The Simple 5-Step Plan to Avoid Distractions

Avoid distractions with these 5 simple stepsWe live in the era of distractions.  There is no doubt about this.

The number of distractions we face each day seems endless. When we get mired in the larger web of distractions, including the internet, busywork, errands, e-mail, and shopping, we can lose sight of the activities, people, and actions that will bring us happiness, satisfaction, and contentment. We get sucked into short-term distractions and quickly forget what really makes us feel good.

What is the cost of being overly distracted?  The costs of giving in to distractions are many.  We may lose:

  • our sense of self-efficacy
  • our free time
  • our sleep
  • our money (think shopping sites)
  • our safety while driving
  • our connectedness with others, including our children and our friends
  • our way (literally)
  • our time to plan our projects mindfully
  • our time away from various digital devices
  • our organized self (because we don’t have time to put things where they belong)
  • our grade point averages
  • our learning opportunities
  • our time to exercise
  • our time to create new things and experiences
  • our sense of calm
  • our time to be relaxed

What keeps us in a distracted mode? It seems there is more pulling us away from our work and focus than pulling us towards it. We can be stuck in distraction zone because:

  • we don’t feel confident about moving forward
  • we are too tired to concentrate well
  • we are afraid of missing out
  • we think we have to cover all of our bases all of the time
  • we have never been very good at maintaining good focus
  • we are addicted to the streams of information that social media and services like Netflix provide
  • we have difficulty stopping ourselves once we start something
  • we have become accustomed to not getting things done efficiently, so we don’t clearly see the time wasted when we’re distracted

If you’re currently struggling to separate from social media, clutter, minor matters, or other distractions, I have a few suggestions for you to consider.  If you implement these 5 simple steps on a consistent basis, your difficulties should start to wane.

The Simple 5-Step Plan to Avoid Distractions

1.  Make sure you have one priority focus.

Get real with why you are where you are.  If you are a student, remind yourself of your purpose.  If you are an employee, remind yourself of your aim at work.  If you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer, decide how you want to maximize your productivity.  I have found this to be a particularly hard trick to master, as I like to flit and float among several different ideas and projects all at once. When I’m honest with myself, I know I get my most meaningful work done when I know what my priority goal is.

2.  Write your plan down.  

There is something magical that happens when you write things down.  Use that magic to connect with your purpose, to focus your attention, and to get the distracting, unformed thoughts out of your head and onto paper.  Writing your plans down will do you a world of good.

3.  Be brave in the face of your lack of understanding.

So often, we become stymied by what we don’t know.  Instead of freaking out about not knowing what to do, decide to see the moment as just one part of the entire experience of getting something done. When we accept that there will be gaps in what we know, we will be able to stay the course better while working.  We can steel ourselves against the sudden impulse to flee the discomfort of not knowing what we are doing.

4.  Separate work from play/distraction.

Being able to separate work from play is one of the great keys to beating Procrastination.

When we allow distractions like Facebook into our workspace, we instantly mix work and play.  When we do this, both work and play get diluted.  We no longer get the bang out of our work, and we no longer get the pure joy out of our play.  And we find ourselves adrift in the distractibility zone.

Practice isolating work from play, even if the work and play times are very brief.  Work single-mindedly for 15 minutes.  Play for ten minutes.  Rotate these periods if you like. Expand them as you like.  But don’t mix them together.  Train yourself to resist being distracted.

5.  Have a sense of gratitude for your work.

Although the distractions these days tend to be enjoyable, light-hearted, or connecting us with friends and family, deep down inside we are aware that our greatest feelings of satisfaction come when our intentions match our behaviors.  When we let ourselves drift away from our focus, we lose control of our sense of purpose and our sense of agency.

Let’s get a handle on the distractions in our lives.

There is no need to eliminate distractions.  We need them to pass the day, to make things light, and to enjoy ourselves when things get rough or stressful.  That said, many of us natural-born Procrastinators will benefit from sharpening our ability to focus and to manage distractions more effectively.  Find the clearest, cleanest, most efficient way to move through the day.  The payoffs will be worth the effort.

