Tag Archives: productivity

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:

IMG_20180403_125709

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… 🙂

How to step out of the drama triangle – Victim

Yesterday I introduced the drama triangle, and applied it to the inner dynamics of procrastination. Today is about how to step out of the drama triangle.

Step 1: Don’t identify with it

When I wrote my example I was tempted to add ‘me’ in brackets behind the different roles: the Victim (me), the Rescuer (me) the Persecutor (me). I realised that was wrong, and actually harmful. They are not me. They are just parts of me that play up sometimes. They are modes, trying to help me through but having the opposite effect. Realising that is the first step in disentangling myself from their dynamics. I try to watch the actors play instead of believing I AM the play.

If you notice one of the roles pop up in your thinking: label it, and take a step back. When you fight it or ignore it, the effect will probably be reverse. It can increase the drama instead of make it go away. Don’t treat the roles as a problem, treat them as information. By taking a step back and observing the ‘actors’ you can find out what’s going on inside yourself.

Step 2: Use the winner’s triangle

When you understand what’s actually going on, you can create a solution from there. Which is tends to be more lasting (and rewarding!) than just battling symptoms. Unless you’re a real fan of symptoms of course 😉

Luckily, someone created a way out from the drama triangle: the winner’s triangle. Here’s what the wikipedia page says about it:

The Winner’s Triangle was published by Acey Choy in 1990 as a therapeutic model for showing patients how to alter social transactions when entering a triangle at any of the three entry points. Choy recommends that anyone feeling like a victim think more in terms of being vulnerable and caring, that anyone cast as a persecutor adopt an assertive posture, and anyone recruited to be a rescuer should react by being “caring”.[15]

Let me apply that to my own example, that I described yesterday:

Vulnerable – a victim should be encouraged to accept their vulnerability, problem solve, and be more self-aware. This asks something of me:

A) I need to be aware that I’m in victim mode. Clues are:

  • thoughts (like ‘this is too hard’, ‘impossible’, ‘everything is important’, ‘there’s no good option’, ‘I have to make the right choice’)
  • physical experiences (for example clenched jaws, hunched shoulders, very shallow breathing, fast beating heart, tense stomach muscles)
  • emotions (for example feeling drained, powerless, jittery, stuck)

Please note that these are my clues, yours may be different. But mine can be a good place to start looking if you don’t know your own yet.

B) Accept that that stuff is going on: I do experience irrational thoughts right now. I”m human. I suffer from improductive feelings right now. I’m human. My body is providing signals right now that something is going on. I’m human. Okay, things are the way they are. What are my possibilities?

C) Problem solve. If I’m in full on victim mode, I don’t even believe that I’m able to problem solve. It’s easier to pick up early clues and start from there, than to wait until I fully identify with the victim role. So I’ve trained myself. When I notice I’m procrastinating (or feeling the urge to start doing it) I ask myself: What’s really going on here? Luckily, the things I mentioned under A will help me gather ideas about that. I also have a handy checklist in my head. Is it that I:

  • don’t WANT to?
  • don’t now HOW to?
  • dont like the WAY I’m supposed to?

When I’m clear on the problem, I can start thinking about the solution. When the problem is simple, I ask myself:

  • What can make me WANT it more?
  • What can help me get clear on HOW to do it?
  • HOW can I change the way I do this?

If the problem lies deeper, obviously the solution may be more challenging. I can use some productivity tools (frog, pomodoro) to get me started straight away, while the back of my mind searches for a way to deal with the bigger problem. Fear of failure for example needs a long term strategy, and preferably a lasting solution. But I don’t have to wait for it to be solved to get my work done. I just need strategies to get moving again and create manageable steps, instead of procrastinate.

Wow, this blog post turns out longer than I expected. Procrastination is murky business. There are hidden monsters in the swamp. And often they’ll keep biting – unless you learn how to deal with them. If you ever wondered why all those articles on ‘10 ways to get rid of your procrastination for good’ never work, maybe now you understand.

All this thinking and feeling I’ve just described may sound awfully time consuming. Personally, I’ve found that they’re a lot less time consuming that procrastinating itself. Or the endless seach for the article/video/image that WILL help.

Rescuer and persecuter deserve their own post. To be continued…

drama triangle winner triangle

By Wiki-psyc (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Start with the smallest step you can think of

The bigger the fear, the better this advice is. You know that joke about how you eat an elephant? The trunk first? There’s a reason why there’s no such joke about eating a quail. And it’s not just because a quail has no trunk.

The bigger the fear, the better this advice is. You know that joke about how you eat an elephant? The trunk first? There’s a reason why there’s no such joke about eating a quail (and it’s not just because a quail has no trunk).

I reminded myself of the smallest step technique today, because I know I need to restart my November project soon, and I dread it. I had to quit the project because of the flu – two or three rounds of it, I lost count. Then Christmas came, and then work happened. In the meanwhile my brain has labeled the project a FAILURE, and it’s frantically sending anxiety signals as soon as I consider picking it up again.

But it needs to be done. I want to get it done. And I want my brain to recogniseI did well, even when I didn’t finish it. The failure interpretation is an unfair distortion, and harmful too. Not to mention that it’s a clear invitation for procrastination!

So, my first small step today was revisit this blog. I replied to some of the comments I hadn’t replied to before, which reminded me of what a positive the experience othe blogging about my project has been.

It helped me reconnect to the feeling of ‘I want to get this done’. So I decided on a second small step: checking my diary if I had space (both time wise and mentally) to restart next week. Turned out I have SOME space. Which is enough when you think about small steps; it’s not too daunting to work on it a bit.

Obviously my third small step has been to write this blog post. It’s out in the open now: I will restart my November project. In February. Those taxes need to get done…

Today’s illustration is linked to the idea of taking a first small step. I made it on a day when I hadn’t painted for a long while. I wanted to paint, but felt like it would be impossible to create something beautiful. I felt I had lost all my skills, and certainly all my faith in being capable. So I decided to simply grab paint and create something that I would probably throw away because it was ugly. But at least I’d have handled some paint again. I did it. It worked. And I never threw it away. My son loved it (much to my surprise), so I gave it to him.