9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators – and the Scent of Spring…

freesiasSpring is definitely stirring. Woven through the frosted days and chilling winds, we’ve had days of weak, wintry warmth and seen sneaky wee snowdrops peeking through the loam, smiling shyly beneath the bare trees and bushes. The tiny green shoots of brave, determined daffodils have pushed through to greet the first warm rays of spring, and it feels like time to do the same and welcome the season into my home.

Freshly painted in soothing shades of jasmine white and linen, sea shells and sandy beaches, with painted wood cladding on the walls and a rustic wooden floor, my living room and hallway now form the perfect canvas for me to express myself year round.

During the winter months, shades of cranberry, rusty-red and Christmas green added warmth. I didn’t have the energy to be very creative, but that was OK. My Christmas decorations have a life of their own and all we had to do was to bring them down from the attic and they brought the cheery warmth and spirit of the season with them.

freesia stem with hyacinthsI bring in the spring by filling every container I can – teapots, jugs, teacups, treasured old mugs and vases  – with bulbs and spring fowers. I echo the yellows, cornflower blues and sage greens in my wall hangings and ornaments, cushion covers and garlands. It’s an easy fix, but one that lifts the spirit.

coffee table spring flowersI’m especially fond of hyacinths and freesias. I have hyacinths in the kitchen and freesias in a jug on the living room coffee table at the moment; the fragrance fills the house. I love the structural elegance of freesias, the way their stems arch and the buds along the stem open in sequence, guaranteeing perfume and flowers for days to come.

I’m enjoying being uplifted by the scents and sights of spring, the birds suddenly louder at dusk and the promise of longer, warmer days and brighter spirits.

quotebooksI’ve been writing again, suspending some commitments until I can go back to delivering quality, and rooting around in my files and archives, ready for a shake-up and a spring clean. I’m clearer than I have been in months about what I have to offer and how I want to connect. Most reassuring is that I’ve gone back to reading with a pen and quotebooks; after weeks of wondering when the tide would would turn, I feel a sea change coming.

If you’re inspired by spring to make changes but find it all a bit overwhelming and don’t know where to start, do what nature does. Grow and blossom a tiny wee bit every day. Fill a jug with spring flowers today, breathe in inspiration and share your gifts with us on an outbreath of joy.

I enjoyed this article in Christine Kane’s newsletter recently and thought you might find it useful.

9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators
by Christine Kane

Irony: As I started to write this article, I thought, “I’ll just go play one Sudoku game first.” I caught myself in the act and marched to my laptop.

People who say that procrastination is about laziness are probably the same people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough.

Procrastination isn’t about laziness. It’s about fear. It’s about perfectionism. It’s about overwhelm. We all experience it, and there are some tricks to help you get moving again.

Here are 9 ways to break the procrastination habit:

1 – When you get an idea, do some little thing to begin.

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I noticed something. I noticed that when Stephen King gets an idea, he writes it. Immediately and imperfectly.

Most people get an idea. Then they sit there. They wonder if it’s a good idea. Then, they wonder if it’s a good idea some more.

Got an idea? Begin it now!

2 – All hail small chunks of time!

Lots of us complain about having no time. My guess is that we all have lots of time. It just doesn’t happen to be all at once.

Are you waiting for many hours of spare time to begin your idea, your project, or your taxes? Stop waiting! Learn to use the spare half hour that comes up here and there. (I gave myself 45 minutes to write this article just to take my own advice.)

3 – Agree to do it badly.

Set a goal to do it badly. Set a goal to show up. Let go of doing it ALL, or doing it WELL.

Some of my coaching clients’ biggest victories have a lot more to do with getting over perfectionism and fear, than they do about getting it all done perfectly.

4 – Commit aloud.

Call a friend and say something like this: “I’m going to spend the next half hour working on my Law School Essay.” Then go do it.

Call the friend after the half hour and make her congratulate you. Repeat daily.

5 – Define quantities.

