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GTD Anti-Procrastination Workshop thread [!ANTIAVOIDANCE]

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  • GTD Anti-Procrastination Workshop thread [!ANTIAVOIDANCE]

    I had the idea to make a thread about procrastination.
    Last edited by CosmoGTD; 04-01-2006, 05:39 AM.

  • #2
    My first one is my @calls list

    Great idea coz let's all help eachother out!!

    My first of possibly a few is my @calls list. I've started to wonder if it's not a 'mini phobia' but I'm not sure.

    My list will start off small and will be very action specific with who i need to speak with, what about and what the number is. The problem is that even if it's a simple one like making a hairdressing/doctor's appointment I will balk at it. I will just look at it and go , no not now. I will even do the same with calling a friend just to say hello (an important one as far as my higher level 'views' are concerned in terms of maintaining or nurturing good relationships with friends and family). So you can imagine of course if there are any 'hairy' ones like 'call tax department to ask for extension regarding business activity statement' well that's just way too scary!!

    What I do then is let them get 'stale'. I will look at them at my weekly review and feel strange and do a big fat 'avoid'. Once they are way older than they should be I stop even looking at the calls list and therefore don't even add anything to it!!! Big breakdown in the system huh!

    What shifts it? The extreme urgency thing where I absolutely HAVE to do them - so I will pick at the most urgent with my eyes shut almost.
    The only other thing that shifts it is a major energy shift where I feel like as DA talks about on the GTD Fast cd's I'm captain of my ship because I've started to clean the refrigerator 'by default' and suddenly done the whole thing.

    I tried to analyse 'what I was afraid of'.... I mean really is the hairdresser going to say 'no i dont want to cut your hair?' .... so therefore I"m silly I should do those silly simple no brainer ones first.... then get the energy from those to do the more serious ones involving a degree of professionalism but maybe that's the whole point. My 'mind' won't let me do those simple ones because then only the big scaries will be left!!

    Go figure... Any tricks or sympathetic nods gratefully accepted!!

    Comment


    • #3
      I was tempted to say you don't have a problem because speaking in the phone is something you don't like to do, therefore why not defer it so that you can do something more interesting and productive in the meantime.

      Of course, now that my GTD training just kicked in, I realised how wrong this is. The phone action is something that won't go away, it needs to be done- otherwise it wouldn't be on your NA list. And putting off stuff for no good reason until it becomes urgent is one of the major GTD sins!

      Also, even though you don't want to use the phone, the things that result from using the phone are things that you definitely want to do.

      Most importantly you have recognised that this is something which you don't like about yourself and it is constantly preying on your mind. So... why not get it off your mind and start a new Project called "Cure Phone Phobia"!

      I have some personal experience of phobias and found desensitisation (you do the thing you don't like on purpose and build it up gradually) and also hypnosis/ relaxation useful. The main thing is accept there's a problem and accept there will be pain in overcoming it.

      There are lots of resources out there but may I recommend the following online book (it's free) for starters. Chapter 5 deals with anxiety problems.

      http://mentalhelp.net/psyhelp/

      Comment


      • #4
        Put @calls on calendar

        helenjc,

        When I have resistance to an entire area of work, I frequently find that it is helpful to schedule an appointment with myself to do only that. It is basically just a way of tricking myself into not wandering off into other less alarming tasks. If "@calls" is on my calendar from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, I know that I am only supposed to be working on that, and I will sit down, put on my headset and start dialing my way down the list. A side benefit of this method is that I usually get through the list in much less time than I predict it will take, and if it does take the entire time, then at least I know that I can quit at the end of the time I've set aside without breaking an agreement with myself.

        Side Note: A headset for the telephone, by the way, is an incredibly helpful piece of gear when you are making calls. You can write, type or dial without juggling the handset or getting a kink in your neck. It really makes the experience more fun and more productive.

        Tornado

        Comment


        • #5
          A few thoughts come to mind

          1. Is the task still too big? Do you need to break it down further? For instance. Have you got the number to hand? Do you have a clear idea of when you want to go? When is the best time to ring?

          2. Are you not that bothered by the outcome? Or fearful of a poor outcome? Will you come out of the hairdresser's beautifully coifurred and ready to take on the world? Or will it be a case of waiting for it to grow back and hoping that nobody notices in the interim?

          3. Perhaps as you allude to being able to worry about not doing the small issues allows you to not worry about the big issues. Or does it? Does it really save you worrying about the big issues or just give you more to worry about?

