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So…. how did you go with the Procrastination posts? Did anything hit home and change the way you do things?

Now something to think about. What is successful in your life and how do you define success? 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Success is defined as: Outcome of undertaking; favourable outcome, accomplishment of what was aimed at, attainment of wealth or fame or position.

I like the first part of that definition :) Outcome of undertaking. Sometimes the outcome might not be what I hoped for, but at least I gave it a go.

 

success

Pro 5For the last four weeks, I’ve been posting on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’. Here’s the last in the series…

Are You Guilty of Chronic Procrastination?

Chronic procrastination is a problem that’s real and is nothing to be laughed at although there are many jokes about procrastination. Procrastination has caused people to lose jobs, personal possessions and even their spouse.

But most medical professionals fail to recognize the problem as real, classifying it as simply a bad habit. It manifests itself in low self-esteem, shame, underachievement and life can become unmanageable. Many procrastinators also suffer from adult attention deficit disorder but it isn’t acknowledged as such.

Chronic procrastination grows into a compulsion to avoid existence. It’s addictive and as harmful as any other addictive drug becoming your drug of choice and your method to circumvent the reality of life.

It’s a form of escapism. Chronic procrastinators often turn to drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol abusers sometime become procrastinators. So which came first? How do you recognize the symptoms?

Procrastinators are constantly disappointed in everything. They expect all things to go wrong and are inwardly happy when they do. Their lives are surrounded by clutter in the home, car and the work place.

They’re not aware of what’s really needed in their life and seek frivolous things for fulfillment and instant gratification. It’s hard to say no. They suffer from low self-esteem and are glad someone needs their help, but rebel by never completing the requested favor.

Procrastinators are late for appointments and have difficulty estimating the amount of time it takes to arrive at a destination or completing a task. They even resort to tricking their mind by setting their clock or watch a few minutes ahead.

If you think you’re a chronic procrastinator admit to your problem and make a decision to overcome it. Seek help. Therapy can be useful to learn new attitudes and overcome fears.

Ask yourself why you’re avoiding the things you dread. Make a list of dreaded activities and what’s the worse that could happen if you avoid them. You’ll quickly see this could result in dismal consequences. Also make a list of happy activities and why you would want to do them. Yes, there are happy activities too.

Time management can help. Stop giving in to activities that waste time. Develop a routine and break down your daily activities into small steps and tasks. Set a lesser deadline and meet it. Replace your “have to” with “want to. You don’t have to do anything. You have a choice. But, weigh the consequences of that choice.

You’re on your way to recovery when you do what you say you will do when you say you will do it. Success attracts success. Work on things you enjoy even if insignificant. At least the small things are getting done. Never feel guilty. Never submit to self-defeating mentality. Choose to improve the quality of your life and a life of quality will choose you.

Pro 4For the last three weeks, I’ve been posting on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’. Here’s number four…

Is Fear and Anxiety at the Root of Your Procrastination?

Procrastination can manifest itself in many forms and for many reasons. It’s primarily the avoidance of a task or project that needs to be done usually within a certain timeframe. Few of us have escaped the clutches of procrastination at one time or another in our life because it’s so easy to succumb to its seductive ways. Procrastination has many disguises: television, internet, email, books, household chores, telephone, sleep and even the excuse of helping a friend. Procrastinators seldom do nothing, but what they do is hardly useful. For many the underlying root problem of your procrastination is fear and anxiety. You feel anxious about a task so you choose to ignore it. This is a serious problem for students who have many deadlines to meet but it’s also a growing problem for those in the home and workplace. Fear and anxiety over not completing a task or project leads to procrastination and this in turn causes more fear of failure. Failure fear is common but some fear success. They feel if they complete the task successfully it will set the bar too high for future projects. Students are overwhelmed with an assignment and fear getting a failing grade. They substitute worry for studying but feel if they fail because of procrastination they’ll be perceived as lacking in effort and this is more acceptable than lacking in ability. They fear looking stupid. An interesting side note: College students who procrastinate are usually more prone to drinking, smoking, insomnia and sickness such as colds and flu. Psychologists say the drinking and smoking are to ease the pain of fear and anxiety caused by procrastination, which leads to health problems. We delay finishing a task because we fear criticism, disapproval and negative feedback. We had rather procrastinate than suffer the fear of shame and embarrassment of unreal expectations. This expands into fear and anxiety of possible rejection, being criticized and making mistakes. Some even fear losing freedom and put off committing to a project. Fears are sometimes unconscious and people deny they suffer from them. There are many ways to combat fear, anxiety and its offspring procrastination. Realize you have a choice to succeed or not to succeed. Set realistic goals in small increments and cultivate a sense of self worth. Don’t focus on weaknesses. Most fears are unfounded and irrational. Realize you’re working against yourself, analyze them and move on. Ask yourself the real reason you’re afraid. Be brutally honest. For some, exercise and deep breathing help. There is no perfect time to begin. Mark Twain said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do day after tomorrow.” The important thing is to start. Learn as much as you can about your task, take one step at a time, reward yourself and soon fear and anxiety will disappear.

pro 3For the last few weeks, I’ve been posting on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’. Here’s the next one…

Can Procrastination Ever Be Beneficial?

