Tag: procrastination

Creating Lasting Change: How the End of the One-Week Challenge Became the Beginning of a New Outlook

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I have often heard that what you focus on becomes your reality and that if you believe things to be a certain way you are undoubtedly provided with evidence that supports that belief.  Well, I am living proof that both of those statements are true and I am happy to say that so are many other visitors to this blog series.

This past week, our challenge was to focus on having tremendous confidence in ourselves and our abilities.  Even when we started to have doubts or negative self-chatter, we brought ourselves back to that single focus.  The results were astounding!

For myself, the Universe consistently provided me with supporting evidence that I am confident in my abilities – I am smart enough to figure things out, realistic enough to know what I don’t know and how to find the right resources, and talented enough to continuously provide great writing and guidance to my clients.  The end result was that last week was one of my most creative and productive weeks of 2009.

I never heard the chatter of “you can’t do that”, or “it won’t be very good”.  In the past, it never mattered that I had proven my inner chatter wrong thousands of times with quality work and great connections for my clients.  This time I reminded myself that success leaves wonderful clues if you listen and look for them. Every day, even every hour I was accomplishing things that I might have otherwise procrastinated out of fear or initially fumbled through due to a lack of focus.  I always delivered quality content and ahead of schedule, but sometimes the inner chatter made the process of getting to the outcome much longer and more tedious.  This last week I was accomplishing great results in less time and with more concentrated efforts.  For a productivity geek like me who never wants the tasks to compromise the creative process, that is huge!

For the visitors of this blog series I raise my glass to your success!  Congratulations for allowing your focus on self-confidence to empower you to be more creative and more productive. For some of you I was ecstatic to hear how you were able to establish very reasonable boundaries with colleagues, clients and loved ones that made for much more fulfilling relationships.  It is amazing how feeling great about yourself and your skills helps you to speak your mind in a constructive way.  (This will come in handy during the upcoming holidays!)  Some of you shared your newly found entrepreneurial spirit. Confidence definitely helps you take more risks and with that receive bigger rewards.  Onward and upward!

Cheers to all of you who committed to staying focused.  Your confidence was likely contagious, as I am sure others picked up on your great energy and were drawn to you.  Great Mojo – keep it working for you!

Productivity Tools for the Creative Soul, Part 2

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Thank you all for contacting me with your success stories from using the first Productivity Tool in my previous posting.  Time Stamping is a great way to make better use of your time as well as alleviate your anxiety about feeling overwhelmed.

As promised, it is time to really look at the overall puzzle that is your day and your week.  Lists are fine for keeping track of what tasks need to be accomplished, but in order to improve upon my productivity I prefer to supplement my list with a more visual approach.  Our creative brains tend to want to think in shapes and colors and I hope this technique will help you not only accomplish more but also plan your days to maximize efficiency and balance your lifestyle.

Color Blocking: Identifying and distinguishing activities by colors on an hourly or 30-minute block system.

It doesn’t matter whether you use a formal project planning system, ACT!, Outlook Calendar or Day Planner system, my Color Blocking technique will work for you.   I print out my Outlook Calendar and keep it on my desk and I use colored pencils or pens to outline or color in the hours or 30-minute blocks based on how I have used that time.  You can also do this electronically using many different calendar programs, but I tend to have a need for the physical activity of coloring – if only it was practical to use crayons….but I digress (or regress).

The majority of your activities will fall into about 6-8 major categories and by assigning colors to those categories, you will create a daily/weekly vision of how you are spending your time.  It also helps you to determine what adjustments you would like to make to improve on the next day or following week.  This does not require you to make huge changes, just small shifts from hour to hour or day to day that will have a measurable impact on your life.

Here is how I code my activities:

  • Income Generating – Green
  • Business Development – Blue
  • Research/Networking online – yellow
  • Social online – Black
  • Exercise – Red
  • Family and Friends – Purple
  • Errands/dining/commuting/Misc. – Grey

I like the fact that at the end of the day or week I can assess the productivity and balance of my life by quickly seeing how many blocks of green or blue there are compared to the other categories.

Do this for at least one full day/week and then ask yourself:

  • Is there too much of one color?
  • How come I was so busy but yet there is not one block of green in my day?
  • Am I waiting until things slow down before I do more business development?
  • Have I committed enough time to exercise or friends/family?
  • Did I really spend that much time online without any purpose?
  • If I pre-color blocks of time for tomorrow, will that keep me more focused?
  • There is way too much time spent on errands and miscellaneous, what resources do I have that can help me?  Can I delegate or eliminate any of them?
  • If I color in the block for exercise ahead of time, will it make me more committed to keep that promise to myself?
  • What would my ideal week look like if it were represented in colors?  That is my goal and I can get there by just being conscious of my colors.

It is truly amazing how being able to see the completed puzzle can help you readjust the pieces to better fit your lifestyle objectives.  Start Color Blocking today and see your own brilliance.  Please share your feedback.  I would love to hear about your progress.

Productivity Tools for the Creative Soul, Part 1

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“Procrastination is, hands down, our favorite form of self-sabotage.”  - Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

When we are stressed or fear that we don’t know how to accomplish something, instead of taking action, we stop in our tracks and put off the process because we believe we need this big elaborate plan before anything can happen.  This provides us with a sense of security as well as allowing us an opportunity to procrastinate the project. This dilemma is commonly referred to as Analysis Paralysis:  The belief that we need to chunk it, prioritize it, mind-map it, or project plan it before we can even think about getting anything done.

Therefore, for Part 1 of this series I am not going to discuss any elaborate plan but instead I will present a simple approach to putting the “process” back into the creative process.

Time Stamping: Next to each of the items you have listed on your white board, to-do list or project plan, write down the estimated time you think it will take to accomplish each activity.  For instance, a portion of your day’s list may look like this:

  • Write blog (1 hour)
  • Research statistics for chapter 2 (1 hour)
  • Follow up with editor regarding Forward (15 min)
  • Write Introduction for e-book (1.5 hrs)
  • E-mail 5 potential new network connections/clients (15 min each – 1 hr 15 min total)
  • Exercise – yoga, treadmill, Pilates, run, gym.  (1.5 hrs)
  • Review Facebook posts (30 min)
  • Post to Twitter in a.m. (30 min)
  • Post to Twitter in p.m. (30 min)
  • Comment on relevant blogs and create link-backs (30 min)

This is a quick way of putting realistic time allotments to each piece of your puzzle.  The benefits of this easy step are:

  • Each time you have only 30-45 minutes before your next meeting, conference call, etc. you can quickly scan your list and see what items you can fit into that time slot and make the most of that short block of time.  You will begin to feel more productive and this will reduce your stress and help you to be more relaxed and creative.
  • You will be less likely to postpone a project when you realize it will only take you an hour or so from start to finish.  Consider how much better you will feel taking action rather than spending hours being anxious and trying to avoid it.
  • You can add up the total times you have allocated and realize that what originally looked like an overwhelming mountain of work is only 6 hours of that day or 35 hours for the week.  This will give you a sense of relief in knowing it is manageable and doable.
  • You may realize in totaling up your hours that you have overestimated your ability to handle every activity on your own.  Although this may be a little depressing at first, it is a perfect time to reassess your list and see what is not critical or what can be delegated or eliminated.

Try Time Stamping your activities for a day or week starting today and watch what happens.  I would love to hear comments on how it worked for you.

The next installment of this series will address the concept of creating a visual representation of how you spend your time.  It is amazing how being able to see the completed puzzle can help you readjust the pieces to better fit your lifestyle objectives.