9 Communication Strategies for Peak Productivity at Work

Communication strategies for peak productivity at workIn our efforts to be productive, sometimes we cut corners, thinking if we can just push through to the end of the project we’re working on, everything will be okay. Oftentimes, we cut out important communication steps from our work routine, just to save a few minutes to get things done.  

It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, it’s better to add a few steps to our process of getting things done, in order to ensure that when we arrive at the finish line, all will be in good order.

Consider using the following communication strategies to get the results you desire:

  • Get the specifics.  Don’t make assumptions.  Make sure you know the parameters of the project you’re working on by checking in with others you are working with. Determine the project’s requirements so you have a clear sense of how it should run from beginning, to middle, to end.
  • Announce your plans.  Let other people know what work you will be taking on. This way, they are clear your time is spoken for, and they know they can focus their own work efforts elsewhere.  When we communicate our plans, we reduce the chances for misunderstanding and duplicating work.
  • Be open about your lack of certainty when you feel unsure.  Don’t be afraid to speak up when you don’t know how to proceed.  Let other people help you. Don’t stay silent.  Your efforts to minimize error and confusion will give you a much better payoff than hiding the fact that you are confused.  
  • Communicate clear start and end times to yourself.  Decide what your intentions are for your work.  Start with a sense of how the project should progress, including a list of intermediate deadlines to shoot for.  Keep your end goal in mind at all times.
  • Arrange for coverage when you cannot take care of things yourself.  Be clear about the start and end of the period of coverage you will need.  Check in before the start date, and thank the person who will be covering you once they have finished their period of coverage for you.
  • Check in with people you are supervising or cooperating with mid-project to evaluate how things are going and to see if you can be of help. You’ll be able to avert problems from occurring by checking in with your co-workers. Making this extra effort to keep communication open will enable others to work at their best as well.
  • Be in frequent communication with your calendar.  Review your calendar to see what items need to be followed up on or dropped from your to-do list.  Make sure your schedule stays clear of any clutter or distraction.  Being mindful of how you are spending your time will enable you to work with less stress and more focus.
  • Keep a running log of your communication contacts.  This technique will take a few extra minutes of your time, but will give you the peace of mind of knowing what conversations you’ve had and what interactions you might expect going forward.
  • Keep in touch with people you care about.  Let’s remember to check in with those special people in our lives who might have nothing to do with our work. When we do this, we give ourselves a mood boost and strengthen our relationships.

When you take care of yourself first and keep yourself in good spirits, your work will tend to reflect your care and good attitude.  

Use some or all of these communication tips to make your work easier to complete, quicker to finish, and of better quality.  Minimize any potential areas of confusion in order to maximize your productivity.  Remember that healthy communication habits are key for clarity throughout your day.

New to Share:

Get a handle on your Procrastination with this 28-day progam.The next session of the Procrastination to Productivity Program starts Monday, June 20th.  If you’re interested in separating from the ball-and-chain feeling that Procrastination brings, sign up to join me and a small group of program members as we experience what Procrastination recovery feels like.

Here’s what former program member Ana had to say about her positive experience in the program:

“I first came across Christine’s Procrastination Coach blog and decided to try the Procrastination to Productivity Program because I was feeling overwhelmed with my current workload and couldn’t seem to get started. I found it so helpful to check in each day and express some of the emotions that were fueling my procrastination. Christine and the other members of the group were extremely supportive and provided a lot of feedback to overcome the challenges we were all facing. Highly recommended!” 

To register for the upcoming program session, please visit this page.

Subscribe to receive Procrastination Coach posts in your inbox and get your free 5-part guide ~"The Procrastination Coach Road Map: How to Examine What is Blocking You from Being Productive"

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    7 Ways to Stop Anxiety from Blocking Your Productivity

    Learn how to block your anxiety before it blocks you!One of the key strategies I teach to help people improve their productivity and to fight their anxiety is this:

    SEPARATE YOUR FEELINGS FROM YOUR WORK AS BEST AS YOU CAN.

    This is not to say that we should not care about our work.  It’s that we should not care so much that we become entangled by our worries and erratic thoughts. When we feel anxious, our creativity and our productivity can become blocked.

    If our work gets tangled up with our fears and feelings so much, how can we separate them from each other?  Tough question.  Here are my 7 answers:

    1. Be the gardener of your thoughts.   Maintain a peaceful, calm landscape in your mind.  Sort the productive, healthy thoughts from the upsetting and disconcerting ones. Do this diligently and with care. This quote from Robin Sharma suggests how: “You have now learned that the mind is like a fertile garden and for it to flourish, you must nurture it daily. Never let the weeds of impure thought and action take the garden of your mind. Stand guard at the gateway of your mind.”

    2. Understand that we concentrate better when we are not at peak anxiety.  Although some excited energy is needed to create, when we are fraught with anxiety our creativity and productivity suffer.  Never confuse being hysterical with doing good work.