Nebulous goals make for nebulous results. “I’m gonna get my office organized” is a lot like saying, “We oughtta do something about Global Warming.”

Most procrastinators have a hard time defining quantities. We think everything needs to be done NOW.

When are you going to do it? For how long? Which part of your office? The file cabinet? Or your desk?

Define the goal and acknowledge its completion.

6 – Install this System Upgrade into your Mental Hard Drive: Less is More.

Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.

Why?

Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.

Find out what it feels like to accomplish one thing instead of not quite getting to everything. Wow – what a difference this makes!

7 – Do it first.

My first coach made me write songs first thing in the morning. He told me to schedule the 2-hour chunk as my first activity upon waking.

Why?

“Because you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority.

Action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this thing you’re supposed to be doing.

8 – Avoid nose-bleed activities.

Email, voicemail, web stats – any activity that bleeds itself into your whole day becomes a non-activity. It becomes a nose-bleed.

When you do it all the time, you never complete it. You just let it slowly drain the very life force from you. Define times for these activities. Then, turn off your email, your cell phone, your web stats, until that time comes.

9 – Don’t ask how you “feel” about doing the activity.

Have you ever committed to getting fit? And then when the alarm goes off, you lie in bed thinking, “Do I really feel like going to the gym?” (Like you even have to ask!)

Change this pattern. Make your decision the night before. Commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, the blank canvas. Don’t have coffee and sigh and think, “I’ll probably feel more like it at lunch time.” You won’t!

If it’s a priority, don’t waste time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out.

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There. I did it. I wrote this article. And now, I don’t even want to play Sudoku! How about that?


Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her ‘LiveCreative’ weekly ezine with more than 11,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.

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What’s the weather like where you are? Do you have any projects stirring, waiting to blossom in the next few weeks? Is procrastination a problem for you? Let me know if there’s anything  I can do to help. After years of battling perfectionism, and the overwhelm that often accompanies prolific wide-ranging creativity, I  specialise in coaching creative folk who thrive when they take things one wee step at a time.

26 thoughts on “9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators – and the Scent of Spring…

  1. Hi Janice,

    I so loved the pictures you used with this post. It was like a breath of fresh air. Thank you for being you! I so missed your blog posts. It is wonderful to have you back.

    Change is a wonderful thing and in my own life, there are so many changes happening. They are all happening at once and it is so amazing. Life has a beautiful way of taking you to where you need to be. It is a humbling experience and a fun one too.

    Many people fear change which is something that I have never quite understood. Life is constantly in motion and to be stagnant just does not make any sense.

    Procrastination is not a problem for me. On the contrary, there is just so much I want to do…I need more hours in a day. I think when we love what we are doing, there is no need to procrastinate. Procrastination, in my experience, occurs due to a lack of motivation. So maybe the key is to be motivated about our lives as opposed to feeling dread?

    Love and hugs to you!
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..“Here Comes the Sun” – The Re-Invention Begins =-.

    • Lovely to log on and see your smiling face again! Thank you for popping over. It’s good to be back. I’m looking forward to reading about the changes in your life you mentioned.

      I know what you mean about how easy it is do do things when you’re inspired and in the flow rather than focusing on shoulds and ‘have to’s.

      Interestingly, though, I’ve coached a lot of creative people and one of the most paralysing things they suffer from is not a lack of inspiration, but the opposite. They often suffer from obsessive passions that clash with the practicalities of real life, or an enthusiastic love for life coupled with perfectionism. They often have so many things they want to do and could do, they often don’t know where to start, in an attempt to start with the ‘right’ thing first. That’s why I enjoyed Christine’s post so much, the emphasis it placed on small but measurable steps and on having SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Really exciting, and Time-framed)

      Glad you liked the photos. I could happily take photos all day, and as I still struggle with the techno side of blogging, including finding photos, using my own is the easiest solution.

  2. I *love* number 6. It is so true.

    And it is good to see you are getting back on track. Now, just don’t force yourself, let it all come naturally. We will be here waiting for you.

