Posts Tagged ‘Procrastination’

I am fascinated by how the concept of ‘good enough’ relates to being organized and our many attempts to be what we perceive as ‘well organized’.  What does being organized mean to you?  Most likely not the same as it does to your spouse, your best friend or your children.  What if, instead of constantly striving to be more organized, better organized or even, heaven forbid, perfectly organized we strove for (more…)


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A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Moncton to deliver a workshop on Overcoming Procrastination at the IAAP Atlantic Conference for a group of over 80 very enthusiastic women.  Wow, it was good fun and we had some interesting discussion about procrastination and why we do it. (more…)

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Here are some wise words from my good friend Georgina Forrest from Smartworks Organizing in Calgary, Alberta from one of her recent newsletters. (more…)

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Last week I facilitated a workshop for a group of new small business owners.  It never ceases to amaze me how many organizing systems you need to have when you run your own business.

Here are a few we came up with.  I’m pretty sure there are still some things we have forgotten?

  • Customer Contacts
  • Action Items
  • Calendar System – electronic or paper (or both-yikes)?
  • Financial Records including filing for HST
  • Propects/Sales Cycle
  • Managing Electronic Documents
  • Inventory
  • Time Tracking
  • Online Passwords
  • Managing Email
  • Vehicle Mileage and related expenses

And then, on top of all that, you have to figure out how to manage your time effectively.  In a workshop a few years ago I learned a formula for managing time in the busy world of an entrepreneur.  I have since adjusted it to fit my needs and the reality of how the lives of most of my small business clients actually should work.  My overall discovery is that we have to try to minimize the time we spend on administration, while still taking care of all the details, and maximize the time we spend on activities that either allow us to earn money or have the potential to help increase our revenues.

And then there’s planning time, one thing many of us do not spend enough time on.  As small business owners we should be spending the equivalent of 1/2 a day per week just planning.  This is really as simple as ensuring we are ready for the upcoming week with our clients and ensuring that we are moving along any business projects such as updating our website.  If we don’t plan for those business projects they just never seem to get done.  All of our time can be eaten up looking for clients, talking to clients and following up with clients.  And, if you’re like me, procrastinating by checking email and browsing the internet.

Alright already, I’m going to do my planning for the week right now before I start searching the internet for some pretty organizing products for a client!

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During our second webinar on The Brain at Work, David Rock focused on our emotions and how our brain regulates emotion and how we might be able to have some control over that.

The first piece of the discussion that I found interesting was the concept of how our limbic system works.  The limbic system helps us decide if something is good or bad for us.  Our brain wants to minimize danger and maximize reward.  Therefore, we run away from danger faster than we run towards reward.  

In addition, a threat causes more adrenalin and alertness.  Uncertainty is a threat – so does that mean that in a sense we crave uncertainty?  I think about the work I am doing now with overcoming procrastination and discussions I have had with clients about the rush they get from doing things at the last minute.  Perhaps it is related to the way our limbic system functions – fascinating, no?

Here is the part where this discussion related to our ability to be organized and manage our time.  When we experience a threat response here is what takes place:

  • Reduced working memory – we hold less information
  • Increased motor funcitons – fidgeting, etc.
  • Reduced field of view – you see less information
  • Generalizing of threats – you make accidental connections with negative things
  • Erring on the side of pessimism

Are those not all productivity killers – holy cow batman!

Therefore, if we want to learn to perform at our best we have to learn to regulate our emotions.  When you are threatened and feel an emotion, you can do 1 of 3 things:

  1. express your emotion – we are taught not to express emotion, but to suppress it
  2. suppress your emotion – when you suppress emotion it either stays the same or gets worse.
  3. cognitive change – this involves invoking the brains’ braking system

Cognitive change happens most successfully through reappraisal.  This involves changing the interpretation of the situation that causes the emotion.  Since I am certainly no expert on this topic, I suggest you visit David’s website or pick up his book ‘Your Brain at Work’ to study these techniques further.

What I did find interesting for me personally on the subject of reappraisal is that apparently realistic, logical people (that’s me) have trouble with reappraisal and tend to suppress their emotions instead.  I’m doomed, people!

One technique that many of us apply is setting expectations, which is  like regulating our emotions in advance.  If we meet our expectations then the dopamine in our brain goes up and this gives us a small reward.  If we exceed our expectations we get even more of a reward.  However, if we do not meet our expectations our dopamine drops and that poses a threat.

OK, so we run away from threat faster than we run toward reward so, therefore, do we set lower expectations for ourselves so that we always feel good?  Now I’m confused again.  This stuff is not easy, is it?

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I’ve always been a fan of Brian Tracy and just picked up a copy of his book Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.  

You see in preparing for my Overcoming Procrastination workshop last Friday I came across the ‘Eat that Frog’ term and wanted to know more.  The concept really seems to have resonated with the workshop participants and everyone is busy eating frogs including me!  Most of my frogs seem to be on the personal front.  Like many of the women in the workshop, I take pretty good care of my business and do things in a timely manner and even manage to tackle a few big projects on occasion.

However, on the personal front, frogs abound!  There’s the income tax frog, the winter coat frog, the garden needs weeding frog, the clean out the shed frog, the paint the deck chairs frog, the repair the deck frog.  Whew, enough already.   Here’s a great quote that really resonates for me when I think about all my frogs. “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” (William James).

So here are Brian’s rules for Frog eating:

  1. If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.
  2. If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.

Here is a question from Eat That Frog! I think we should ask ourselves on a daily basis.  Stop once every day and say to yourself, “Which one project or activity, if I did it in an excellent and timely fashion, would have the greatest positive consequences in my work or personal life?”

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Procrastination – we are all guilty of it at some time or another.  That one big job that has taken on monster proportions which grow daily as you put it off yet again.

When procrastination becomes a habit and you regularly postphone important things you need to do, then you know you may have a problem. Procrastination is defined as, “The intentional and habitual postponement of some important task that should be done now.”

Whenever I have a unpleasant task to perform I find myself madly checking email or organizing files – anything to make me feel immediate gratification and put that job off just a little longer.  So, I feel better for a short time and then there’s that darn big job again weighing me down with guilt.  Do you find that the more you procrastinate, the more energy you waste and the more exhausted you become?

The key steps seem to be:

1. Break the task down into manageable chunks

2. Schedule the chunks in your calendar/planner

3. Tell someone else that you will complete these chunks and give them a deadline

If you would like to learn more about overcoming procrastination, sign up for my workshop on May 14th from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Alderney Gate Library in Dartmouth.  Only $99 per person. Click here for more information.

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