    3. Keep your focus trained on the present moment.  Every time we worry, we take our focus away from the task in front of us.  You can easily check this by seeing if your thoughts are wandering to things you have already done or something in the future you don’t have control over.  Practice refocusing your attention on what is happening at the present time.

    4.  Build a plan of action.  If you are feeling trapped or cornered in a not-so-good arrangement or predicament, try to figure out what thoughts and actions created this situation.  Did you miss a meeting or an update?  Did you feel too embarrassed to ask for help?  After you determine what happened, build a plan to free yourself from the confined and restricted feeling you have.  It often takes a simple text, phone call, or conversation to find relief.

    5. Don’t cramp your own style.  Don’t hide what you have to offer to the world. You can always scale back, but you can’t get back what you miss out on by being a wallflower, or by being silent, or by pretending you have nothing to say.  By releasing what you have to give, you’ll experience a feeling of satisfaction, which becomes motivation to do more so you can continue to feel better.

    6. Instead of focusing on being perfect, take risks and be brave.  Anxiety and perfectionism are cousins.  They are cousins who are no fun and who don’t get out very much.  Decide to leave your anxiety and perfectionism at home today, and go out with a more adventurous attitude.  Try the new program.  Go for the more enticing option.  Give a compliment to someone you are interested in.  You will be okay.  See how different it feels to be moving and grooving.  Keep close to that feeling of being active because it is a surefire way to steer clear of Procrastination.  

    7. Develop a mantra to use when you feel anxious.  Turn your fear on its head. For example, if you are worried about making a fool of yourself in public, craft a mantra to keep in your mind when you’re out in public.  Instead of telling yourself “I’m going to say the wrong thing,” remind yourself of your new mantra, which is “I am going to connect easily and well with the people I meet today.”  You’re going to speak to yourself anyway, so you might as well be kind and supportive!

    Try this for yourself.  Here’s a worksheet [a free PDF download] I created to help you put all of the steps above into action.  The worksheet includes a section where you can design a mantra to combat the negative statements that may be preventing you from moving forward.

    Click here to receive the MINDSET MANAGEMENT WORKSHEET to help you get on your way today!

    Anxiety is a mighty foe.  Make sure to keep yourself fit against anxiety by treating yourself well, making good decisions, and being open with others when you need help.  You can minimize your anxiety and make more room for productivity and joy.

    News to Share: P2PJune20 The next session of the Procrastination to Productivity Program will start Monday, June 20th. The program is one that I designed to help Procrastinators get support, information, and accountability for their attempts to change their habits of delay, stress, and avoidance.

    Here’s what Gillian, a recent program member, had to say about her experience:

    “I have been a chronic procrastinator for decades and have completely failed to overcome the problem despite all my efforts.  I recently became desperate for some help as it was causing major difficulties in my life.  After an internet search I eventually found Christine’s website and joined the Procrastination to Productivity program.  After 28 days I feel have travelled a long way towards managing my difficulties, have acquired some valuable insights, am far less anxious and feel more optimistic about my future.  The program suits me as it is very simple, you can participate in a variety of ways, be as anonymous as you wish, spend what time you are able to give and receive support from Christine and the rest of the group along the way.  I have received valuable tips and support materials regularly and feel able to choose which seem most appropriate to me.
    A message to anyone with a problem with procrastination – if you commit to the program, follow it for a short time each day to the best of your ability and try to be honest about your progress, I am certain by the end of the 28 days you will notice a real difference.”
    If you’d like to find out more about the Procrastination to Productivity Program and/or if you’d like to register for it, please read this.  Best wishes to you.

    Subscribe to receive Procrastination Coach posts in your inbox and get your free 5-part guide ~"The Procrastination Coach Road Map: How to Examine What is Blocking You from Being Productive"

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      6 Simple Steps to Resolve Problems Quickly [+ a Questionnaire to Get You Started]

      Find a way to resolve some open-ended issues today.What unresolved problems do you have in your life right now?  How much distress are you under because of them?  Let’s find a way out and forward.

      Procrastinators tend to sit on piles of problems.  Unfinished projects, undelivered mail, ideas unfulfilled.  One way to reduce your reliance on Procrastination is to manage and to resolve your problems as quickly and as mindfully as you can.  Get clear on your what your intention is and the routes to solving your problems will come into view.

      Consider these 6 suggestions for prepping yourself to jump on your problems before they get the better of you: 

      1.  Adopt an active mindset.  Decide that you are the captain, the boss, the manager, the leader, the architect, the designer — whatever it takes to help you step into an active mindset.  When we take an active role in resolving problems, we tend to think of better ideas, because we are more engaged and invested in creating a good outcome.

      2.  Communicate what needs to be said.  As a psychologist, I have seen so many times how we can delay the resolution of both minor and major matters through our lack of communication.  We’re afraid to appear too eager, too pushy, too interested, too direct, and — heaven forbid — too bossy.  Instead of worrying how you are going to look, think about what you will feel when you and your partners get to the finish line.  Train your focus on the finish line and then communicate clearly to get there.

