

Healthy eating? One look at my figure would immediately tell you my views on healthy eating. 

Let's just say that the McDonald's, red wine, and Saturday night curry years had not been kind. To describe me as curvaceous bordered on the ridiculous. I drank what I wanted, I ate what I wanted and I paid the price. My health was crumbling, I either slept too much or too little and what little creativity I possessed had shrivelled to the point of being almost non-existent. 

Something had to give, and it did, my heart went on strike and without the swift intervention of some amazing doctors and nurses at our local hospital these words would never have been written

The mantra of little and often

It was my GP (family doctor) who inadvertently introduced me to the concept of little and often. If I wanted to improve, I had to do it gradually. Go for a walk every day, but only 10 minutes initially and then build it up over time. Eat more healthily, not a diet consisting solely of salad but the gradual introduction of a balanced, sensible diet. 

Little and often is the key.

That is why it is called the 1% rule. The idea isn’t to make huge advances, or should I say, attempt to make huge advances, realise it isn’t going to work, berate yourself for being crap and then give up and accept the inevitable as you switch on Netflix and indulge yourself for the next eight hours.

What you are looking for is very small, very easy, incremental changes that are painless and allow the feeling of both doing and achieving.

What you are looking for is very small, very easy, incremental changes that are painless and allow the feeling of both doing and achieving. It seems to work with everything I’ve tried it with.

My first barrier was exercise. I decided many years ago that my body was just the wrong shape for exercise. What I failed to acknowledge was that my body was the wrong shape for exercise, because of the lack of exercise and a penchant for everything that wasn’t good for me.

So, when I  finally decided that I needed to do something about pretty much everything, I looked for a workaround, I guess, a way of cheating.

The 1% rule

I read the blog posts of James Altucher and he had written a post about how he applied the 1% rule to his life. One thing he said that really struck home was ‘nothing is going to change for you tomorrow’. However, when I first read that sentence my reaction was: 

‘Huh, if it’s not going to change tomorrow when the hell is it going to change?'

Then I carried on reading. 

As I read on the meaning became clear. Nothing happens overnight. It’s all about incremental change.

Hmmm,  I wonder if this would work for me?

How ‘incremental’ changed my life

In essence, all we need to do is to improve by 1% each day or week. So, using my exercise aversion as an example, what I was looking to achieve was very small incremental improvements. 

In essence, all we need to do is to improve by 1% each day or week.

It worked! 

Five minutes on the treadmill became ten, became fifteen, became twenty. I am still very much a work in progress but the point is the work has started, continues each day, and will ultimately get me fitter, healthier and happier.

Happier? Yes, happier. Now I’m doing something, making progress, and feeling less of a failure and fraud than I have done for a long time. That feeling of success and achievement, even small incremental achievement, is addictive. Once I started, the thought of stopping seemed ridiculous.

Why would I want to stop? Success breeds happiness and happiness breeds contentment.

A 1% worker?

The 1% rule has also spilled over into my work life. I love writing, almost as much as I love not writing. For many years the lure of the box set has been stronger than the lure of the keyboard.

There have been times when I’ve managed to reverse my passions and actually write something, I think we had a two-week period when the Internet was down, that really helped.

The Power of Compounding

Now, I aim to do a few more words every day. If I write 500 words today, then tomorrow my target is 505 words. Not a huge increase, but an increase nonetheless. 

Even if I don’t compound my daily effort and continued to write 500 words per day, after a year I will have written over 182,000 words. That’s two good sized novels or over 200 average length articles. 

Improving or increasing everyday by just a tiny amount can bring really fast results. When that 1% compounds everyday after 72 days, it has doubled. 

Imagine you’re a writer.

You write 500 words per day.

If you compounded your efforts, i.e. increased each day by just 1%, at the end of the year you would be writing 18,705 words per day and have accumulated a staggering 1,839,172 words over the course of that year. I appreciate that’s an implausible example but look at the power of a tiny daily increase.

This can be applied to any area of life because it requires such a small investment of time and commitment but can produce amazing results. 

Can you do it?

So if you’re wondering if you can get going and start being the person you want to be, the answer is a definite yes

Small improvements make every habit work. Whether you want to read more, get fitter, lose weight or write a book.

Relax, give yourself the green light to just improve a little each day, then good habits will follow. 

By adopting the 1% rule it’s possible to make the changes you want to make, achieve whatever you want to achieve and start creating You ‘2.0’.

Suggested Reading

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