Personal productivity is ALL about self-control.
Emotionally intelligent successful people all have three traits in common: They accentuate the positive in their thinking, they drive out the negative, and they take good care of themselves physically. Taken together, these things add up to the skill of self-control.
● ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE: Emotionally intelligent people deliberately direct their thinking away from problems and choose the path of solutions instead. We know for sure that negative thoughts and emotions get in the way of self-control and inhibit personal productivity. A healthy mental state derives from a focus on actions that improve your circumstances.
Self-control demands you be satisfied with doing your best. Seeking perfection in everything means you are doomed to failure and that nagging sense of undervaluation. Such feelings undermine your motivation and hold back your efforts. Far better to give yourself a mental slap on the back and look forward towards your next endeavor.
When life is good, self-control is easy. But when circumstances are against you, your mind can flood with negativity, and self-control takes a back seat to inertia and worse, procrastination. When this happens, open the mental door and step through into a memory of high achievement. Recall a time when you felt good, confident, and productive. See again what you saw, hear again what you heard, feel again what you felt, and your actions will follow your thoughts.
Pondering the unknowable probabilities of potential circumstance is a big source of anxiety. It is definitely not the same process as strategic thinking and planning. When you feel yourself becoming stressed, change your mind from one to the other.
● DRIVE OUT THE NEGATIVE: Kick out the head trash! We say this so often because it is such a key aspect of self-control. Self-indulgence in unwise consumption or ineffectual actions is always followed by self-disgust and our inner voice berating us over and over. The smart way to think – and THINKING IS A MATTER OF CHOICE – is in terms of forgiving yourself and moving on. Learn, remember, and let go of negative experiences/feelings.
Learn when to say “NO!” The absence of self-control is experienced as anxiety, stress, burnout, and possibly depression. These things build up incrementally each time we agree to do something that we should not have agreed to. Saying no to friends, family, peers, and bosses is very difficult for many people. BUT remember: Not taking on new commitments enables you to give full attention to your current ones. The emotionally smart thing to do is only to say “yes” when you REALLY want to.
Look (for 10 minutes) before you leap. This old adage has always been good advice and in our crazy modern times it has never been more telling. Emotionally smart people cultivate the habit of delayed gratification. When you feel an impulse or desire, tell yourself to wait ten minutes. This simple cutout mechanism puts you in the driver’s seat of your life.
● TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF: Eat regularly and well, because self-control is a mental gas guzzler. Our brain burns up the blood sugars, and when these are low, we make more mistakes and behave against our own best interests. So emotionally smart people eat the right things (such as slow-release proteins, e.g., whole-grain rice, fruit, and vegetables). This gives them much longer timespans and fertile grounds for self-control.
Get some sleep. Self-control suffers and decision-making is noticeably worse when your brain has not had enough recharging time. Only sleep gives us this.
Productivity in motion is literally true. Get your body moving with a brisk walk, a tai-chi routine, or just high-intensity running in place. By raising your heart rate, breathing more deeply, and pumping your blood faster you flood your brain with all kinds of good neurotransmitters. You overcome impulsive behavior, soothe your mind, and take control of your emotions. It is vital to do some of this every day. Emotionally intelligent successful people exercise!
Reflection and meditation is a foundation stone of productivity. Becoming aware of your breathing, closing down all distractions, and taking some time to reflect inward is putting your mind into the self-control gear. For the sake of your sanity and personal productivity, adopt this habit because emotionally smart people have it in common.
Literally changing your mind, can be life-changing. We all have it in us to implement these thinking techniques and take control of ourselves, our lives, and our businesses. So next time you realize you are going out of control, do not give in to impulse but rather give these powerful ideas a try. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can achieve. You can read more about self-control in this article by Travis Bradberry, the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, 11 Secrets to Staying Productive and in Control, which is the inspiration for this newsletter.