      3.  Surrender to your negative feelings.  Yes, I did say “surrender,” but I don’t mean give up.  We are all susceptible to negative feelings and worry about the future.  So accept that these feelings exist and decide that you can move past them anyway. That is what I mean by surrender.  When we constantly revisit our worries, we cannot develop clarity on what actually needs to be done to resolve the problem.  Don’t get sidetracked. Keep yourself focused.

      4.  Protect your ability to focus fiercely.  Unresolved problems are a drain on our focus because we think about unfinished business until it is done.  Become a warrior prince or princess and do away with the obstacles (Facebook, Netflix) and gather the information and tools you need to craft your plan of attack.  Why all this talk of fierceness?  Because you have things you want to get done.

      5.  Believe that you will be okay.  We hang on to tasks, decisions, choices, and drafts of e-mails as if our lives were hanging in the balance.  For the large majority of things, life is not hanging in the balance.  Try to be more realistic and make a decision or choice that will help you resolve your issue.  Have faith that you will survive the outcome.

      6.  Decide that you want to be done.  Many times things linger because we allow them to — unpaid bills, unreturned library books, etc.  Once we decide we want to be done with these things, we manage to get them done.  But wanting the task completed seems to be a prerequisite to doing the legwork.  Commit to being done with your problems and then see what needs to happen next.

      When we become active problem solvers, we end up finding there are fewer problems to be solved over time.  You have the power to change things in your own life today.  Here’s to all of your efforts in that direction.

      P.S. READY TO TAKE YOUR PROBLEMS ON?

      I’ve developed a free PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE to help you analyze your own situation.  The prompts in the questionnaire will encourage you to look at the obstacles in your way so you can clear them out of the way.  Enjoy.

      Click here to receive the PROBLEM SOLVING QUESTIONNAIRE to help you get on your way today!

      Subscribe to receive Procrastination Coach posts in your inbox and get your free 5-part guide ~"The Procrastination Coach Road Map: How to Examine What is Blocking You from Being Productive"

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        7 Techniques to Save You Time and to Keep You Organized

        Use these simple techniques to save yourself time and hassle throughout the day.How do we deal with the seeming onslaught of to-do’s?  How do we prevent ourselves from falling into the same old time-wasting traps?

        Sometimes it can feel like we might never get caught up, and indeed, our lives may be so full that we may never get caught up.  Strategizing how we are going to manage tasks and time demands can help us to remain calm and composed throughout the day.  Put in a few minutes to prep in order to save yourself many more minutes later.

        Here is a sampling of some techniques I’ve found useful in giving me a leg up during busy times:

        1.  Use the proper system for your tasks.  Any task that you do routinely will likely have a timesaving system you could think of and implement.  For instance you could:

        • get a pill case to store medications, vitamins, and supplements you need to take in order to save yourself the stress of forgetting and to keep yourself in your best physical condition
        • have a recycle bin on hand when you are sorting your mail to keep you from having to clean your mail piles down the road and to keep your surfaces clear of clutter
        • have a consistent system for jotting down notes, reminders, and appointments to increase your efficiency and to decrease your error rate
        • plan and pack healthy lunch snacks at the beginning of the week to make it easier for you to get out the door in the morning, to save money, and to feel well

        2.  Develop your own best system for handling e-mail tasks.  We each have our own individual relationship with having to manage e-mail.  Take a few minutes to decide what your management method could look like.  Here are some suggestions:

        • reply immediately to e-mails whenever possible in order to get them out of your way
        • if there is a task associated with the e-mail, promptly determine a time and date for the task and enter it into your schedule or in a task management app such as Trello
        • reduce the time you spend crafting your reply.  Keep your message on-point, simple, and direct.  By doing so, you will save the person you’re communicating with some time too.

        3.  Say “No” to activities that don’t fit into your schedule or that don’t align with your plans.  When we act with the Fear Of Missing Out and impulsively jump in and out of activities other people think we should do, we can end up overwhelmed and unmotivated.  Clear your mind by clearing the junk out of your schedule.

        4.  Determine what your priority and mantra for the day will be.  Knowing what your single priority for the day is will help you to differentiate between good and bad decisions throughout the day.  Developing a mantra or a self-encouraging statement to support that priority item can further enhance your chances of success.

        To illustrate, a priority I have for tomorrow is to focus on some unfinished business for my psychology practice.  Having that as my priority will allow me to steer clear of other tasks I could be doing, like checking in with social media.  My mantra for keeping my eyes on my business goals might be “I’ll feel relief when these business tasks are completed.”

        What will your priority and mantra look like?

