What Can Minimalism Offer to Procrastinators?

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

 

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

My plan today is:

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

My own relationship with Minimalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need I say more????

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Minimalists and Me

What does this mean for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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7 Ways to Get More Comfortable Taking More Risks

Procrastination is a very elaborate way to prevent ourselves from taking risks.  We get trapped in our fearful thinking.  We obsess about everything that could go wrong and everything that already is wrong.  We imagine how humiliated we might end up feeling. We decide we aren’t prepared enough, strong enough, or smart enough to even think of trying something that’s new or important.  Even if that new or important action might change our lives for the better.

Because Procrastination can be so dangerous to our well-being in this way, I decided to suggest ways to encourage you to take more risks.  Here are some of the ideas I have:

1.  Stress less.  Focus more.  Since our negative, catastrophic thinking tends to keep us from moving forward, let’s not focus on those thoughts.  Let’s instead turn them right around.  Let’s think about what could go right.  Let’s think about how much freer we will feel.  Let’s think about crossing lots of things off that life’s to do list.  Let’s imagine the sky is the limit, because it really is.  Once we have unburdened ourselves of that heavy, negative, pessimistic thinking, we actually will gain the advantage of having greater focus when we do take action, and that will help us to keep moving in a forward direction.

2.  Choose your actions based on how much impact they can have.  Instead of proceeding inch by inch, envision how you might arrange your behaviors so they have larger impact.  As a simple example, instead of decluttering one magazine issue at a time, decide to toss all the back issues and consider cancelling the subscription to the magazine so you don’t have to deal with unread clutter of this kind ever again.  Small actions take energy just as big actions do, so I figure it’s better to go big if you are going to go at all.

3.  Revolutionize things.  If your past behaviors have not brought you to a happy place, change the way you do things.  Consider changing the entire process.  If you think about it, there are really almost no rules you really have to abide by.  As I was taught when I was in training to become a psychologist, you need to show up on time, pay on time, and not do anything violent.  I figure those are pretty good life rules.  Everything else is up to you to design.  Again, if it’s not working, fix it.  You can do this.

4.  Accept that you are in charge.  Procrastination grows when we act in passive ways. Procrastination is like mold.  If you don’t take care of it, it just takes over.  The next time you have to make a decision, be mindful of whether you are acting with an active mindset or a passive one and then act accordingly.  Don’t live with the mold.

5.  Complete every loop that you are in, no matter how painful, awkward, or difficult.  For so many of us, just finishing something is the equivalent of taking a risk.  So figure out what is waiting for you, and take care of that business.  Face your fears, face your frustrations too.  And by the way, don’t think that completing loops always means extra work.  See if there are open loops in your life that you can close by letting go of them, by deciding that these loops are not worth your time and attention any more.

6.  Don’t fuss and perfect things anymore.  This category too is the equivalent of taking a risk for many of us.  We get stymied when we feel we can’t release our grip on work that might be less than perfect.  We end up feeling like we are suffocating from the pressure of needing to have everything be just so.  What’s the answer to this type of stress?  Catch and release.  Catch and release.  Catch and release.

7.  Loosen up and let other people in.  When we stress too much about how we are or are not doing things, we forget how important the people in our lives are to us.  Since we feel too strung out to have fun, we decide we can’t have fun.  Since we feel behind in every area, we decide we don’t deserve to have happy, well-working relationships.  That is just hogwash, so connect with someone you need to connect with today.  Life’s greatest rewards come when we allow ourselves to take good risks in our relationships.

Let me know what risks you’re up for taking. Once you get in the habit of moving forward consistently, the things that used to feel like risks will begin to feel like interesting opportunities instead.  I’m with you all the way.

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On Strengthening Your Capacity to Trust

Image

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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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?

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 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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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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Step of the Day: Partner with Someone

Partner with SomeoneOne of my personal specialties is pretending I don’t have real problems with Procrastination.  One of my oldest tricks in getting people to believe this and in actually getting some work done is partnering with a friend or colleague (or total stranger) in order to get stuff done.

Step of the Day: Partner with Someone

The tremendous variety of benefits of finding other people to work with include:

  • reducing your own fear
  • sharing the actual workload
  • learning new writing and working techniques from your partner
  • being more inclined to meet your deadline
  • getting support for the work
  • being able to brainstorm together for higher-quality ideas
  • doing the work in a faster amount of time

I think we often mistakenly believe our work is ours and ours alone. It’s as if once we receive an assignment, we feel we have to hole up somewhere without social contact until we’re done.  We worry if we ask for a partner to help us do the work, somehow our work will be considered less than good, and that would of course be disastrous #tongueincheek.

If you are still hemming and hawing, here’s a kickstarter list of areas in your life in which you might benefit from finding a partner:

  • decluttering
  • studying
  • redecorating
  • exercising
  • writing
  • project planning
  • doing chores
  • envisioning a new book

Try to see where you might find a way to ease your work burden today, by finding someone to help you make it through to the end of your project, task, or assignment.

Remember:

  • great authors have great editors
  • great therapists have great supervisors
  • great singers have great coaches
  • great athletes have great trainers
  • great people have dogs #justsaying

Some of my own best work has been through collaboration with others.  Some of my best friendships have been forged in the fire of hard work.  Some of the work partnerships I have gotten into have enabled me to triple my productivity.  Don’t be shy about it and don’t delay — find a partner today!

If there are areas you would like more help with, please feel free to let me know by commenting here.

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Are You Worried about Fitting In?

Maya Angelou Amazing QuoteRecently I’ve come to think Procrastinators may be overly conscious about fitting in.  For example, we may be more likely to think…

Is it good enough?

rather than

Does it stand out?

We may be more likely to worry…

Does it sound right?

instead of asking

Have I said what I meant to?

The desire to fit in or to conform may be a natural, instinctual need we work to fulfill. Marketing, ads, and anyone in the business of convincing you to do something (even your parents, ahem), play to your “pain points” (this is an actual term in marketing circles). They remind you you ache to conform and then you feel the pressing need to buy or to do something to feel like those you’re seeking to be like.  This is relevant for Procrastinators who are often caught in a limbo, in-between state of functioning, caught in a cycle questioning the worthiness of their work or of what they are producing.

Will I fit in once I let go of my work or WILL I BE REJECTED?

We may not be aware of our fear of interpersonal rejection.  We just thought the grammar wasn’t checked closely enough, right??

I invite you to take a closer look at your motivations for staying stuck.  What is really happening when you Procrastinate?

Are you having trouble with your actual work or your fear?

Are there people you may be worried about satisfying or impressing?  Is impressing others more important to you than doing your best work?

Are you changing your work in ways you don’t like in order to minimize your fears?

Try to shift your mindset to one where you occupy a truly open workspace where your work is received for what it is, without critique or comparison to others’ work.  It might feel like mental contortion for a while, but trust me, you’ll get there.  When you do, evaluate — How do I feel about releasing my work now?

Join me as I try to be a bit weird on Facebook.  One of my ideas for 2015 was to explore what the Facebook Universe has to offer a blog like Procrastination Coach.  I’d be very pleased if you decided to “Like” my Facebook page and follow along.

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What Other People Don’t Understand about Procrastinators

temp_collage_1415559490.130300There’s a whole bunch of things I don’t understand about people who do not Procrastinate.  I don’t understand how they can break through their anxiety every time.  I don’t know how they can keep to their own plans every time.  I don’t know how they must feel when they are successful at accomplishing their work time after time after time.

I do believe there are many things non-Procrastinators do not understand about us Procrastinators.  In this past year alone, I have met two men who were so “on it” they looked at me with disbelief when I tried to explain my area of expertise and fascination – Procrastination.  I really felt in those moments of meeting these men that there was no way those two men would ever understand me.  I was just a different species of being, it seemed.  Come to think of it, I met a woman earlier this year, also a Chinese-American psychologist, who also gave me the sense that I was from some different universe.

Well, I’m here to speak for us Procrastinators, people who may just be misunderstood by a lot of other Earthlings.

Here’s a list of a few items I think other people don’t understand about Procrastinators:

  1. We are motivated.  This fact seems to be lost on people who don’t Procrastinate. They associate lack of productivity with lack of motivation, which would be, in most cases, a big mistake.
  2. We are concerned with what other people think.  Many Procrastinators get their start in Procrastination because they feel an overwhelming need to satisfy the perceived expectations others have of them.  The stress of having to perform perfectly causes the Procrastinator to freeze up and to fail to produce anything well. Ironically, these same well-meaning Procrastinators are seen by non-Procrastinators as uncaring or even oblivious to the needs of others.
  3. We are fearful of upsetting or disappointing others.  Please see item #2.
  4. We have suffered, including when we have been misunderstood by others. Chronic Procrastinators tend not only to be behind in their work, but also to be spent emotionally from feeling worthless and hopeless.  Although the chronic Procrastinator may appear to be doing well from the outside, on the inside there is a more complicated story.  Procrastinators accumulate emotional wounds and injuries as they remain trapped in cycles of inaction and bad feelings.  Much of the emotional damage is wrought by the Procrastinators themselves, sadly.
  5. We are not performing to our potential, but we are longing to do so.  Despite being misunderstood and despite having missed many opportunities, Procrastinators strive for something better for themselves.  The paradox with Procrastinators is we hang on and don’t truly give up, even when nothing seems to be going our way.

Writing this kind of post is important to me, because I have spent so many years helping clients recover from these different kinds and levels of misunderstandings from other people and from themselves.  I do not believe Procrastination is an easily-resolvable affliction, as it involves the individual’s ego, skill set, social environment, and emotional life, and the clean up of very big messes.

If you are a non-Procrastinator, please consider lending the next Procrastinator you meet a sympathetic ear or some friendly encouragement.  If you are a Procrastinator, take comfort in the reality that we are all built in very special ways, special even when not acknowledged or recognized by others.  Take the time to work through the layers of meaning behind your own Procrastination.  The time spent doing this type of exploration will always be well worth it.

Please feel free to share any stories you might have about feeling misunderstood as a Procrastinator by posting a reply here.  

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