On Strengthening Your Capacity to Trust

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TrustProcrastinators are known to have problems with getting work done.  I wonder, often, if there is something more to Procrastination other than the actual work.  In my experience working with clients who are trying to recover from chronic Procrastination, the root of the Procrastination problem never seems to be the actual work itself.

More often, it seems Procrastinators appear to have a problem with trust.  Most often the issue appears to be difficulty with trusting other people. We can have trouble trusting other people to see:

  • our point of view
  • our effort
  • our intention

We may have trouble trusting people:

  • not to be punitive
  • to be kind
  • to be fair
  • to be empathic
  • to be forgiving
  • to understand

We also have trouble trusting that other people are human like we are.  Complete with flaws and quirks we wish no one else knew about.

The reality is, we grow to be distrusting in these ways as a result of various events in our own childhood and past.  We may have grown up amidst chaos and trauma.  We may have had a severely punitive parent or caretaker.  We may have had a tendency towards acting the role of “parent” even though we were the “child.”  We may have had parents who didn’t know how to communicate effectively, leaving us to wonder whether we were on the right track in our own behaviors.

Whichever road you travelled, somewhere on that road you decided it was unsafe to put your trust in others.  You also decided you needed to shoulder your burdens, even the most painful ones, on your own.

We can free ourselves of our distrusting stance by realizing the people we find hard to trust in our adult lives are not the same people we feared in earlier days.  Don’t get me wrong – people can be judgmental, unforgiving, critical, arrogant, and obnoxious.  The good news is we are not the same people we were in earlier days either.  We are capable, vocal, multi-dimensional, mature, and able to rely on both our thoughts and feelings in meaningful ways.  We can handle things now.

If you have trouble seeing yourself as being able to handle what other people do and say to you, chances are you haven’t had enough experiences to make you feel a sense of self-efficacy.  Self-efficacy is the mega-important concept that we believe we can achieve what we set out to do.  And of course, that’s the big kahuna connection with Procrastination.  Without our own sense of being able to achieve what we want to, Procrastination and a sense of inefficacy are our only options.  We are left thinking and feeling that we do not have the power to achieve what we would like to.

So now it’s up to you. Who are you going to trust today? 

There are many avenues towards building a more trusting attitude towards other people.  One key way to become more trusting (and confident) in your interactions is to release your grip on the situation.  Have faith that you will not need to be in control of each factor and every outcome.

Another key towards becoming more trusting is to allow the people you are interacting with to be themselves.  It’s an interesting concept not controlling everyone.  Hmmmm.

Finally, have trust that the relationship will take the work of TWO of you, not just one of you.  If there are misunderstandings and disagreements, talk them through.  If you need to disclose your needs to the people you’re working with, do so.  Trust is a building process, so go build.

If you feel like you’ll never be able to feel comfortable placing trust in someone else’s hands, I suggest you consider finding a therapist or coach to help you.  The therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist or coach is designed to teach you how to trust the world, other people, and yourself.  It will be worth the time, energy, and money you spend to be able to feel enabled to lead the life you want to lead.

As a side note, blogging has been an interesting experience for me in learning to build trust.  I have to have faith I can say what I mean to say.  I have to have confidence you’ll be willing to receive what I have to offer in each blogpost.  I have to trust you won’t laugh at what I spend my free time thinking about.  And because I continue to blog, I have developed a deeper sense of trust in my own voice and thinking, even though I sometimes still feel I have no idea what I’m doing.  Practice, practice.

I do know I appreciate your time and attention always.  Now go find those people in your life who want your time and attention too.  I trust you can do it.

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    Why

    Why

    One of the most useful techniques I learned while training to be a psychologist was to avoid starting questions with “why” when addressing my patients.  You ask, “Why why?”  It is a great, easy way to start off a question or conversation, and it is very direct.  It just rolls off the tongue.  Why, oh why, would we want to scrap such an efficient, useful, and reasonable word?

    I guess this is why the technique has been so useful.  The reason “why” should be avoided when you are trying to explore a topic in conversation is because the word has a way of making people feel they have to explain their motivation for doing something.  It can sound accusatory and implies fault when we ask it of others.

    A therapist might ask a patient, “Why didn’t that happen the way you wanted?”  Although the therapist might have been completely open-minded and genuinely curious when asking, the patient on the receiving end runs the risk of feeling like a justification needs to be made, thus putting the patient in a defensive stance.

