Self compassion against procrastination

Self criticism increases your chances on procrastination. Self compassion decreases them. That’s the short version. But how can you make this work?

Be warned: self compassion is not a tool. It’s not something you use to create something else. It’s nothing more (or less) than a practice – to use some jargon. Which basically means you have to practice it. Over and over again. Without ever getting perfect at it. But it makes a difference. A huge difference.

I’ve written before about the link between self criticism and procrastination, I won’t repeat that here. Instead, I want to recommend a free source for learning about (and practicing with) self compassion: the radical self compassion challenge. Especially check out the interview with scientist Kristin Neff on day 3.

Self compassion against self criticism? No, that’s not how it works. But self compassion for self criticism? That’s definitely worth a try. Worth practicing. Worth being self compassionate about.

Stop procrastinating on… self publishing tips #1

Stop procrastinating on… starting

Now that I have a book on Amazon, I have to learn more about self-publishing. How to do it in a way that works? There are tons of information out there, so I need to find a way to get started on it. Since starting is a key problem for many people who procrastinate, I’ve developed a simple tool to help with that process. It consists of three simple steps. I’ll share these first, and then apply them to my own example.

A simple tool to help you get started

    1. Finish this sentence: I want to start…
    2. Think of three concrete things you could do to start it.
    3.  For all three things, ask your self:
      – Does this combine with who I am and how I work?
      – How likely am I to procrastinate on this one (and why)?
      – Does it actually contribute to what I want to start?

Example: How to start learning about self-publishing

1. Finish this sentence: I want to start…

I want to start learning about self-publishing.

2. Think of three concrete things you could do to start it.

A) Read a book.
B) Watch YouTube clips.
C) Join relevant Facebook groups.
D) Listen to podcasts (I know, that’s number four, but hey, why not?)

3. For all three things, ask yourself:

– Does this combine with who I am and how I work?
– How likely am I to procrastinate on this one (and why)?
– Does it actually contribute to what I want to start?

A) Read a book
  • It combines with who I am. I like reading, and I like to be thorough.
  • Oops. I’ll know I’ll spend too much time finding the Best Book. Maybe that’s not procrastination, but it certainly is time-consuming. And not very rewarding. I like to be efficient, so maybe this is not my best option.
  • It would contribute, but too slowly. That doesn’t stimulate me. So I’ll probably end up procrastinating anyway.
B) Watch YouTube
  • Does that combine with me? Mwah. I’m not a big fan of watching YouTube to gather information. It seems fast, but it’s often not in-depth enough for me. Also: too much talking that isn’t relevant, which exhausts my head.
  • Definitely a procrastination risk. There’s SO much on YouTube, how to choose? Also, I like my learning with less distractions, so I’d not be looking forward to doing it.
  • It would contribute, I expect tips that you can apply straight away. Maybe I’ll watch some, but it shouldn’t be my main strategy for learning.
C) Join relevant Facebook groups
  • That combines with how I work for sure. I spend time on Facebook and I like it there. I know it’s easy to find groups, and if I don’t like some it’s easy to leave. Efficient.
  • A very low procrastination risk for me. Once I’ve joined, information will pop up in my feed, in small chunks. So I’ll easily get an overview of which topics are discussed, and which ones might be relevant for me. It will function as a constant reminder that I want to learn more about this. And contact with others stimulates me.
  • It will contribute IF I take the next steps and dive deeper into some of the relevant subjects.
D) Listen to podcasts
  • I don’t know yet how much that suits me. When there’s too much irrelevant talking I find it time and energy consuming.
  • The procrastination risk is not too bad. I’ll know I can listen to some when I’m doing a task that doesn’t require my full attention, so I can try some out without feeling I lose time.
  • It would contribute; I expect relevant information with enough depth.
    I ended up doing a combination of these. Facebook groups turned out to be a quick and consistent starting point for me. I’ve found my favourite one called Self Publishing Made Simple. It brings me learning, practical tips, accountability, and the feeling to be in it together.