Related:  The 30/30 App: A Free Tool to Boost Your Focus and Productivity7 Tips to Help You Become a Master Scheduler

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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.

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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!

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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]

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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 to stop your 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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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.
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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.

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Why Do Procrastinators Suffer?

Let's not suffer,shall we-I hesitated to use the word “suffer” in the title for fear of turning everyone who might read this post away.

However, I think it is important for me to address ALL issues relevant to Procrastinators and not just the cute ones.

In my experience, Procrastinators, myself included, associate a feeling of suffering with doing work.  The project due on Friday won’t be done until we face the ugly feelings that work can bring:

  • uncertainty
  • fear
  • frustration
  • feeling unprepared
  • feeling unknowledgeable
  • feeling unready

It makes sense that we would begin to associate work with dread and dread with work. We are too smart to walk towards activities that cause us to feel dread, and so we walk away.  Or if you are like me, you run away as fast as you can.

That, my dear friends, is where the suffering comes in.  We start out feeling relieved, but then find ourselves going in two different directions at once — thinking about the work we left behind while trying to do something else going forward.  The longer we stay away from our work, the more vulnerable we are to self-attacking thoughts, feelings of embarrassment, and lots of other negative experiences.  We turn away from those around us, and suffer privately, and seemingly constantly.

Let’s not suffer anymore, shall we?

Take a look at your own emotional signals.  Are they firing like crazy when you think about doing work?  Are you in emotional overdrive every time you walk into your office or drive to work or open your notebook?

There really is no need to be in emotional chaos just because you have work to do.  You can focus and be productive and make changes without feeling burdened.

Work does require the work feeling, a feeling that tends to be heavier than the kind which comes when we are headed to get ice cream.  But we need to learn to tolerate that initial rush of frustration, fear, or dread.  It’s just your body gearing up.  You don’t run out of your car at the sound of the engine revving up, even though it’s a loud noise.  When we run away from our cars, it becomes extremely difficult to drive.  Don’t run away the next time you need to start up your work.  Try it today.  Figure out your destination and start heading there.

Nobody wants you to suffer.  Especially me.  Now go and have yourself a great day.

News to Share:

I recently started the Procrastination Coach Facebook Group.  A small group of people interested in working towards greater calm and productivity and I are co-figuring out how the group will grow and feel.  If you are interested in being a pioneer member, please send me a request to join here.

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One Quirky Thing about Procrastinators

2016 Goals

I have been wanting to write this post for years.

You see, every time I meet a Procrastinator in my office (or on a coaching call), I spend the first session getting to know my new client by interviewing them about their personal history and their current difficulties.  Oftentimes, before the end of the first session, I will assist the client to design something they can accomplish before we meet again in a week.  I take care not to overwhelm with large assignments or daunting tasks.  This is just a get-to-know-you kind of exercise.

What happens in the next session is something that never fails to fascinate me.

Almost invariably, the client will come in, looking and sounding dejected.  I will listen to the client admit to not getting the task accomplished and I will see how badly the client feels to be in this position.

Here’s what’s so fascinating though.

Almost invariably, I will listen more closely for the real story. What is the real story?  The real story is the client benefited from disclosing their history and current problems to someone else.  The story continues that the client goes home, back to real life, and does something very different: the client makes a change away from Procrastination.  Most new clients actually do a good amount of the challenge that was assigned to them in the first session.  But the interesting thing is, they fail to see their progress as progress. Even though they made real progress, they do not see or report it as such.

So here are the takeaways I’ve learned:

Procrastinators are mired in a negative way of looking at themselves and use negatively-tinged language to describe what they have and have not done.  This negative outlook causes Procrastinators to feel down persistently.  Procrastinators, over time, become unable to break the chain of sadness that comes with not moving forward and then find themselves completely stuck.

And here’s the lesson I give back to my clients:

I get to point out the reality that they cannot refute — they are fully capable of changing their behaviors as they please, but only if they realize how powerful they themselves really are.  I get to be a kind of translator for their experience.  I get to be excited for them.

