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Overcoming Procrastination Presented by the Lawyers Assistance Program April 23 rd 2010 Facilitated by Robert Bircher 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Overcoming Procrastination Presented by the Lawyers Assistance Program April 23 rd 2010 Facilitated by Robert Bircher 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Overcoming Procrastination Presented by the Lawyers Assistance Program April 23 rd 2010 Facilitated by Robert Bircher 1

2 Understanding Procrastination I believe the first step in overcoming procrastination is understanding the dynamics of your own relationship with it Simply viewing it as a “bad habit to be shunned and gotten rid of” usually guarantees its perpetuity in your life-if this worked almost no one would procrastinate In fact having a negative view of your procrastination may actually be part of the syndrome There are intra-psychic (internal thinking) and inter-psychic (involving others) elements 2

3 Understanding Procrastination What is procrastinating? Most people would define it as “not doing what they should be doing in a timely manner” or “putting tasks off to the last possible minute” Theoretically, it is not possible to procrastinate since there are an infinite number of things you could be working on. You could be doing nothing, something more important or something less important. 3

4 Understanding Procrastination What do you procrastinate? Probably not things you like to do. Also what is wrong with prioritizing? Is doing nothing/taking it easy bad? If you procrastinate unimportant things to do more important things is this actually a problem? For some people, that have a clear purpose and values in life procrastination is valuable and necessary to achieve a goal-for example a friend of mine dropped almost everything in his life for several years to win a gold medal at the Olympics For some people over-commitment is an issue and they need to procrastinate more i.e. their problem is lack of clarity of what is most important in life 4

5 Understanding Procrastination For some the real problem is indecisiveness- inability to make decisions For many it is faulty internal thinking For lawyers procrastination can be a huge problem-and can result in damage to career, reputation and clients. Paradoxically, it is worse in lawyers that are busy and successful- they have a lot more to put off!! There are simple reasons and deep psychological reasons for it-it is learned behavior which means you probably learned it in your family of origin and can therefore unlearn it Lets do the Understanding Procrastination Discussion Questions exercise 5

6 Benefits of Procrastination In one sense the explanation for procrastination is the same for everyone -the benefits of doing it outweigh the disadvantages! Many people have trouble understanding this –they see no benefits, but in fact there are many-not seeing them is a trick our mind plays on us The benefits may be –I can avoid doing something unpleasant or tedious or I can avoid feeling upset or fearful 6

7 Benefits of Procrastination I can do brainless or easy things like watch TV, it's fun and very, very safe to do nothing (how can you fail at watching TV?)I can be a prince or princess who is special and doesn’t have to do hard work, I get to be passive and helpless, (maybe someone else will do it) I don’t have to risk appearing foolish, in fact I don’t have to take any risk at all! 7

8 Procrastination Profile Everyone has a unique profile of what things they tend to procrastinate and there is often a theme running through them I procrastinate anything I judge to be tedious or dislike-I hate math so income tax or accounting is something I am guaranteed to procrastinate-I never procrastinate things I like –my dance or art classes for example Legal examples would be procrastinating files where I don’t like the client or opposing counsel or I am not likely to be paid in full What themes do you notice? ie You procrastinate files where you are unlikely to be paid Lets do My Procrastination Profile now 8

9 What am I Procrastinating? We can divide our procrastinating into “Big Time” or “Small Time” Small Time -refers to things that are a minor factor in our lives (mowing the lawn, cleaning the car etc.)-it won’t really make much difference in your life one way or the other Big Time-refers to things that if you did them it would make a big difference in your life (changing jobs, getting in/out of a relationship, losing weight/getting fit, moving etc) Lets complete the “What am I Procrastinating” form now 9

10 Procrastination Test The Burns test will be helpful to identify what cognitive distortions fuel your procrastination-lets do it now! The most common causes are internal cognitions that delay or justify inaction-they are errors in thinking After the test read ‘Why People Procrastinate?” in the areas where you scored 3 or more-if you scored 5 or 6 your core belief here has cognitive distortions in it After you do the test you will know the areas you need to work on-everyone is different 10

11 Cognitive Behavioral Approaches to Procrastination Look at your scores on the procrastination test-you need to work on the areas where your score is a 4, 5 or 6 (otherwise work on the highest score) What these high scores mean is that you have a belief system (or cluster of thoughts and feelings) that creates (manifests as) procrastination-until you change your thinking the procrastination is inevitable-beating up on yourself will not change your thinking How do you change your mind?- basically through cognitive behavioral methods 11