          4. Is it a commitment issue? Do you prefer your time to be totally flexible and so resent structure? If this really is an ordeal try scheduling something you really want to do immediately after as a reward. Go for a drink, to the cinema or something else that you keep promising yourself you will do.

          Take care not just to jump on one method of sorting your problem because you will find different issues have different solutions and some times a cocktail is needed.

          Hope this helps. It certainly was cathartic for me as a reminder of the tools I have at my disposal for mastering my own issues.

          Comment


          • #6
            ugh, the phone!

            helenjc, I know how you feel. I've struggled for years with an irrational fear of the telephone. I'm not completely sure why talking on the phone intimidates me so much, but I know it's holding me back.

            I think part of it is that I feel terribly self-consious on the phone, both to the person on the other end and anyone who may overhear. I think I come across well in person and in writing, but I feel like I'm missing something when it comes to the phone converstation. It always seems awkward and embarassing. On the plus side, making the actual call seldom turns out to be as bad as I had imagined it.

            My other major procrastination roadblock has more to do with my mood than the task at hand. There are times when my energy is low and my mood is bleak and I just don't want to deal with work. I know there is the reward of that feeling of accomplishment, but sometimes that just isn't enough. It would feel a lot better not having to do the task at all. I'm hoping that working on my higher elevations will help me totally eliminate some things I don't like to do, (with some major life changes) or help me realize that the reward for completion is much greater than I realized.

            Comment


            • #7
              Stand up and speak loud

              Consider standing up when you are making calls. If you are reluctant to speak on the phone, your voice may sound weak, and others may sense this and intimidate you. When you are standing your voice will be louder and more assertive.

              Consider a script for each phone call. If you know what you want to say, you can often barrel through a conversation.

              The headset's a good idea.

              Any trick that can make you feel as if you are in control of the situation will help you with this.

              Good Luck!

              Comment


              • #8
                Very interesting posts! I hate hate hate talking on the phone. Just loathe.

                My solution is to bribe myself (visits to forums, etc.), which more or less works. I will reread some of these posts, though, because I bet I can do a lot better.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Helenjc, here is a sympathic nod. I suffer from the exact same "procrastination" problem. The funny thing is that although I will forever avoid calling to order a pizza I don't mind public speaking (I actually enjoy it).

                  One of the reasons that I became interested in GTD was because I thought it would help me overcome this problem to put calls into my weekly review list and deal with them as a task or project.

                  Unfortunately I think I may have to go to therapy for this problem. But I have isolated ONE major reason I don't like to make phone calls, it is because I don't like people to call me. Regardless of what I am doing I always feel interrupted when the phone rings, like some is intruding on my time. So, as a result when I make phone calls I feel like I am intruding upon someone else's time/life (this is only made worse when the person I call actually seems annoyed by the call).

                  This realization has helped me but it has not erradicated the problem. If anyone has a magic solution, that would be very welcome.

                  Shannon

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OK, I'll bite

                    You asked for projects that just aren't getting done. I have one.

                    At Christmas I took the video camera to a family reunion and took some pics of the present opening and my cousins engagement party on Christmas Eve. I promised to make CD's for various family members.

                    However the project "Christmas Video" just isn't moving. I have even broken the N/A's down as far as get firewire lead out of camera bag; Install movie software onto laptop; find CD for movie software etc. but it isn't getting done.

                    I think partly it is because other things are more urgent and important when I look at my N/A list and need doing asap whereas there isn't really a hard and fast deadline for the video CD's.

                    Any ideas welcome!

                    Regards,

                    Carol

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Anti-Procrastination thread

                      Things I'm stuck on? There isn't enough RAM in the world to hold them...But I HAD to thank you, Cosmo, for a big, therapeutic belly laugh on a morning when I surely needed one. The "list of ways to make better lists" made me laugh out loud.

                      Everything else you related was - always has been - exceptionally helpful.

                      As for the Christmas video issue: I fall into a black hole in the late afternoon, with the transition from work to home. I have an extremely low-pressure, flexible, parttime job, and I have (don't ask me how - I'm in awe of them) three easygoing, fun teenagers. So it's not as if I'm segueing from frying pan to fire. (OK, Child # 4, aka "spouse," is not as easygoing...) Like other Forumites, I am on top of things at the office but home is chaos. And by 5:00, even on a "good day," when I'm looking at the NA's in the household contexts, the voice in my head says, "Why bother?" "It's too late" Stuff like that. Don't know if that's why your video project keeps falling off. Because your time at home is endlessly negotiable?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        don't know if this will help, but it works for me sometimes.

