THAT OLD BUGABOO, PROCRASTINATION

 

 

 

 

Who has never procrastinated? It’s not always a bad thing, but most often, it is. Here are some ideas on how to cope:

PROCRASTINATION CAUSES AND TIPS FOR OVERCOMING:

  • Overwhelm (break the task down into small parts)
  • Task is unpleasant (hold your nose and get it done—probably best to tackle the whole thing at one time, if you can)
  • Space is too disorganized (take 15 minutes a day to deal with it)
  • Perfectionism (learn to tell yourself “good enough” when something is good enough. Being perfect is impossible)
  • Difficulty making decisions (not making a decision is a decision to keep the status quo. Is that what you really want?)

HABITS TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION:

  • Do your most important task first every day when your resistance is lowest. Later, it has built up because you keep thinking about it and putting it off.
  • Check in with a friend on progress (perhaps you both have a similar problem; discuss what you’ve accomplished or not)

MAKE A PLAN:

  • Use the five-minute rule. Tell yourself you’ll only work for five minutes on whatever-it-is. You can do five minutes! Usually that will be enough to make you continue
  • Schedule your day, daily
  • Try to stick to your plan as much as possible, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to everything every day
  • If you work at home, tell your family what your plan is and ask them to help you make it work
  • Learn how to get rid of distractions (that would be another post, but examples are to turn off electronic devices, close your browser, and shut the door to your office, if you have one

Here’s an example of my own plan:

DAY OF WEEK TIME OF DAY ACTIION AMOUNT OF TIME
Monday 8:45 Exercise 10 min.
9 am Current writing project 1 hour
10:30 Exercise 10 min
1:30 Marketing 1 hour
300 Exercise 10 min.
3:15 Housework 30 min
4:00 Marketing/social media 1 hour
7:00 Short story brainstorm 1 hour
8:30 Marketing 1 hour
Tuesday 8:45 Exercise 10 min.
9 am Current writing project 1 hour
10:30 Exercise 10 min
1:30 Marketing 1 hour
3:00 Exercise 10 min.
3:15 Housework 30 min
4:00 Marketing/social media 1 hour
7:00 Short story brainstorm 1 hour
8:30 Marketing 1 hour
Wednesday 8:45 Exercise 10 min.
9 am Current writing project 1 hour
10:30 Exercise 10 min.
1:30 Marketing 1 hour

Sorry about the wonky chart formatting. Can’t get rid of it, so it’s the best I can do. I think it’s good enough!
For more in-depth ideas, check out Dr. Patrick Keelan

Use action plans to achieve your resolutions in the New Year…and at any other time

And there’s Lifehack:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/29-ways-to-beat-procrastination-once-and-for-all.html

Procrastination is a problem for most of us at one time or another. Learn the reasons for yours and how best to deal with it. Good luck!

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SETTING UP YOUR WINDOWS DESKTOP

Screen shot of my desktop will not load into this post. Tried about a dozen times; no go. Anyway:

Did you know you can:

Quickly change the size of your icons?
•    Right click on an empty space on the Windows 10 desktop.
•    Select “View.”
•    Choose your size preference.
Place shortcut icons for documents, spreadsheets, and other files you’ve created onto your desktop?
•    Click Start or go to File Manager.
•    Choose Documents.
•    Browse for the document or file you want to make a desktop shortcut.
•    Right-click the name of the document, point to Send To, then click Desktop (Create shortcut).
•    A shortcut for that document or file will then appear on your desktop.
You can put things in your Start Menu so that some programs will be quickly ready to go when you choose their icons?
•    Go to your start menu.
•    Pick anything there you want to be able to get quickly from your desktop.
•    Choose pin to start menu. (I admit, this doesn’t always work for me, and I have no idea why. I think it mainly happens with programs that are not Windows programs.)
Do you know what the Task Manager can do for you and how to locate it?
•    Right click on your icon toolbar.
•    Choose Task Manager.
•    Highlight a program you want to stop running because it hung up.
•    Click on End Task.
Do you know how to uninstall programs you don’t use, especially those that do something annoying such as using pop-ups to tell you something “needed” to update them or whatever?
•    Go to your Start menu.
•    Type in Uninstall in the search bar.
•    Pick the program you want to use. (I put an icon for this function up on my desktop so I don’t have to go through all this each time)
•    Highlight the program you want to uninstall and allow the proram to do so.

Do you know that “right clicking” on things (icons, toolbars, the desktop itself) brings up menus that allow you to pick or change things so they’ll work better for you?

There are so many options, I suggest your try this yourself, especially when you want to do something in particular, but are not sure how to make it happen.

I hope this is helpful!

 

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LUCKY 7 QUICK CLEANING TIPS

1) QUICK DUSTING:

Use your hairdryer to “dust” lampshades and curtains.

2) CLOSETS:

Add hooks on the backs of closet and maybe even bedroom doors to hang up various items. For example, the one on the back of your bedroom door could hold your robe, either just overnight or all the time. You can hang scarves, handbags, and of course clothes, on the other hooks in closets. Or maybe an outfit you wear for certain occasions, such as gardening, cleaning house, or loungewear.

