Writing About Writing

I don't know what it is, but the process of just writing these words – of just starting – is potent. It doesn't matter how much time has passed; the act of writing is always new. That's the appeal of it, I suppose.

Of course, having all of the accoutrements of writing is fun; apps, tools, and books. Writing about writing is a kind of practical procrastination. However, nothing beats the act of writing itself, whatever it may be about.

In this last bit is where I think of something profound to say, something that will wrap up my thoughts in a nice little bow. I'm never at a lack for something profound, but sometimes all you can say is goodnight (see, that's kind of profound). In any case, why don't we end with a 1…2…3…4.

Sincerely,
G.B.M.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Little Spring Cleaning

One of my goals is to make art for a living. I’ve got a digital painting on the “canvas” right now, and it’s actual paid work. Getting paid to make art makes me a professional artist; something I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around. Things were going along fine, until I was hit with some nasty mood swings the past few days. I’m writing about it because one, it’s therapeutic, and two, I also want to be a writer. A painter paints, a writer writes.

Being an eternal optimist, I wasn’t going to let mood swings get in the way of my goals. The emotional hole I found myself in was mucky, but I kept a lookout for opportunities. When opportunity showed up, as I knew it would, it was in the form of rearranging the home office.

Moving furniture around doesn’t seem like much, which was why I’d procrastinated on it for so long. Over the past several months, cord gnomes (you know the ones) had run amok, making the underbelly of my desk a nice place for the Alien to hide.

Technically speaking, organizing my home office while I have a painting in the works is procrastination, but I like to think of it as planned procrastination, which is something like Planned Parenthood minus the Pap smear.

This operation involved organizing my desk and computer, as well as my girlfriend’s. She has a swanky iMac that had a total of one cord, whereas my PC somehow had loops upon loops of labyrinthine cordage. I still don’t know what most of them plug into, as I just Medivac’ed the bulk of them over to my side of the room.

Since this isn’t meant to be a Mac vs. PC debate, I’ll move on to the spring cleaning.

I got a bit of a workout moving the furniture around, and wiping the dust off the neglected areas. A little spring cleaning turned into a makeshift mindfulness meditation. I’d been feeling anxious about my painting, but figuring out where things went had a cleansing effect, pushing the worries from my mind.

It’s as if energy can stagnate in the unused spaces of our homes. Moving things around, making conscious decisions about what to do with the stuff, can get energy and life flowing again.

I like my home office better now. I even got some painting done. Hooray for progress!

Thanks for reading, and remember to make today a better day!

~ST

Anti-procrastination Toolkit: Sessions

If you struggle with procrastination, first I’d recommend reading The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, then read Getting Things Done by David Allen. The ideas in these two books provide immense value in the quest to accomplish our goals. Today I’m going to talk about one of the most important tools in my Anti-procrastination Toolkit:

Sessions

There are lots of goodies in The Now Habit, but what I’ve consistently used for years is the concept of “sessions”, which are 30 minute chunks of time that you track while working on projects.

For example, let’s say I’m writing an article. I’d start a timer for 30 minutes and begin writing. After the session is over, I decide whether I want to do another session or not. I’ve gotten to the point where I feel weird if I don’t start a session when I work on projects.

This works well for anything you consider work. After a while you get a sense for how long 30 minutes of work really is. For someone like me, I tend to over/under estimate how much time and energy I have. We all know that time flies by when you’re having fun, and drags when you’re not. Our minds routinely plays tricks on our sense of time.

Nowadays, I don’t worry about what project I’m working on. I just know that I have sessions to do. Some days I can do lots of sessions, some days not as much. This is a good way to get myself to do some work even if I don’t feel up to it, because I know I can put in at least one session. It’s also a good way to stop myself from over-working when I realize I’ve already put in a lot of sessions for the day.

I like to think of sessions as weights for my time management workout. I’m able to track how strong I am by knowing how many sessions I can do.

Tracking your time

There are many free timers you can use on the computer, or you can use a traditional hand held timer.

I use Google Calendar to track sessions. Whenever I complete a session, I put it on my calendar. It’s very helpful to see what I’m working on and how much time I’m spending on different projects. After several weeks you discover valuable information about your work habits.

Join me next time as I share other useful anti-procrastination tools.

Feel free to ask questions or leave suggestions in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and remember to make today a better day!

~ST

The Now Habit and Getting Things Done are Amazon affiliate links

It’s All Part of the Masterplan

Puzzle pieces - 4

My original masterplan for Getting Better, Man was to make it a personal development blog. I make distinctions between personal development, self-improvement, and self-help, mainly for the sake of convenience, . Currently, my “personal dev” system relies on Getting Things Done (GTD) for its engine, and my own modifications and philosophy. Today, I want to talk a bit about my system, which I’ve dubbed The Masterplan Personal Development System.