    I think this is an important point for Procrastinators to grasp, because we are often times in the position of asking ourselves the “why” questions:

    • “Why didn’t I do that on time?”
    • “Why don’t I know that?”
    • “Why I am so stupid?”
    • “Why can’t I fix this problem when it happens so often?”

    Or, as Procrastinators, we have been the target of “why” questions such as:

    • “Why don’t you just commit to the project and get it done?”
    • “Why don’t you just pick a corner and start decluttering there?”
    • “Why are you making it so difficult for yourself?”
    • “Why are you still complaining?”

    When I’m the object of some of these “why” questions, I know I end up feeling a bit cornered.  I also feel worse than when I started.

    In case you’ve become overly dependent on the use of “why” in your dialogue with yourself and in conversations with others, there are many, many other ways of starting off a good, meaningful discussion.  For example:

    • “What makes the situation difficult for you?”
    • “How did you get to this point?”
    • “Are there ways that you can think of to change the current situation?”
    • “That’s interesting.  Tell me more.”
    • “Where do you feel things went awry?”
    • “What do you feel like when these events happen?”
    • “How do you wish you might have reacted differently?”
    • “What do you want to happen next?”

    There you have it — one of the great secrets of WHY therapists can help you feel more open to talking.  They don’t ask “why.”

    If you want to pin a person down in conversation, definitely start off with the word “why.”  I have a feeling it’s a favorite word of litigators and investigators.  Just be careful when you are using “why” to address anyone who might feel vulnerable, who might be worried, who might feel guilty, or your friendly neighborhood Procrastinator of course.

    See where this great technique can get you.  Observe how often you accuse yourself of “Why didn’t I ____________?”  Start using different styles of considering your dilemmas and take yourself out of the hot seat you’re always sitting in.

    Do you have any communication tips that have helped you communicate more effectively?  Please share them in a reply to me.  I’d love to hear about them.  For more tips on getting by, please follow me on Twitter@ChristineLiPhD

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      Don’t Insist On Clarity


      Procrastinators are great at telling themselves what to do and what not to do.  Unfortunately, many of those directions are rooted in a need for total clarity.  Procrastinators tend not to act if there is an absence of clarity.

      In case I’m not making sense yet, here are some examples of what I mean:

      • I’m not going to throw out this piece of paper because I might need it someday
      • I’m not going to say “hello” to her in case she doesn’t recognize me
      • I’m not going to finish this essay even though the deadline is approaching because I’m not sure if my professor is going to like what I’m saying
      • I’m not going to move forward on this project because I do not have a sense of how it is all going to turn out
      • I’m going to delay making this decision because I don’t know a better way to manage my stress about having to make this decision

      I think it’s ironic how Procrastinators are seen as slackers, when in fact, many of us Procrastinators suffer in inactivity because we care so much about making things right.

      We get ourselves in trouble when we insist on having total clarity before making a move.

      My own method of bypassing this need for clarity is to work on accepting that so many things and outcomes in life are never going to be clear.  I know from my own life story and from the stories of the patients I have worked with over many years that we cannot know how things will turn out in:

      • our career choices
      • our choice of partners
      • the transitions we often have to go through
      • matters of our physical health
      • the aftermath of a major disappointment
      • others’ lives
      • our best-laid plans

      Don’t get me wrong — I’m not made of steel.  I still occasionally get totally flattened by anxiety because I’m not in total control of what will happen when I have to make a decision.

      If you are currently feeling stuck, stifled, or stressed out by a decision you have to make, take a step back and see what you know already.  It may be you started feeling paralyzed from acting because you knew you had enough information to go on, but didn’t want to risk making the wrong move.  It could be you were so afraid to look at the details involved in your situation, that your decision making skills ground to a halt.  It might be your fear of taking control of your own life made you feel unable to make a reasonable choice.

      Avoid stopping yourself from moving forward.  It’s okay to be clear.

      We can speak with clarity and assertiveness about our decisions, even if we are not sure which way things are going to turn out.  We can know with clarity that we arrived at our decision after sufficient thought and consideration, and because we tried our best in the decision-making process.

