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Posts Tagged ‘goals’

  1. How to Procrastinate Like a Pro and Still Get Stuff Done

    February 3, 2019 by Diane

    Lazy time.

    I’m an expert procrastinator.

    I should be awarded a PhD in procrastination. But…sigh, I’m too busy procrastinating to graduate.

    Which means I’ve earned the degree by default.

    To make use of this unappreciated skill, I thought I’d share my expertise on how to procrastinate with purpose so you can follow along.

    Here are my top ten tips:

    1. If you’re going to procrastinate, don’t get an early start. Lie about in bed until 10:00 at the earliest, preferably noon.

    2. Check your Twitter timeline, not for the purpose of engaging with anyone or marketing your product or service, but just to see what Trump has been up to in the wee small hours. (The man is clearly not a procrastinator.)

    3. Rummage around in the refrigerator until you remember what you’re rummaging for, then cease this activity.

    4. Pause from rummaging to look at the sky for a good twenty minutes. Sometimes the answers we seek are written there.

    5. Make a list of things you need to get done.

    6. Find the least productive task on that list, and make a halfhearted attempt to do it. Something along the lines of: file nails.

    7. Go to the library and check out three more books to add to the stack of books you don’t have time to read because you’re too busy procrastinating.

    8. Rearrange your in-box. If you feel too productive doing so, just give it a light dusting.

    9. Consider tackling that rewrite and head to the lawn instead with a blanket and book. But don’t read the book. Just close your eyes and ponder how well you’ve procrastinated for a whole day.

    10. Do all of the above whenever you have a project to complete or a deadline to meet.

    Before you judge me as a slug who never gets anything done (except procrastinating) you should know: I’ve managed to write four-and-a-half novels, get a new job, start a freelance copywriting business, submit my short story to ten literary journals (okay, I’m still working on this one) and feed myself five times a day. How did I manage to accomplish so much with a full schedule of procrastinating?

    Here are my top five secrets:

    1. Decide on what you can commit to doing that will help you reach your goals.

    Even procrastinators have goals. Usually big ones.

    • Get a new job.
    • Start a successful freelance copywriting business.
    • Do both. While rewriting your novel.

    The bigger the goal, the greater the itch to procrastinate, so your list of what you can honestly commit to doing looks like this:

    • I can commit to procrastinating
    • I can commit to being lazy
    • I can commit to procrastinating on being lazy, which means I’m actually being active, but in a sneaky way

    Clearly, this list won’t generate much in the way of accomplishing your goals.

    If you’re a procrastinator, you need to stop thinking in terms of PROJECTS, and think in terms of steps. A project, like GET A NEW JOB, may seem so overwhelming you’ll head for the couch.

    Instead, ask yourself: what can I commit to doing that will help me reach my goals?

    If you’re like me, your inner voice might say:

    “There’s no way I can commit to getting a new job. But I can commit to looking on Craigslist for one hour on Monday. I can’t wrap my head around starting a new freelance business. But I can spend one hour on Saturday reading the first chapter of Start and Run a Copywriting Business. I don’t have time to rewrite a novel. But I can rewrite one page a day.”

    One step at a time, baby. That’s the key.

    2. If all that list-making eats into your procrastination time, schedule time to procrastinate.

    Seriously.

    Block out time on your calendar. Make it sacred. Nothing else must encroach upon that time. Not chores, not exercise, not rewriting that novel. This is YOUR time to KICK BACK and do NOTHING.

    It’s okay. Really.

    3. Find a balance between procrastinating and getting things done

    After all, if you want a paycheck, you need to work. If you want to eat, you need to shop for groceries. If you want to sleep, you need to smash those itty bitty insects that fly inside during the winter months and buzz your ears. You can delay those activities only so long before you end up starving in a cardboard box under the freeway overpass where flying insects are the least of your troubles.

    Think of getting things done as interval training. In interval training, you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity periods. You walk for three minutes then jog for one, then walk for three and jog for one, and so on. You can get things done in a similar manner: work on those baby steps in bursts, then stretch out in a hammock and ponder the universe.

    4. When tackling something big, allow buffer time for procrastinating.

    Got a project looming? Estimate the amount of time it will take to complete. If it’s a week, then schedule a week and two days. That way you can loaf around for 48 of those hours and not feel a twinge of guilt.

    Because let’s face it: guilt takes all the fun out of procrastinating.

    5. Put off procrastination for your future self.

    If you’re like me, you’ve put everything else off for your future self. Why not procrastination, too?

    (Don’t try to figure that one out. It’ll make your head explode.)

    Now it’s your turn. Are you a procrastinator who manages to get things done? What are your secrets? Come on, spill!


  2. If Life is What You Make it, Make it Matter

    July 23, 2017 by Diane

    You live in a world where you wake up and the sun shines, coffee percolates, teeth gleam, and breakfast waits on the table on good china, next to rolled napkins of the finest cloth. Where politics is a word buried in a dictionary. Where windows are floor to ceiling, and the view is a white sand beach, with seagulls dipping into gently rolling waves. You live in a world where nothing matters except good food, good wine, good company, a good view, and something good to fill the days—something that does matter.

    Or…

    You live in a world where you drag yourself from bed thirty minutes after the alarm goes off, and rush through a bowl of cereal to arrive late at a job that bores you. Where the workplace is poorly lit with no windows. Where every surface is piled with clutter, the internet screams politics, and the only view is your own. Where nothing matters except quitting time, making it through traffic, opening a can of soup without slicing your thumb, and numbing your pain with reality television.

    Who visualized that life?

    Someone who didn’t visualize their ideal.

    Are you filling your days with what matters, or with what doesn’t?

