Category Archives: Feelings

Stop procrastinating on… self-publishing tips #3

Stop procrastinating on… sharing reviews

How many of us feel that sharing reviews is beating our own drums? 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? One thing that can help your book is reviews, from other people than family and friends (Amazon policies forbid those).

Many resources give tips on where and how to get reviews. I may write on that later. But what to do when you’ve received your reviews? Do you let them sit quietly in your account? Or do you dare to share that people enjoyed your work? By talking about it, sharing it on social media, or in any other place that’s not the online shop itself?

If you notice judgments or negative thoughts around this idea, you may want to try this out. I’ve adjusted the How to get unblocked tool to help you challenge your thoughts. If this short version doesn’t work for you, you can try the woebot app, which helps you navigate through unhelpful thinking in an effective (and fun!) way.

A simple tool to help you challenge your thinking

  1. Write down the thoughts that hold you back
  2. For each thought, ask your self:
    – Is this true?
    – Is this thought helpful?
    – Would I agree if my best friend had this thought?
    – What would I think about this in 5 years
    – What would [your favourite hero/role model] think?
    – Or any other question that helps you challenge the thought
  3. Rewrite the thoughts at #1 into more helpful ones you’re willing to believe

Example: How to share a positive review

1. Write down the thoughts that hold you back

People will get fed up with me.

(I’m choosing just one thought for now, for the sake of the length of this post)

2. For each thought, ask your self:
– Is this true? – People will get fed up with me.

Some people might. Other people won’t care much. Many of the people that matter to me might even like to hear/read this, because they care about me and care about how I’m doing, and my book is part of that.

– Is this thought helpful? People will get fed up with me.

Obviously not 🙂 Thought it may inform me that I want to think about how I share it. In which circumstances, how often, etc. My Facebook friends will get fed up with me if I substitute our normal interaction for constant info about my book.
– Would I agree if my best friend had this thought? People will get fed up with me.

I’d stimulate her to find ways of sharing the reviews that are a bit outside her comfort zone, but still suit who she is. So she can try it out safely, and see what happens.
– What would I think about this in 5 years? – People will get fed up with me.

It would probably be something I hardly remember worrying about.

– What would [your favourite hero/role model] think? – People will get fed up with me.

My heroes tend to be people who don’t care too much about what others thinks of them, or did what they wanted to do and believed in anyway.

– Or any other question that helps you challenge the thought…

3. Rewrite the thoughts at #1 into more helpful ones you’re willing to believe

If you’re impatient like me, you may not even need this step by the time you’ve done one and two. In this phase, when I can choose between doing more writing, or simply doing it, I lean towards action. So I’ll copy and paste a review I received today right now, at the bottom of the post. I will add the rewrite as an example anyhow, to properly finish my example:

As long as I don’t exaggerate, it will be fine to share a good review and celebrate that I’m happy with it! I worked hard on creating this, and it’s nice to celebrate that people are having a good experience because of it.

And now for the lovely review I received today:

I absolutely loved Angela’s course. Having known for years that I procrastinate and having tried different methods – I can vouch that this one really works. I nowadays ‘eat a frog’ every morning, and I am getting so much more done. Often once I have eaten the frog, do I realize that it wasn’t that hard or complicated at all! Breaking your task down in chunks and telling people about it is a good one too. I tell my kids about it; they ask me at the weirdest moments whether I have actually done my task, so that makes me do it quickly so that I can give a positive answer, when the question comes my way.

Many thanks to Angela – and I hope to see more books from her!

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Stop procrastinating on… self publishing tips #2

Stop procrastinating on… keywords

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? All sources agree that finding the keywords is, well, key. But I feel this reluctance to get it done. So I’ve adjusted the How to start tool slightly. Again, there are three simple steps. I’ll share these first, and then apply them to my own example.

A simple tool to help you get unblocked

      1. Identify your block. Examples:
        – I don’t know where to start
        – I don’t know how to do this
        – I don’t feel confident enough to work on this
        – I don’t have the means to do this
        – I don’t want to do it
      2. Think of three strategies you could try to tackle that block
      3.  For all three strategies, 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 get done?