      Do yourself a favor today and take a look at any situations which make you feel nervous or afraid to act.  Here’s how:

      1. Evaluate what is frightening you.  Be very specific so you can know how to target your fear.
      2. Specifically target that fear.  If you have a penchant for thinking that others might think you are not responsible, every time that distracting thought comes into your head, take a minute to say to yourself, “Oh, there’s my fear of being seen as irresponsible again.  Bo-ring.  Now where was I?”  Repeat as often as necessary, and hopefully to a point where you’re so bored with your self-attacks that you stop launching them!
      3. Bring your anxiety down.  Calm yourself down by taking a pause, taking a shower, calling a friend, or taking a walk.  Avoid spending too much time getting calmer.  As you take steps to calm yourself, you’ll be keeping an eye on yourself to make sure you are working towards your goal, not away from it.
      4. Take the fastest route towards moving that fear out of your perspective. Outline the next step you will take to move forward.
      5. Commit to something involving the number 3.  Tell yourself you will only allow yourself to delay for another 3 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days.  You get to pick which time frame.  Pick the 3 that fits your circumstances the best.  What is the absolute fastest time frame you can make your next move within? Three days is the outer limit because honestly, after you’ve waited more than 3 days to work on something, you have bigger problems brewing than just the original project you have been worrying about.
      6. Coach yourself into believing that everything will work out okay.  This is something that is difficult for people with anxiety, obsessional tendencies, depression, or negative thinking.  It is something that is difficult for all of us at different times.  We cannot face having to make an action if we are consumed with the problems that lie just ahead.  Remind yourself that our minds and bodies were built for smooth functioning and for resiliency in those times when stress is high.  Utilize that high-level imagination you have and convince yourself that all will work out in the end.

      These suggestions demonstrate how we can move forward despite not having a guarantee on our outcomes.  When we stay in motion, we are able to see our options more clearly and to move towards better opportunities more quickly because we are already in motion.  With all the complexities involved in our lives, having that type of clarity feels sufficient and good.

      Please consider following me on Twitter for more information on how to break away from Procrastination and to improve your productivity.

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        Step of the Day: Make a Move You Can Squeeze in Today

        SQUEEZEOver the course of a single day, we are involved in several different types of conversations.  As a Procrastinator, you may have difficulty with a particular type of conversation, or, you may have difficulty starting any type of conversation.

        I thought it might be useful to outline some of the many reasons why you might want to consider picking up the phone or starting an e-mail or text message today.  Sometimes taking a cold, hard look at what we are facing helps to take the drama out of the need to take action.

        So here’s what I suggest you take a look at:

        1. Can you try to fix a financial hole?
        • Can you resolve a debt?
        • Can you design a payment plan to get a loan paid off?
        • Can you start a partnership that might make you some extra money or ease your own workload?
        • Can you call your wireless/phone provider to see if you can negotiate a more economical contract?
        • Can you call your credit card company to begin making automatic payments or to ask that a recent late fee charge be forgiven?
        1. Can you ease your mind?
        • Can you start the process of setting up your will?
        • Can you discuss significant problems with your doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial planner, or any other professional who may be available to help you steer clear of trouble?
        • Can you talk to neighbors or friends to see if they might be available to cooperate on tasks like watching or feeding pets, taking care of children, keeping an extra key, or watching out for delivery packages when you are away from home?
        1. Can you apologize…
        • for a misunderstanding?
        • for a misstep?
        • for inconveniencing someone?
        • for an absence or a lateness?
        1. Can you express your feelings…
        • of support?
        • of condolence?
        • of congratulations?
        • of wanting to stay in touch or to check in?
        • of thanks or gratitude?
        • of admiration?
        1. Can you start to brainstorm…
        • plans for a get-together?
        • how you’d like to spend the next four weekends?
        • your next volunteer activity in your community?
        • how to be of help to someone else?
        1. Can you prepare yourself for…
        • an upcoming interview by practicing your main points with a friend?
        • your next meeting with your dissertation advisor by asking him or her what is expected from you?
        • a separation or break up with a significant other by talking with your sibling or your therapist?

        This list could go on and on.  These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg for small actions you can take today to move yourself forward.  You may wonder “How would setting up plans for the weekend help me get past my Procrastination?”  In my view, any motion designed to get yourself out of a paralysis of action is helpful, especially if it frees your energy up for greater focus on what you need to deal with.

        Grab something, anything, from this list today and go for it.  Open up your mind, heart, and calendar for new movement and a lighter feeling.  I hope you have fun in the process.

        Which item are you planning on choosing?  If you continue to feel blocked, what kind of action can you design to help yourself move forward again?