Procrastination rarely brings us feelings of happiness and delight. On the contrary, it usually fills us with guilt, stress and depression and we’re perceived as being lazy with no sense of direction. But can a deferment of actions to a later time, such as better time, be beneficial?

Are we not procrastinating when we adhere to the sage sayings of “haste makes waste” and “when in doubt, do nothing?” And, we’re told to “think before you speak” or put “mind in gear before opening mouth.”

Are these not forms of procrastination? Yet, it’s perceptive advice. It’s how we employ these words of wisdom that makes the difference. If something needs to be done today, don’t put it off until tomorrow or suffer the consequences…unless this delay is used to our benefit.

Procrastination is said to be poor time management and lack of organizational skills and denotes a defect in your personality. Some procrastinators are known to be perfectionists but perhaps they just don’t have the necessary data to perform the required task or duty.

They’re not putting off the task forever but gathering additional information and statistics until they feel confident to act at an advanced level. It’s not wise to perform unprepared, but use your time judiciously in becoming competent, careful not to be labeled slacker.

Procrastination, like water, follows a path of least resistance, so there’s no wasted energy or effort. Many times we procrastinate not because we’re lazy but because of the convolution of the problem at hand. As we ponder the situation, we can weed out what isn’t important leading us to a better solution.

Procrastination can teach us discipline, patience and the ability to work better under pressure. While we ponder we’re searching for a more effective way to do a task, which is a form of time management. Procrastination prompts subliminal organization.

We can usually decide when to do a task and obtain better results when we act at our opportune moment. But, we must not unduly delay in determining when it’s to our advantage to seize the moment.

There are many good reasons for putting things off. Before making an important decision, have you ever said, “let me sleep on it?” As you retreat into a quiet refuge to think creatively and clear your mind, solutions become apparent. Time flows persistently like a river but so do your thoughts. They never cease. Channel them productively.

If procrastination has become your lifestyle, know there are many good reasons for delaying action. Don’t allow negative feelings to capture your mind. Do your research, assess the problem and begin.

Force yourself to sit and work for at least five minutes and chances are you’ll keep going. Do the worst first and don’t worry about mistakes. Visualize completion. Procrastination can be one of our most useful tools but like any good carpenter we must learn to use it well

Last week, and for the next few weeks, I’m going to post on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’. Here’s 8 ways to stop procrastination.

8 ways

We all procrastinate to some degree. There are always other things you could be doing. Some say there’s no cure for procrastination so perhaps we need to seek not to prevent it but to slow it in the best way possible. When you’re working on the most important thing on your to-do list, that’s good, but you’ve delayed working on lesser things haven’t you?

Procrastination is a way of avoiding depression or coping with emotions that lead to depression or stress. This brings only temporarily relief and the next day when you awaken, no little fairy has done the work for you and the emotional stress of not completing your project returns. So, what to do?

Get organized. Now don’t procrastinate on this also. Make lists but keep it simple and realistic. Include both small and the large things to do on this list. The completion of small things could lead to big accomplishments.

When a task is completed, mark it off. It’s fun to watch your list grow shorter. You’ll be surprised how this gives you a feeling of success and spurs you on to greater success. Classes in organization are offered in many places and may be just right for you.

Prioritize your lists. The most important task is not always the most pleasant. Should you pay bills that are due to avoid a late payment penalty or you should you clean out a kitchen utility drawer? Meeting deadlines gives your morale a boost and sometimes your pocketbook too.

Take a step at a time and slice the work pie into smaller pieces. Before you know it the whole pie has been eaten. It’s been said that the longest journey begins with the first step. It’s the same with an overwhelming task. By the yard it’s hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch.

Have realistic expectations. If you have a large task that’s causing anxiety, do some of the smaller things related to the task as a whole. Thus the whole becomes manageable.

Get a calendar to list dates and appointments and to make sure you meet all deadlines for both short and long term goals. Look at your calendar frequently and don’t overbook. White space on your pages can bring a feeling of peace.

Don’t believe you must do everything perfectly. You’re human and humans make mistakes. That’s evident if you watch outtakes of a TV show.