    Let’s face it: unless you have a helper, you do the housework, wash the dishes, clean the clothes and get the groceries. Chores take up a portion of your waking hours. Can those hours matter more than something to get through? Can they be times when you do your best creative thinking, times when you practice gratitude for earth’s bounty, times when a clean home makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into House Beautiful?

    Do you know what matters to you?

    Is it writing five pages in your novel, or shopping for another pair of shoes that you don’t really need? Is it time spent reading, or time spent searching for your car keys under the clutter on your desk? Is it walking along the shoreline with a loved one, or standing in line at Starbucks checking your Twitter followers? The world is full of choices, isn’t it? Dizzying.

    What’s your vision?

    Without a vision and a plan to get there, we live our lives dealing with matters that don’t matter. And to make matters worse, sometimes we don’t even know it.

    Brian Tracy, in his book, Goals! How to Get Everything You Want—Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, says, “If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want, you end up getting something else.”

    So: visualize what you want, every morning when you wake up, and every night when you turn out the lights. See it, feel it. Engage the senses. Make it as real as possible. A funny thing happens. With a clear target to aim for, like a magnet, the brain focuses in that direction.

    Make it matter

    Every waking hour, touch upon those things that spark your life force. Ask yourself periodically, does it matter, what I’m expending time and energy on? If not, can I make it so, or let it go?

    We live in a world of matter, shaped by our thoughts, our actions, and the thoughts and actions of billions and billions of others. Shape it wisely, and with an open heart.

    Because it matters.


  3. Discouraged? These three magic words will make you feel better

    March 19, 2017 by Diane

    Words have power on wooden table

    Do you ever tell yourself…

    “I’m a failure,”

    or

    “My work is mediocre at best, I’ll never measure up,”

    or

    “I can’t make a living doing what I love, I’m wasting my time.”

    Do you hear words in your head that sound like your third-grade teacher, your high school coach, your fill-in-the-blank who doled out messages back in the day when you were a tender young sprout building dreams, words like:

    “You might fail, so why even try?”

    Those are words of envy, of someone who’s faced failure, cringed, and retreated. Those are words you absorbed and squirreled away and overheard in your head when you sat down to rewrite that novel, or compose that blog post, or start that home business, or face that empty canvas, or practice that trombone.

    Spit them out.

    They’re bitter. They need to be boiled down to an edible consistency so they’re easily digestible.

    Sometimes, those words are offered as a way to protect you from disappointment, like when you announced: “I’m quitting my job so I can write The Great American Novel, and I’ll support my family on the advance check alone.”

    Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you’ve never said that to yourself. Or something like it.

    “I’m going to open a food truck, get discovered on Shark Tank, and open a fleet of food trucks.”

    Okay, somebody actually did that.

    The point is, sometimes our dreams get too big for their britches. Doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming them. We just need to decide where to best focus our energy.

    As a good friend recently told me, quoting the author of Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System:

    And then there are the little dreams, like…

    Getting picked for the high school basketball team. Not.

    Getting that part-time job that paid more than your full-time job. Think again.

    Getting the lead in the local community theatre production. Know how to carry a spear?

    Disappointing, right?

    Makes you want to sink into the sofa with a Cotsco-size bag of Cheetos.

    Here’s another quote, from a Buddhist nun:

    When there’s a disappointment, I don’t know if it’s the end of the story. But it may be just the beginning of a great adventure. – Pema Chodron

    There will be times when we dream big and fall short, or try something and fail. Rather than wallow in discouragement, I’ve found the antidote. Three magic words. Three words so powerful, they erase any self-doubt, unstick any stuck places. Words so powerful, whenever you use them, you’ll shoot past that naysayer, you’ll straighten your spine and look that doubter dead in the eye and smile with knowing, then spread your fingers on the keyboard, the trombone keys, around that paint brush, and do what you were meant to do.

    What are those three magic words?

    At. This. Time.

    Huh?

    AT THIS TIME.

    I’m doing the best I know how, AT THIS TIME. With the skills and knowledge I have AT THIS TIME, I’m doing all I can do. As I acquire more skills and knowledge, I’ll do the best I can to at THAT time, which will be THIS time, only THEN.

    Confused?

    Yeah, me too. But that’s okay.

    Those three magic words act like jet fuel when you’re on the fiftieth rewrite of a ten-page story.

    Oh, you don’t rewrite fifty times?

    Huh.

    Well, anyway, instead of rewriting fifty times like I do, you (or, ahem, I) can stop at the tenth time, saying, “Let it go. You’ve done the best you can do at this time,” then submit it to a literary journal. Off it goes!

    AT THIS TIME keeps you in the moment. Not somewhere in the future, or with Joe Schmo the bestselling author, or with Lucky Leo the ace tennis player. It keeps you with you, at your current level of experience.

    Now, that’s not to say you stay stuck in this moment forever. This moment becomes the next, and you flex your muscles a bit more, stretch a bit further, and take the next step into the next moment, building your skills as you go. You’re in competition with nobody but yourself. Nobody else can fit in your shoes as long as you’re wearing them.

    So the next time you give your heart to a project and it doesn’t pan out, or your kid does something that leaves you doubting your parenting skills, or the cake you bake for your spouse’s birthday falls flat; the next time your blog post is anything less than stellar, or your rewrite is going badly, or your trombone-playing makes your brother lob a ball at your head; the next time your cold-calling results in a dozen hang-ups, or you slave over a report and your boss makes you do it over–don’t despair. Take a deep breath, straighten up, and say, “I did the best I could do. At this time.” And pat yourself on the back.

    Because the truth is, we’re all on a learning curve.

    And next time, we’ll do better.

    Now that you have those three magic words to propel you onward, what dream, big or pint-sized, will you take on this year? Tell me in the comments.