12 CBT-and Procrastination Recognizing your cognitive distortions and changing your mind is critical to ending procrastination WARNING-These old thought patterns and will resist change vigorously!! Changing your story about any of these reduces procrastination automatically- Example-if I believe I must do something then I will get in the mood for it- rather than the other way around I have just multiplied my chances of doing it many fold If you have done the procrastination test and score a 5 or 6 in any of these-you will probably only end your procrastination when you change your mind set Your mind usually doesn’t like changing cherished beliefs so EXPECT DELAYS! 12

13 Top 10 Cognitive Distortions Putting the cart before the horse - another way of saying this is believing you need to feel like it first or “I’m not in the mood for it”-the problem is you will never be in the mood to do boring or unpleasant tasks. Motivation comes after action You must start doing something to become motivated to do it-Action begets Motivation! Do it then feel like it- is a better way of thinking it 13

14 Mastery Model This is the belief that things are achieved without frustration, self doubt and failure This is quitting even after the smallest setback or problem If you expect problems, when they inevitably happen you are not surprised The remedy is the belief that “nothing is as easy as it looks-everything takes longer than you think”-or Murphy's law- “if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong-and at the worst possible moment” and that’s OK See also #10 lack of desire if you are climbing the ladder of success and it is up against the wrong wall, procrastination is a symptom not a problem 14

15 Fear of Failure People who procrastinate think they are “lazy” or “irresponsible” - most lawyers are the opposite-success is so important that rather than risk failure you do nothing at all You can’t fail watching TV!!-which is why it is such a great time waster If your self esteem is hooked to your accomplishments when you fail at work you fail as a person-the stakes are too high so you avoid doing anything that might not work out Dancing lessons/A new job –better not try that –I might look foolish-you may find yourself unwilling to try new things due fear of failure 15

16 Perfectionism Probably the most insidious and common cause of procrastination in lawyers-we will devote more time to it later The belief that that we should always try and do things perfectly is a common family value-especially in the families of many lawyers-unfortunately this belief has a very dark side to it It becomes manifested as “If I can’t do this well (read perfectly) I won’t do it at all" since few things turn out perfectly it means a lot doesn’t get done-since I can’t do it perfectly! 16

17 Perfectionism One of the problems with perfectionism is that the culture sees it as a good, even a desirable thing-when in fact it is actually an unhealthy neurosis-addictive, habitual and difficult to stop People believe it motivates them to produce more or better and without this many believe they would become ineffective, lazy or useless See the materials on Perfectionism vs. The Healthy Pursuit of Excellence – one theme is that in pursuing excellence you are motivated by desire and enthusiasm rather than fear 17

18 Lack of Rewards If you believe nothing you ever do is good enough, life becomes a joyless treadmill. If you set yourself up so that you “never make it” in your own eyes there is little incentive to carry on Procrastinators are great at discounting the value of what they do A feeling of excitement, reward and satisfaction is a great motivating force- if you allow yourself to experience it! If you feel you can never do anything good enough-why bother to try? 18

19 Should Statements I should do x,I ought to get going on that. These types of statements will make you guilty and resentful The guilt and resentment can actually prevent you from doing it Better to use “I could” or “I choose to” or “choose not to” or “It would be to my advantage to” this avoids the negativity and is in fact more accurate Who on earth says you “should’ clean your desk? Do you actually want to? 19

20 Passive Aggressiveness This is about a fear of direct expression of negative feelings. It is being annoyed or angry with someone but pushing it down, or not showing it since you believe it is not nice to be angry The anger usually oozes out indirectly- you “forget” to return a call, you show up late or “forget the appointment”, you “forget” to do something because you are annoyed with the person. In lawyers this shows up by delaying or not answering calls of clients/lawyers you don’t like-failing to answer a law society letter-failing to file tax forms etc. 20

21 Unassertiveness This is about saying yes when you really meant to say no-a fear of saying no to someone-like a client or superior You may believe you should meet others expectations and base too much of your self esteem on what others think of you Poor boundaries, fear that by setting a boundary people won’t like you-you may be terrified of disapproval or criticism so you say “yes I will help you move on Saturday”-when Saturday comes you look for excuses not to do it 21

22 Coercion Sensitivity You may procrastinate because you feel pushed into doing something you don’t want to do. Your inner rebel becomes activated If this is the case the procrastination is an indirect way of expressing your annoyance with the person who is nagging you 22

