Posted in hope, know better do better, mindset, motivation, podcasts, tips

Yes! I’ll do that! … Later…

Procrastination has showed up in several podcasts in the last few weeks.

The content has conflicted in some ways, but I took some bits from them and plan to use them. (Always: take what you can use and leave the rest.) These things are so obvious and fall into place so easily that I can’t believe I didn’t sleuth them out already. Maybe you have?

The biggest takeaway I had was that procrastination is avoiding a feeling, not a task. Completely resonates.

So I don’t actually put off phone calls because I don’t like phone calls—I’m avoiding feeling intrusive or frustrated or stupid (for a variety of reasons), depending on the call.

And I’m not avoiding writing the book because I don’t like writing (which I already knew!)—I’m avoiding putting it out there when it’s done.

And on and on.

Sometimes, I’m exceptionally productive when avoiding a specific task. The best way to get a daily to-do list done is to put one thing on it that I really don’t want to do. Everything else magically gets done…

One of the episodes talked about the lack of immediate gratification, and that would be true on long-term tasks—or maybe quick tasks with long-term payoff—but it doesn’t fly with “I need to make a phone call.”

They also talked about making yourself accountable to other people, but I have witnessed countless times (and so have you, I’m sure) that often, that doesn’t work. You disappear from view of your accountability partner. Or you tell them you decided not to pursue the thing any more. You eat the money you paid for your accountability group. Or use some other means of escaping the accountability.

Brené Brown’s work ties into this. Shaming yourself for something you have shame about in the first place doesn’t help the problem and does not inspire change or productivity. (Don’t shame yourself. Don’t shame your kids. Don’t shame your spouse. Don’t shame your colleagues. Don’t shame anyone. It. Doesn’t. Work.)

So.

For long-term projects where fear of failure or rejection—often manifesting as perfectionism—are the roadblocks, there’s a plan. Let me recount what they suggested in the specific example in the podcast, and you can take it and adapt it.

The procrastinator was not making the (very short) videos she needed to make for an app she was looking to create. (The app already existed; it just needed content.) By asking her when during the day she would ideally work on this, she was assigned a daily 45-minute block just for making the videos. The first 15 minutes was planning. After that, she would record that day’s video until either time ran out or she had one she was happy with. If time ran out, she would just choose the one she liked best of what she had created and move on.

This creates space to work on it each day, but more than that, it removed much of the paralysis by perfectionism. Just make videos. It doesn’t matter yet if they’re good. Just make them. They’ll get better as you go.

Just write. Just draw. Just practice. Just record. Refine later. For now, just do it.

Of course, not everyone’s schedule allows space to be created so neatly. But most of us can find time on a regular-ish basis to work on a long-term project. (If we have a long-term project we want to do.)

How to make the phone calls?

Create a system where some highly desirable thing happens only when the dreaded thing happens. Perhaps a guilty pleasure type of thing. All of the examples that I’ve read/heard of this use watching movies or TV as the positive—”I can only watch these shows when I’m at the gym;” “I can only watch these movies when I do these unpleasant but long-term necessary health-related tasks”—but I’m sure that if that’s not your bag (like me), you can find something else.

As a general rule, I don’t like food/drink to be reward, but if it’s an infrequent or short-term enough thing, then it might be okay. It’s just … easy to set the stage to create or exacerbate other problems.

Links to the podcasts:

Work Life with Adam Grant

How To with Charles Duhigg (This is the current episode as of when I’m writing. “Procrastination” is in the title if you’re looking for it at a later time)

Armchair Expert

Braincast (This was my least favorite of the four I’ve linked—it’s the only episode I’ve listened to from this guy, and I’m not inclined to make room for more.)

Posted in connections, differences, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Introverts need people, too

Solidarity incited among introverts via memes in the theme of staying home versus socializing.

They’ve always rubbed me the wrong way because they didn’t fit me. I’m definitely an introvert. And I definitely enjoy socializing. (In certain contexts.) And, as I wrote about recently, a good girlfriend date is definitely energizing.

My depression is always triggered by some sort of emotional disconnect, whether a breakup or just (“just”) feeling socially isolated. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy looking for the roots of this, but I think the most oversimplified premise is simple: people are social animals.

That runs contrary to the introvert memes.

Perhaps ironically, I was out in the local mountains alone, listening to podcasts, taking pictures, enjoying the perfect weather. It was wonderful and recharging. The first podcast I listened to?

The Happiness Lab, Season 1, Episode 4: Mistakenly Seeking Solitude. Their thesis was everyone is happier interacting than not interacting (as a generalization, but regardless of introversion/extraversion), and automation is causing emotional issues. They talked about the invention of ATMs, bar cars and quiet cars on public trains, and the Museum of Ice Cream. (How did I not know that was a thing?!)

(I was recently tipped off to The Happiness Lab, and I’ve loved every episode I’ve listened to so far. They’re only a season and change in, so I started at the beginning.)

As I continued wandering through the mountains, I thought about blogging about the episode, made a note in my phone, and carried on.