    • Lovely to see you! I’ve had a great day, going with the flow and capturing the ideas that have flitted in and out of my rested head. And don’t worry about me “forcing myself”. One of the reasons I ‘went dark’ for a while was a deeply held belief that if I’ve nothing worth sharing or don’t feel up to it, then there’s no point boring folk when there are already a gazillion great sites for them to visit. I know what you mean though. There was a wee community here and it’s human nature to feel like you’re letting folk down by simply dropping out of sight, but I’ve come to realise that the people who were drawn to this site and who still come back are also the kind of folk who’d rather have authentic connections than see blogging in terms of ‘obligations’ or blogbuilding opportunities.

      I’ll be contacting you soon, though, about another technical problem that has me pulling my hair out. I upgraded my Ajax Comment Editor, thinking it might help my Subscribe to Comments problem (I still don’t get email alerts when someone posts comments) but I actually preferred the version I had before. I have no idea what that MORE OPTIONS button is supposed to do. It just takes me to a 404 page.How can I get the old version back?

      And why has my Thesis affiliation footer disappeared? Did I miss something vital the day I sighed and deleted 500 emails?

      • Ajax comments: You upgraded and are paying for the new version? I didn’t bother as I didn’t think it was worth even $10 a year.

        I can email you the version I got. Or maybe I’ll just write my own.

        Thesis: No idea. What version are you “rockin'”? Haven’t heard much from Pearson for a while to be honest, only a brief email about 1.7 close to being released and this new plugin he’s been working on with Brian Clark.

        Other than that nothing has changed.

        • I have the same Thesis as you. I confess, when I deleted a whole stack of non-personal marketing and post-alert emails back in January, I have a vague memory of seeing a subject line about affiliation. That’s the only reason I can think of that they’ve – and I have no idea who they is -have removed my Thesis link from the footer. Internet Explorer continues to tell me every time I log on that DIY Themes is not secure or some such thing. Maybe it’s all connected. I wring my hands in mock despair!

          I didn’t pay for the upgrade. It’s free. I think you only pay if you want to become an affiliate of Ajax. I’d love if you could send me the old version. It was comfy and cosy and I knew what I was doing. 🙁

  3. Thanks Janice for pointing out the IKEA glass display table!!!

    I don’t think I’m a procrastinator, and never thought it had anything to do with laziness, I agree. I find number 1 very interesting…, that in some cases it’s caused by stopping the flow, trying to do something perfectly…., “it’s got to be good…, or great”, then not do it at all!
    .-= Maya @ Completely Coastal´s last blog ..Curio Tables -A Way to Display =-.

    • You’re welcome! Even when my Internet Explorer doesn’t let me comment, I always get a lift over at your ‘house’. The IKEA curio table was love at first sight. One of the things I love about IKEA is how often I hear their best items whispering…Come customise me…make me yours…

      It was what Christine said about perfectionism that caught my attention too; it’s a trait that’s been a double edged sword all my life, one that’s part and parcel of my sun sign. For example, I’ve never been able to put any old illustration in a post, so I don’t post till I embed one I like and have checked that there are no copyright problems and written the photo credits. Which always takes me ages. I often just go ahead and post without an illustration. Attention to detail’s fine, but when it starts to paralyse, it’s time to sit up and make some changes.

    • Thank you so much, Ramona. Let us know how it works out. Christine’s tips are deceptively simple yet very powerful. I like how she cites three main causes of procrastination.

      One of the issues that’s come up most in my coaching over the years is procrastination caused by overwhelm. Unravelling overwhelm is something that certified coaches do well because we’re trained to unravel at the deepest levels and not to judge or assume. A call to action works best when we know what the root causes of procrastination are for each individual or else clients can end up working very hard at cutting down the trees to clear a way through the wrong forest.

      As a homelife coach, I’ve also become very aware of how this overwhelm clogs up people’s homes and bodies, too.