23 Lack of Desire This may seem obvious but it is very very subtle-it is the most common cause of procrastination- you simply don’t want to do what you are putting off Rather than admit this you may think “I am a lazy procrastinator” rather than simply saying I don’t want to do it. This is related to “should” statements 23

24 Lack of Desire It may be not a high priority, it may not be wise to do it, it may be the wrong path entirely, even though others may think it is a great goal The reality may be your procrastination may be a healthy response you need to listen to Some lawyers have an attitude that “it has to be hard to be good”-”if I am miserable this is good because I am suffering my way to greatness” Or “anything worthwhile requires hard work and effort-fun isn’t part of it” 24

25 Lack of Desire The problem with these ideas is that it shuts off/dismisses feedback from your unconscious-you are climbing the ladder of success but your ladder is up against the wrong wall This the case with some lawyers who are so determined to suffer they don’t seek what they would love to do For these people a better mantra is “if it ain’t easy its impossible” or “go with the flow of life not against it” most super successful people absolutely love what they do and wouldn’t call it work 25

26 Lack of Desire It is very easy to have someone else's idea of a life!! i.e. Mom, Dad, partner, What the culture wants etc Laziness and lack of effort are very rare with lawyers-most are overachievers not underachievers-so having your ladder up against the wrong wall and suffering and working very hard to achieve what you don’t want is fairly uncommon Accordingly sometimes (maybe even often) procrastination is the universe telling you to stop and check to see if this what you really want 26

27 The End of Procrastination OK folks this is it!-The magic Bullet! You end procrastinating not when you do x-you end procrastination when you make a real decision to do it or to not do it (now or ever) or to delegate it Your procrastination about x is over when you make a real decision!!! Procrastination is actually just a logical decision-if you are honest about the benefits of it!! 27

28 What Works Procrastination is a choice, whether it is a good or bad choice depends on how well you understand your values or priorities and how good a decision maker you are Beating yourself up, hoping your personality will change, relying on will power or believing you either do it or you are a failure, hoping to cure your “bad habit” won’t work Knowing what you are likely to procrastinate will work, realizing it is a choice and a decision needs to be made will work, removing cognitive distortions will work (changing how you think about it) Realizing you procrastinate very specific things will work (themes) Realizing you don’t procrastinate everything is helpful 28

29 The Benefits of Procrastination Lets do a cost –benefit analysis of something you are procrastinating There are many many benefits to procrastination It is easy, safe and effortless You can avoid anxiety, do something more fun, avoid risks, avoid tedium etc. There can be many hidden benefits as revealed by the handout on Why Do People Procrastinate?-revenge, avoiding failure or mediocrity etc. 29

30 Procrastination is about Making Choices Some people actually don’t have a problem with procrastination they actually are poor decision makers- the indecisiveness looks like delaying doing the task This is so common we will do a whole session on it Also if you are honest about the costs/benefits to you-you can change your mind and make a different choice 30

31 Doing it If your decision is to do it and it is a good decision -goal setting is helpful-it doesn’t need to be complicated Step one is to clean up your cognitive distortions (see “why people procrastinate”)-if you are hooked in to any of these you will automatically self sabotage-No amount of goal setting or time management will work unless this has been done Step two-make a plan and set a goal A simple goal setting system is SMART goal setting 31

32 SMART Goal Setting Small and Simple-steps need to be easy- grandiosity is deadly here-the way to climb Mount Everest is one step at a time Measurable-results should be tangible and measurable by anyone-”I want to lose weight” is not a goal it is a wish-I will lose 4 pounds by the end of January is a goal Achievable-Is this something that is going to happen?-”I am going to run a marathon next month starting from being out of shape” is unrealistic and worse than useless since you have just built in failure and will hurt yourself with the failure 32

33 SMART Goal Setting Rational-is this consistent with your life goals and purpose? Is it important? (one friend of mine says that if it is not going to mentioned in your obituary-it is not important) Time bound-When are you going to do this? Simply putting down an exact time increases your chances of completion many times over As you can see making a real decision is a critical part of procrastination some peoples’ problem is not actually procrastination but an inability to be decisive (a separate and also insidious problem) 33

34 Deciding Not To Do it A clean clear decision to do it later or not to do it at all ends procrastination just as effectively as deciding to do it-it is off your plate-the quality of this choice depends on how well you have assessed the costs and benefits-if it is a good choice watching the hockey game is better than cleaning the garage! 34

