Procrastination pt.2: Friends with Fear

In my first article about procrastination I talked about procrastination caused by disorganization.

A second cause T. Quek mentions is FEAR.
Someone once told me that it is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real.

So, procrastination inducing fear comes in two different flavours:

Rational vs. irrational

“I know I should finish my article on procrastination, but why can’t I seem to do it?”

Discipline vs. comfort

“I planned to finish my article, but when time came, I didn’t feel like it anymore.”

The antidote to fear is faith, trust and some inspiration. So here goes.

INSPIRATION

  • Last year in Capetown I came across a simply beautiful collection of poetry by the South African poet Helen Steiner Rice, called: A collection of Joy. Here’s a quote from her poem Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

Yesterday’s dead, tomorrow’s unborn,
So there’s nothing to fear and nothing to mourn,
For all that is past and all that has been
Can never return to be lived once again…
And what lies ahead or the things that will be
Are still in God’s hands, so it is not up to me (…)

  • What Would a Monk Do?

Being a monk is all about living in the present moment. Fear is either living in the future: “I will not be able to finish this task! It’s too big, too hard or fill in the dots…” or in the past: “I could not successfully manage this task in the past, so I will never be able to!”*

A Benedictine monk goes about his task quietly, steadily and mindfully. Not looking back, except at designated times. In the evening he takes time out for a brief examination of conscience. The reassuring rhythm of his life may seem boring to some but appealing to fear-driven creatures like me.
Moreover, he gives all his worries to God in prayer daily.

Freedom for me is surrendering my fears to God on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis and living in a flexible structure, enabling me to change plans at any given moment, with the inner guidance of God.

Everybody has fears and that’s ok. If I befriend my fears, bring them to tea, chat with them and surrender them, then that’s great. If I don’t succeed in doing that, I just dust myself off and try again. There’s always a new moment.

PRACTICAL TIPS

What’s my solution?

  • Making bite-size chunks of tasks and putting them daily from my general (big-ass) todo list onto a handwritten (this is essential for me) daily todolist (a detailed account about my current system, which is: GTD combined with ZTD, in one of my following articles).
  • Surrendering fear by being Aware, Accepting it and taking Action, in the form of little action steps. That’s how I befriend my fears.
  • If my worry or fear is too big I write it on a note and put that in my crafted God-box. You can find awesome step by step creative inspiration to make your own here.

What actions do you take to get out of fear-based procrastination? Love to hear your stories!

Next time we’ll talk about a third and my ‘favorite’ source of procrastination: perfectionism based! So stay tuned!

I’d love for you to spread the word via Facebook, email, Twitter or word of mouth if you like what you’ve read.
Word of mouth rocks! My humble gratitude for that.

Peace!

You can find me on: Facebook or on Twitter.

 or
 Take a minute to leave a comment now, I’d really appreciate it!

* T. Quek

Be a Task Killer Ninja

http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com

How do we get from Victim to Captain and Commander in our productivity?

In his book Making it All Work David Allen describes the matrix of self-management.
In the mire of little perspective and little control, in the lower left quadrant is the Victim. A feared state of hopelessness and inertia.
In the upper right quadrant is the widely admired state of Captain and Commander. That’s the perfect state in which we are if we have both perfect perspective and control over what we do. Of course these states can alternate per week, day or even hour…

Sometimes I can get into a slump and I must admit: the label Victim best suits me in that situation. Sigh…

So what do I do to drag myself out of it and start doing?

Last Wednesday I wanted to knock a whole lot of tasks off my to-do-list.
I started with the Most Important Task, which was adjusting six similar reports. Instead of spreading the energy and focus thin, I gave myself an extremely tight time limit for each report: 10 minutes. So I started chopping away at my reports like a ninja chops his wooden boards. I even had to suppress some of the little ninja-yells. Immediately I saw myself from a helicopter vision and thought: I am a Task Killer Ninja, that’s what I am!!! I was exhilarated and in great flow.

Here’s what defines the Task Killer Ninja GTD-style:

  • clear vision of the outcome: next action thinking
  • extreme focus
  • compressed energy
  • speed
  • bold task killer attitude
  • black suit is optional

Later that day I applied my Task Killer Ninja-attitude to my Weekly Review. I grabbed my intray and started chopping away at all the little Collected notes. Within 30 seconds I divided them between actionable and non-actionable items. You should’ve seen me! I looked like a ninja movie played fast forward. This was my record in Clarifying!

