Happy-U Bloggity Blog

Holistic Approach to Positive Psychology & Yoga

Willpower: Eat that Frog!

on July 26, 2012

Ever wonder why your willpower sucks late at night? Why you can stick to your diet all day, but then give in to temptation once the sun goes down? How about that intention to go to the gym or an evening yoga class at night after work, only to have that time come around and it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Research shows that the majority of impulse crimes happen after 11:00pm, and gambling, alcohol abuse, and drug use also tend to come about later in the day.

The reason for this goes beyond just being tired at the end of the day. It turns out, we only have a certain amount of willpower stored up each day, and like a muscle, it can become fatigued with overuse. This is fascinating to me! It means that if you spend all day resisting temptations, forcing yourself to check things off your list, battling with yourself to get things done, by the end of the day, you’ve used your allotted willpower and have none left!

So, what can we do with this information? We can get the important stuff done in the MORNING! According to one of the dozen books I’m devouring at the moment, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, by Laura Vanderkam, “tasks that require self-discipline are simply easier to do while the day in young.”

According to the studies, people who are serious about exercise do it in the mornings. People who write daily blogs (like me) get it done first thing, so the day doesn’t get in the way and cause it to fall to the bottom of the list. Brian Tracy wrote a great & fun little book about time management called, Eat that Frog, in which he says you always want to eat the biggest frog first to get it out of the way. I love this advice and use it all the time when I have a plateful of ugly frogs (to-do lists, e-mails to write, calls to make, etc.). I have truly found that tackling the biggest, most important ones first (even though I often don’t want to) has had an immense effect on the productivity of my entire day.

In Vanderkam’s book, she says,

“In the morning, after a decent night’s sleep, the supply of willpower is fresh. We’re more inclined to be optimistic; one analysis of of Twitter feeds from around the world found that people are more likely to use words like “awesome” and “super” between 6:00 and 9:00am than at other times of the day. In these early hours, we have enough willpower and energy to tackle things that require internal motivation, things the outside world does not immediately demand or reward.”

This is the argument for scheduling important priorities first. For being mindful with your time management. For meditating BEFORE you get caught up in your morning emails. And so on…

Let me just finish by saying that creating & sticking to my morning routine has been perhaps the single most beneficial choice I’ve made for myself with regard to my daily happiness. 

So think about it… and know you’re not weak or lame if your willpower is stinky at the end of the day, you’re human! So use what you know and make better choices. Easy peasy, right? You can do it 🙂 And if you need a coach, let me know… I’m always in your corner 🙂

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