And here’s the lesson for you, Dear Reader:

It is not important the size of the change that you are wanting to make, but it is very important that you take steps to make a change and to acknowledge it for what it represents.  You may need someone else’s help in this change process, but that is okay. You will be able to manage that process too.  You may need to write down the steps you take.  That is okay too.  This is the exact time of year to get a fresh notebook to track your growth and change.

Whatever you need to do, go do it.  I know you are capable of making that real story unfold.

Happy New Year Friends and thank you for continuing to follow my trail of thought crumbs here at Procrastination Coach.  I’m looking forward to good times with you this year.

News to Share:

I’ve decided to start a Facebook community for everyone interested in recovering from Procrastination.  I’m excited about this opportunity to get to know you better and to provide a space for you to get to know each other too.  If you are interested in joining, please go to The Procrastination Coach Facebook Group.  

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8 End-of-Year Maneuvers for Procrastinators

FLOURISH

I don’t know about you, but the end of the year has me cleaning.  As in wiping, dusting, tossing, and fixing up my surroundings at home and at work.  It’s a way to admit to myself that I get a bit stymied by the thought of the year ending.  It’s also a way to keep myself from living with dirt and grime #ewwww.

Thinking that I might not be the only person on the planet who gets twerked up at the end of the year, I thought I would lend you a hand.  I’ve already got a handwritten manifesto of how I’m going to declutter three rooms in my house, so I’m good.  Now here’s looking at you…

8 End-of-Year Maneuvers for Procrastinators

1.  Connect with someone you love and have been meaning to reach out to.  Someone who has recently experienced loss?  Someone who moved away?  A teacher who was fantastic?  A newspaper deliverer, bus driver, or post office person? Your barista guy or gal?

2.  Say no to excess stuff, meetings, and projects.  There will be time in the future for more.  For now, take advantage of having the opportunity to create a schedule with less. Less of everything.  It will be okay.

3.  Dump anything unnecessary from your life.  If it isn’t working for you, leave it.  If it blocks or drains your energy, say “Goodbye.”  Toss the clutter and feel lighter and refreshed immediately.

4.  Do one thing that promotes your health.  Make it a habit to floss daily.  Eat some more vegetables each day.  Get outside more.  I tell you, the app on my phone that tracks my steps during the day may have already added another year to my life.

5.  Set something up to look forward to.  I used to be terrible at this, and I still have much room to improve in this area.  It’s the planning, people.  Figure out a day, a long weekend, a vacation week coming up that you’d like to plan out.  Do a quick Google search for some ideas, discuss options with your loved ones, and schedule it.  Go ahead and lock it down. Enjoy the good feelings that come with knowing fun lies ahead, long before the actual date comes around.

6.  Complete something you have been procrastinating on by the end of the year. Let someone else know about your plans, before and after they are completed. Don’t walk into 2016 with extra baggage.  Get done what needs to get done. You still have a number of days left.  You can do it.  Do a little piece of it each day and log your progress. Make the end of this year your absolute deadline.  Why?  If you ask me, I wouldn’t say because the New Year is a big deal.  It’s not.  But your Procrastination is, and you can take steps to get rid of it today.

7.  Pick a word to guide you in the upcoming year.  My word is FLOURISH.  It’s a word that came to me when I was thinking of words to guide my next year.  The dictionary definition makes the word sound awesome.  Flourishing involves 1) growing luxuriantly, 2) achieving success, 3) being in a state of activity or production, and 4) to reach a height of development or influence.  Well, why the hell not?  I just wish my word for my 2016 year didn’t have FLOUR in it #glutenfreegirl.

8.  Design a vision board for what you are hoping to accomplish and to receive in 2016.  Please don’t get nervous about this one.  You don’t have to be creative to get this task done.  Take a moment to envision what you would like for yourself next year. Health? Wealth?  Ease?  Friendship?  Productivity?  Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to keep your eyes on your goal.  I read something this morning that indicates we do all sorts of things, like exercise, to get to our intended goals.  Why not expand this exercise to encompass our larger aims?  It’s not silly at all.  It’s setting our intentions.  Write and doodle your goals down, and then keep that vision board posted near your workspace.  If you’d like inspiration for your vision board, check out Diane Bleck’s tutorial here.

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