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          5 Ways to Get Moving When You are Really Stuck

          5 Ways to Get Moving  When You are (1)Lately, I seem to be feeling stuck every day.  Whether it’s an e-mail I don’t want to reply to or an uncomfortable interpersonal dynamic I don’t want to address, it seems I am in a bad run kind of way.

          There are so many reasons we can get really stuck.  So stuck that:

          • we can’t concentrate
          • we feel nauseous (or that may just be me)
          • it doesn’t make any real sense to us why we are so stuck
          • it feels critical to solve the matter so we can feel happy again
          • even though we have the actual time to accomplish the task, we never seem to be able to get started on it

          I have found that when I find myself in predicaments like the kind I just described, the reason I cannot seem to move forward is rooted in my emotional life.  Not just one feeling, but a veritable compendium of feelings.  To give you an example, before I begin to do my yearly taxes, I end up feeling this lovely mix of feelings:

          • I am in no mood for this again
          • I can’t believe I am going through this exact same crazy dance with myself again
          • I’m forgetting something again
          • Why can’t I get my record keeping in order, even after so many years?
          • My accountant must be losing patience with me
          • Why didn’t I manage to save more of “my potatoes” (as my accountant would say) this past year?
          • I can’t put doing my taxes out of my mind until every single last dollar is accounted for

          This list goes on but I don’t want to scare you so I’ll stop there.

          Since Procrastinators are prone to having many episodes of feeling really stuck, I thought I’d suggest some techniques for prying ourselves out of that frying pan that we can get ourselves into:

          1. Separate what is business from what is personal.  If you are in a tangled mess of thoughts, tease out which of those thoughts are business-related and take care of those first.  That way, you will have more peace of mind and will therefore be in a better place to deal with your difficult or problematic feelings after all the business has been taken care of.
          2. Talk over your feelings with someone who isn’t directly involved in the matter.  Even better, talk about the way you feel with someone who does have some involvement in the matter.  Just the act of expressing yourself to another person may allow you to feel more empowered to get your work done.  You may also gain extra insights to help you get your task completed in a timely manner.
          3. Have compassion for yourself for feeling the way you do.  Do NOT feel more embarrassed or humiliated than you already do.  Begin to turn that dynamic around so you can begin to sense you have the capacity to take action again.
          4. Take action.  In general, the actions that most effectively get me out of my disaster zones are making e-mails, texts, or phone calls.  Once I’ve gotten those communications out of the way, I feel it’s a bit easier to wait for what might be the next step for me to take, rather than dreading the next steps I am supposed to take.
          5. Remember that with most all things, eventually we need to move forward.  Even when we are emotionally stonewalled, we, for the sake of our mental and emotional health, need to move forward.  When we don’t deal with our more difficult feelings head on, they tend to show up again in some other time or place just to aggravate us again.

          We can’t address our Procrastination fully without dealing with the feelings which cause us to delay and to sabotage ourselves and our projects.  When we are feeling the most stuck, we may be in the middle of the best opportunity to learn about what gets us stuck.

          I wish you the best of luck in making your way through your next challenge, and in gaining momentum as you go.

          What are you stuck in currently?  What feelings are too painful for you to open up and to face?  Who can you speak with to help you feel more motivated to move forward?

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            The 30/30 App: The Solution to So Many Problems

            The 30/30 App

            I have been very excited to share my love for the 30/30 app for some time.  I have been busy telling the people in my off-line life about it first.  Now, it’s time for me to tell you about it.

            How the 30/30 app works:

            First of all, this app is beautifully and smartly designed.  It is almost a no-brainer.  With just a few taps, you can identify the items you need to get done, sort them in lists, set the proposed time frame for completing each one, and then have a count-down timer to help you accomplish the items in the time frame you’ve selected.  There are options for shrinking or expanding those time frames as needed also.

            So…this app effectively operates as a to-do list, a timer, and a type of accountability coach.  Magic.  And it’s free!

            How the 30/30 app has helped me specifically:

            I think the first thing I realized after starting to use the 30/30 app was how damn fast time actually moves.  It does fly.  Of course, it also reminded me how I am susceptible to miscalculating how long things will take to accomplish.  Yes, miscalculating too little time rather than too much.

