Who Are You Waiting For?

happy days

I’ve been having some difficulty getting my act together regarding this blog lately.  I haven’t been posting consistently, and some days it feels like the well has run dry.

What I’ve realized in thinking about this current situation is that running a blog is kind of like being in therapy.  Sooner or later, your issues are going to come out.  But, the only way you’re going to be able to look at those issues in a meaningful way is if you stay in.

What I’ve learned through running this blog and struggling to make it what I would like it to be is:

  • Blogging is a tremendous opportunity to reach other people and to explore one’s own voice.
  • Blogging can reinforce some of the beauty of daily living.
  • Blogging can make one more mindful.
  • There is no sure-fire way to do a blog despite countless blog posts written to that effect.

In fact, the only way to do a blog is to do the work.

Who Am I Waiting For?

Part of my recent struggle with posting consistently is I’ve been mired in my own thoughts about what the blog posts are supposed to look like.  What theme should I follow?  What images should I post?  Should I really devote my time to the blog?  The questions go on and on.

But the struggle isn’t just me versus me.  I know through working with my patients over the years, that for me and most others, there’s always something else looming.  There’s always the fear of the other person.  That other person, whether they be real or just an internalized voice, holds the key to our ability to act.

That other person makes us feel:

  • afraid to be creative
  • afraid to be original
  • afraid to move forward
  • afraid to commit to time being used
  • afraid to do things others wouldn’t do
  • afraid of our own capacity to get things done

Believe me, if I could design or devise a one-stop shop place to cure the other person syndrome I would.  It would be my life’s work, I’m sure.  In many ways it is my professional work, as I spend my days talking with patients to help them move past that other person in their head or in their life.

The reason this is not a one-stop fixer-upper situation is because we are complex, intelligent, and anxious beings.  We have come to our situations of delay and distress honestly.  Over the years we have convinced ourselves that stressing out over our lives and work makes everything better in the end.  And because doing work is generally inherently a hard thing to do, we get ourselves in long patterns of delay without purpose, of worry without productivity.

I’m Ready to Go

Although I know I can’t offer a one-stop shop, I am now prepared to move forward with an idea I’ve had in my mind for quite a long time.  I have long dreamt of finding a way to gather people suffering from chronic procrastination together.  My blog and the Internet and your own efforts to find solutions for yourself now make it possible for me to do so.

I will be using the month of October to run my first Procrastination Coach Workout Group. The group will be multi-faceted in purpose and design.

The purpose:  To help members gain a foothold over their Procrastination.  There will be no set expectations for how members choose to do so.  The Workout Group will provide a forum and arena for experimentation and consideration of what needs to be addressed and worked through.

The design:  During the month of October, members will receive written lessons each week covering the topics of communication, time management, control and perfectionism, and tools for maintaining progress.  There will also be a live webinar with me so I may answer your questions and do some coaching.  Members also have the option of joining a “secret” and confidential Facebook group open only to Workout Group members.  My aim is to provide useful and easily implemented information for you.  My intent is to do that without wasting your time and using the most efficient methods I know how.

The cost:  $10 for the month of October

Why this is worth your valuable time and money:

  1. Spending some time to evaluate the reasons you are stuck will pay off in time, flexibility, and lowered anxiety.
  2. Membership in this Workout Group will connect you with peers who are experiencing problems similar to yours.  The Workout Group will facilitate open communication and supportive conversation which I firmly believe will aid you in your effort to recover from chronic Procrastination.
  3. You will gain information and tools relevant to your personal needs.
  4. You will gain direct access to lessons and coaching with me during the Workout Group experience.

Click the Join Now button below to register for the October Workout Group:

I’m really excited about this new venture.  My decision to run with this idea of announcing the Workout Group has renewed my blogging spirit.  I hope you’ll join me and others who are interested in gaining momentum in their lives in the Workout Group.  Who are you waiting for anyway?

Please feel free to reply to me if you have questions about whether the Workout Group will be right for you.  I look forward to working with you soon.