        5.  Plan for the future in small ways.  Use micro-movements to protect yourself from unneeded hassles.  Some examples are:

        • making sure to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full
        • keeping extras of the tools and home goods you use and love the most so you don’t have to waste time running out when you run out
        • communicating ahead of time about meet-ups, pickups, reservations, and events

        6.  Set policies and expectations for interactions in your home.  There’s no reason to bicker incessantly at home, a place that should support your sense of calm.  Take a few minutes to lay down some policies for things like:

        • bathroom etiquette
        • chore and cleaning routines
        • timely, open, and honest communication and respect

        7.  Plan ahead.  This is not an easy technique for Procrastinators, who tend to be looking at the past rather than towards the future.  That is why this technique is so powerful. When we look to the future, we can sense possibility and we can have a role in creating it.  Some things you can plan are:

        • an exit from a not-good situation
        • an exercise milestone, e.g. 6 days of exercise per month
        • a meet-up date with a friend you haven’t seen in two years
        • a summer getaway

        Bonus Material:

        I’ve put together a planning sheet to save you the time of having to make one up for yourself.  The ALWAYS PREPARED planning sheet is a compilation of many of the tips I’ve listed above.  It’s meant to help you save time and get organized each day, but the intention is also to remind you to do some things that will help make the tomorrow better too.

        Click here to receive the ALWAYS PREPARED planning sheet to help you get on your way today!

        There are more techniques than there is time in the day.  Choose the ones that look good to you and try them out.  Develop ones of your own that suit you and bring you the most freedom and flexibility.

        The more time you rescue from waste, distraction, and overwhelm, the more time you will have to savor, thrive, and enjoy the way you want to.

        News to Share:

        P2PMay23

        The next session of the Procrastination to Productivity Program begins May 23rd. It’s a 28-day on-line accountability program I’ve developed with thought and care in order to provide members with personalized, meaningful coaching for how to work without dread and how to live life without the need for Procrastination.  If you’re interested in finding out more about this effective program, please read this.  I hope to see you in the Program soon!

         

        Subscribe to receive Procrastination Coach posts in your inbox and get your free 5-part guide ~"The Procrastination Coach Road Map: How to Examine What is Blocking You from Being Productive"

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          What Can Minimalism Offer to Procrastinators?

          A look into how a minimalist lifestyle offers the recovering Procrastinator many more choices for freedom, growth, and personal calm.

           

          Why all the fuss about Minimalism lately? How might it be relevant to you in your attempts to recover from Procrastination?

          My plan today is:

          • to describe some of my own history with Minimalism and how it enabled me to embrace Procrastination recovery;
          • to share some things I learned this week after watching a screening of the Minimalism: A Documentary about the Things that Matter;
          • to recommend some wonderful bloggers who offer great content and inspiration for people looking to make positive changes for themselves; and
          • to inspire you to give Minimalism a try.

          My own relationship with Minimalism

          I haven’t written much about the actual steps I have taken to recover from Procrastination, but I can tell you that going simple and minimalistic was the very first step I took.

          When I simplified my belongings, I stopped tripping over my stuff. Literally stopped tripping. That was a plus.

          After that, I became more effective in the mornings, because I didn’t have to get through as much stuff. Another plus.

          Soon after that, I started worrying less, sleeping better, and making better choices.

          I really could go on and on, and I will because I think it’s important to share these growth points:

          • I was clearer mentally
          • my schedule became saner
          • I commuted to my office with a sense of calm instead of with a sense of dread or a panic about being late
          • I began to look more put together, because all of these small steps and decluttering led me to look that way
          • I was able to spend more time — really good time — working on the projects and relationships that mattered most to me
          • I explored more methods to break away from Procrastination
          • I started this blog!

          Need I say more????

          What I learned from a documentary by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists

          I had the pleasure of attending the screening of the movie Minimalism: A Documentary about the Things that Matter this week.

          *Now imagine me making a two thumbs up gesture.*

          The documentary was informative, eye-opening, enlightening, and well-crafted. The love for the message of Minimalism was obvious throughout. The film drove home the message that we all have tremendous power over our own choices, and our choices matter so much.

          Here are some of the lessons I took away from the film:

          Minimalism allows you to work on your personal development. It takes the focus off success for success’s sake and puts the spotlight on the things and people that are important to you.

          “Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle, it’s a practical lifestyle.” — Joshua Fields Millburn, of The Minimalists.

          When we adopt a minimalist style of living, we come to value what we have instead of feeling anxious about what we don’t. That process of learning how to add value to our lives without pulling out our credit cards feeds our sense of well-being. We can develop our sense of personal freedom when we are not weighed down by our need to hunt (for stuff) or by the latest marketing message or throw-away fashion trend. We have enough => We are enough.

          And now, my groupie fan-girl picture for your viewing pleasure #likemeetingtheBeatles:

          The Minimalists and Me

          What does this mean for you?

          As with recovery from Procrastination, going minimal is a step-by-step process, where you learn more about yourself with each step. You go against the well-worn grain by making these changes, but these changes re-instill your sense of gratitude for the life and opportunities you’ve been given and those which you’re about to have.  That’s a plus.