Get started. Each day schedule time to work on the task at hand and eventually the task will be finished. Reward yourself and anticipate that reward as an incentive to work. Go back to work refreshed.

Allow adequate time to complete your task and don’t panic if you fall behind. Be flexible. Extensions can usually be had but don’t work with this in mind. Many projects never get done by feeling you’re the only one who can do it properly. A good leader is one who delegates and has a Plan B.

ProcrastinationFor the next few weeks I’m going to post on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’.

What’s the Real Definition of Procrastination?

Let’s start with the definition from the dictionary. Procrastination is the act of putting off, postponing or delaying intentionally and habitually something that should be done. This act may make you feel guilty for not being productive and responsible. You become stressed and this becomes an excuse to delay what should be done even further.

When you procrastinate, do you feel a low sense of self-esteem, not worthy and distressed that you’re not meeting others expectations? Do you overestimate the size of a task until the thought of doing it overwhelms you? It’s said that procrastinators expect too much from themselves and become out of touch with reality and their goals are in reality only wishes and dreams.

Procrastinators are often times perfectionists. They spend an inordinate amount of time trying to perfect one small task while the larger, needed task goes unfinished or not begun.

Perfectionists and procrastinators often continue to work on a tiny part of a project to avoid the evaluation of others, thus becoming a workaholic. The underlying problem for some perfectionists is that they are egocentric and will settle for nothing but the ultimate.

Psychologists classify procrastinators as two types: relaxed and tense or anxious. The relaxed type directs their energy into tangent tasks, thus avoiding what needs to be done. They view the whole elephant and are unable to take a bite at a time. They see the task as not pleasurable and enjoyable and demand instant gratification. Procrastinators gain the gratification by doing a more menial chore.

The anxious type is usually unrealistic about time and goals lacking the ability to focus and tell themselves they will start later. They rationalize reasons for delaying a beginning.

As time runs out, guilt and anxiousness increase leading to depression and even withdrawal. Failure, delay and unmet goals become a cycle with an unending loop that continues to repeat.

Procrastination is common in the academic world when a student waits until the last minute to start an assignment. Some students say they work better under pressure but this usually results in inferior work. They know the work must be completed to complete the course but other more pleasurable distractions get in the way.

If you avoid reality you could be a procrastinator on the road to a mental health disorder. A compulsion to surf the net, play video games constantly, too much television, or even using sleep as an escape could require professional help. These things are not bad in moderation but start with being honest with yourself.

Do you see yourself in these definitions? This is an attempt to characterize the act of procrastination and help you determine if you are, in fact, a procrastinator. No real solutions to procrastination are offered here. The solution to most problems begins with awareness and admitting you have a need. We’re all guilty of procrastination to some degree. Seek what degree is best for you.

Next week: 8 ways to stop procrastination.

DJ

Dialogue Tags and Action

I cannot speak highly enough regarding two editors I have worked with. I thought it might be useful for you to share what Megan taught me. Below is an extract from her opening comments regarding book 1, Operation Foxtrot Five…

You have great dialogue, but I would like to address your use of dialogue tags. Dialogue tags are what come after a line of dialogue to let readers know who is speaking (he said, she asked, etc.). Many of your dialogue tags are combined with an action tag. For example:

1) …Andrew Hallen said as he rolled his chair across the floor and started tapping at the keyboard of his computer.

2) “Morning, ma’am,” he said cheerfully as he passed the bunch of red roses to her.

 Combining action tags and dialogue tags is okay sometimes, but majority of your dialogue tags should be separate from action. The ratio right now is off. Luckily, though, this is an easy fix. You have two options: (1) delete the action tag altogether or (2) create an action beat.

Here is an example of an action beat:

             Original sentence—“I love you,” he said as he took hold of her hand.

            Revised tag—“I love you.” He took hold of her hand.

 Do you see the difference? The second version is more concise and a smoother read. All we’ve done is remove the said, let the dialogue stand alone, and left the action. It makes a huge difference in readability, and it can reveal character traits. Action beats are sharp and keep the pace strong. You do use action beats in your book, but more often than not you combine the dialogue and action tags. I encourage you to separate them, delete the action, or just get rid of the dialogue tag altogether and rely on the action beats to do the work of both.

One final note on dialogue tags. Said is the invisible dialogue tag, meaning most readers don’t even notice it—they skip right over. This is good, because it allows a reader to focus on the story instead of the tag. Words like you used a lot: cried, instructed, admired, etc., cause a reader to stop and focus on the dialogue tag instead of the dialogue itself. Keep an eye out for these and any excessive dialogue tags. I’m marked most of these, but feel free to adjust or delete more.

I hope you found this useful, and thank you, Meagan.

DJ

(c) DJ Stutley 2015

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