Be in the Flow – Follow Your Path!

Posts tagged ‘procrastination’

How to Beat Procrastination

 

How to Beat Procrastination 

Procrastination is the leisure time we build into our day when we don’t have enough leisure time.

Is that true for you?

Let’s look at some of the reasons we procrastinate:

1. Lack of How To

When we don’t know how to do a task or don’t know how to get started, and don’t have someone to ask, we tend to put the task off.

2. Overwhelm

The task is so big we don’t know where to get started and there is no end in sight, there is so much to do.

3. Stress

Stress can be a trigger for procrastination. We procrastinate when we can least afford it.

4. Lack of time management

Spending time on non-essential tasks can be a form of ongoing procrastination, until we are face to face with a deadline.

5. Perfectionism

It is easy to procrastinate when we know that the end result of our work is never good enough.

6. Lack of Goals

Very few people live their life on purpose. Most people go through the motions of what needs to be done day in and day out.

 

What can you do in each of these situations?

1. Lack of How To

First of all decide if there is a resource that can help you get started. It could be a book, a person whom you can ask for help, or searching for answers on the internet. Other times the best course of action is to get started. Set aside 30 minutes and try to figure out something to get you started. Get started with breaking the job into bite-size tasks and then tackling these one at a time.

2. Overwhelm

If a task is too big, the first thing is to break it down into smaller chunks. If there is just too much to do, write down all that needs to be done. Cross out the tasks that you can do without. Delegate tasks that someone else can do. Prioritize the most important tasks, knowing that some lower priority tasks may not get done. Sometimes you can negotiate for extra time.

3. Stress

When you feel the stress getting to you, take a relaxation break. Take some deep breaths; meditate for 3-5 minutes; get up and take a short 5 minute walk; listen to a piece of music. Rather than letting the stress get to you and pushing forward, a short break may be the answer.

4. Time Management

One way to manage time is to manage priorities. Eliminate non-essential tasks. Work on the most important tasks first. Another form of time management is to break large tasks into blocks and spread them over time. For example taxes need to be filed every year. Instead of waiting until April to get the taxes done, spend time every month to organize your tax receipts and bank statements, so that the task is small when the taxes need to be filed.

Write down all your tasks and divide them into 4 categories:

  •      Important and urgent
  •      Important and not urgent
  •      Not important and urgent
  •      Not important and not urgent

Then eliminate as many of the not important and not urgent tasks as possible.

Regularly work on important tasks while they are not yet urgent. This eliminates a great deal of stress in your life by preventing urgent tasks in your life.

5. Perfectionism

This is a tough one to overcome. Often this trait was encouraged from early on – like getting all A’s on your report card. One way to tackle this is to allow yourself trial runs or in case of a document – a first draft – or even just the first few paragraphs. With practice you can loosen the grip of perfectionism.

6. Lack of Goals

Goals give your life direction. Take time out to dream about your life 1, 5, 10 or even 20 years into the future. Think about where you’d like to live, who you’d like to be sharing your life with, and what you’d like to have. Then build tasks into your schedule that will get you closer to your dreams. Those tasks are important motivators to keep you going with everything you need to get done.

 

Next Steps

Recognizing how you spend your day and what needs to change can be a real challenge to do alone.

Consider keeping a time log for a couple of weeks and reach out for help to implement changes to the way you live your life. Remember to build regular leisure activities into your days and weeks. It replenishes your energy to keep going.

 

Contact me:

To determine if coaching can help you achieve your goals, schedule a free coaching consultation. Call Edith at 847.913.3900. 

Reduce Bad Stress to Make Room for Good Stress

Reduce Bad Stress to Make Room for Good Stress

Do you have too much stress? Do you have too much procrastination? Do you have too little of achieving your goals? You can change all that.

1. You can lead a driven life: If you are driven, you have taken on the role of your own parent and you push yourself to get things done. Your stress is internally created.

2. You can lead a controlled life: If you lead a controlled life, outside influences dictate your life. There is always someone to blame. Your stress seems to come from other people or circumstances.

3. Or you can learn to lead an inspired life! If you lead an inspired life, you live a life of choices and passion. The things that may stress other people out are more like little annoyances on your path of living a passionate and inspired life. This is the good life.

If you have a lot of stress you have probably looked for and found ways to control stress. Well, if you want to have stress, then you can certainly try the various methods for controlling it. But when you are all done, you still have the stress. Or – more and more – you may say, “Never Again” to more and more situations. Your life becomes more and more restricted.