3) TILE FLOORS:

Use toothpaste to remove black scuffs.

4) DISPOSAL:

Run used coffee grounds through the disposal to eliminate odors.

5) COOKING:

Use time while waiting for the water to boil or something to cook a while before it needs stirring or other attention, to clean up—load the dishwasher, wipe counters, empty the trash, scrub the sink, straighten out items in a drawer, etc.

6) SHOWER AND TUB:

Use a squeegee to wipe down the glass and tile after every use. Train the rest of the family to do the same. Only takes a minute. Get one you can hang with a short handle, and have a dedicated hook for it.

7) REMOVE ONION, GARIC, FISH ODERS FROM YOUR HANDS:

If you have a stainless-steel sink, rub your hands over it when finished chopping onions or garlic, or handling fish. If you do not have a stainless-steel sink, there are “stainless steel chef soaps.” To use, handle it just as you would a regular bar of soap to wash your hands. Available at Amazon, of course.

http://amzn.to/2qxCO2g

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COPING WITH DISTRACTIONS

Distractions are so distracting. Here are a few ideas to help you cope:

1) The first trick for dealing with them is to be sure you’re not causing your own distractions: You check your email, Twitter or Facebook account, or make a quick phone call when you had started out to work on a big project, like writing a novel. And then, every so often you do the checking again. This kills your focus, and it will take some time to get back into the “groove.”

You’re doing something you have as a top priority on your to-do list, but it’s boring. So, you distract yourself by, you guessed it, checking email, Facebook, or Twitter. Making a phone call. Playing just one game of solitaire.

2) You allow others to distract you because you don’t have firm rules and signals to let them know you are working and should not be disturbed until you come up for air. This goes for family members if you work at home, and for co-workers at the office. Close a door if you have one, or put up a do not disturb sign if you need to. Be sure to take regular breaks where you are accessible, especially for children.

3)Try checking in with yourself about your habits. Have you made enough things you need to do every day a habit? Think about the habit of brushing your teeth. You don’t even say to yourself, now I’m going to brush my teeth because you do it along with other small grooming habits, every day. You probably do it at the same time every day. You probably, way back when, did have to think about it every time for several weeks before it became a habit. Make as many things you do most or every day habits. This saves mental energy, so you will get more done before being tired.

3) Perfectionism can be a distraction. First of all, it’s practically impossible to get everything you do perfect. You must decide while working on a project: when does it become “good enough?” After that, aiming for perfection is a huge distraction. You’re better off starting on something new instead.

Bottom line: When you get ready to tackle the most important jobs each day, close the door, turn off your phone, shut down your internet connection, and forget about perfectionism. Make all that a habit, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish every day.

ENDING YOUR DAY RIGHT

Especially for my writer friends (but nonwriters can steal these tips), before you leave your desk for the day or night:

BACKUP YOUR WORK: In two places is best. I use OneDrive and a thumb drive, then once a month I back up to an external drive I keep in a water and fireproof small safe.

CLEAR OFF YOUR DESK: Put everything away and file anything that needs filing.

CALENDAR: Make sure everything is written on your calendar and check to see if you have any early-morning appointments.

TO-DO LIST: Be very systematic with your to-do list. Quickly write down everything you hope to accomplish the next day, but then put everything in order of priority.

DO ONE EXTRA THING: If needed, for example, write one email you owe. Deal with one piece of paper you’ve been hanging onto. Make a quick phone call you’ve been putting off.

Did I leave out anything anyone thinks is also important? Let me know in the comments!

START YOUR DAY RIGHT

For my writer friends, some ideas for beginning your day in order to be more productive:

GET UP, GET DRESSED

EAT BREAKFAST: Make it healthy!

BE THANKFUL:   Think of at least one thing to be thankful for.

REFLECT: What did you do yesterday to advance your goals? What can you do better today?

STRETCH, WALK AROUND: You’re going to be sitting for a while. Get in some stretches and walking before you get to your desk.

GET COMFORTABLE: Wiggle into your seat. Be sure your mouse and keyboard are in comfortable positions. Is the lighting the way you want it? Has something appeared on your desk that’s in your way and needs to be moved? If you usually have something to drink nearby, is it there?

CALENDAR AND TO-DO LIST: Check your calendar so you don’t forget anything you need to do—an appointment, an email wishing someone a happy birthday, etc. The to-do list should have been written and items prioritized the night before, so go over it to be sure you still like the way your arranged your priorities. If you didn’t do it the night before, do it now.

CHECK EMAIL IF YOU MUST (better to wait until after you’re written your morning words, I’ve found): But don’t answer any unless they are extremely important. Just look through the names and subject lines to see if anything really important came in, like that million-dollar book contract.

SMILE.

WRITE.

GETTING CONTROL OF EMAIL AND USING IT TO STAY ORGANIZED

I’ve come up with a couple of tips I hope will help you get a handle on some time-management problems when dealing with email.

First I use folders to sort my mail into very small areas. I have a business one where I place sub-folders to throw in payments, orders, and so on for each business. I have folders for people I do a lot of correspondence with. I have them for family members. And so on.

