I am the world’s greatest procrastinator. And I have an array of tools to assist my expertise.
The Internet is one of my best. A guaranteed sink-hole for goals and plans.
I am forever listening to podcasts, online courses, downloading kindle books galore on all kinds of subjects—all of course relevant to something important I need to be doing. Indeed.
Did I mention YouTube? Another wonderful option for dealing with those ‘I’m not quite sure what to do next’ moments. You. Can. Spend. Hours.
Let’s not talk about email or social media.
I do make attempts to combat it. I can make an amazing list and then lose the list. Every time I start something I immediately feel there was other stuff I should be doing instead. So I stop, look for the list, change course and do something else. Until I remember the other thing that needed doing. Put it on that dang list so I don’t forget.
My head is stuffed full of wonderful ideas that would help a lot of people, generate a fabulous income, and make me a New York Times best selling author….
I could make a difference!… if I would just put them into action.
The problem with this is I waste my day and end up feeling bad about myself. There were things I meant to do, yet somehow didn’t. The time just slipped away. It’s not fun and it’s not satisfying. It’s yuck. I feel out of control.
Then the best time management tool ever, fell into my inbox.
While fooling around I happened upon a bit of advice in one of the many email lists I subscribe to…that actually changed everything. It was a blog by Derek Doepker and it addressed this very problem. Derek (a best selling author, business coach and marketer) said that the best advice he had for managing those days when you can’t seem to focus was this:
Three little words.
Can I just…?
And then fill in the rest of the sentence.
Can I just get hold of that important contact number? Can I just get a title and subject for that script? Can I just spend 5 minutes starting that project that’s looming over me?
An amazingly powerful procrastination blaster. In fact, I don’t just use it for those overwhelm times—I use it every day. Can I just get these 4 things done today?
The idea is that if you can just, or at least, get something done, it’s better than not getting anything done and simply throwing in the towel on your day.
Can I just get X, X, and X done today? The secret of course is you will end up getting lots more done. But if you can at least get this done, your day is not wasted.
These three words will transform your life, I promise. You’ll feel in control, pleased that you’ve accomplished something, and that you’ve earned your Netflix fix at the end of the day.
Derek is now my coach
I was so impressed with this that I engaged Derek to be my coach. He’s amazing. I’m much more focused and not procrastinating nearly as much as I used to.
I got my new book finished by just finishing a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter. Or just looking up a phrase that I wasn’t sure about.
Now. Can I just get this blog finished before lunchtime?
Yes, I believe I can!
Check out my life-coaching—local if you are in San Miguel de Allende, and online if you prefer coaching from your couch, your dog on your lap, sipping your favorite beverage. No video I promise. Margaretnashcoach.com
Here’s my new book, all credit for finishing and publishing to Derek, on kindle at
Have you ever had a problem so big, so overwhelming, and so intractable that it woke you up at 3 am with panic attacks? Caused you to have heart palpitations? Usually around health or money?
It happens to the best of us. Most of us. It’s not fun. And you can get stuck there.
My personal Waterloo was after Sept 11, 2001 when my business tanked by 90% overnight. Nobody wanted business training when they thought the world was ending. Kept me awake, I assure you. Couldn’t pay my bills.
What was yours? How did you handle it?
These are the three most common approaches to big scary issues:
Like the Warrior. Brave, head on, resisting, determined to win. Taking matters in your own hands and going out to battle. Take no prisoners. No surrender. This approach is positive and takes responsibility for the problem. It’s down to me folks. I can’t rely on anyone else.
Or you can be the Realist and stop resisting what is. You put yourself in expert hands and accept you can’t run that marathon. You surrender to reality. This is the way things are so let’s make the best of it. Let’s face it; I’ve never been healthy/good with money. No point in fighting it.
Then there’s the Friend. You make nice with your problem. What is it trying to tell you? You try to rise above it. You look for causes and meaning, and try to root out negative thinking. You relax and trust it will all work out because you believe everything that happens is meant to be.
Each approach has its pros and cons.
Here are some of the cons
The Warrior is stubborn and sometimes won’t listen to others… and can become the Terrorist if you are not careful. This approach can leave you exhausted and bitter. Fighting the battle becomes all consuming and more important than finding a solution. Result: anger, burnout, obsession with your issue, friends avoid you.
The Realist can leave you overmedicated, dependent on therapy groups, and entrenched in your victim story. Defeatist, not trying anything new. You come to believe there is no cure or that you will go bankrupt and lose your home. The Realist becomes the Victim and just throws in the towel. Result: depression, despair, low energy, just getting by but no solution. Friends avoid you.
The Friend approach can leave you dead if you’re not careful.
Alternative treatments can be effective, but sometimes you need more than affirmations and visualizations. Discovering the root cause of your money issues may not save your house from foreclosure. The Friend can become the Fanatic, insisting that meditation will cure everything. Just imagine all that money you’ve got and it will magically appear. Result: no results, loss of faith, sometimes death.
I have two friends who have passed on prematurely because they got stuck in one mode and in each case the shadow took over. One refused blood thinner and insisted on using quantum touch instead for his heart condition, and the other stubbornly stuck to green drinks and a vegan diet for a serious cancer condition. Both are gone now.
Would you like to know how to come unstuck from that problem?
Use all three. You need them.
