In Procrastination lay possibilities

One of the things that undermines us being at our best is procrastination.

  • In 1978, 5% of the population admitted to being chronic procrastinators compared to roughly 26% of the population today (Steele, 2007).

Indeed, it is no coincidence that Self-Control is the least occurring VIA Strengths (only 4% of the population) and Discipline is near the bottom of Gallup’s 34 Strengthsfinder themes (31st of 34). So, if you are like me, you cannot call on these strengths to help you.

Warning: While reading.viewing this post will help you effectively move beyond procrastinating if put into practice, you will probably go down a rabbit hole exploring procrastinating. 

Tim Urban of Wait, but why offers one of best explanations for why we procrastinate:

He offers a follow up in another post on How to Beat Procrastination.

Dr. Linda Sapadin has created a personality quiz to help you identify the type of procrastinator you are:

According to Dr. Sapadin, the 6 styles represent the outer polarities of 3 traits:

Attention to Details: The perfectionist pays too much attention to details; the dreamer doesn’t pay enough attention.

Focus on the Future: The worrier is overly concerned about what might happen if…; the crisis-maker is not sufficiently concerned (until crunch time).

Relationship to Others: The defier goes against what others want; the pleaser is overly oriented to what others want.

In her book, she offers prescriptions to each of the styles. Short of buying the book, what can you do?

Planning

First steps always involve having a plan. Part of the plan comes down to understanding your priorities. For big picture, short of having your own mission statement (which is a good idea), I like Warren Buffet’s 25/5 priority solution:

  • Write down your top 25 goals for the next year.
  • Circle your top 5.
  • Throw out the other 20. As Buffet said “Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”

You can do this on a life time, or five years or one week. It really does not matter. The idea is to zero in on the essential. Charles Schwab employed a similar idea brought to him by a consultant Ivy Lee

  1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
  5. Repeat this process every working day.

A more macro approach has to do with understanding the nature of your to do list at any given time as General Eisenhower did: “”I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” This is best illustrated by this matrix:

If you actually organized all the tasks into one of the four quadrants, you will be a far more productive place. Here is a video of it in practice:

But how to stop procrastinating?

Anisa  Horton at FastCompany offers an idea of scheduling procrastination which he borrowed from Charles Duhigg:

“this is something I actually found when writing the book.  The more you focus, the more that focus becomes a habit.  So, willpower is like a muscle, right?  It’s this muscle that you can build up, and it gets tired, but the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.  The same is true of our ability to focus.  The more you practice focusing, the easier focusing becomes.  And so the other answer for procrastination is, don’t beat up on yourself.  Let yourself practice going longer and longer and longer without taking a five-minute break to check Facebook because after three or four weeks, after three or four months you’ll be able to sustain focus much longer, but the key is, you can’t change everything overnight. You can’t suddenly say, I want a brand new habit tomorrow and expect it to be east and effortless.  It’s something you have to give yourself permission to take a little bit of time to practices because you’re building up neuro pathways associated with certain behavior and those neuro pathways just build up over time.  You can’t speed up that process any more than is natural.”

Another personal favorite is the Pomodoro Technique.

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break

Other techniques

Visual Cues: Let’s say you need to learn a list of vocabulary words. You commit to reviewing 25 words every day. You can get a bowl of 25 paperclips–25 to be exact. Each word you review, you flip the clip to an empty bowl. And you keep going until the first bowl is empty. Repeat tomorrow. 

Surrender your cell phone. Seriously, you know you cannot live without it, so let’s meet half way. When you get home, give your phone to your parent. You can give yourself an allowance of say 30 minute phone break to do all the things you normally do. A growing body of research is showing that Cell phone usage is driving anxiety levels up

Exercise Self Control. Don’t have any? There is an app for that. You can block websites and apps that distract you. The nice thing is you can give yourself an allowance. So you can block Youtube for say 1 hour and then give yourself a break to do so. There is an app called Focus for your iphone that does the thing. More iphone apps for productivity here.

