1. Wake up early. At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work – as a human being…I’m going to do what I was born for…Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm??” – Marcus Aurelius
  2. Create a routine. The Stoics were big on routine. As Seneca said, “Life without a design is erratic.” Without a disciplined schedule, there’s chaos and uncertainty-ingredients that feed procrastination is boxed out – by order and clarity.
  3. Limit interruptions. “When you let your attention slide for a bit, don’t think you will get back a grip on it whenever you wish- instead, bear in mind that because of todays’ mistake everything that follows will be necessarily worse.” – Epictetus
  4. Focus on small wins. “Each day,” Seneca advised a friend, “acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes, as well.” One gain per day. That’s it. All great things are built with incremental consistent, humble work.
  5. Say “No.” A lot. The more you say no to things that don’t matter, the more you can say yes to the things that do. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, “If you seek tranquility do less…Do what’s essential…Which brings a double satisfaction: to do less, better.
  6. Read. Read. Read. Reading, I hold, is indispensable- primarily, to keep me from being satisfied with myself.” He liked to do some reading early in the day “reading nourishes the mind and refreshes it.”
  7. Focus on effort, not results. Elite athletes increasingly follow a philosophy called “The Process” – ignore results; focus on doing the small things well. As Marcus Aurelius reminded himself: a life is built on action by action. So just focus on completing the task at hand.
  8. Fuel the habit bonfire. Epictetus said that “every habit and compatibility is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions.:” Every habit- good and bad – is like a bonfire. Each time we perform the bait, we add fuel to it. The question he’d ask: which fires are you fueling?
  9. Create a sense of urgency. When we’re pressed by a deadline, we don’t procrastinate. We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. The Stoics did. Memento Mori was their reminder. Marcus said, “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do, and say, and think.”

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