            The second realization I had was just a reminder of how I hate, just hate, to set something as a priority.  You see, the to-do list on the app allows only one item to be at the top of the list at any given time, thus forcing you to work on what is at the top of the list.  This is NOT how I typically work #randomashumanlypossible.  I have found that there is much to be gained in concentrating on one thing at a time with the help of the 30/30 app.

            Another benefit of the 30/30 app for me has been being able to make rapid progress on my to-do list items.  I have found myself utilizing this app more for the mundane tasks that I need to remember and get done, rather than the big kahuna tasks.  The 30/30 app helps me to get my tasks in order, in front of me, and out of my way.  It is amazing to me how an app can create the sense of urgency that many of us need to get anything done.

            If you can’t tell already, I love this app and have enjoyed using it very much.  Enjoy your expanded sense of time after using the 30/30 app and then help me spread the word.

            Do you have a productivity app that you are in love with?  Please share with us here in the comment section.

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              Techniques to Try: Finding Time

              William Penn Time QuoteOne of the most useful techniques I have ever learned to beat Procrastination is to find time where it might otherwise have been lost.  Over the years, I have been amazed at the power this one technique has.

              Jane Burka and Lenore Yuen, authors of Procrastination: Why You Do It and What to Do About It NOW (affiliate image link) call this the “Swiss cheese” method, because you begin to train yourself to be mindful of the in-between spaces of time — think of the image of the holes in Swiss cheese.  Examples of bits of time that can be rescued and repurposed for good use are abundant and include:

              • travel time on the train, subway, or in your car
              • moments waiting before your medical or therapy appointment
              • early morning quiet moments when the rest of your roommates are still asleep
              • the time you might spend waiting for laundry or a load of dishes to be done
              • late Friday nights
              • early Sunday morning
              • the last moments of your lunch break, after you’ve eaten

              For me, learning to spot unused blocks of time, even if they were only 5 minutes long, was critical in my journey away from Procrastination.  This was true because I had been capable of wasting whole days of time, not just blocks of time during the course of a single day.

              When I made it a habit to snatch little bits of time for better use, I not only was more productive, but I learned I could move smoothly and quickly into different activities.  I didn’t have to hem and haw and wonder as much as I had been prone to in the past. Come to think of it, my entire blog would not have been possible if I had not learned and used the Swiss cheese technique, because free time over the course of the week tends to be limited and not available in big chunks.  Many of the blog posts I’ve written have been pieced together over several days, over several periods of brief, but focused and mostly speedy work.

              More recently, I have been able to use my free blocks of time to learn new material through listening to audiobooks and podcasts.  If you haven’t tried these formats, I would encourage you to try one or both.  Learning through audiobooks and podcasts feels pretty effortless, and who doesn’t like that kind of feeling?

              Of course, the Swiss cheese method does not have to be used for productivity only.  It may just as well be used for periods of quiet calm or meditation, or simply a mindful break between more major activities or jobs.

              Here’s one more Swiss cheese trick — hidden beneath your bouts of worrying are lots of pockets and chunks of usable time.  The next time you find yourself locked in worry, mark what you are worried about and then carve out a time block to be used more productively than by stressing out.  It’s kind of a win-win.  You don’t have to abandon or forget why you’re worrying, and you get to work on fixing that stress at the same time.

              Finding time involves being more diligent about tracking the passing of time and ridding yourself of the anxiety that typically comes when we have to start a new task.  When you learn to find pockets of time and to use them well, you also learn the freedom that comes from moving freely and smoothly throughout your day.

              Are there any pockets of time you’ve been able to grab?  Do you have specific techniques to recognize them or to feel comfortable being productive in them?  Please feel free to share your ideas with us here.

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                Breaking Free from Clutter: A Conversation with Diane Elkins of PositiveWorkspace.com

                Clutter is a topic of endless fascination for me.  Perhaps that’s because I seem to be constantly staring at it.  I have spent the better part of many, many years trying to get a handle on my clutter problem, as I know deep inside my clutter-burdened heart there is a clear-headed, clutter-free person inside.

                With the help of the passing of years, a burst pipe that led to an involuntary home renovation, a dumpster, and the wisdom of Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (affiliate image link), I am actually closer to being clutter-free than I have ever been before.

                While discussing Kondo’s book with my friend Diane Elkins, professional organizer and blogger at PositiveWorkspace.com, I decided it would be wonderful to interview Diane so you could get a glimpse of how she works with her clients.  Diane is truly a gifted and inspiring person.  I know she loves being a part of the significant life changes her clients make when they clear their lives of clutter.