Example: How to start doing keyword research

1. Identify your block.

I don’t know where to start, I don’t know how to do it, I don’t feel confident enough to work on this.

Looking at these three blocks is already helpful. No wonder I haven’t done keyword research yet. It suddenly makes sense, which feels very different from blaming myself for procrastination.

I don’t want to use all three for the next step (too much work), but I think I don’t have to. Probably, when I know how to do it I’ll feel more confident and I’ll know where to start. So for now, I don’t know how to do it is the block I choose to work on.

2. Think of three strategies you could try to tackle the block.

A) Google
B) Watch YouTube clips
C) Ask someone who knows how to do it for help

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 get done?

A) Google
  • It combines with who I am, but I’ll use DuckDuckGo instead.
  • I think I’ll do it straight after this post, I’m curious now.
  • It will contribute, if I don’t fall into the trap of endless googling, as a means to postpone. So I’ll create a time box: 30 minutes of research is max. If I don’t start after that, I may need to check for more or other blocks.
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 this.
C) Ask someone who knows how to do it for help
  • I’d rather not. I’m the type of person who thinks I should try first, and only ask for help after I’ve tried. What I could do for this strategy, is ask in the relevant Facebook groups if people have favourite resources they’re willing to share.
  • A high procrastination risk for me, unless I choose the alternative I just came up with (ask for favourite resources).
  • It will contribute IF I take the next steps and work with the info I’ve gathered. Nothing will happen if I don’t start trying things out. If that happens, I may need to check for more blocks.

Just by being in the Facebook groups I’ve already learnt some possibilities for keyword research:

Emee, of Self Publishing Made Simple recommended Publisher Rocket in her latest Facebook live. I’ve heard it mentioned in PodCasts, on YouTube, all of which gives me the impression that it might be The Solution to my keyword questions. I’d buy it straight away because the price looks reasonable. But money is an issue at the moment, so I can’t.

Yesterday I tried out the Amazon Keyword Organizer, offered by HiddenGemsBooks. Which helped me realise I could use more keywords than I was using, and it put them in efficient combinations for me. Obviously, it makes the most sense to use this AFTER you do your keyword research, but since my book is on Amazon already this was a quick win.

The strategy I choose for today will be 30 minutes of googling, on DuckDuckGo.

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.

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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.

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!

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 🙂

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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…

Today is the day

I’m going to finish my November project. Today. April 17 instead of the November 30 I hoped for (yes, that doesn’t say ‘I planned for, I know…). You’d think I’d be excited, happy, relieved. Instead I’m tired, full of resistance and desperately longing to not work on it today. Why? I don’t know.

So, again, this blog post is to make myself accountable. I WILL finish it today.

I’m not sure whether I want to look into my resistance and learn from it, or simply bypass it. I do know the resistance annoys the heck out of me.

I remember that I wrote about unmet needs as a productivity block. Maybe that post brings some insights.

I have gotten my poem for #NaPoWriMo done, so I can’t procrastinate by doing that. There are five sweet kittens in my house  that I could look at for hours. Maybe I can make those my reward for getting my first steps done: reading the blog post I mentioned, and creating a plan for today after that.

 

Paper pile monster

 

In the post I visited yesterday I wrote that I have low confidence in my ability to stick to a concrete plan. Confession time: I ran away from the post after I’d read it, and didn’t manage to get any planning done yesterday. Other stuff that needed doing? Yes. Planning? No. I even realised I’d sooner have worked on my horrible task itself, than the planning for it.

Yesterday I decided to let it happen. Today that won’t fly. I WILL plan.

Just now I realised my low confidence in my ability to stick to a concrete plan only matters if I believe it has consequences. I can’t play standing base. Do I care about that? No, since it has no consequences (apart from me not being in a psychobilly band, which I can live with).