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5 Back-to-School Productivity Apps for You to Consider

In my constant quest for ways to be more efficient, I’ve tried out my fair share of apps and programs.  Below are a few I thought might be helpful if you are on your way back to school or looking for new ways to stay focused and connected.

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1. Drafts — This app works well for me because it saves me a few seconds every time I have to send a note to someone, to schedule an appointment, or to log a reminder to myself. This app allows me to go to the Drafts icon to start and to compose each type of entry, and then, and only then, do I decide what the best destination for that entry is. Drafts provides the entire list of choices of e-mail, text, reminders list, print and other send-to options.  I choose one from the list and send or I can leave what I’ve written in draft form.

I’ve just recently started using Drafts, but I think it’s fantastic.  The app helps me to stay focused on what I am trying to get done first, so I don’t get lost in a sea of other app icons (#wordswithfriendsblackhole) before I get my message written.  I think it’s helping to preserve my sanity, which is no small thing.

2. Gingko — I am also new to this web app, but I am already well-enamored of it.  Gingko helps writers keep a handle on what they are doing by allowing them to see how their writing is taking shape as they are writing.

No more one line by one line writing for me.  With Gingko now I can see the entire scope of what I am planning to write.  Gingko encourages you to type your thoughts in a “tree” format, where the root of the tree (your main idea) is on the left side of the screen, and the branches (your supporting ideas) extend out from the root towards the right side of the screen. Gingko even offers suggestions for how you might want to structure particular types of writing.  With my basic ideas mapped out in front of me in the tree format, I can pick and choose where I want to continue writing. One moment I’m expounding on the main idea, the next I’m hopping over to add a small detail to another section.  Shazam.

3. Lift — I heard about the Lift app through the blog of Pat Flynn who had heard of it from Tim Ferriss.  Knowing how productive both gentlemen have been, I was intrigued and downloaded the Lift app.  Though I was interested, my hopes were not high because I have tried other habit tracking apps and have just been too bored or unmotivated to keep up with the checking and the logging in processes.

I think the Lift app has been working fairly well as a gentle, friendly reminder of the self-improvement goals I set when I first started using the app.  When I actually succeed at abiding by one of my goals, I simply press the screen to indicate that, and am rewarded by praise and phone fireworks.  It’s cute and just fun enough to keep me mindful of the goals I’ve set.  By the way, the Lift app has a community of goal seekers too, so if you’re community-minded, you can also log in your goals and share your progress with others who share the same goals as you.  Try to avoid checking your e-mail before breakfast for a few days with the help of Lift.  I dare you.

4. Twitter — Okay, I am pretty sure this is not an “app,” but more like a phenomenon at this point.  I wrote about my love for Twitter a while back, but since I wrote that post, I’ve seen how Twitter has been more prominent in news circles, sports communities, and the like.  I recommend (as appropriate) my patients try Twitter as it’s an easy way to connect with the information communities and sources YOU want to be connected to.  And I’m mentioning Twitter here because I think all students can benefit from a hip research tool like this.  If you haven’t tried it before, get yourself a Twitter handle and send me a direct message (by starting your tweet with @ChristineLiPhD) through my Twitter handle @ChristineLiPhD and I will tweet you back to get you started.

5. Google Drive — Again, not technically an app, and probably something you may already be using.  I have been using Google Drive a lot, most recently to co-author the book Stepping Into College with my colleague Diane Elkins who lives in North Carolina.  Using Google Drive, we were seamlessly able to write our own parts of the book and then to collaborate in the editing, publishing, and marketing processes.  Google Drive is very user friendly and has my dream feature — auto-save.  Use it to start making plans for a new on-campus club, future business, or book!