35 Deciding To Delegate It Making the choice to get someone else to do the task is often a great decision-particularly for tasks you know you will always put off If you hate cleaning-hire someone who likes cleaning! For many people their perfectionism manifests as “I have to do everything myself or it won’t be done right” then they proceed to delay endlessly-usually creating more problems 35

36 Remedies for Procrastination As you have seen to reduce or eliminate procrastination a number of things must happen First of all a decision must be made-Do it- Don’t do it-Get someone else to do it. Any of these choices is the end of procrastination for that item. Unfortunately some people are quite indecisive-a real problem of its own!! Next -you must have more advantages in carrying out your decision than disadvantages or you won’t follow through-hence the value of a cost benefit analysis Next- you must be willing to change your mind about whatever is getting in your way- your own stubbornness works against you here!! 36

37 5 Steps to End Procrastination Step 1-Don’t put the cart before the horse-never wait for motivation, Realize deeply if you don’t feel like doing it now you never will!!!Action comes first then motivation-Do it then feel like it Step 2- Make a plan –Realize deeply you won’t get started “one of these days”-Exactly what time will you do it?-Exactly what will you do first? Step 3- Make it easy -chop the job into bite sized time parts or bite sized time bits- “I will do it for 15 minutes” or “I will do one easy small step today” 37

38 5 Steps To End Procrastination Step 4-Think rationally-which usually means changing your story -use TIC-TOC techniques or CBT Step 5-Reward yourself for what you have accomplished-beating yourself up is not helpful and keeps you stuck In your materials is a worksheet called Make A Plan to be used for this process Also in your materials is the Procrastinators Log- this is to deal with cognitive distortions and substitute with rational thinking These forms are designed to subdivide the problem into component parts 38

39 Doing a Cost Benefit Analysis A cost benefit exercise is a good way to bring to consciousness why you are procrastinating-it takes the mystery out of it, forces you to look at the truth and removes blame and negative self judgment from the equation Lets try a cost benefit plus making a decision on one thing you are procrastinating now 39

40 Dealing With Cognitive Distortions Many of the benefits of procrastinating are due to cognitive distortions To change these to rational beliefs we use the Procrastinators Log This involves replacing an old belief with a more effective one If you believe “I must do it perfectly or not at all”-this will obviously create a lot of procrastination in your life 40

41 Dealing with Cognitive Distortions To change a belief you must find which distortions are present (see page 2 of the procrastinators log) You then need to replace the old belief with a more effective one “I will do the best I can” this takes away a major source of procrastination Changing your story or narrative about anything is difficult because it is an old mental habit 41

42 Completing a Procrastinators Log Pick an area from your procrastination test which creates problems for you and think of a specific example For example I have an old belief that “I must be in the right mood to do something like my taxes”-of course in reality land I am never in the right mood for this-thus it is often is procrastinated The cognitive distortion here is emotional reasoning #7 42

43 Procrastinators Log I can replace this belief with the belief that “ I can do my taxes whether or not I am in the mood for it”-or “I can do something beneficial for myself without feeling like it” Changing this is not easy but if it is done in writing it is easier When I catch myself thinking the old familiar thought I switch it over to the new one Your mind won’t like this at all and usually resists any change-it is in love with its own beliefs 43

44 TIC-TOC This is a Cognitive Behavioral Technique and stands for Task Interfering Cognitions and Task Oriented Cognitions In other words thinking about things that get in the way of doing things Vs. thinking about things that promote getting things done Example: your partner wants you to clean the storeroom this weekend-it will take about 2 hours - you have agreed to do it, but you have put it off before TIC-I work hard all week, why should I have to work on the weekend? It’s such a crappy job-I hate cleaning-This the last thing I want to do this weekend TOC-s/he will be happy if I do it, nice things happen when s/he is happy. I can do it for 15 minutes and see what happens, I'll just start it etc. 44

45 TIC-TOC Can it be as simple as changing my thinking?-Absolutely yes-it is that simple!! Your mind will now say “It can’t be that easy, it must be more complicated than that!” Lawyers tend to distrust anything simple-I often say to clients if it was complicated and difficult lawyers would get it quickly!! Actually there is a complication-it can be very difficult to change your thinking-most people are stubbornly attached to being right about their thoughts-no matter how destructive they are! 45

46 Cognitive Distortions You have been given a tic-toc form to complete and you will notice a column called Distortions-these refer to cognitive distortions which are general errors of thinking You will see handout describing common cognitive distortions-you can get the general idea from that-we have a full course in CBT which takes several months( Burns group basic) People who have done CBT are familiar with this and know what to do in this column-those not familiar with this can ignore it for now, or try it based on the handout 46