Focus Writer helps you concentrate on your writing on a mac. StayFocusd increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites through this Chrome extension

Practice mindfulness daily. Why? “Emotional regulation, to me, is the real story around procrastination, because to the extent that I can deal with my emotions, I can stay on task,” says Pychyl, a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada).

Podcasts worth listening to

 

Where to start?

Simply pick one of these strategies and test it for one week. Run it like an experiment. Next week try a different strategies. 

Well worth reading is this article on the Science Behind Procrastination.

Find your strengths Twin

The guys at   Releasing Strengths are aiming to connect you with someone who shares your top 5. The odds are slim:

We are all pretty unique, however some people share the same Top 5 themes. The chances of two people having the same Top 5 themes is 1 in 278,256. Even more incredible, two people having the same Top 5 themes in the same order is 1 in 33 million. (33,390,720).

And yet they have already connected 22 sets of Strengths Twins, 1 set of Triplets and 1 group of Quads in only 660 registrations. It is interesting the frequency of those filling in the form: 

Strengths Primer: Discipline

People strong in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.

  • Needs on a team: To organize
  • As a Leader: Create order
  • In Conflict: Add structure
  • Partner with: someone with strong Ideation–this will stretch your thinking. Adaptability–They will help you manage with flexibility especially in times of change. Self-assurance–will give you confidence especially trying new things. 
  • In academics: – loves organization – this student will also be well-prepared for the advising session and usually knows what they want – enjoys structured courses, well- organized profs with clear expectations, grading rubrics – will probably want to take all the required courses first to “get them out of the way” – will want to carefully plan their course schedule and will care about the times classes are taught and how they will get their assignments done – will want study time in between classes, so won’t want to schedule any back-to-back classes – will enjoy seeing the syllabus in advance of choosing the class 

Learn more here. 

Strengths Primer: Consistency

People strong in the Consistency theme (also called Fairness in the first StrengthsFinder assessment) are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world fairly by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.

  • Needs on a team: To have things be fair
  • As a Leader: Treat people the same
  • In Conflict: Set up clear rules
  • Partner with: Maximizer or Individualization theme
  • In academics: – loves fairness – prefers courses where expectations are clear and spelled out in advance – loves grading rubrics – dislikes being in courses where the prof plays favorites or where expectations change during the term – surprises are no fun to these students, so they will want to map out their educational plan well in advance and then stick to it – enjoys routines, processes, and other sequential procedures, so may enjoy the sciences, statistics, accounting, music, engineering or law

Learn more here. 

Strengths Primer: Self-Asssurance

People strong in the Self-assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.

  • Needs on a team: To be right
  • As a Leader: Provide confidence
  • In Conflict: Influence outcome
  • Partner with: a strong Strategic, Deliberative, or Futuristic theme. This person can help you assess the goals to which you commit. You need this help because once you set your sights on a goal you are very likely to stay with it until it is achieved. 
  • In academics: – loves to make a difference – enjoys class participation – enjoys classes where they can be successful – prefers classes that are relevant to their goalsand desires – enjoys independent study or creating their own assignments –appreciates feedback from profs

Learn more here

Strengths Primer: Strategic

Day two, second theme to drill into. 

People especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

  • Needs on a team: To Seek Alternatives
  • As a Leader: Forge The Path Forward
  • In Conflict: Quickly Name the Issues
  • Partner with: Activator
  • In academics: loves to see the alternative – likes classes that emphasize options, alternative solutions, and strategic thinking – independent study often appeals, as do creative assignments

Read the full primer here.

Strengths Primer: Woo

34 days, 34 theme. First up Winning other overs-Woo

People strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person. 

  • Needs on a team: 
    • To meet people

     

  • As a Leader: Network with others
  • In Conflict: Keep people connected
  • Partner with: someone with a strong Relator or Empathy theme. This person can solidify the relationships that you begin.
  • In academics: – loves to meet new people – enjoys taking a variety of classes – enjoys new material and opportunities to meet people they wouldn’t otherwise meet – relationship with prof is important – group projects usually appeal

Se the rest on the page for Woo

Strengths Primer: Woo

34 days, 34 theme. First up Winning other overs-Woo

People strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person. 