          You gain confidence in yourself and in your choices. Another big plus.

          Yes, you get so much from going minimal. Funny, right?

          If you’re struggling under the burden of Procrastination, I very sincerely encourage you to explore what Minimalism has to offer.

          As promised, a list of helpful resources to get you started in your exploration:

          One final resource is MY MINIMALISM START, a planning sheet I put together to guide you in your first steps towards trying out Minimalism.  Everything on the sheet is doable within the space of a single day.  It’s simple and practical.

          Click here to receive the MY MINIMALISM START planning sheet to help you get on your way today!

          It seems I have a lot to say about a movement that tends towards the minimal.  I think you’ll find when you try going in this direction, like I have, that embracing the tenets of Minimalism brings you energy, focus, and spirit like crazy.  I hope you enjoy the ride.

          News to Share:

          P2PMay23The next round of the Procrastination to Productivity Program begins on May 23rd.  It’s a 28-day on-line accountability class for people who are interested in learning how to break free from the grip of Procrastination.  Live coaching and the support and feedback from other group members are part of this unique and effective learning experience.  If you would like to learn more about the program or if you would like to sign up for it, please visit this page.

          Subscribe to receive Procrastination Coach posts in your inbox and get your free 5-part guide ~"The Procrastination Coach Road Map: How to Examine What is Blocking You from Being Productive"

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            Try This 5-Point Technique to Conquer Your Fear of Moving Forward

            Try this 5-point technique - WPWhen I work with clients, I hear about a lot of fears.

            Those fears never scare me.

            You know why?  Because I have no idea whether those fears will become real or not. Please remember me telling you “I have no idea” the next time you think of asking me about what negative things will develop if you decide to move forward.  Because that is the truth.

            I can’t say your fears won’t come true, but I can say from 20 years of being a psychologist that our worst fears tend not to come true.

            So instead of getting all worked up with my clients, I try to help them to get active. Or to get calm.  Either state — active or calm — is way more beneficial than the state of being terrified.  Way more.

            Don’t let all of your precious time be taken up by unrealistic fears and dreamt up worries.

            Your fears and worries are just indications that you are about to embark upon something new, and you have feelings about making that change.

            Instead of thinking the action is so frightening, start to look at your fear as being the obstacle.

            Change your mindset about fear.

            Know that fear is just a feeling about something.

            We are going to change your mindset.  Instead of using all of your resources and thoughts to avoid the perceived danger, we are going to head towards the fear and break it down.

            Here’s the 5-Point Technique to Conquer Your Fear of Moving Forward:

            1) What was it about the original idea that made you afraid?

            2) What particular fears do you associate with going towards the idea?

            3) What risk do you need to take in order to conquer your fear and move forward?

            4) What tools do you have right now that would be useful in moving forward?  Communication?  Planning?  Brainstorming?  Interpersonal support?

            5) What would be the benefit of breaking away from the fear you have?  More time?  More flexibility?  More sanity?

            Now set a deadline — yes an actual deadline — for taking action against your fear and towards the task you want to accomplish.  Imaging yourself bulldozing everything in your way to get done with the task instead of imagining yourself as a vulnerable, helpless newbie with no resources or experience.

            Use the enjoyment and relief you will feel after completing your goal to carry you directly into your next efforts for making positive change in your life.  Don’t lose momentum.

            Momentum is a powerful force for against fear.  Fear is a powerful force against change. You have all the power in the world to make your choice about which force you’d like to align yourself with more.

            Bonus Material!

            You know what happens when you drop your fears?  You become FEARLESS.  Cool trick, right?  If you’re interested in even more ways to ensure that worry does not interrupt your plans, get your free resource below:

            Get the 5 RULES for steering clear of worry here [free download]

            Subscribe to receive Procrastination Coach posts in your inbox and get your free 5-part guide ~"The Procrastination Coach Road Map: How to Examine What is Blocking You from Being Productive"

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              20 Simple Strategies to Stop Your Procrastination [+ a Free Download]

              20 Simple Strategies My goal today is to be simple.  Simple tends to get things done, I think. Procrastination operates by making things more complicated: 

              • Instead of dealing with just our present-moment tasks, we have to deal with the ones we are behind on too.
              • Our minds become ultra-cluttered with self-shaming thoughts, like, “Why didn’t I start earlier?”
              • We become confused and preoccupied with how our lateness is going to appear to the people who are waiting for us to turn something in.

              So let’s reverse engineer this game and consciously decide to tackle our Procrastination by making things more simple.

              Here are “20″ simple strategies for getting rid of Procrastination:

              1. Think of three problems that Procrastination causes you.  Take a look at the biggest problem of the three and strategize how to get rid of the original reason you Procrastinated there.

              2.  Make an agreement with a person or a group to begin a task you’ve been stalled on.

              3.  Talk to someone who doesn’t know you have been Procrastinating and let them in on your struggle.

              4.  Listen to an inspirational podcast on your commute to work and use the information from that podcast to get moving.

              5.  Get away from your to-do list and make room for getting something done that is more important to you than your average to-do list item.