                        Hi Carol,

                        I have two things that help me when trying to get something done that is stuck. The first is to break the next action down to a ridiculous level, i.e. 'walk into bedroom to get camera bag'. This has worked for me in projects that I am highly committed to but for some reason I'm not excited to do (for me anything routine takes a lot of effort). I usually follow creating the next action by questioning "Is there any reason I can't do that right now?" The answer is usually no, and so I can get the ball rolling on the project.
                        The second thing is to schedule some time for that particular project on my calendar. I only use this in desperate times, otherwise I learn to ignore those types of appointments. Goal setting at the beginning of the session (asking myself "What do I need to accomplish to feel like I've made progress on this project?") helps me focus on not feeling like a failure if I don't get the whole thing done in one sitting.
                        I can use these two methods to take care of approximately 50% of the next actions I have that are on my list for more than two weeks. Still trying to work out how to get the other 50% done.

                        Mindi

                        Originally posted by carol
                        You asked for projects that just aren't getting done. I have one.

                        At Christmas I took the video camera to a family reunion and took some pics of the present opening and my cousins engagement party on Christmas Eve. I promised to make CD's for various family members.

                        However the project "Christmas Video" just isn't moving. I have even broken the N/A's down as far as get firewire lead out of camera bag; Install movie software onto laptop; find CD for movie software etc. but it isn't getting done.

                        I think partly it is because other things are more urgent and important when I look at my N/A list and need doing asap whereas there isn't really a hard and fast deadline for the video CD's.

                        Any ideas welcome!

                        Regards,

                        Carol

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A little successful pushing

                          Originally posted by CosmoGTD
                          So it is true that modifying how a NA is worded can help to get the NA into motion. Sometimes it does draw you forward.
                          But in my view, oftentimes it does not. The reason for this is that we still "interpret" the NA in our mind. So even if it is worded well, we can still think, "Oh God, I don't want to do that crud", and thus avoid it.
                          I think I have a lot of that problem -- doing the very next action isn't so bad, but three or four actions down the road, there's something I feel anxious about. So things don't get done...

                          Last Friday, as part of my weekly review, I made a new "Push" context list and moved several items into it. Some of those items are for high-priority projects, but others are little things that just haven't been moving.

                          This morning, I started working from the top of my "Push" list, and now it's a little more than halfway done. I won't get it finished today, because there's too much left to do, but it's a good start. Even if I just make a Push list weekly and work it like this, it will be a great help to me.

                          One of today's Push items was an e-mail I'd been meaning to write since November, at least. This is an e-mail to ask questions about a software product -- not something I'm very emotional about, but I am anxious about trying to convince my company to buy the software.

                          For four months, I've procrastinated on this e-mail -- and I wrote it (and sent it) in 15 minutes this morning. All because it was on the Push list, and I pushed myself.

                          I think the Push list has just become a permanent part of my GTD setup, ready to be used whenever it's needed. I'll use it regularly for a little while, because too many things have been sitting for too long. This is finally a way for me to learn how to put things on my lists and get them dispatched before they get too old.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CosmoGTD
                            Hi there, I think this also points to some Social Anxiety.
                            If its something you have struggled for years with, you might consider getting some treatment for it, perhaps. I hate to sound like a broken record, but something like Cognitive-Behavior Therapy might work wonders. (avoid other types of therapy for this type of thing, as it will most likely make it much worse).
                            Cosmo,

                            Are you a therapist? Because you're busy making knee-jerk diagnosis on a on-line bulletin board (something a trained therapist would never do) and telling people to "avoid other types of therapy" when study after study shows that relationship (therapist/client), not modality, is the strongest predictor of successful outcome i.e. reduced symptom.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Do not force yourself.

                              Originally posted by carol
                              However the project "Christmas Video" just isn't moving. I have even broken the N/A's down as far as get firewire lead out of camera bag; Install movie software onto laptop; find CD for movie software etc. but it isn't getting done.
                              ...
                              Any ideas welcome!
                              Apparently it is not very important and interesting for you. It is just a promise you made. Maybe you are the only person who still remebers about it? So - renegotiate, make a backup of the pictures and put it in the safe place.

                              Put "Christmas Video" project on your Someday/Maybe - and you're done with it. That's the place where it belongs.

                              Comment

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