  • Needs on a team: 
    • To meet people

     

  • As a Leader: Network with others
  • In Conflict: Keep people connected
  • Partner with: someone with a strong Relator or Empathy theme. This person can solidify the relationships that you begin.
  • In academics: – loves to meet new people – enjoys taking a variety of classes – enjoys new material and opportunities to meet people they wouldn’t otherwise meet – relationship with prof is important – group projects usually appeal

Se the rest on the page for Woo

Comparing Strengths assessment

Different strength tools
Who is it for and what does it cost

 

 

 

 

 

Youth

Adult

Adult

Youth

Adult

Adult

Adult

15-20

15

15

25

20

25

24 in order

 

Top 3 of 10

Top 5 of 34

21 of 60

2 of 9 

Free +

Free +

Free in Naviance

$10

$25

$15

Character

 

Talents

Talents

C, T and unrealised

Strengths roles

 

What it measures

 

 

 

6 Virtues

 

4 dimensions

10 talents

 

4 Domains

 

5 families

9 Strength groups

 

 

Wisdom and Knowledge 

 

Courage 

 

Humanity –

 

Justice – 

 

Temperance –

 

Transcendence 

 

 

Decisive 

Interactive

Stabilising

Cautiousness

——-

Two reports:

Natural

Adaptive

 

——-

15 patterns

Achieving 

Caring 

Competing 

Confidence 

Dependability 

Discoverer 

Future Thinker 

Organizer 

Presence 

Relating 

 

INFLUENCING STRENGTHS

 

EXECUTING STRENGTHS

 

 

RELATING STRENGTHS

STRATEGIC THINKING

 

 

Being, Communicating, Motivating

Relating Thinking

——-

Realised

Unrealised

Weeknesses

Advisor

Connector

Creator

Equalizer

Influencer

Pioneer

Provider

Stimulator

Teacher

 

 

 

List of Strengths defined

 

 

 

Creativity

Curiosity

Judgment/Open-Mind,

Love of Learning

Perspective, wisdom

Bravery

Perseverance, industriousness

Honesty/integrity

Zest

Capacity to Love Kindness/generosity

Social Intelligence

Teamwork

Fairness

Leadership

Forgiveness&Mercy

Modesty&Humility

Prudence

self-control

App. of Beauty/Excel.

Gratitude

Hope, optimism,

Humor

Religious/Spirituality

Achiever

Agent

Appraiser

Counselor

Creative

Developer

Inspirational

Investigator

Objective Thinker

Perfectionist

Persuader

Practitioner

Promoter

Result oriented

Specialist

 

Achieving 

Caring 

Competing 

Confidence 

Dependability 

Discoverer 

Future Thinker 

Organizer 

Presence 

Relating 

Activator,Command, 

Communication, Competition, Arranger Maximizer, Achiever

Self-Assurance, 

Significance, Woo

Consistency, Belief Deliberative,

Discipline, Focus, Responsibility, Restorative, Developer

Adaptability, Input

Connectedness, Empathy, Harmony, Includer, Individualization, 

Positivity, Relator

Analytical, Context, Futuristic, Ideation,, Intellection, Learner, Strategic

Action

Adventure

Bounceback

Drive 

Enabaler

Emotional Awareness

Esteem build

Courage 

Humor

Improver 

Curiosity

Pride

Listern

Planful

 

Advisor

Connector

Creator

Equalizer

Influencer

Pioneer

Provider

Stimulator

Teacher

 

 

Follow your passion is bad advice

“The path to a passionate life is often way more complex than the simple advice ‘follow your passion’ would suggest.”
You’ve been told you should follow your passion, to do what you love and the money will follow. But how sound is this advice? Cal Newport argues that it’s astonishingly wrong.

But if you do what you do with passion, it make all the difference. 

He actually mentions Strengthsfinder as a tool, but is kind of dimissive of it. The stories he tells of people living their passions, however, he speaks of lifestyle traights they are cultivated through thir job which sounds suspiciously like people using their strengths in their work.