This is a very rough sketch of the principles behind the Masterplan system:

  • Personal development is important and responsible (to people).
  • The Universe is a system and made up of other systems (systems within systems).
  • Systems are inter-connected and fractal.
  • All things being equal, simplicity is best.
  • The system needs to be flexible.
  • The system needs to be effective.
  • The system needs to be adaptable.
  • The system is designed to be used by humans (with all of our foibles and fallacies).
  • The system needs to be holistic.

Over the coming days I’ll share with you how I’ve used the Masterplan system to accomplish some of my most challenging goals. I’ve been able to overcome self-defeating habits, low self-esteem, and procrastination (and it slices and dices, too)!

I continue to use and refine it to work on things like Sedone.com, my Clothian Chronicles comic, my art, write about getting better and self-improvement, and my personal self-help journey.

I used the Masterplan system to create my girlfriend Jessica’s website. I’ve been teaching the system to her, but I realized it made more sense to write it out and share it with people. That would help me understand and explain the system better, and also have a greater impact on the world.

Stay tuned for more!

Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

image credits: Puzzle pieces - 4 by yann.co.nz, on Flickr

Create Now Edit Later

A good way of overcoming procrastination is to create now, and edit later*. Figure out a step you can take, and take it. This step can be as small as it needs to be. You have to get to the point where inaction becomes more burdensome than action. There are many reasons we resist action. It’s a part of life. When we don’t take action on the things that are important to us, we sometimes feel guilty, but I’ve found that guilt is really just another way out of taking action. Ask yourself, “Would I rather take action, or not take action?” Sometimes the honest answer is that we don’t want to take action. That awareness is in itself the seedbed for action.

What exactly is “awareness”? I suspect that self-honesty, being true to yourself, and full disclosure without self-deception, is a big part of awareness, or “self-awareness”. I’ve found that a huge block to creativity (essentially self-expression) is self-deception. How much of what you think, and what you do, is influenced by external forces? I assume that almost all of what I do is conditioned into me by other people and my environment. Out of that, I begin to notice what thoughts and actions are truly mine. It’s few and far between, yet that’s how our spirits grow stronger.

Become friends with starting. Don’t worry about ending. Keep starting for the rest of your life. The worry about how things will end kills so many first steps. Get used to taking first steps. Every step is a first. This attitude ensures that we live a life of taking action. Moving forward has a way of clarifying things. We’re all moving forward towards our own death anyway. I choose not to be afraid of that. I choose not to hold on for dear life as life pulls me forward. I choose to cooperate with the Universe. I choose to live life.

*This post has been brought to you by the “create now edit later” philosophy.

Procrastination

I want to bring up this hairy topic because on a cosmic level it’s comical that I’m afflicted by this curse, yet on a personal level it can be crippling. My brand of procrastination comes from having a perfectionist streak, being too critical about everything I do, and insecurities about not being good enough. It’s a difficult thing to overcome, which is why I do it in small steps. What makes it even more difficult to overcome is that procrastination is in itself a reward, so I’m rewarding myself for feeling all those harsh things instead of dealing with them.

If anyone out there battles with this kind of thing, you have my support. There’s hope, you just have to keep fighting and go easy on yourself. It’s a paradox that the harsher I am to myself, the more I procrastinate. Small steps are good. I tell myself that I deserve to do my best. I sell myself short sometimes, and I shouldn’t. The thing that’s helped me the most is to be consistent. Procrastination is a habit. Break it with another habit. Consistency reinforces a habit, and the reward is that you get better at whatever it is you’re doing. Choose something that will add some quality to your life. I workout, write, do art, and practice guitar (but I’m procrastinating on that, too!). It’s a struggle, but I take small steps, and I do it over and over. That’s the only way I know of to break the procrastination cycle (hmmm…sounds like a setting on your washing machine).

So in summary:

  • Procrastination wastes time.
  • Procrastination is a way to reward yourself for not doing the work.
  • Feeling guilty about not doing the work just causes you to procrastinate even more.
  • Procrastination is a tough habit to break.

But there’s hope!

  • It’s not too late to do something about procrastination.
  • Take a small step right now to end procrastination.
  • Be consistent with your efforts.
  • Don’t judge yourself too harshly if you struggle. It’s human!

If you’d like more help on the subject, check out the Psychological Self-help website. It has a lot of good information about this and other topics.