I hope you find these apps as useful as I have.  Consider getting a copy of Stepping Into College too if you are just entering college now.  It contains loads of advice on how to make the early months of your freshman year more manageable and how to use them to ensure your success in the rest of your school years.  Please also keep a look out for a new offering I am putting together for Procrastination Coach readers for the month of October.  Announcement coming soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Resources: Twitter in My Pocket

TwitterI have hesitated to post about using Twitter because I am very new to the Twitter scene and because I am pretty sure Twitter can be used as a method of Procrastinating, rather than a resource for avoiding Procrastination.  That said, I am pushing forward with the post because Twitter is my new favorite thing.

I, of course, Procrastinated on starting Twitter because in my very funny circle of acquaintances, no one uses Twitter.  Yep.  I’m in that crowd.  Then, I started blogging, and well that crowd uses Twitter.  I, of course, still Procrastinated on starting Twitter because I couldn’t fathom how to communicate in the small, alien language of 140 characters.  But, I was increasingly curious and because of the kind mentions (called “retweets”) from my blogging guru Courtney Carver, I was in.  I made the initial Twitter mistake of tweeting an empty message by accident and was also struck by the fear of making a social gaffe while tweeting.  Then I realized what I typically realize — nobody cares about these things and I should keep moving.  I also found myself intrigued.

What I quickly learned after a bit more tweeting is that Twitter is a tremendous resource.  It is:

  • immensely personal as you choose whom to follow and whom to hear from
  • immensely communal as you connect with others when you follow them and when they follow you
  • immensely useful as a way to get recent, relevant information curated by people you look to for that information
  • immensely easy on your time
  • immensely powerful as a learning tool

Here’s a list of some articles that may help you get comfortable using Twitter:

Here are some ideas for what to do next:

  • Sign up and send me a tweet @ChristineLiPhd and I will get back to you to help you get started.
  • Follow me on Twitter (@ChristineLiPhd).  It’s great each time you get a notification of a new follower.  I can’t explain it, but you will understand what I mean when you join up.  You will be the first to know about my newest posts.  You will also get relevant, useful information about fighting Procrastination as I come across it via Twitter.
  • Follow your friends and family on Twitter.
  • Explore people and topics you are interested in.  My recent fascination with Imagine Dragons led me to look them up on Twitter (@ImagineDragons), just to peek at what people were saying about them.  I discovered I am their oldest fan, but not their loudest.
  • Keep up with different companies you might want a job with by following the company on Twitter.  Ear to the ground, people.
  • Get inspiration from authors/authorities/bloggers you admire when you are feeling unsure of how to spark your own writing.
  • Download the Pocket app to keep articles you’d like to read later in your “pocket” and to make sure you don’t use Twitter as a way to distract you from what you want to do.

I am sure you will find ways of engaging with Twitter that are useful to you specifically.  Be creative.  Have fun.  Join in the conversation.  Remember your goofs will soon be forgotten.  See you there.

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How Simplicity Leads to Well-Being

Live Simply.  Easy for you to say.  It seems a great irony to me that living simply needs to be the more intentional way of living these days.  It is an active process of removing unnecessary items and matters from your life, and then having more room for what you really want in life.  This post was a bit tricky for me to write as I am only part-way through my own windy path towards leading a simpler life.  In my own life, I have learned to work with the clothing I use and need and to get rid of the rest.  I have learned to say “yes” more often to exercise and rest and to say “no” more often to work or activities I do not enjoy.  I am working on being more aware of what is happening around me at the moment and so, I find myself somewhat less worried about what will happen in the future.  What I have found so far is living more simply leads to:

  • greater ease of movement
  • greater concentration
  • less stress
  • a healthier relationship with money
  • making better choices for myself
  • fewer accidents, like forgetting to pay bills or tripping over clutter
  • less frustration
  • more excitement and joy

I believe everything in the list above is a factor in fighting Procrastination.  This makes plain sense to me as Procrastinators tend to have:

  • too much on their plate
  • too much to think about
  • too much stuff to distract them, e.g. clutter to “organize”
  • a problematic relationship with money and spending
  • few ideas for changing their behaviors because they feel stuck and overwhelmed
  • frequent accidents, like burned breakfasts (cue live blogging) and overdue bills
  • lots of frustration
  • little excitement or joy

If you are not already on a path of simplifying your life, here are a few relatively easy-to-implement suggestions for starting:

Read Be More With Less posts.  Courtney Carver has walked the walk and she now talks the talk.  A great and wise guide towards finding the richness in life, the kind that is not available in shopping malls.