How about letting go of your body’s stress response instead. In other words, what if something that currently stresses you out, in the future, has NO effect on you? What if that stressful occurrence vanishes from your life altogether? Would that improve your life? Have you noticed that when you try to avoid or evade a certain type of stressful situation in your life, it pops up somewhere else? It’s like the amusement park game Whack-A-Mole. You bop them on the head and more show up. That is how stress is until you learn how to let your stress response go.

Stress from “Goals”

You have stress because what you want to have is different from what you now have. Let’s say that you have a job and on that job there is someone you just don’t get along with. You wish they treated you well but you constantly feel ignored, diminished, avoided. So you have a “goal” of how you wish things were, but they are different. You have stress when you have to deal with that person. If you could control that person to behave towards you the way you want them to, that would be one way to solve your problem. But nothing you’ve tried seems to work. So you have stress. What if you could find a way to just let go of your desired outcome or goal?

First of all, notice that there are probably other people in your life that don’t act towards you the way you want them to. Now take it one step further. Do those same people act that way all the time or do they treat some people the way you wish they would treat you?

Since you have already tried to have them change, try changing yourself. If that person in the office is nice to some people, what is it about those people that might be contributing to a friendlier interaction?

In what way do you treat that person so they might feel ignored, diminished or avoided? Fear and hostility tend to go together. If you are avoiding each other until you absolutely have to deal with each other, you will both tend to come from a place of fear and feel you have to lead with hostility to let them know forcefully what you expect to happen. They may equally respond with hostility. If you can realize they are probably covering fear with hostility, you can see how the pattern perpetuates. Chances are that this pattern is something you learned in childhood. If you truly want things to be different, you have to change the pattern. This is not an easy thing to do and short of eliminating certain people from your life there is no quick fix. Relationships take effort.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

You only have room for so much stress in your life. If your life is full of daily stress, then you don’t have the energy to work on your dreams and goals. As you reduce the stressors in your life, you then have energy and vitality to enjoy life and go for your goals. So, to get the life you want, you first have to make room in your “stress bucket”. If stress is the difference between what have now and how you’d like things to be, then having goals is only possible when there is room in your “stress bucket”.

So the first step to getting your goals is to let go of some goals you may not even be aware of: think of something that annoys you, may be something as simple as a burned out light bulb or the mess in the back seat of your car. Decide when you are going to take care of it, get it done. Once it’s done it no longer occupies room in your “stress bucket”. Coach Jim Bunch talks about the “9 environments” and how, by keeping them clean, we free up energy to support getting our goals.

When we have too many goals we tend to go into procrastination. It’s like having a computer with too many programs running at the same time; eventually it slows down or even crashes. So —- if you are procrastinating —- you might have too many goals open at the same time. Defer some of them. Sales trainer Brian Tracy tells executives who want to be more productive, to prioritize their top 5 goals for each day, then work on their number one goal until it is done. Then move to their number 2 goal until they have worked through each one. Brian talks about how executives have reported amazing productivity gains with just this one tip.

Resources:

“Eat that Frog”, is one of many books by Brian Tracy.

Jim Bunch’s http://www.theultimategameoflife.com The Ultimate Game of Life coaching programs.

Dr. Michael Ryce’s http://www.whyagain.com/worksheets.php has a free download of a “Reality Management Blank Worksheet 7-step”. It is a helpful tool for creating awareness around your stressors and letting them go.

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your life, figure out what you truly want in life, and help you remove some stress from your “stress bucket”, call me. For many people coaching can make the difference between what you have now and the life you could have. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

If you are not getting enough sleep you probably don’t even realize it.

“Small amounts of sleep loss (eg, 1 hour per night over many nights) have subtle cognitive costs, which appear to go unrecognized by the individual experiencing the sleep loss. More severe restriction of sleep for a week leads to profound cognitive deficits similar to those seen in some stroke patients, which also appear to go unrecognized by the individual.” (From the website http://www.medscape.com and the research of David Thorne)

In the video game “Zeitgeist”, a character suffering from sleep deprivation, then fatigue, then exhaustion, suffers increasingly severe penalties (can’t do spells, less strength and dexterity). In the game the penalties for sleep deprivation are obvious. If we could invent an easy to use “thermometer” for measuring sleep deprivation, and a chart of penalties at each degree of sleep deprivation, may be then we would take our own need for sleep more seriously.