Engage the Warrior and attack with energy and enthusiasm. Do your best. You can do this! But you must take action and stop procrastinating.
Indulge the Realist and give yourself a break. Relax, accept what is for an afternoon and collapse in a heap with the dogs and Netflix. Hey, it wasn’t entirely your fault.
Dialogue with the invisible Friend and look for the underlying causes—what can you learn from this? Is the Universe trying to tell you something? Can this make you a better person?
All three approaches are essential for the best results
What worked with my financial meltdown was this 3-pronged approach: go to battle and try to save my company with other streams of income; put myself in the hands of a financial advisor, swallow my pride and ask for a loan to tide me over; and hey, what was the lesson here that would prevent this happening again? Stay out of debt and live within my means. Save. Hello. I got through it, survived, and eventually thrived.
Recently there was a Netflix documentary about Ram Dass, the well-known and beloved spiritual teacher who suffered a debilitating stroke a few years back. He used the 3-prong remedy: Still in a wheelchair, he seemed really happy, content, at peace, and he said with a smile that the stroke was the best thing to happen to him. He wouldn’t have chosen it, but it was nevertheless a gift. He understood more about life. The Friend. And he was also busy with physical therapy and daily swimming. The Warrior. He had helpers to help him get around. The Realist. Covering all bases.
Sometimes we have to give in and accept help from others. Sometimes we have to put aside our long held beliefs about diet and vitamin pills in the face of serious illness and get to the doctor. Sometimes we need to fight, not accept what we’ve been told, and try different solutions. Sometimes we just need to pray.
The Warrior says you can beat this. The Realist helps you see your limitations. The Friend says, hey we can make something good come out of this. Buck up.
You need all three.
Find that balance between them. Using all three ensures your success.
If you are stuck in that problem then check to see if you are sticking with one mode of approach. Try using all 3 and see what happens. Let me hear from you! I’d love to hear your successes; and if you’re still stuck, maybe I can help.
If you liked this you might also like life-coaching. It’s about how to get your life to work the way you want it to. Visit my website and peruse the blogs, check out my life-coaching books, and find out if personal coaching could be just right for you. www.Margaretnashcoach.com.
I had a major-meltdown yesterday and I’m not especially proud of it. I like to think I’m in control most of the time, and the mantra I use to keep a check on my natural warrior-like tendencies is, ‘I am calm, confident, and in control’. This works pretty well most of the time.
If I feel the need to shout at other drivers it’s always with the window closed, and I keep a beady eye on my moods to make sure they’re not going to impact others in a negative way.
Aren’t I good? Well, not so much. Yesterday the stars conspired against me; I lost my cool and exploded over a small but ill-advised remark made by my hapless husband.
Yikes. He retreated with the dogs to another part of the house and left me to stew. Which I did…. for about 5 lava-like minutes…and then remorse set in.
I spent the rest of the day feeling guilty and that I had let myself down. What had happened?
First World Problems
Get the hankies out.
OK so my car started breaking down on the way to a doctor’s appointment for which I was already late, I was in a hurry and forgot to eat, I couldn’t find a parking place and had to run, was late, and then the doctor wanted me to come back later, and despite rapidly lowering blood sugar I didn’t stop to pick up lunch on the way home because, you know, car trouble, and someone else was waiting for me there, and once home I tried to order food from my favorite delivery service, and the line wasn’t working, and then I tried ordering from a not so favorite pizza delivery and they weren’t answering, and I couldn’t prepare anything because my kitchen is currently being torn apart for remodeling.
Enter husband who makes unhelpful suggestion when I’m in a state of enhanced agitation and low blood sugar. Bless his heart. Bet he wished he had rephrased it.
Not one of these #firstworldproblems on its own would normally even make me blink, but when they all came at once I found I couldn’t cope. Stress! Where were my personal development resources when I needed them?
Rescue Remedy delivered via a book
This morning, still smarting from my failure to behave as an enlightened human being, I read something in a book by Michael Neill, super coach extraordinaire, which totally explained my lapse of civility. He helpfully suggested what I can do in the future to avoid it happening again. I want to share.
Neill says that in recovery there is an acronym called H.A.L.T., which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. When you notice yourself experiencing any one of these feelings, then HALT what you’re doing and take care of yourself.
I was feeling ALL of them yesterday when I lashed out. Hungry—yep, angry—yep, lonely—yep, in that I didn’t feel supported, and tired—tick, tick, tick, tick. Now I’m not one to scrimp on self-care, but this just got all out of hand before I knew I was in dangerous territory.
Neill says that when you notice any of these symptoms of stress to simply stop and take stock. Whatever you’re doing isn’t going to go well when you’re in any of these states.
I could have stopped and eaten, rested, taken a deep breath, and canceled some of those appointments. Reminded myself to relax. Get a taxi. But mainly, eat something before blood sugar drops.
So the simple advice is to be aware of what is going on in your body before it’s too late. What do you need? How can you take care of yourself? Do it now. Tame that hungry lion into a peaceful kitty.
This is going to be a new mantra for me. H.A.L.T. Lesson learned. Stop that hissy-fit in its tracks. The remorse and guilt are not worth it.
Have you had a meltdown due to hunger, anger, loneliness, or fatigue?
Try H.A.L.T. next time and let me know how it works.