                A Conversation with Diane Elkins of PositiveWorkspace.com

                What is your impression of what makes keeping one’s space in order so difficult for so many?

                It’s usually a combination of (1) not having a designated place for storing items and (2) having too much stuff that’s accumulated over many years.  Once you purge all of your unneeded possessions and are left with just the things you love and use, it’s simple to decide on a logical system for easy storage and retrieval.  These simple systems become automatic to your daily flow and will happily motivate most to maintain their tidy living spaces.

                What is at the center of your own approach to having a sensible, positive workspace?

                Simplicity.  Simple systems, broad filing categories, visual cues, pretty and inspirational mementos, and being very selective of what items I keep.

                Can you describe the impact organizing one’s workspace has on productivity?  On one’s attitude?

                Clutter is distracting.  It produces physical and unconscious chaos.  Not being able to find what you’re looking for is one of the most frustrating experiences for a lot of people — including me!  Clearing clutter and being smart about managing our surroundings is something we can all have control over to vastly improve our day-to-day lives.  A clean, organized, streamlined space is freeing.  It spurs creativity, it saves time, and is truly inspiring.  You feel better and work smarter when you’re proud of your workspace.

                What is the transformation process like?

                It always gets worse before it gets better, which is a big part of why so many people opt not to start.  We’re emptying closets and drawers, clearing our filing systems, going through books, magazines, and mail — most of us have a lot of stuff and my job is to help my clients identify what they want to keep and how to get rid of the rest.

                Why do you think having the support of a professional like you might be critical to achieving success in this area?

                It’s hard to know where and how to get started, and either the task feels so daunting that it never gets done, or people get used to their clutter and have no idea of how much better life could be.  I will get them to where they want to be.

                Having a knowledgeable and trusted partner to work through the emotional steps of clearing clutter and getting rid of items you have become used to having around, even though they interfere with productivity and happiness, assures that the task will get done.

                There are a lot of decisions to make and I love being the support person who gently but steadily moves folks through these hard decisions and changes.  I know what’s ahead for them and it is incredibly rewarding to be helping people move towards a new and much-improved reality.  Overwhelm, frustration, and stress eventually change to excitement, clarity, and joy.

                What do you think people don’t know about the power of working clutter-free but would benefit from knowing?

                Working in a clutter-free space is empowering.  Your thoughts, actions, and time are free to focus on the professional and personal goals most important to you.

                How have you seen the decluttering process affect people in other areas of their lives?

                This is the question that makes me smile the most.  I did not anticipate the incredible ripple effect on lifestyle such as, increased energy, enthusiasm, business growth, and everyday healthy changes with diet, exercise, and sleep.  This is the most rewarding part of my work and why I love what I do.

                How are Procrastination and cluttered lifestyles interrelated?  How can we assist Procrastinators to get a move on in this area?

                We all have messes and it’s rare that someone will make tackling their clutter a priority.  Most of us will procrastinate and until we purge our stuff and learn some simple organizing systems and habits for storing our things, it will always be the dreaded task.  I recommend starting by purging all items that you no longer need or love.

                Please give us a sense of how you work and the kinds of clients you’d be interested in working with.

                I start by listening, asking questions, and listening some more.  Learning the biggest frustrations and problem areas for each client and having a clear picture of how they envision their ideal space is the only way to start.

                I then compile a custom detailed plan identifying what I hear the priorities being and how we can fix them.  My clients must commit to consecutive weekly sessions until the project we’ve defined together is complete.

                I give my clients “homework” between visits (the tasks don’t always get done, which is fine), but I like to provide the opportunity for people to work on the projects they can do independently to keep the organizing process affordable.

                I respect that everyone has their reasons for keeping certain things and I will never tell anyone what to throw away or donate, but I will give my thoughts on why it might be best to let something go.  Once we get going and are in the flow of organizing and seeing results, it becomes very easy for clients to make smart decisions about what to keep.

                I only work with people who are ready for a big change and committed to the task at hand.  I’ve learned over the years that it’s a waste of everyone’s time if there is resistance or hesitation.  Trusting me and the process is the only way to see results.