  4. Cheerfulness!! Ah, the flower photos are so lovely. Are they from your garden? I keep cut flowers on my table when I’m working, usually Astra Maria because they last so long. Bought some fuchsia carnations last time that lasted ten days too. I’m experimenting with live greenery, which really has staying power. It’s so nice to see you posting again. You did an awesome job with your photos! 🙂
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Mac and Joey =-.

    • Oh how I wish I could lie and tell you I went into the garden wearing a flowery apron and carrying a trug and some gardening shears, deadheading and selecting the dewiest blooms….But, nope…I bought them from our equivalent of Walmart. My garden’s full of flowering evergreens and perennials because I’m an intrinsically lazy gardener. I like creating and arranging, but maintenance? Not so much.

      I’m so glad you liked the flowers. One of the things I’ve always done with my blog – and one of the reasons I take frequent breaks – is that I always ask myself what I have to offer anyone taking the time to visit my site when there are so many out there to choose from. Even if the answer’s as simple as a coffee and chat with a friend and some cheery flowers to brighten a blogging day, I feel I’ve contributed something.

  5. Wonderful post here!Especially loved the photos and thoughts of spring.Here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley signs of new life are everywhere.:)Daffodils,crocus,tulips,camellias and cherry trees are blooming already.Sun is up later in the evening and we are just loving it.:)Blessings~Sharon
    .-= Sharon Goemaere´s last blog ..Happy Valentines Day =-.

    • Thank you! It’s lovely to have you over here. Loads of folk have told me that Oregon and Washington are beautiful and you make it sound heavenly. I often think that flowers were created to get our attention and remind us to be grateful; it doesn’t matter how often we see the same blooms, they’re guaranteed to warm our hearts. I’m really enjoying the extra sun, too. It’s better and safer for the kids.

      • Oregon and Washington are both very lovely states!It’s such a gift from God to live here with my husband and cat and to be able to enjoy this lovely state every day.Each season has it’s own unique beauty but spring in the Willamette Valley really shines and sparkles.:)Blessings~Sharon
        .-= Sharon Goemaere´s last blog ..Happy Valentines Day =-.

  6. Hi Janice. I’m anxiously anticipating spring’s arrival. I see how we are affected by the seasons. Just today the mood was lighter; the sun’s been shining for the past couple of days and it’s been balmy outside. Spring is in the air and there is a lightness in my step and strangers smile more readily.

    I enjoyed Christine’s article; especially #8. “When you do it all the time you never complete it.” That was huge for me to read today. Thank you.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Life Coach for the Knobs =-.

    • Hi Davina,
      Spring’s effects are almost viral, aren’t they? Folk smiling more and finding it easier to feel uplifted. I’ve suspected for years that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is quite real and that I’m prone to it. I saw an improvement when I got a Lumi light and a friend lent me a light box, but there’s nothing to beat a sunny day for making you feel better physically as well as spiritually.

      #8 is a biggie, isn’t it. I don’t use a mobile phone much so I have no apps or email by phone, but I still have to be very careful with email when I log on. I used to have one email address for friends’ emails and one simply for downloading newsletters etc, but blogging kind of blurred the distinction. Now that I’ve had a wee dabble back in blogworld, I’m thinking I maybe need to unsubscribe from a lot of sites that alert me by email and go back to getting daily alerts in one email from Feeblitz, just to stop that neverending feeling as posting notifications come in all day, every day.

    • Thank you, Evelyn. It’s helped to do a wee bit whenever I fancy it, whether it’s a photo here, a comment there or a notebook brimming over with things I’m longing to share. One thing I’m always led to do over here is to encourage folk to enjoy the little things and listen to their hearts. I’ve been craving scent and colour recently – as well as soup – and it’s almost as if I’m being guided back into my full-on senses way of operating. Sometimes I get so overloaded with sensation, inspiration and engagement that my synapses feel fried, but after a restorative rest, it’s always intriguing to see how life lures me back in!