Story: Sleeplessness and Diabetes

“Short-term sleep deprivation has been implicated in contributing to obesity as well as glycemia dysregulation contributing to poor control of type II diabetes.” (From the website http://www.medscape.com)

For as long as I have known my father, he has had trouble sleeping. Nothing ever seemed to help for very long. As an adult he developed diabetes. He felt it was one of a series of complications of his condition.
After my daughter was born, I took her with me on a visit to my father. Because of the diabetes he had been blind for some time and had lost all sensation in his hands. Yet he wanted to see his grandchild. So he came up with an idea. On a bright sunny day we went outside and while my Dad was facing into the sun, I held my daughter up in the bright light. He could tell just enough of a difference between the sun and her shadow to “see” his first grandchild.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

There is more and more research confirming that not enough sleep is bad for us. Yet we pride ourselves on being able to do all-nighters. With on-line games, TV and the Internet we can have things to do and people to interact with any time of day or night. The temptations are hard to resist and our lack of awareness of the consequences on our health make it even less compelling to change.

If you know you are not getting enough sleep, or you feel that you have issues falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up after only a few hours of sleep, consider getting help. Find out if a medical condition prevents you from getting the sleep your body needs.

Taking it Farther:

Stress is one of the causes of sleeplessness. Forcing ourselves to sleep less because we have too much to do is one of the reasons we develop poor sleep habits. Learning to respond to stressors with equanimity, learning to prioritize, letting go of time wasters such as procrastination can help as well. Strengthening your boundaries and being able to say “no” to requests by others is an important skill in managing your time and stress. Unless there is a medical condition that prevents you from sleeping or sleeping enough, reducing stress and improving time management skills can be an important option to improving the quality of your life, health, and sleep.

Contact me:

If you would like to improve the quality of your life and learn to reduce stress and time pressure, call me to learn how coaching can help. Live the life you choose. Achieve your goals. Be happy. Lead a balanced life. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Good Habits – Bad Habits. Are You Sure?

Good Habits – Bad Habits.  Are you sure?

Good Habits: Work hard, Play hard. Lead by example.
Bad Habits: Alcohol is bad for you. Banish procrastination.

We all have beliefs about what are good habits and what are bad habits. My grandfather said that eating an egg or two a day was good for you. Today people are concerned about the cholesterol in eggs. They used to have prohibition in the United States because alcohol was surely an evil thing. Now you’re supposed to drink a glass of red wine per day for your health.

In the end, what was once a good habit may now be a bad habit: spanking children for example.

So, may I suggest that we are raised to believe certain behaviors are good or bad. So we believe. Yet we keep doing what we are doing. May be there is some benefit to what we are doing, our “bad habits” actually serve a purpose. If you could imagine that your bad habits are in some way perfect for you – what purpose do they serve? Finding the good in a bad habit might just be the trick.

Story: Good Luck – Bad Luck. Who’s to know?

Here is a brief portion of a story I’ve heard many times and told in many different ways. You may have heard it too.

In the olden days, a farmer was plowing his field. One day his son, who had been gone for a long time, returned home. The father was glad to see him and invited all the neighbors to celebrate the homecoming. The neighbors said, “Now that you are getting older, it’s sure good luck that your son has returned home and can help out with the farm.” The old farmer replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who’s to know.” The neighbors just shook their heads.

It wasn’t long that the son broke his leg. Again the neighbors commented, “That is surely bad luck.” The old farmer just replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who’s to know.”

Next, they heard that a recruiter for the king was coming to take away all able-bodied young men for the king’s army, since the king was getting ready to fight a war. The farmer’s son was left behind because of the broken leg. The neighbors again commented, “What good luck that was.” The old farmer just replied, “Good luck, bad luck, who’s to know.”

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

Have you ever made a list of all your good habits and another list of all your bad habits? Try it. Which list is longer?

Are there any pairs like the following?
Good Habit: work hard —- Bad Habit: procrastinate
Good Habit: Act as if you have your life all together —- Bad Habit: Get drunk on a Friday night

The source of the bad habit might be the good habit. If you work hard and don’t allow yourself to relax and enjoy, then just maybe, the only way for you to relax is to procrastinate. When you ease up on the good habit and find a better balance in your life, the procrastination may disappear as well. If you look like you have it all together, there is a point when you can’t keep up the façade. Getting drunk allows you to forget it all for a little while.

So, if trying to change a bad habit hasn’t worked for you, try changing a good habit. Find a better balance and see how it affects your bad habit.

Taking it Farther:

1. Identify a habit you would like to change
2. Determine what you want to change it to
3. Decide if you can commit to doing this for 90 days
4. If you can’t commit to 90 days, pick something you can succeed at. Start small and be successful.
5. After 30 days, evaluate. If you are satisfied, then recommit. Otherwise make adjustments.