                Important Information on How to Work with Diane

                If you’ve been telling yourself for years that you want to get organized but haven’t made any progress due to a busy schedule or not knowing how to start, or are feeling stuck and frustrated by the lost time and stress caused by your piles of clutter and paper, here are five ways I can help you get a fresh start and new outlook:

                1.  A Consultation.  Let’s talk about your biggest areas of frustration and your vision for the ideal organized space.  I will compile a custom plan with simple solutions for solving your organizational challenges, including product recommendations and e-mail support.  $125

                2.  Phone Support.  A consultation, custom plan, and four consecutive weekly (30 min.) phone calls with homework assignments.  $225

                3.  In-Person Support.  A consultation, custom plan, and 10 hours of on-site support, over 3 consecutive weeks.  $545

                4.  Monthly Accountability Support and Upkeep.  Fend off the piles by staying current and up-to-date with filing systems and supplies.

                5.  Coming soon… a Mini-Online Paper Organization Course with tips, simple solutions, and product recommendations for living clutter-free at home.

                How to Contact Diane

                I’m Diane Elkins.  I love being the person behind the scenes supporting fun, busy, talented (but overwhelmed) people find simple solutions to their organizational challenges.  I started Positive Workspace in 2011 to share the simple solutions, favorite products, and basic filing systems that helped me enjoy the benefits of a simpler, more organized home and happier days.

                I am committed to researching and finding the best products and resources available for you.  Read my blog for helpful tips and simple strategies for saying goodbye to your clutter and paper piles.  Or contact me to discuss your specific challenges.

                Thank you Diane for giving us so many great details about the brave work you do.  Best wishes to everyone in your own journey to clutter freedom.

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                  What are the Key Elements in Procrastination Coaching?

                  temp_collage_1423151957.254379I have always found it curious that there are so remarkably few resources for those of us who Procrastinate.  Perhaps the biggest reason this is so surprising to me is because so many of us suffer from this same affliction of delay, avoidance, and distress in the face of potential stressors.

                  I decided to share with you the style and approach I use when I work with clients who Procrastinate.  I hope this information is useful to you in helping you to decide whether you would like to seek out Procrastination Coaching for yourself.

                  Procrastination Coaching entails the following key elements:

                  • we will examine your particular style of learning and working
                  • we will explore the methods you have chosen to defend yourself from stress
                  • we will begin to understand the mechanisms by which your Procrastination has lasted longer than you would have liked or would have expected
                  • we will debunk any ideas about needing to be perfect that you may be hanging on to
                  • we will work to ease your fears about opening up to other people about your problems being productive
                  • I will encourage you to use your highest skill set
                  • I will guide you towards operating at your full potential

                  On many levels, Procrastination Coaching is not rocket science.  I use many tried-and-true techniques that you might be able to find taught in any elementary school worth its salt.  However, I do believe the Procrastination Coaching I offer includes not only training in the basic skills of productivity, but also the experience of being understood on deeper levels, the levels which have not been open to public view prior.  Empathy is big here. When we suffer from Procrastination, we suffer from shame and fear that others will misunderstand us.  Sensing that your coach is empathic towards your experience is essential for your coaching relationship to thrive.

                  What Procrastination Coaching is not:

                  • a rigid, formulaic, one-size-fits all program
                  • a zone built for your embarrassment
                  • a quick fix
                  • a place for you to find someone to do your work for you
                  • traditional supportive psychotherapy

                  Procrastination Coaching will require some involvement from you.  You will need to be open to change and to be open to feeling your hushed-away feelings.  The great news in this is, is ALL of is have the dual capacities of making change in our lives and understanding our own feelings.  For me, knowing this and being able to help clients renew their understanding of these facts, is probably the most rewarding of all the pleasures I have in my work.

                  By the way, if you are currently in psychotherapy, I encourage you to discuss your issues with Procrastination openly with your therapist.  Your therapist may be able to help you feel less alone in your journey towards feeling better, and it is important for your therapist to know some of the more private parts of your experience.

                  If you have any questions about Procrastination Coaching, please feel free to contact me by sending a note via my website at www.procrastinationcoach.com.  I’d be happy to help. Best wishes to you.

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                    8 Things that are Standing in the Way of Lasting Change

                    I’m really pleased to introduce this guest post by my new friend and kindred spirit, Susaye Rattigan.  I discovered her ultra-informative post on LifeHack — 25 Incredibly Useful Websites Every Entrepreneur Should Bookmark – and then found another post by her on TinyBuddha — 3 Keys to Jumpstarting Your Life If You’ve Been Living on Hold – which also was easy for me to connect to.  I decided to contact her to see if we would be sympatico and well, here you see the proof that we are.  Susaye exudes confidence and instills it in others — she’s a dynamo.  Enjoy reading her wise reflections on making important changes in our lives. 