              6.  Cancel something relatively unimportant in your schedule to get yourself some breathing room and actually get things done.

              7.  Change your environment.  Improve your attitude by moving your furnishings around or getting the clutter out before you set down to work.

              8.  Change the tools you use.  Don’t consider your smartphone your best tool of choice, as it can be such a source of distraction.  Try using the world’s best tools, pen and paper, to rework how you work, at least for a few hours.

              9.  Take care of something personal first, before embarking on your work.  For instance, schedule your next visit to your doctor, then use that momentum to make some work-related calls.

              10.  Decide that your Procrastination is the only thing getting in your way of making progress.  Then dismantle your Procrastination piece by piece until you clear your path to working smoothly.

              11.  Review your self-talk and refuse to take “no” for answer.  In other words, think about how to do your work, not all the reasons why you can’t.

              12.  Develop a routine.  You can make one up on the spot to ease the start-up anxiety you have before doing something new or daunting.

              13.  Do your task at a regular time each day or each week.  There will never be a good time to do laundry.  Laundry is the definition of argh.  But it can be handled sanely and quickly if you schedule it in.

              14.  Make sure you insert something enjoyable in every day.  When we get caught up in Procrastination, we tend to crowd out enjoyment in favor of suffering.  Put the enjoyment back in your schedule and don’t feel guilty about doing so.

              15.  Make sure you start off on a positive note.  So often we approach to-do tasks with a feeling of dread instead of gratitude or acceptance.  Try working with gratitude and acceptance to smooth out your ride.

              16.  Break down the project you are Procrastinating on into individual sections and start addressing the smallest one.  Continue on until each section is completed.

              17.  Avoid saying the following: “I have no time,” “I’ve wasted so much time,” “I’ll never get finished in time,” “I can’t believe I didn’t use my time better.”  Save yourself gobs of time in the process.  Enjoy being #gobsmacked.

              18.  Make a new commitment to yourself that you will not harm yourself any longer through your Procrastination.  Proceed accordingly.

              19.  Stop early in order to save yourself time for something else.  I’m stopping at Strategy #19 to demonstrate how cutting things short can save you a minute or two here and there.  It’s okay.  Everyone is going to survive.

              Your BONUS for making it through the list — a free worksheet!

              Here’s a WORKSHEET to help you plan and get started

              Now the rest is simple.  Take the strategy that seemed to fit you the best today and run with it.  You will survive.  Let me know how things turned out when you’re through.

              News to Share

              If you are interested in joining the truly lovely Procrastination Coach Facebook Group, please let me know by visiting this link and sending me a message requesting to join. Thank you as always for following Procrastination Coach!

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                7 Ways to Save Time across Your Day

                7 Ways to Save Timeacross Your DayWhen people ask me “How do you teach people how to recover from Procrastination?” my typical response has been “Step by step.”  I think that response is the most accurate one I can come up with.  Everyone has a different path of recovery to travel, but each person must make changes in their behavior step by step.

                The following is a quick list of “steps” for you to consider taking to begin your recovery from Procrastination, but also to snatch some extra minutes for yourself to use as you wish:

                1.  Make a plan for your day.  Although your activities may not vary much from day to day, it will likely be beneficial if you take 5-10 minutes to plan your day.  This should not be an elaborate exercise.  Envision how you would like your day to proceed, write it down, and go.  Because you will have written and planned out your ideas, you will save time in seeing them through.

                2.  Meditate for a few minutes in the morning.  I can’t say I’m an expert on the topic of meditation, but I am a new convert to the idea and practice.  Although I can only manage a few minutes of meditation thus far, I have noticed a difference between days in which I meditate and those in which I decide I’m too frazzled to sit down and take care of myself.  It’s this paradoxical concept that when you spend time, you get time.  You get that time by being able to focus more easily across the day, across events and activities.

                3.  Batch activities.  Like activities can be done with like activities.  For example, you can do four loads of laundry in a row.  It will still be labor, but you will spare yourself the start-up energy of having to decide to do laundry four separate times on four different days.

                4.  Double up on your actions.  If you’re planning on heading upstairs, bring something up with you that belongs there.  Extra rolls of toilet paper, for instance.  If you practice this behavior, over time your surroundings will be tidier and your movements will be smoother and more purposeful.

                5.  Learn how to fill shorter periods of time.  When you find yourself with an extra 10-15 minutes, fill that time with actions that will save you time or stress later on.  For example, if you happen to have some time waiting for the orthodontist to finish her visit with your child, quickly send off some emails or review your to-do list.  Again, with practice, you will become better at using your time in general.

                6.  Avoid getting caught up in other people’s drama.  This is a tremendous time saver. If you spend most of your time trying to figure out how to make everyone happy, you will find yourself with very little time and very limited energy.  Your responsibility is to take care of yourself well, which in turn benefits everyone around you.