I recommend focusing on one habit at a time. Give it three months to live into your new habit in a way that works for you. It may not seem like a lot, but at four habits per year, you will have twenty improved habits in five years. I guarantee it; your life will be different!

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you. Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Are you a perfectionist? Does everything have to be “just so”? Are you afraid of making mistakes, of being wrong, of being blamed? Are you your own harshest critic?

One of Webster’s definitions for perfectionism is: “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable”.

If this feels like you, then you might feel
• fear of making a mistake
• fear of making decisions
• prefer procrastination and inaction to “wrong” action
• fear of being wrong
• fear of being found out or admitting a mistake
• fear of being punished for making a mistake
• fear of self judgment and harsh self criticism
• fear of seeing mistakes in others, especially people you care about
• condemnation of others’ mistakes and a sense of self righteousness

What’s the source of that? Let’s look into where we learned criticism, judgment and to condemn —- and how much it hurt. Maybe as children we just wanted to be loved. So we had to be perfect – as often as possible – or so we thought.

Do you feel guilty; that “it” is your fault? IF you had just been more perfect, then things would be different? Children often blame themselves for something they had no influence or responsibility for. Have you?

Story – My uncle died. I was sure it was my fault

When I was young – may be in first or second grade, my uncle died in a car crash. Technically he was my Mom’s uncle. He was one of the most important people in my young life. I loved him and felt loved and cared about by him. So how was his death my fault? It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that.

See – he had a laundry business and he picked up dirty laundry and delivered clean laundry in our little village. Sometimes he happened to catch me walking to my Mom’s work after school and gave me a ride up that steep hill to where she worked. That was really special. It didn’t matter that it was only a few minutes walk. He cared about me and showed it. Unfortunately I didn’t feel that from anyone else. So it mattered even more. When he died, I was sure it was my fault.

It was winter and he died in a car crash on that icy slope – I believe. And I believed that if he hadn’t driven there at that time, then of course he’d still be safe. And he must have been on that road because he was looking to give me a ride. It was the main road through town and I suspect now that he drove it often.

Then for a while I had the fantasy, that if I had just been there the way he was there for me, then he’d still be alive. I had heard that people get incredibly strong when there is an emergency like that. So I fantasized, that if I had been there, then I could have lifted the big delivery van off him and saved him. I was probably six or seven years old when it happened. It’s unlikely that he was under the car since he was the driver. But I didn’t think about that – until just now while writing this down.

How did I first realize that maybe it wasn’t my fault that he died? I was visiting my mother about 30 years after the accident and somehow the topic veered to our uncle. Well, she talked about how it was her fault that he died. I was incredulous! We both had the same idea and when we explored it, neither one of us realistically could have had any blame for his death.

Ask yourself: Do you have something in your life that you have blamed yourself for or been blamed for? Was it really your fault?

Call to Action and Why This Matters

If you are a perfectionist, you might have a HABIT of accepting blame – whether it is your fault or not. People around you will blame you. Or you will feel blamed. You may believe it, you expect it and accept it. So the cycle continues.
As a result you may avoid making decisions and procrastinate about taking action. You may avoid trying anything new. You may shy away from things like public speaking or anything else where people might be watching “for your next mistake”. You avoid and fear change. And because it feels terrible enough to make a mistake and blame yourself, it might be almost impossible to admit one when you really should say, “I am sorry. I made a mistake.”

This week, I encourage you to observe your patterns of behavior:
• why and when you procrastinate
• your willingness to try new things
• your ability to make decisions easily and decisively
• your ability to take reasonable risks

Taking it Farther

If perfectionism stalls your ability to move forward, you may want to look deeper. In what area of your life do you get stalled? Is there a clue in your past? Was there a traumatic event that caused you to become that way, or did you have an important person in your life early on whose lack of approval and constant criticism caused you to become shy and reticent to take any risks or make any mistakes?

Some people can heal this through journal writing or other self-help techniques; others may choose a trusted friend, a support group, therapist or coach to release this pattern over time. Others can change their HABIT of perfectionism with sheer effort of will. Whatever works for you – do it. I’m not saying to get sloppy, just to ease any stranglehold that perfectionism may hold over you.

You deserve to be free from constant self-doubt and harsh criticism by yourself or others. You deserve to be free to try new things, learn from your mistakes and “get messy”. Perfectionism doesn’t have to be a “life sentence”.

Contact me

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get relief! Call to schedule some coaching sessions. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900


%d bloggers like this: