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Tools to reclaim your time and goals

1. Start with a clear-cut list of what you want to accomplish short term and long term in your own life. A comprehensive survey across numerous cultures showed that the happiest people wake up every day to clear-cut life goals. Clear-cut goals allow the brain to focus on immediate steps and help prevent anxiety and depression from flourishing.

2. Eliminate people from your social network who are procrastinators and slackers. The newest research on social contagion theory from Harvard Medical School shows that people do things in clusters, such as quitting smoking and becoming obese. "Birds of a feather flock together" is true for goal accomplishment, as well.

3. Prime your environment for goal accomplishment. People who see words and pictures that spur them on to feel good about themselves and their goals behave more proactively than people who read stories, listen to music or see pictures of people or situations that make them depressed, or that remind them of failures in their lives.

4. Install an application like RescueTime, www.rescuetime.com, a free time-management tool, on your computer so that you can print out a log of where your time went that week. This will help you figure out how many hours you spent being productive and how many you spent on Facebook, Twitter or other sites that don't generate productive results.

5. Create accountability for yourself around results. Tell significant people what your goals are and when you expect to accomplish them. The more people who know about your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them.

6. Remove all games, instant message programs and other distractions from your computer or cell phone so that you are not tempted to use them to distract yourself from getting work done. Use them as a reward, if anything.

7. Know your own procrastination sequence, and then break it. We all procrastinate by using specific behaviors and thoughts to take us off course, and once we know what those steps are, we are in a position to change them.

8. Have a "mastery" experience first thing in the morning so that you start the day with a "win" around self-regulation. This could mean doing your exercises or having a productive routine around making beds and sweeping a floor before the day is under way. Having a "win" first thing in the day has the domino effect of making you behave more proactively throughout the rest of the day.

9. Become a little bit happier. People who move their moods from negative to positive, or neutral to positive, by stimulating laughter or being generous, have been found to restore depleted willpower energy. Sometimes a quick look at a funny YouTube video, or calling a humorous friend, can make all the difference in getting something done.

10. Reward yourself for a completed job. People who reward positive actions are more likely to repeat those actions in the future. Rewards also allow us to savor something that makes us happy, which prolongs well-being and promotes further proactive behavior.

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