47 Make a Plan In the materials you will find a anti procrastination plan This is useful for major things in your life you are procrastinating It breaks down the task into do- able parts and deals with what thinking will get in the way Lets pick a big area of procrastination(you have written these down in a prior exercise) and do it now 47

48 How to Procrastinate Anything Forever!! Focus on the whole job, especially the tedium and boredom and how long it will take Wait till you really feel like it Beat yourself up about what a lazy ineffective loser you are “ the beatings will continue until my morale improves” Tell yourself you will get around to it “one of these days” Always say “It wasn’t good enough” Rely on self criticism and will power for motivation 48

49 Trouble Shooting Your procrastination has been with you for a while and won’t go quietly into the night after this workshop-in fact it will fight change like a junkyard dog!! If you are procrastinating it is usually because you are “being right” about some belief you are unwilling to change There is some advantage in it for you-sometimes it is obvious- sometimes it is subtle and hard to see 49

50 Anti-Procrastination Planning Go back to your procrastination test- bring to mind what story you are telling yourself-what distortion are you buying into? Remember- your procrastination will end when your mind set changes-otherwise, given what your mind set is, procrastination is the logical choice!! Changing your mind set is the key- gaining “fluidity in your thinking” is what works. If you stubbornly cling to your old beliefs nothing changes 50

51 Perfectionism vs. Excellence This is an important distinction to recognize especially since perfectionism has such good press notwithstanding it is very corrosive to self esteem and a major cause of procrastination Many people have the cognitive distortion that if you are not a perfectionist you will be sloppy or uncaring or useless-this is all or nothing thinking Perfectionists rarely enjoy any of their achievements (after all could have done better!) 51

52 Perfectionism vs. Excellence Perfectionists see a problem-beat themselves up then (if they have any time left) solve the problem People who pursue excellence skip the self criticism and get right to the solution Perfectionists are motivated by fear of failure not enthusiasm-they have no faith in themselves Perfectionists who are also determined can be so concerned about being in control that they pursue goals they really have no genuine passion or interest in “I hate my job but I am good at it” 52

53 Perfectionism Lawyers are often plagued by perfectionism believing they wouldn’t have made it through law school or articling without it-in fact you have succeeded in spite of it Read the article and do the exercise in the handout Perfectionism V. The Healthy Pursuit of Excellence You can imagine the havoc these beliefs could wreak on your life An achievement perfectionist will live in constant fear and anxiety of making a mistake or not achieving a goal-this ensures a life of misery, especially in law, since making mistakes in law is a certainty 53

54 Perfectionism A romantic perfectionist will always have relationship problems, divorces, breakups etc. since they have a totally unrealistic view of relationships. They believe a fairy tale version so when measured against reality, it always comes up short A physical perfectionist will live their life always wanting the perfect face or figure, even if they are genetically lucky, eventually it will not live up their unrealistic standards and they guarantee misery for themselves. If they are genetically unlucky the misery is guaranteed for life 54

55 Perfectionism A perceived perfectionist believes they must always impress people with accomplishments, intelligence, talent etc. They believe people will look down on them if they fail or make a mistake. This results in a sense of never being good enough and their internal sense of worth is always outside themselves- they live their lives being concerned about what other people think of them 55

56 Procrastination and Being a Perfectionist To the degree you are a perfectionist in any area of life this belief will create a procrastination problem You will avoid risk or doing anything at all that you might fail at or be less than perfect at or look foolish. You might avoid new relationships, new experiences You will be continuously stressed-your achievements will never be enough You will likely procrastinate in any area where you have not shifted into excellence from perfection 56

57 Procrastination and Perfectionism Waiting for the perfect moment to draft the perfect document for the perfect case so you will be seen as the perfect lawyer means your life will be about waiting forever-you have locked in a procrastination mind set. A common justification for perfectionism is the belief that it motivates by fear to succeed- it requires a total lack of faith in yourself-that without fear you would be a a passive slug and achieve nothing It requires a shift in belief to accept that you can be motivated by joy and enthusiasm. Faith here is the belief you will be called to do what you are meant to do, which will bring you joy and you are ok just the way you are 57