  7. Hi Janice .. love the pictures – they are just beautiful. The flowering bulbs look glorious – I always have fresh flowers up at Mum’s .. the most natural ones I can find. Scented freesias are hard to find .. but even the daffodils give off a little scent – so important for my Mum – that naturalness. Hyancinths and narcissi .. and tulips standing tall, til they start to bow a little.

    It’s good you’re feeling a little Springlike too .. love the post and pictures .. thank you!

    Cold and wet – miserably grey – today Sunday 21st!!
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..February – the half-way month .. =-.

    • The weather up here in Scotland’s so changeable, it makes sense to appreciate the glimmers of spring when they arrive!

      I love natural flowers, too, but I cheat. I can’t afford florist prices, so I buy smaller bunches of single type flowers from supermarkets and mix them up. By the way, have you checked Tesco for scented freesias? That’s where I get mine. They never smell at the bud stage I buy them at, but I just trust fate! The white ones are my favourites for scent, but my favourites to add instant impact are the rusty red ones that bleed through to gold
      .-= janice´s last blog ..9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators – and the Scent of Spring… =-.

  8. Dear Janice,
    Thank you for the lovely post. I can feel signs of spring here on the North Coast of California in spite of the gray days of late winter. The hyacinth are in bloom and smell so wonderful! I am always amazed at how nature sends forth such lovely blooms in spite of the lack of sunshine.
    It is so good to “hear” your voice again. I have thought of you often since you took a break and am glad to see you back. The occasional post of yours is better than many daily feeds I have coming in to my reader. Thank you.
    Peace. Ciaran

    • Thank you, Ciaran. Your words warmed my heart. I went to a hermit aunt’s funeral yesterday, to support my elderly dad. I was surrounded by a small group of family members; some of them I only see at funerals, and some I hadn’t seen in 35 years. They didn’t know me back then and they certainly don’t know me now. I found myself thinking how my friends and blog readers from continents on the other side of the planet know me much better through listening with open hearts to my written words than many of the folk in my ‘real’ life do. I work on improving my life every day, but I never cease to be grateful for comments like yours and those above. They restore my faith and keep me writing from the heart, even when I’m ridiculed and sneered at for doing it.

      janice´s last blog ..9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators – and the Scent

  9. Hi Janice,

    The title of this post caught my eye. I’m always trying to find tips to become more productive and and procrastinate less and although I’ve tried many, none seem to stick.

    #6 – scheduling less reminds me of something I read years ago which said to plan only half of your work day, since the other half will end up “planning itself”. I always found that to be true. Too much on our plates can overwhelm us plus add unneeded stress.

    Currently I’m working on stopping the nose bleeds by limiting the time I spend on social networks and checking blog stats. Although the stats are easy for me to avoid, I do miss checking in with blogging buddies to see what they’re up to. Unfortunately, I also know a ten minute Twitter or Facebook break can easily turn into a half hour.

    I also enjoyed your flowers. I thought Spring was in the air until today when we woke up to a skiff of snow on the ground and cooler temps. I have to remind myself it’s still March in the high desert, and frost and or snow can hit us up until mid-May.

    ((hugs to you and yours))
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Be Careful What You Wish For =-.

  10. Hi again Barbara,
    It’s so good to be getting my email alerts again! This comment might have slipped under the radar otherwise.

    I’m planning a post about getting things done that I think you may find very helpful. In the meantime, please let me know if you ever want coaching on the productivity issues or any shades of overwhelm. It would be my pleasure.

    What you said about social networks is very interesting. I joined Twitter, then started feeling the overwhelm almost as soon as I logged on. I felt like I was being sucked into the Matrix without an instruction manual, even though folk like Nadia and Sean had offered to guide and help me.. It was as if I could simultaneoulsy hear all of the thoughts of everyone in the world at once, like a scene from X- Men. One day I realised I was losing the ability to fine tune into my own creative thoughts; too much virtual connecting and not enough physicality or engagement with my own life nearly wrecked my writing.

    I’m glad you liked my flowers!

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