So what about my perceived inability to stick to a concrete plan is such a drama? Obviously nothing, but some part of me is telling me differently. I’ll try to shed some light on the fictitious monsters under my bed. I’ll challenge them after I uncover them.

I believe I SHOULD be able to stick to a concrete plan

Now that I write that down I wonder: why? There are probably millions of people who don’t know how to stick to plan or who don’t care about planning or sticking to it in the first place. Why do I believe that I HAVE TO BE ABLE to?

If I can’t stick to a plan, I’m a worthless coach

Again, as soon as I wrote this down, I noticed this thought doesn’t make sense to me at all, even though it’s mine (hidden beneath layers of rationality, I’ve practised on those discoveries). In my thorough training for being a coach, sticking to a plan was never a requirement.

If I can’t stick to a plan, I’m a worthless procrastination coach

My brain is trying to convince me the thought makes sense, by altering it. I’m a worthless procrastination coach then? No, not true either. It’s probably the other way around: if I thought planning was easy, I’d keep believing it’s a solution or even a cure for procrastination.  If it only was that easy…

If I can’t stick to a plan, I’m stupid

I think we’re at the end of my reasoning here, because I feel the urge to stop writing this and simply make a planning. I don’t even care about refuting this thought.

To make sure I don’t lose my way: I’ll only share this post after my planning is done 🙂

Got my planning done. Got ‘rewarded’ with a deadline – it turns out my planning is absolutely necessary! Also, I have already done the first part of my planning.

The inner critic (the thoughts written in bold) is not winning today 😉

And my #NaPoWriMo post got done before anything else: Would you pray to me. Productivity wise, something could be said against that… Then again: I’ve had my fun, now I’ll get everything done 😉 That will be my motto today

I hate accountability

… because it works! Yesterday I was ready to read a large number of National Poetry Month contributions, when I realised I had made my foolish resolution: to work both on #NaPoWriMo, and my unfinished November project. It was immediately clear to me that I had to get some work done first, and could use poetry as a reward.

So grudgingly and reluctantly I went upstairs to check on my Piles of Doom. I realised exchange a nice plan (poetry) for a wise plan (administration) didn’t feel that good yet. The sun was calling me, and I wanted to go outside. So I decided to combine my plan and my urge: I took my administration to my son’s room, opened a window, sat down with the sun on my back, and started working. Here’s proof:

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Doesn’t that look like I’m really organised? 🙂 🙂 🙂 I shan’t bore you with why this project is such a big deal for me. It took me a while to discover it, and it feels rather private. Let’s just summarise it as: it ticks all the wrong boxes.

So I need my own advice to get it done. And, if I’m honest, some help from someone who helps me dig deeper in myself than where I’m willing to go on my own. When I look back at yesterday, I realise that I applied different tactics:

  • accountability
  • eat the frog (doing the thing you’re most likely to procrastinate on first)
  • rewards
  • making things more fun (did I not write a blog post about that yet? It really works!)

And I’m doing the same today. I listen to my own advice. So I read a bit of poetry before I started my day, to recover from the morning rush hour – self care. Then I decided that it was more important to me to report on my progress, than to follow the #NaPoWriMo prompt. (An easy choice, since ‘description’ is not my thing and that takes the fun out of it, and I wrote too many poems on day 2) – values to the rescue. Next, I made myself accountable on Facebook for eating a frog (making invoices). That helped me to get those done before writing this post.

I think I deserve a bit of poetry reading after writing this post, so that will be my next step. After that: more invoices. After those: publish my poem for day 4 and share it. Or take a break first. Saving the best for last 😉

If you happen to follow any of my links and wonder why they lead to a different Procrastination Coach site… Yeah, long story. Basically that’s my official one, and I want it to look good (spelling, grammar, lay-out). This is my old blog, which I treat as a playground: the motto is ‘done is better than perfect’. I write straight form the heart and don’t edit much. A quick spell check is often all I do.

Guess on which of my sites I’m spending the most time… 🙂