58 Change your Mind about Perfectionism Perfectionism is not a quest for the best,but rather a pursuit of the worst in ourselves-the part that believes nothing we ever do is good enough Dare to be average!! Dare to make mistakes! Dare to accept yourself just as you are! Dare to be happy with what you have done!! Paradoxically, you are then more likely to achieve excellence Realize deeply pursuing perfectionism guarantees a lifetime of failure in your own eyes 58

59 Change your Mind about Perfectionism Perfectionism can result in great sadness-the other night I listened to an interview on CBC of a famous and well known musician nearing the end of his life (a self acknowledged perfectionist) who looked upon his life as a failure because he never wrote the perfect song-the interviewer kept referring to the awards he won, the huge fan base and influence on others etc to no avail-the musician did not acknowledge any of it-none of it was good enough-in his own mind he was a failure and I have no doubt he believed it-this is a huge price to pay to avoid changing your mind about the joy killing neurosis of perfectionism 59

60 Procrastination Additional Materials (6 hour format) Lawyers Assistance Program Facilitated by Robert Bircher 60

61 Making a Decision For many lawyers the root cause of their procrastination is indecisiveness We have seen that overcoming procrastination involves making a decision to do it, dump it, or delegate it Failure to make a real decision results in multiple failures in life, lost opportunities and chronic procrastination Examples would be: a desire, for many years, to change jobs, but taking no action-or a desire to be in (or out of) a long term relationship, but not translating thought into action 61

62 The Fourth Option- Deceive Yourself There is another option to “do it, dump it or delegate it” and that is to “Deceive Yourself-and live in shouldland” This frequently chosen option means to avoid a decision and stay in “should land” forever A good friend of mine has been torturing himself for many years about cleaning out his large storage locker “I should do it-I have been putting it off forever”-he always says he wants to do it but never gets “around to it” He won’t make a clean decision to do it, dump it or delegate it-and lives eternally in “shouldland” Any of the 3 alternatives would work in this situation-if he decides it is not important enough to act on it now-no problem-if he delegates it no problem-if he decides to do it and puts a plan in place-no problem 62

63 Adventures in “Shouldland” If you neglect or refuse to make a decision to do, not do, or get somebody else to do it -you get a free ticket to “shouldland” In “shouldland” there are no resorts or beaches-the main entertainment is beating yourself up for not doing “it”-if that isn’t enough fun you can also make endless plans that are never executed-there are no “welcome to shouldland signs”-they aren’t needed-if you won’t make a decision and are worrying about it- you are already there! The only way out of “shouldland” is making a real, clean, clear unequivocal decision 63

64 Chronic Abdication of the Decision Process People who abdicate decision making always feel something is missing from their life-they are right-they are missing!! They are not giving direction to their own lives! Success in any area of life requires full commitment and full participation in a choice This can be small time-inability to make a decision in a restaurant or big time-inability to decide whether to be single or in a relationship, or to change jobs 64

65 Real Decisions Translate thought into decisive action Break through inhibition and paralysis Real decisions restore, augment and sustain a healthy, positive sense of self Chronic procrastination is a result of abdication of decision-making 65

66 Real Decisions A free,unconditional,total and personal commitment to a choice or option Involve logic and feelings A full commitment to one road only Enhance self esteem Increase self confidence 66

67 Healthy Waiting and Procrastinating What is the difference? Unhealthy waiting (procrastinating) leaves clues-the delaying tactic is used repeatedly- no growth, increased clarification or real change occurs -no healthy conclusion is arrived at-there is an appearance of activity but really the person is just waiting for “something to turn up” i.e. to avoid making a decision In my friends example there is no advantage in waiting to decide what to do with his storage situation 67

68 Healthy Waiting Healthy waiting is just a decision not to decide now-for example more information is needed, some outside event needs to occur, something else needs to happen etc. Be careful not to deceive yourself about this-the reason to not make the decision now must be important enough so that it out weighs the disadvantages of not deciding now Example: I will wait until I have read Consumer Reports before I decide to buy a new car is healthy waiting (although you could then procrastinate that to avoid the car buying decision!!) 68

69 Pseudodecisions Appear to be a decision but are not Paralysis, undermining commitment and avoiding conflicting feelings are all forms of indecision Procrastination is often really an outward manifestation of indecisiveness Ambivalence-”waiting for something to turn up” or" no choice is quite right” 69

70 Pseudecisions-2 Impulse Moves-these are not decisions at all-they often backfire and are based on anxiety, fear and are usually attempts to break through profound inertia Letting someone else decide-in this we trade off parts of ourselves for some kind of spurious “peace” Rebellious Decisions-automatically doing the opposite of what others do, this appears on the surface to be independence, but the opposite is true since they can’t make a decision until someone else makes theirs so they what the opposite will be 70