I have found a YouTube favourite, some podcasts I like listening to, and an e-book that’s very helpful. I’ll share them in later posts, this one is long enough already 🙂 If you have any favourites, please let me know in the comments. There’s SO much to learn that I expect it will stay a regular topic for me in 2020.


Marketing or procrastination?

There’s a term called ‘productive procrastination’. It means you’re procrastinating on something by doing something else. The good thing about it is: you get something done. The bad thing about it is, well… let’s leave that for later. Because it depends on how you treat yourself.

I planned to do my administration yesterday. I didn’t do it (never mind the reasons) so I planned it again today. I consider it a priority. It HAS to get done, it won’t go away if I don’t do it. My accountant needs time to hand in my stuff before the end of the month. So there’s sort of a deadline (yes, ‘sort of’ is not the most helpful type of deadline, there’s room for improvement there).

I’m afraid it’s easy to guess what happened. I procrastinated. I started by doing something else when I came home tired from fysiotherapy. Last week a fan asked me if my Procrastination Coach merchandise was still available on RedBubble. I hadn’t looked on there for a long time, so I decided to put ‘check RedBubble’ on my to do list. To do some time… Today seemed a good day for a fun little task.

One thing led to another. I designed new products on Redbubble. I added pins of my stuff to Pinterest. I posted on Facebook that RedBubble has a discount today. I twittered about the stuff I have on there. I rearranged some of my Pinterest boards to have a better picture as a first view. One thing lead to another, my administration isn’t done – and I’m writing a blog post now.

Has this been productive? Yes? Does it feel good? A little? Does it feel bad? That too… Was it procrastination? Yes. Definitively. Do I count it as productive procrastination? Yes, up to a certain point. It’s time to stop and switch now.

I’m used to procrastinating on my administration. My quarterly taxes always need digging. Digging through files, digging through e-mails. Logging in to places that have digital invoices. And digging through piles to find where I left my paper receipt this time.

I’m fully aware WHY I procrastinate on it. I know I dread the process, because I always end up feeling like an unorganised idiot. Even when I’ve tried to be more organised this time. So what I avoid is not the actual work, but the feeling it brings me.

I make sure to schedule my administration when I still have some time to procrastinate on it. Giving in to the urge to procrastinate for a day or two, seems to be easier for me than to fight the fight to get it done simply because I tell myself I HAVE TO. My inner anti-authoritarian starts playing up too much in those cases. I’m not buying the “I have to” when I know there’s time left. My inner anti-authoritarian simple crosses its arms, looks at me defiantly, and says “no, not yet”.

My work is about creating ways for you that work. If I beat myself up too much over procrastinating, the strategy of ‘productive procrastination’ is not the best. It will make me feel like I fail, which decreases my self confidence, which is… yes, a well-known trigger for procrastination.

If I accept that administration is a Thing for me, I can find a way to work with that. Like plan in time to procrastinate on it. Ideally, I do things in that time that I normally tend to procrastinate on. Like marketing. Or tidying up (when I’ll probably start finding some of the receipts already.

Marketing? Done. Blog post? Done! Next up: some tidying. Tomorrow… My administration. That’s a promise!

Play against procrastination

Have an upcoming task you don’t like? Try to see if you can make it more fun. By being playful around it for example. A classic form of this is a tidying up contest between kids. Most children don’t like tidying up. But turning it into a contest often works wonders, even when it’s the same task.

Adults don’t respond as well to contest, especially not perfectionists. They are in an eternal contest with themselves, a contest they can’t really win. Which, of course, takes the fun out of it. The self criticism that is involved, makes it even worse.

So how to bring more fun in serious tasks, boring tasks, task that tend to invite self criticism…? For me, making things more playful works. As a child, I wore my mothers high heels when I had to hoover. It really made vacuum cleaning more fun. Walking on high heels that were way too big for me made the task a challenge, instead of 100% boring. And of course, I felt a bit of glamour being in my mums most special shoes…

As an adult, one thing I still fall for is to make things more colourful and spontaneous. My to do lists are less irksome when I write them as mind maps, or with coloured pens, or differently coloured post it notes – or turn them into a raffle. My marketing gets more fun when I can create something. A picture (my recent vouchers). A blog post. Getting to know a Facebook feature I don’t understand yet.

