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.

Berries and Birds

garden path2Our garden’s not very big but it’s brought me hours of joy over the years. There’s a scrubby lawn at the back where the kids used to play, and a narrow strip of path and garden outside the kitchen window. We planted laurels, rhododendrons and assorted evergreens to cover the fence, and they’re always teeming with birds.

I often stand transfixed as I wash dishes, watching the robins and blue tits, blackbirds and swooping starlings go about their daily business.

But I’ve been avoiding my garden recently. Deliberately avoiding it. After weeks of benign neglect, it’s become an overwhelming wilderness, overgrown with weeds and covered in drifts of autumn leaves – but not the attractive russet, red and gold ones you kick up and dance around in. These are slimy and grey and slugs live under them.

Scotland’s green for a reason, but we had unusual floods this summer. And everything’s grown, I mean really grown.

Our outdoor furniture, which used to look trendily shabby and distressed, is now sprouting flat greyish green florets of moss. Decorative miniature trees have rebelled and shaken off their self-limiting beliefs. Rhododendrons that were meant to be two feet high have doubled in size and smothered two small euonymus bushes.

Grey-green and damp, it was a perfect summer for weeds and plants, birds and bugs. A few glorious days lured us out to bask in the sun, but unexpected tropical showers were never far behind.

I ventured into the back garden this morning to collect the seed pods from some shrivelled up nasturtiums that had faded from glory, unnoticed, in a terracotta plant pot. Depression loomed, heavy as a leaden sky, when I thought of all the autumn gardening jobs waiting to be done. A month of illness, overwhelm and exhaustion can turn the sweetest of daily tasks and rituals into an soul-sapping backlog of chores.

A gust of wind in the branches, and suddenly, I caught the scent of it all; moist, rich soil, a fresh green breeze, raindrops on leaves and the beautiful mossy breath of trees. It didn’t look like a garden, it looked like nature, a bit of wilderness outside my back door, overgrown, untamed and perfect for birds.

I suddenly saw the sunset-bright berberis berries, the dangerously dark and tempting laurel berries. Clusters like hidden jewels, and below them, still thriving, the flowers of some daisy-like thing I don’t even know the name of, something I just planted because I loved how the colour blended in with all the other mauves and violets and purples back in May. I rushed in and grabbed my camera.

I stood transfixed and smiled a small smile. Life longs for life. Our happiness, our planet’s existence, depends on the tiniest of details we often overlook or take for granted while we’re desperately trying to make sense of the bigger picture.

Trees, birds and bees don’t make a mess of things the way we humans do. They don’t create slave trades, mutilate their neighbours in the name of religion, knowingly destroy their habitat or create global credit crises. They don’t get stressed by trivia or moan about blogging roadblocks. They just get on with it.

The bees follow their bliss. Flowers turn to berries, birds breed, eat the berries and spread the seeds – the evidence of their small but perfect lives. The seeds grow into the lush bushes and towering trees that feed and shelter the birds’ offspring in years to come. Nature’s bloggers.

I’m part of all this: I live, I love, I create and I try to nurture what matters, but the beauty, the unstoppable, teeming life in a tiny stretch of garden humbles me. At best, I’m just a guardian and a gardener, an observer who appreciates. All I can do is try to spread the seeds of the moments that stun me into silent wonder and hope they grow.