                    Sometimes our best efforts at changing our lives are just not enough. We long for lasting change — not the happy kind that manifests but doesn’t stay. We beat up on ourselves and further break our own spirits when we decide to change but feel like a failure when we don’t.

                    And sometimes it is true that we haven’t tried as hard as we could, but other times we were fully committed and really intended to be different. As we think about changing again, our past failures can dampen our spirits and make changing a brutal experience. As the new season of change rolls around, it is important to understand some of the things that can sabotage change so we can adjust our sails in preparation for the next try.

                     8 Things that Get in the Way of Lasting Change

                    1. We hold unreasonable expectations.  We enter the path to change as we would a changing room, expecting that we should easily shed the habits that we have nurtured over the years.  We forget that cultivating anything takes time.  While it is important to hold a vision of our desired change in our minds, embracing the fact that it is a journey and not just a destination is one way to help manage our expectations.

                    2.  We start without putting a simple, actionable plan in place.  Imagine changing your life as a trip to an exotic location.  Normally, you wouldn’t just show up at the airport and board any plane hoping to get there; itineraries would have been planned, tickets would have been purchased, accommodations would have been arranged.

                    When we announce to ourselves our desire to change with no plan or a complex plan we inadvertently set ourselves up for failure.

                    We can make it easier for ourselves to say “yes” to our changes and “no” to our habits by starting with a tiny shift in our old habits, then another once we’ve mastered the first.  The Japanese have a term for this — Kaizen, continuous, never-ending improvement. Embrace it.

                    3.  We go it alone.  Two is always better than one when it comes to support.  Often we fall down on our journey because we have decided to travel by ourselves or to keep our commitment a secret.  Making this choice allows us to renege and affirms our fear of failing.  Know that any step towards lasting change is a success and sharing it does not make your effort any less valuable.

                    4.  We don’t plan for failure.  No one wants to struggle with change, but everyone does. Ignoring the fact that sometimes we might fail can make you feel like a complete failure when it happens.  Our best recourse is to expect stumbling and to brush ourselves off on our way up.  Conceptualizing change as continuous will help to counter this.  Failure happens.  Success happens.  Keep going in the face of either.

                    5.  We start out too hard or fast and burn out.  Have you heard the saying “slow and steady wins the race?”  I’ve found this true in my life; I’ve gotten so excited about changing and rushed headfirst into it without doing the necessary emotional, psychological and physical preparations to ensure success.  After racing out of the gate, I would end up tired and taking a break. This break would extend indefinitely because I was out of steam and motivation.  A more effective strategy is building momentum, one step at a time.

                    6.  We are not consistent.  We start and then stop or we stop for a few days and hope to restart.  We sabotage our own efforts when we are inconsistent.  Not only does being inconsistent mess with our motivation but it makes the habit more difficult to get rid of. Consistency helps little habits grow into big change.

                    7.  We compare ourselves to others.  We think our change should look exactly like someone else’s and when we don’t have the same results we quit.  Know that everyone’s path is different, as is each person’s plan.  While we can hold another’s progress as motivation, we cannot replicate their path.  Learn from them and be your own competition.

                    8.  We expect change to be easy and hang our self-esteem on our results.  Most people are reluctant to try to change because not changing fast enough is held as a measure of our worth as humans.  Know that acknowledging our need for change and beginning are as important as changing. The process of changing counts; it is often rich with lessons that far outweigh the goal. Things often look easier than they are and change is not the exception.  Lasting change takes time, effort and willpower and is cemented with each choice we make to continue despite the odds.

                    So if you’ve decided to change, go for it! Taking the first step means you’re already winning!

                    SusayeRattiganSusaye Rattigan is a Mother, Clinical Psychologist and Life Balance Coach for women who want to create a balanced life that they love. You can find her at [www.shesinspired.net] feeding her obsession with motivating and empowering women to create, live and love their lives, while maintaining their sanity. She lives in Jamaica, West Indies with her partner and daughter. She can also be found on Facebook [www.facebook.com/Susaye.Rattigan1] and Twitter [www.twitter.com/msratti].

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