I have some boring tasks waiting for me today. Will I make all of them more fun? No, not when I get them done without the extra effort. But if I find myself procrastinating on:
– making a doctor’s appointment
– arranging new health insurance
– renewing my driver’s license
I’ll try to find a way to make them more fun. If that doesn’t work, I know I’ve written this post so I’ll feel accountability

My playful act for today was to create a Facebook offer (a feature I don’t understand yet). In January you can get 50% discount on personal support when working on my course, From do it Later to do it Now in 10 days. For 5 euro a day you’ll get personal support to make sure you get the daily tasks done, and extra tips when you send in your worksheets. E-mail me if you’d like this offer but you don’t use Facebook.

Me and my book :)

When I was younger, I wanted to write books. When I got older, I gave up on that idea. Too difficult. Too much work. So many books out there already, what could mine add to the world?

Then I created a course on procrastination. I made a course book for it. A practical document that could also be used as a self paced course. A realistic book that wanted to help in getting things done, but – even more than that – to create lasting change.

When my fabulous designer Lisa suggested I could turn the digital book into a real book, I thought that would be Difficult. A Lot Of Work. Lisa simply asked my permission and did it for me. And now it’s on sale on Amazon!

Pro-tip: don’t believe everything you think 🙂

A post to share my happy face! To celebrate. To share the joy. And to let my inner child know she was right about dreaming! It is a wonderful feeling to hold my own book.  I’m so thrilled to have my very own ISBN-number that I consider learning it by heart just for the fun of it.


Playful unprocrastinating

I was getting way too serious about my idea to create clutter free x-mas presents, in the form of coaching vouchers. I was looking for the perfect word. The best description. Nothing happened.

Tonight I decided to play. Now I have ten possible vouchers you can buy for a loved one.

What they receive is quality time with someone (surprise… It’s me!) who knows how to listen, ask questions, deepen a conversation, create fun, help people come up with ideas and other useful things like that.

What you would pay, is up to your budget. Meaning we can work something out that feels okay for the both of us, no matter your budget.

My goals are:

  • Useful, clutter free x-mas presents
  • Promoting coaching, because it’s great.
  • Raising money for my tuition this year


And here’s the second batch. As you can tell by the names, sessions can be about anything. In English or in Dutch. Uplifting or freeing buried emotions.

Negativity bias in procrastination

Procrastination is such a weird phenomenon. I’m having an “I should, but I don’t want to day”. Something that can easily happen when you’re self-employed and there’s no deadline for anything in sight.

I’m used to observing myself when I procrastinate, to see if I can learn something about it that may be useful to others. One of the things I do is watch my thoughts, with thanks to mindfulness I’m able to do without being kidnapped by them straight away. I’ve just noticed something relevant, and rather strange.

When I think about what I should be doing, even if it’s just vaguely, my brain starts to come up with objections. It mainly manifests as resistance, in the classic way of “I don’t feel like doing this right now”. When I dig a bit deeper, I can find thoughts that create that feeling. Secretly, I’m picturing the task as Unpleasant. I also picture negative outcomes (making an effort without reward, feeling useless and hopeless, things like that). Basically, each thought and feeling are negative.

I think many people will recognise this, so why do I consider it “strange”? Well, I realised that the 100% negativity is incredibly biased. It doesn’t take into account that I might actually enjoy myself when I start working on it, or simply not mind too much. It doesn’t take into account that getting something done may actually bring a feeling of relief or accomplishment, which can be a reward all by itself. It doesn’t take into account that that lingering feeling of “I should, but I’m not doing it” actually feels very unpleasant if I give in to it for too long.

So my brain declares the task I should do to be 100% unpleasant, and the option of not doing it as pleasant. Both are biases, and of course, the result is Not Getting It Done. Which ends in feeling bad about myself, which is highly unpleasant!