But I had a brainstorm the other day, and started one for personal emails to answer, and one for marketing ideas. Now I see at a glance how many I need to answer that are personal, and how many I should go through for marketing. I even send myself marketing ideas (usually links) when I find them.

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The system has helped with my usual overwhelmed feeling when I look at my inbox. And the marketing idea is great because when I sit down and decide to work on marketing, I can go to that folder and find ideas to carry out. Examples include using Notes in Facebook to put up my most current blog post, update my bios at Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, etc. I try to work on one a day. (Think about it—that would be 365 marketing attempts a year!)

Let me know in the comments if you have any special email tricks

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BALANCING WRITING ITSELF AND MARKETING THE WRITING

The other day I was reading about finding time to write and the reminder of Anne Lamont’s advice in Bird by Bird that you do as much as you can each day, and keep building on that, and you will finish, if you keep at it long enough.

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So, I have that down pretty well. I get stuff written—last couple of years two books a year plus articles, a short story or two, and email. Oh email doesn’t count?

Now I have nine (!) books published, and, I admit, they are languishing. This is probably because I’m not a good marketer. No, this is definitely because I’m not a good marketer.

So, my new plan is to set aside one hour a day for marketing. Yesterday, I was all set to do that when a big household project came up, and I ran out of time.

I guess today is another day.

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A HUGE GOAL BROKEN DOWN TO DAILY GOALS = SUCCESS

If you only do these things, you will succeed:

  • Keep track—make your own scoreboard
  • Work to perfect your talent—study every day
  • Push through the bad days
  • Dig deeper by upping your daily goals, studying harder, and figuring out how to lessen your bad days
  • Never give up

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PRODUCTIVITY TIPS FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE

If you do creative work, you might consider how to get more done in less time. In the world of multitasking, creatives can become lost because they scatter their thoughts and feelings among too many things to do. I’ve read advice for creatives about making chores into activities. Run all your errands in one afternoon. Cook and freeze enough meals all day to feed everyone for a week or more. Answer routine emails once a week until your inbox is empty.

Of course, I’m going to talk specifically about writers here. You probably know that I’ve done a lot of research on time management and personal organization. And I’ve come up with a set of guidelines from all the research to use myself.

Over the last two or three years, though, I’ve become frustrated with my schedule, which in theory should work so well. I kept wondering why it didn’t. I’m going to show you what I used to do, and what I’m doing now. And why I think what I’m doing now is better.

My days had a set schedule/routine, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I take Thursday and Sunday off—Thursday to shop instead of the weekend, and to do other errands, perhaps see a doctor, whatever comes up. Sunday is my unplug day—I check email morning and night, but the rest of the day I [try to] stay away from the computer.

This is what my schedule looks like:

  • Get up, get dressed, get coffee and orange juice, turn on computer, make bed while computer warms up.
  • Drink coffee and juice, read and respond to emails.
  • Write 1,000 words on work in progress—fiction
  • Exercise.
  • Eat lunch while reading newspaper (resting eyes from computer glare)
  • Housework, more email, odd jobs—not my best time of day to do creative work. I have one chore planned for each day—bathroom and kitchen day, dust and dry mop day, vacuum day, and so on—more about this later.
  • Four o’clock, put computer aside, no more housework, relax for an hour, reading a book.
  • Five o’clock, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up kitchen, read or do email until seven.
  • Seven o’clock, work for one hour on a writing project or marketing.
  • Eight o’clock, downtime or more email, Facebook.
  • Nine o’clock, more writing projects
  • Ten—finish up on computer, shut it down. Read until bedtime.

Okay, I left out personal grooming, talking to my husband, goofing off.

You’ll notice I don’t watch TV. Well, rarely, I watch football games once a week during the season, and the occasional show my husband is recommending, or a movie he’s watching. Not really my thing, though.

Looks really good on paper, doesn’t it? Not that many hours of work.

The trouble is that the marketing also gets interspersed in there—Twitter, Facebook, blog articles, a newsletter every so often, and lots of other stuff I can’t even remember now. If I don’t schedule those times to relax, I don’t relax.

And usually, by 7 o’clock, I don’t want to do anything more. There’s simply too much stuff! Scattered stuff.

So, I have a new plan using the project idea.

  • Mornings stay the same except the writing new stuff switches to marketing when I’ve finished a project until I can’t think of another way to promote that project, then I go back to new writing.
  • Afternoons stay the same except I do projects instead of small bits of housework—my plan is:
  • Monday, major project, will differ each week.
  • Tuesday groceries, some cooking in advance.
  • Wednesday, catch up on email/home office work.
  • Friday/clean house.
  • Saturday laundry..

But evenings become either more writing/editing or marketing—in other words, not doing both every night, again, until it’s done for the latest project.

I’m not saying this is going to help, but it might. I’m a bit excited about this experiment. But would it be better to continue in the afternoon working on writing and marketing, and doing the other chores after dinner? Like with a regular job? Or reverse it and do the housework/chores first thing, get them out of the way, then spend the rest of the day writing? I’m not sure yet. We’ll see.

So, I’ll report back in a month or so. Stay tuned!