                7.  Don’t assume events are going to happen as you expect them to.  I am the Queen of Assumptions.  I would like to abdicate that throne, thank you very much, but I don’t want you to fill that seat either.  So many times I have believed my idea of how events were going to happen.  I didn’t bother to double check my ideas with anyone or any invitations or messages or directions.  I just assumed.  I meant well, but I ended up embarrassing myself and often times inconveniencing others.  Do yourself a favor and call ahead, confirm your appointment, make the reservation early.  Assume, but then make sure your assumption is correct.  Doing so will save you lots of energy, time, and worry.

                I hope these tips are helpful to you.  In general, just remember not to get hung up on any one thing, event, person, or thought for too long.  You’ll miss the pleasure of the next thing, event, person, and thought.  Enjoy this process of discovery in your recovery.

                I’ve created a one-page planner-type sheet to help you figure out how to save time right now.  If you’re interested, just click the orange button below:

                Click here to receive your free JUMPSTART PDF planner sheet to help you get on your way today!

                What timesaving tips might you have to share?  Is there a mindset shift that you have gone through regarding your use of time?  Please let us know by commenting here.  

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                  2 Ways to Make Starting Easier That Have Nothing to Do With Motivation

                  Start.

                  The following post is brought to you by my new friend, Shaun Flanders of Zero to Habit. Shaun kindly reached out to me after I made a comment on someone else’s site, and that sparked a great, mutually-supportive blogger relationship.  I hope you’ll take a moment to visit his site, which is packed with his thoughts on how to get more out of life without stress or strain.  You can see how we might get along.  Enjoy.

                  Jane is an old friend. She’s married with two kids and works full time. She wants to start exercising consistently so she can look and feel better, be a good role model for her kids and have a longer, healthier life. She’s started and stopped working out more times than she can count. Now, it’s been months since she’s exercised and she’s starting to feel pretty crappy about the shape she’s in.

                  You could say Jane quit because she didn’t have the willpower, motivation or self-discipline to stick with it. I’d flip that around and say the reason Jane quit is because she didn’t start.

                  Starting is the most difficult and fragile part of any habit. I say that because, when you really think about it, starting isn’t a challenge we get to overcome once, the very first time we do something. Rather, we have to start every single time.

                  Somewhere along the way there was a day Jane didn’t start getting her exercise clothes together. She didn’t start driving to the gym. She didn’t start taking the first step on the treadmill. And every day since then, she hasn’t started with any of it.

                  In a way it’s semantics, but I think it simplifies things. Jane doesn’t have a “starting problem” and a “sticking with it problem.” She just has one thing she needs to focus on: getting really good at starting. Having one thing to do can feel a lot easier than having many.

                  You Don’t Need to Be a Magician to Be a Good Starter
                  Have you ever told yourself “I need to be more disciplined,” “I just don’t have enough willpower,” or “I wish I was motivated like other people seem to be”?

                  The thing about that kind of negative self-talk is because it feels awful, it is demotivating and self-perpetuating. It makes you feel crappy, and because you feel crappy, you’re even less likely to start that thing you’ve been putting off.

                  The other thing is it just isn’t true. Motivation, willpower, and self-discipline are fleeting and unreliable. Everyone struggles with them to some degree. And for those of us who struggle more, staying motivated, being disciplined, and having strong willpower can seem like some kind of magic trick that we don’t know.

                  A better approach, and the one I recommend to my clients, is to expect your motivation, willpower, and self-discipline to abandon you. Then build a plan for success that is based on things you can actively do.

                  The Way Forward to Successful Starting
                  You do things you remember to do, you’re able to do, and you want to do badly enough that you’re willing to make the required effort.
                  We’ve already established that your “want to,” or your motivation, isn’t reliable. So you have to work with other parts of the equation. The two things you should focus on are maximizing “remembering” and minimizing “effort required.”