The Task Killer Ninja-attitude I can also recommend for cleaning your house or chopping wood.

Let me know if you’ve ever felt like a productivity-ninja or if you identify with something else. I’m so curious!

Post a comment or find me on Twitter

p.s. I googled task killer ninja and I saw that Leo Babauta also has an excellent blog post on Task Ninja’s (without killer)

Mixing GTD with ZTD

Yesterday I got a great tweet-question about GTD and ZTD from@raymondu999

@E5ter ah. Alrighty then!! Thanks for your info 🙂 Which one do you use by the way? Is #ztd flexible enough to let you use #gtd programs? which I answered with:

#ztd #gtd Sure! I am using GTD http://wp.me/pKD06-1v and I tweak it with ZTD. Going to make a blogpost this week to explain.

In my last post I told you all about my GTD-system; today I want to address my way of blending a zesty hint of ZTD into my good ol’ GTD-system to get that extra tasty productivity melting pot.
In his excellent post Leo Babauta explored the topic GTD versus ZTD but here I want to make clear that it’s not a matter of choosing between Getting Things Done and Zen to Done but that you can have your cake and eat it too :-).

I will explain to you how I do it:

1. Weekly review

First I do my regular GTD-style weekly review and then I add an extra five minutes to it to choose my Big Rocks for the week. Those are the things I really really want to accomplish for the week. This is the way to focus myself, so that my attention doesn’t get spread too thin over all the tasks that are on my plate. n addition you want to make sure that your big rocks are right under your nose the whole week: I use a nifty little pink notebook with a cute ribbon but you could use sticky notes too or put a reminder on your mindmap.

2. Daily review

I think many of you who are already using GTD may have some sort of a daily review as well. The daily review ZTD-style consists of choosing 2 to 3 (or more if you’re a busy bee) MIT’s (i.e Most Important Tasks) for the next day. The evening is a nice time to do that in order to be able to jumpstart your day in the morning. At least one of my MIT’s is part of a Big Rock for the week.
Example:

Big Rocks for the week:
1) scan 20 pages of my rabbit photobook into Evernote
2) write 2 blogposts for Pursuing a Holy Life
3) write 2 blogposts for Inspiration and Productivity
4) prepare Rabbit Circus Training workshop
5) prepare little Lewis my dwarf rabbit for the Rabbit Exhibition

MIT’s for Monday:
1) scan 5 pages of my rabbit photo book into Evernote (for Big Rock 1)
2) go grocery shopping
3) clean the kitchen
4) comb Lewis’ hair and put ribbons in it (for Big Rock 5)


The idea is also to do at least one of your MIT’s first thing in the morning to really get you going before you start checking blog stats, e-mail or cuddling your rabbits.

3. Creating habits

What rhymes with rabbits? Habits! An important addition to GTD is that the ZTD focuses a great deal on habit change, on the doing. You can find Leo’s website on creating habits here.
What I do is take one habit every month, keep track of it in my pink little notebook (I check off the days). For example last month I was trying to ingrain the habit of checking e-mail only twice a day and not before an MIT or task. It takes about a month to successfully ingrain a new behavior; I was very successful and boosted my productivity a lot by this habit during the month of February and further.
You could also form habits for all the stages of GTD, like for example capturing everything on a notepad and tossing it into your in-tray everyday. See my previous blog post for the other stages. Leo wrote a great post on creating habits especially for ZTD too. (See the latter part of his post.)

4. Flowing with the moment

In the GTD Virtual Study Group podcast of January 14 2010, Leo Babauta was interviewed and he shared with us that he’s increasingly letting go of the whole idea of goal setting and live more and more in the present moment. This appeals to me greatly because I have always been struggling to set my goals for 1 year and 3 to 5 year (resp. horizons 30k and 40k from GTD). More about the horizons of focus of GTD another time.

In this age of information tsunami staying in the present moment is extremely precious and wholesome. I think this topic deserves its own blogpost too so keep an eye on my blog.

Conclusion

GTD and ZTD have a great synergy. You don’t have to choose between GTD and ZTD; ZTD has a bit of a different angle and is more focused on the doing, the habit change and focusing on the present moment than GTD is, that’s why they work great for me in combination. And to answer raymondu999‘s question: I use all my good ol’ GTD programs like Nozbe, Evernote and Gmail in conjunction with my pink ZTD-notebook 😉

If you have any questions about GTD/ZTD please take the time to comment below or leave me a tweet. I’d be happy to answer your questions or to discuss the topic.