So, there are two things I can do now. Just get one of those things done that I’m postponing, even though I feel bad about it (a classic definition of procrastinating). Or, I dive into my feelings and thoughts , learn about what’s REALLY holding me back, and try to change something about that.

Both are valid approaches. In the first one, I simply get my stuff done. Which is practical, feels good, and will yield results. In the second one, I go beyond the symptom (procrastination) and work on the deeper cause of it. Which takes more time and doesn’t bring results as fast, but in the end is also practical, feels good and yields (lasting) results.

I’m undecided which approach I will take. Maybe a combination of both 🙂


Anti binge-watching tip

Today’s idea comes from one of my clients. She uses watching series as a way to relax, but knows the danger of cliffhangers… So she decided to watch episodes a different way. She’ll watch until somewhere in the middle of an episode, and then turn it off. The next time she’ll watch the second half, plus the first half of the next episode.

I know this might not work for everyone, but there is NO anti-procrastination tip that works for everyone. So try it out if you like, maybe even several times. Your mood might make a difference, the time of the day, or the type of show you’re watching.

My clients idea made me curious: how do other people manage the seduction of binge watching? Please share your tips, they may help others!


How small is a bite sized chunk?

I wondered about this when I thought about my last post, and how I chose to publish it before it was finished. Frog first, the rest later. That rest hasn’t happened yet. Still the post has been very effective for me. I wanted to practice sharing with the world that I have a GoFundMe page, to help me raise money for my tuition this year. I’ve shared it here, and I’ve dared to share it in more places since then.

How is this related to bite sized chunks? It’s a tip that can really help in getting things done, because we tend to procrastinate on daunting things a lot more than on things that seem manageable. But there’s no clear reference point for what bite sized is. It will be different, depending on the subject, your physical well-being, your emotions… You can only learn it by self observance. Trial and error.

Here’s a link to a worksheet from my course called “From Do it Later to Do it Now in Ten Days”: Bite sized chunks The starting point for bite-sized used there, is time. But there are many different starting points, depending on the type of thing you want to get started on:
– number of pages
– number of words
– manageable amount of fear
– manageable amount of negative responses

I’ll add more when I think of more, but I’m tired now after a day filled with emotions yesterday.

For me, sharing that GoFundMe page without making it a great blogpost was the amount of stress I could deal with at that moment. So that’s what I did. I fully intend to write that longer blog post later. It’s going to be interesting for me, and hopefully useful for you as a reader, to see how different triggers for procrastination were playing up. Because understanding what’s happening, makes it easier to find a way to get it done – AND, in my opinion even more importantly, to transform the things that are holding you back into something else. Maybe even something that helps you move forward…

This blog is a bite sized chunk for me too. I have my “official website”, where I feel everything should look profesional. No typos, no grammar mistakes, no sentences that are too long or clumsy, or thoughts that aren’t clear yet. Here I allow myself to be more relaxed. If I make those mistakes, I can sort them out later. At least the post will be written already. And maybe touch the heart or brain of someone who’s looking for ideas, inspiration, or space to be more gentle with themselves.

Scary thing first

Okay, to practice what one of the things I preach (eat the frog) I’m choosing scary thing first. Here’s what I find hard to share, a GoFundMe page that a friend made for me:

My immensely talented friend Angela Van Son is a coach and counselor who could use a hand right now. After an accident in July, she’s lost her income, so is unable to pay her upcoming tuition. Her education in Psychoenergetics is integral to her goal of “supporting people where they don’t dare to go alone.” This coursework focuses on deep healing.

If I write the explanation of why I find this scary first, I’m going to be procrastinating on this post like mad. So, link first, explanation later. I’ll tie it to triggers and causes for procrastination, so it will hopefully be an educational post 🙂

Now that the first bit is done, I wonder if I’ll choose to create my #ThursdayDoor post first, at my writing blog, because that’s fun. Or if I will dive more deeply into why sharing a site that says I need help makes me nervous on so many levels…