                  Remembering
                  If your strategy for remembering is to “just try to remember,” then there’s a really good chance you won’t. It’s a simple thing, but it’s a big deal. Treat it like one.
                  Do specific things to automatically bring your new thing into your attention. In habit-speak these are called cues or triggers. Here are some cues I’ve used successfully in my own life and with clients:
                  • Visual cues: Put your running shoes on the bathroom floor right where you stand to brush your teeth so you can’t miss them. Print out a calendar and write “I DRINK 8 GLASSES OF WATER” across the top, put it up on the wall at work so visually it’s right next to your computer monitor, then cross off each day as you go. There are countless other cues you could develop. Come up with a couple that work for you. Simple is best.
                  • Involving other people:  Recruit someone to start your new thing with you or join a group already doing your desired activity in order to keep it top of mind. You won’t want to let other people down, and the social interaction will make the experience multi-faceted, extending beyond the action itself.
                  • Tech tools:  Schedule your thing in your calendar, set up a reminder on your phone, or use an app like Productive for iPhone.
                  Making it Easier
                  You need less motivation to do easier things. Counteract unreliable motivation by making starting easier. Here are my two favorite ways:
                  1. Come up with a small version of your thing to do when your motivation is low. If Jane wants to run a mile 3 times a week, she might pick a small version like just running to the end of her block and back, or walking a shorter route through her neighborhood. Sure, the small version won’t give her the same physical results on that day as running the full mile, but she probably wasn’t going to run the full mile that day anyway. By doing the small version she’ll have done something vs. nothing. And importantly, she’ll have kept exercising in her life, even on a tough day. Think “Consistency over intensity.”
                  2. Recognize that there’s all this other stuff you have to account for before you can start to perform your intended task. Usually, these things hide under the surface, quietly distracting you. Bring them to the surface by writing them down. Then you can knock them off one by one, making starting easier and gaining momentum with every step.
                            Common examples include:
                  • Getting clear on specifics: Saying, “I’m going to start working out again” isn’t going to get Jane very far. It leaves too many questions unanswered — What kind of exercise is she going to to? On which days? At what time? With whom? Where? “I’m going to start running in my neighborhood every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work with my neighbor Pam” is a specific plan she can follow through on.
                  • Doing the prep: Jane may need to coordinate with her husband to be home early on her workout days so he can watch the kids, recruit Pam to run with her, and scout out a route through her neighborhood.
                  • Getting the gear:  If Jane hasn’t already got the running shoes, clothes, water bottle, distance tracking app for her phone, etc. that she wants to use, she’ll need to get them before she can go for her first run.
                  To recap, remember three simple points to make starting easier:
                  • Motivation is fleeting. Enjoy it when it’s there, but don’t rely on it. Plan for success without it. And don’t beat yourself up for not having more motivation than you do. You’re just fine.
                  • Nothing happens until you remember to do your thing. Take simple steps to bring it into your attention as often as possible.
                  • Make starting easier by giving yourself a small version of your thing to do when motivation flakes on you, and by making a simple list of the little things you need to do before you can start.
                  Then start. Easier said than done, I know. But hopefully you’ve gotten an idea or two here that will make the doing a little easier as well.
                  File_000
                  Shaun Flanders is a student and teacher of starting habits that last without relying on willpower or motivation. Visit his site at zerotohabit.com to see more of his work, including case studies showing how he’s helped people start new habits that, over time, will help them achieve their dreams and accomplish the things that are most important to them.

                   

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                    5 Areas that Procrastinators Have All Wrong

                    Waste“What a waste.”

                    What kind of feelings did you just have reading the phrase “What a waste?”  Did you feel guilty?  Did you feel ashamed?  Did the phrase sound really familiar?

                    I grew up being pretty conscious of not wasting things, like food and material items. Conserve, conserve, and then conserve some more.  And then reuse, please.

                    Many years later, I read an article (I regret that I didn’t save it) that somehow linked being afraid of the idea of wasting things and Procrastination.  Essentially, those who are afraid to waste things are more inclined to Procrastinate.  At least that’s how I remembered the content of the article.

                    And that seems to make total sense to me.  If you are finely attuned to not causing waste, you are generally more inclined to hang on to things.  And you guessed it ladies and gentlemen, Procrastinators tend to hang on to things way too long.

                    A central part of my own recovery from chronic Procrastination was understanding that when I hung on to things, I was wasting the asset I should have been protecting most carefully — time.

                    Gradually, I started re-evaluating all of my movements.  Were they in line with my needs? Were they time-efficient?  Over time, I began to feel much more comfortable with USING time well.  I wasn’t saddled with an amorphous feeling of time waste any more.  I was able to develop goals that seemed bigger to me than “Don’t be wasteful.”  I now am happy to say, I use my time pretty well.

                    Here’s a list of items you might have thought were wastes of your time and energy that are actually essential to healthy living:

                    1. Exercise
                    2. Taking time out or having down time
                    3. Spending time with others
                    4. Cleaning and tidying
                    5. Being thoughtful about your goals and intentions

                    The list above contains items that on first thought, might make us feel fearful of taking all of our time up.  But on second thought, each item on the list leads to us feeling lighter. Let’s feel lighter.

                    There’s always going to be a little bit of a time waste factor.  We’re human, not finely-tuned robots.  And time speeds by really quickly.  Enjoy those bits of waste as you learn to use the time that is yours with all the spirit you have.  You won’t be wasting your time.

                    News to share:

                    I invite you to join The Procrastination Coach Facebook Group if you are interested in recovering from your Procrastination and if you interested in being part of a thoughtful, supportive community.  Please go here if you would like to start.

                    If you’re ready to work with me in an on-line accountability program I lead, called Procrastination to Productivity,  please follow this link.  The next round of the program begins on February 1st.  If you have questions about the program, you can message me on Twitter@christineliphd or on Instagram@procrastinationcoach.

                     

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