Category Archives: Productivity experiments

Productivity techniques to get started, keep going or keep from procrastinating. Tips, tricks, best practices and lessons learned.

These posts are inspired by what happens in my Facebook group called Productivity Experiments. Feel free to join us!

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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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.

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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!

 

A procrastinator’s trap when eating frogs…

Well, I guess I should’ve seen it coming. Maybe you’re smarter than me and notice it straight away. Here’s how it went.

We were doing great on our productivity experiments. I’d eaten several frogs the day before, and was ready for a big one. This is what I wrote on the Facebook page: “Mine’s a biggie, it’s been growing for months. It’ll be gone for noon, that’s my promise.” My task looked a little like this:Inthefacefrog

After posting my message, I got to work. I did a little something of this, and a little something of that. I kept thinking of what I should be doing instead. Dreading it, because… well, you can see what this frog looked like. Finally, when it was almost noon, I jumped from my chair. I got working on my frog, fast.

And I did it! The frog was gone before noon. It turned out to be a friendly little animal, a helpful one even. Not the monster I had turned it into…

A few days later, when I was enjoying the results, it dawned upon me… The technique doesn’t simply say eat the frog, it says eat the frog FIRST. I conveniently forgot that when I thought it was a toad.

(If you want to leave a reply, the button is at the top, left side of the page. I dont’ have a clue how I can move it to a more logical position. Sorry!)

Rewards stop procrastination

A typical reaction to eating a frog is this:

I’m STUPID. I could have done this ages ago. I SHOULD have done this ages ago!

It looks like internal shouting. And it is. A punitive voice that tells you you’re no good. Again..

Criticism doesn’t work

Emotion lies behind every almost form of procrastination. Fear of failure and fear of not being good enough are common examples. What the critical voice does, is feed these fears. It takes a success you’ve just created, and turns it into proof that you’re a quack.

Inner berating leads to more procrastination, not less.

flagellant

Reward yourself

Each time you get something done that you procrastinated on, reward yourself. Acknowledge yourself for getting over yourself. Celebrate that YOU DID IT. Create physical rewards: a nice cup of coffee of tea, reading the newspaper, going out for a walk. The bigger your challenge was, the bigger the reward you create.

Your typical reaction to eating a frog, may become this:

I rock!

I’d love to hear your response to this post.  What you do reward yourself with? Or what keeps you from rewarding yourself? Or how about this: acknowledge yourself publicly. Now that’s a challenge… 🙂 The reply button is on the top left side of this post.

Eat the frog

I’m having loads of fun with my new Facebook group, called htts://www.facebook.com/groups/productivityexperiments/  I started the group because each time I saw an interesting method, my response was the same: interesting, I should try that out one time. But I never did…

So now the group is experimenting with a classic called Eat the frog. It comes down to identifying the thing on your to do list that your most likely to procrastinate on, and do that first. I’ll include a link to a brilliant video about it at the bottom of this page. First the results.

The good thing is, it works! Several people in the group got things done that they normally don’t, and a few of us had a lot more fun of doing it by being in this group.

Some drawbacks too… I identified a load of frogs, and got working on them.  The technique never told me to do as many as I could, that was my own take on it. It resulted in a boring, discouraging day with nothing but frogs. And in the end some new things turned into frogs because I didn’t pay attention to them.

My tip? Don’t eat all your frogs at once…

More tips on this technique on my next blog. For now, if you don’t know the technique, watch this: http://youtu.be/0W7GB5Fh2XM