71 Pseudodecisions-3 One foot in - One foot out- trying to satisfy all options at the same time-this avoids genuine total commitment and results in partial or total failure Ruminating about the past-this indicates a fundamental lack of commitment to the decision that was made or an infantile belief “we could have have had our cake and eaten it too!!” 71

72 Decision Exercise Write 3 decisions you have recently made that feel like “real” decisions to you-Part 2-What is your favorite pseudo decision tactic? Write 3 decisions (which will end your procrastination in those areas) you need to make, but are having trouble with (areas where you are in “shouldland” Think- Pair -Share 72

73 Decision Blockers 1.Losing touch with feelings-this is usually a gradual process and is in response to a painful environment. It is easy to see how lawyers can be severely impacted by this since it is a thinking business and some alienation from client problems is necessary to survive 2.Resignation-avoiding anxiety by clinging on to things as they are 3.Confused or Absence of, priorities-if you aren’t clear about what you really value in life-poor decisions are inevitable 73

74 Decision Blockers 2 1.Poor self esteem 2.Hopelessness/Depression 3.Unrealistic self image 4.Self Erasing/obsessive need to be liked 5.Perfectionism-common with Lawyers 74

75 Decision Blockers-3 1.Wanting it all-Malignant belief that if you make no choice you will have a chance to have it all 2.Illustration-A 4 year old in a Toy Store-You can have 1 toy! 3.All decisions involve some form of payment-i.e.... discarded choices 4.The word “decision” comes from the Latin “decision”- to cut off-in other words it is about cutting out the path not taken 75

76 Decision Blockers-4 1.Something better will come along 2.Fear of self hate due to a bad choice-need to be right 3.Coulda,Woulda,Shoulda- berating the self 4.Option Blindness 5.Time pressure distortion 6.Impaired judgment 76

77 The Big Fact In very few instances is one decision actually better than another The substance of the decision is less important than the process A choice works by reason of the amount of investment and energy put into it by decision maker The decision maker makes or breaks the decision according to the strength or weakness of the commitment and loyalty to the choice Decision failure is really a lack of dedicated commitment to the choice 77

78 Priorities The position of life’s issues on our personal scale of importance Are the same as or tell us about our values Being out of touch with our priorities results in chaotic decisions Some priorities are not fully conscious Honesty with self is critical here Priority exercise 78

79 Eight Stages of Decision Making 1.Listing and observing all the possibilities, options or choices -not a time for judgment -perfectionism is dangerous here 2.Sustaining a free flow of feelings and thoughts about each of the possible choices 3.Observing thoughts and feelings about each of the options and applying those feelings 79

80 Eight Stages of Decision Making-2 4.Relating choices to established priorities -i.e. buying a car- money,ownership,prestige,aestheti cs,comfort,integrety,peace of mind etc. 5.Designating one choice; Discarding those not chosen -will “feel right” -tough part is letting go of other choices-Must absolutely let go of nonchosen options!! 80

81 Eight Stages of Decision Making-3 6.Registering the decision -dangerous stage for obsessive ruminator 7.Investing the decision with committed feelings,thoughts,time and energy. 8.Translating the decision into optimistic action -must invest loyalty and optimism about the decision 81

82 Decision Success Know your priorities Establishing realistic goals and expectations Knowing there is always a price to pay Recognizing major personal assets Knowing and exploring your proclivities Getting over fear of rejection and failure 82

83 Decision Success-2 Leaving- is non involving/Going to- is involving the self Conditions are always imperfect Moods make a difference Accepting some ambivalence Accepting some insecurity and anxiety Interest comes after involvement Integrated concentration 83

84 Decision Success-3 Profiting from other peoples experience and help Delegating responsibility Effective use of time Insight,motivation,discipline Postponement of gratification Value of struggle 84

85 Decision Exercise Take the 3 decisions you need to make (from the previous exercise) and follow through with this 8 step process What action step could you take today to cement your decision? What choices will you need to let go of to make a real decision here? How will you deal with the part of you that will continue to doubt this decision? Think/pair/share 85

86 Ending Procrastination in Your life We have seen that procrastination is about making a conscious decision to not do something Your mind will have great reasons to justify this as we have seen from our procrastination test and the main cognitive distortions (described in “Why people procrastinate”) These distortions can be changed using mood logs 86