Join her Project 333 movement.  Members of Project 333 choose to dress with 33 items of clothing for 3 months.  Start paying attention to matters in your life that are more important than what you are wearing.

Avoid shopping for a month.  This may not sound easy.  This technique is amazing however at rescuing time from the mall, market, or the web.  You’ll get the benefits right away.  When you don’t spend your time shopping, you get to have your time back.  Your bank account and wallet will be fatter at the end of the month too.  And you won’t have to do any work for that payday.

Say “no” to new obligations for one month.  If you have been prone to offering yourself for new projects, both yours and those of others, stop.  Stop until you have your schedule under your own control and design.  You will feel better in all that you do.

Think of small ways to simplify.  For instance, when you return e-mails, return them quickly and with one-line responses.  Use polite, direct language and the job is done.  Your e-mail burden will feel much less, and again, you will have saved yourself a lot of time over the course of a few days.

Move away from double-booking yourself.  Use a calendar or planner as your friend.  Your really close friend who would never let you make yourself nuts running from one place to the next without a plan or a break.  Use each available time slot for one purpose.  Rest, exercise, eating, sleeping, fun, and work.  Allow yourself room to breathe in each scheduled event and between events too.

Start decluttering.  I say “start” because I know you will likely have more than one month’s clutter to take care of.  Try not to flinch or freak out about having one more thing to do here because this tip is a winner.  It’s another tip that has immediate and long-lasting effects and payoffs.  Scan the room you are in right now (as long as it’s your own room) and figure out what needs to go.  Broken things, unneeded things, unused things.  Any thing you don’t love, use, or need can go.  And when those things go, so do your feelings of being stagnant and stuck.

You can start today on this journey of finding what it means for you to live more simply.  It is a different trip for each of us, but one that will always offer great sights and revelations.

Please share stories of your own movements towards living more simply here.  If you haven’t started yet and have questions as to how to begin, share those here too.

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Techniques to Try: Use the Emergent Task Planner

photo (7)It is amazing what a single sheet of paper can do. When I tell my patients to download the free version of the Emergent Task Planner, many don’t bother, thinking, perhaps that this is just another task to fall behind on or to forget. Those who listen and use the Emergent Task Planner send me excited messages of thanks.

So — What is the Emergent Task Planner?

The Emergent Task Planner is a well-designed, single-sheet document, created by the designer David Seah of The Printable CEO. The sheet is designed with time management and time consciousness in mind. The page is divided into different sections: one column where you can fill in your appointments and time-locked duties; one block where you can articulate your most important tasks for the day; and another area for notes and to-do items. On a single page, you have a tool for taking stock of your priorities, tasks, and time allotment. For me, these factors elevate the Emergent Task Planner above the standard dead-weight To Do sheet.

How I use the Emergent Task Planner

I don’t use the Emergent Task Planner sheets daily. However, I do turn to them first on days where I feel I have either too much to do or no energy or motivation to tackle even the smallest task. Once I pull out a sheet of the Emergent Task Planner, I feel I am committing to action, and that alone is helpful to get me going. I don’t use the time bubbles (little ovals to help mark the time you have used) David Seah includes in the Emergent Task Planner, perhaps because I tend not to be detail-oriented. I know that other people find the time bubbles useful. Invariably, after using a sheet, I get a lot accomplished. The one or two items that remain on my list get carried over to the next day or two on the same increasingly-more-crumpled sheet. Have fun with this new planning and action tool. Then send David Seah a note of thanks and consider purchasing whole pads of the Emergent Task Planner here. I have ordered a few for myself over the years and believe they are well worth the cost. Enjoy!

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