87 Ending Procrastination Also using a procrastination plan will be helpful Perfectionism is often a liability here, so we have looked at that influence Making a real decision is necessary-some procrastination is really just indecisiveness Changing your mind using TIC-TOC will also work We have gained great insight into why we procrastinate but we must actually change behaviors in order to stop it- insight is the booby prize of psychological learning 87

88 Changing Behavior-Getting Out of Your Own Way What process or procedure are you most likely to use from what we have done here? What will work to get you to change your behavior? What will get in the way of changing your procrastination behavior? If the benefits (which you are comfortable with) outweigh the disadvantages (which take conscious effort to change) you will continue to procrastinate!! What outside support would help? ie a group or friend Will radical change be outside your comfort zone? 88

89 Avoiding Change by Staying Within Your Comfort Zone One powerful reason for continuing to procrastinate, even after becoming aware of how you create it is staying within your “comfort zone” “Comfort Zone Theory” is a concept developed as a result of a study done by IBM wherein they moved their sales force around from high producing areas to low producing areas and vice versa and discovered that the area had very little to do with it A salesperson making a certain amount would do what was necessary to recreate their income no matter what the area 89

90 Avoiding Change by Staying Within Your Comfort Zone A salesperson from a high sales area soon turned the low sales area around so that they could make the amount of money they were used to A salesperson from a low sales area soon turned around a high sales area to the lower amount they were used to People are comfortable with a certain amount of money and will consciously or unconsciously recreate that income in any situation-it only changes when they internally believe they are worth more This comfort zone also applies to other areas of life-like relationships 90

91 Avoiding Change by Staying Within Your Comfort Zone For example-Harv Eker the designer of the Millionaire Mind course says he can predict your bank balance a year in advance with 95% accuracy-if you don’t change your preconceptions about money- i.e. how much you are worth This means that some procrastination is actually your unconscious attempt to stay in your comfort zone As we get close to the upper or lower limit to our comfort zone fear kicks in and takes over 91

92 Getting out of Your Comfort Zone If you are in a job making $90,000 a year you may sabotage any attempt to get a job paying $130,000-your mind will make up many reasons why you can’t get such a job, or delay or “forget” to apply-or think I can’t do that, I am not qualified etc. In situations where you are delaying or procrastinating about a significant positive change, it may be that you are bumping up against your comfort zone and need to deal with the fear associated with that- otherwise you will continue to procrastinate Think –Pair –Share-what areas of your life are you holding back or procrastinating out of fear? 92

93 Our Own Personal Comfort Zone The comfort zone is not just a collection of uncomfortable emotions-it has its own personality-it is a complex psychological- physiological entity unto itself Our own comfort zone knows us intimately and hits us at our weakest point-it wouldn’t dream of using an excuse we could see through. It uses reasons we find reasonable, rationales we find rational-it can take our greatest aspirations and turn them into excuses for not bothering to aspire 93

94 Beating Procrastination by Planning A small amount of planning pays big dividends-some people act first- then think-with predictably disastrous results Putting the plan in writing is many times more effective than just thinking it Planning exercise-use the make a plan form for something big you are procrastinating 94

95 Beating Procrastination by Becoming Effective Make and use lists-i.e. things to do today prioritized as A, B and C –phone call list etc. Fight to link everything to your goals-productivity is the deliberate, strategic investment of your, time, talent, intelligence, energy, resources and opportunities in a manner calculated to move you measurably closer to meaningful goals Use tickler files to replace memory 95

96 Beating Procrastination by Becoming Effective Phone Fax and freedom- tightly control when and if you answer calls-answering all of these mean you are allowing someone else's priority to govern your day Meetings-meetings are often a waste-be very picky about when or if you attend them Always be on time-this speaks volumes to others about your credibility and reduces stress 96

97 Beating Procrastination by Becoming Effective Time blocking-blocking off certain amounts of time for a task- i.e. lunch hour for fitness Minimize unplanned activity-if you are vague about the day- low productivity is the result Profit from odd- lot time-listening to books on tape or cd’s in the car- reading reports or files at the airport etc. 97

98 Beating Procrastination by Becoming Effective Live off peak-do activities at times when nobody else is doing them -i.e. grocery shopping Sun morning-or the time you travel to or from work to minimize traffic Exercise –which of these techniques would work for you? How could you implement them? 98

99 Overcoming Procrastination Workbook and Exercises Facilitated by Robert Bircher Lawyers Assistance Program of British Columbia 99


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