A day or two later, I was listening to Work Life, another one new to my rotation that I’m loving. Adam Grant, the host, was talking about the use (and misuse) of personality tests in the workplace, when he interviewed Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. (Excellent book, if you’ve not read it.)

Adam: Most people think about introversion extraversion as where you get your energy. Like, extraverts from people; introverts get it from being alone. But when Susan studied the science, she learned that wasn’t quite right.

Susan: Everybody, whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, draws energy from other people. And I think that we don’t make enough distinction between how many people and in what kind of a setting. [emphasis mine] There ends up being an idea that introverts are anti-social and I always say, it’s not that, it’s just differently social.

(The conversation with Adam and his wife that follows the above dialogue is very funny.)

Susan goes on to talk about the recovery time introverts need after a party or other over-stimulating event. It doesn’t mean we don’t get energy from people. That’s just … too many people. Past the point of diminishing returns.

This all lines up exactly with what I’ve been thinking for a long time. I felt a little more at peace with myself after hearing people who’ve actually done research said what I’ve been thinking and feeling all along.

How does any of this resonate with you? My curiosity about your opinion is piqued a bit more if you listen to one or both of those podcasts.

Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Podcast quote: negative people

I started listening to the Work Life podcast, by Adam Grant. I love it! Super-interesting.

Since they’re relatively close to the beginning of the podcast, I started at the beginning.

Season 1, Episode 3 was “The Problem with All Stars,” and while it was interesting to listen to, the piece that was most striking to me was not about the main topic at all.

From the transcript:

“Emotional contagion is something that I became interested in many, many years ago when I was working with a colleague, ‘Meg’ as a pseudonym, and I wasn’t even reporting to her, she was just working in my environment. I knew she was negative but I didn’t think much of it. And then one week Meg went on vacation. And it was amazing. Like suddenly the team, me, everybody — our shoulders lowered, we were more relaxed and happy. And then she came back and everything went back to the way it was and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how amazing that this person, who I didn’t even report to could have such a tremendous influence on not only my mood, but the mood of everybody else.”

This isn’t surprising, but it brought to mind a lot of scenarios from the past few years. Times when I’ve been frustrated to be consistently in the presence of constant negativity. Times when I’m sure I was the one bringing the group dynamic down. Scenarios from longer ago, also from both sides of the fence. Which brings me to…

The concept applies to family dynamics, of course. When one person in the house is always (or even just often) miserable or angry or high-strung, it takes a toll on everyone in the house. And because this typically develops over time, it follows the boiling-a-frog fable. (In that case, the person who points it out is more likely to be ostracized than the person causing the problem … but that’s a tangent I’m not going to ride out today.)

And socializing.

Really, it applies to anywhere with people you’re in proximity to. At the grocery store and someone ahead of you is chewing out the cashier? Changes your environment. Someone unpleasant on the train? Next table over at dinner is full of crankiness or anger or vitriol? These change your experience, even if they’re not chronic, like a coworker or housemate would be.

Obviously we don’t have control over all of these situations, but it’s worth the time and effort to see where we can eliminate or reduce contact with negative people … and also to be introspective enough to know when it is us. (Not self-deprecating and assuming it’s always us … introspective and having a solid guess as to when it’s us.)

Posted in mindset, podcasts

Podcast quote: internal conflict

When the weather is nice, I don’t listen to as many podcasts. Most of my listening is in the car, and when the weather is nice, the windows are down, and when the windows are down, I can’t hear podcasts (or music), so I just enjoy the air.

But the weather hasn’t been nice lately, so I’ve been getting caught up with some of my backlog of podcasts.

One I recently finished was another episode of Armchair Expert.

Adam Grant was the expert they interviewed. I wasn’t familiar with him (which is true of the majority of their guests), but the interview was very enjoyable to listen to. Because it was a great interview? Maybe. Because I love psychology? For sure.

There was a lot of takeaway from what Adam was talking about, and there’s a clip that I’m planning to play for my classes (that, thankfully, has no swearing, or I wouldn’t have the option), and I have another podcast on my playlist and two books on my wishlist.

Besides all of that, there was this one little sound bite that was interesting to me:

“Sometimes I have to be false to my personality to be true to my values.”

In other words, sometimes introverts need to speak up or extraverts need to button up in order to act in a way that is in line with their value system.

It got me to thinking.

I’m still thinking.

Does it give your brain something to chew on?

Posted in differences, know better do better, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Perhaps a bronze lining would be better

I recently discovered a new podcast: The Happiness Lab. It’s fairly new—there are only eight episodes so far—and I learned about it through a plug on Revisionist History.

This coincided perfectly with a personal goal of adjusting my mindset in certain areas so I can be happier.

Episode 3: A Silver Lining.

They talked about how of the three medalists on the podium at the Olympics, the silver medalist is typically the least happy, sometimes not happy at all. And how this lasts well beyond the end of the winner’s national anthem.

They talked about making less money but double the people around you, versus making twice as much money but half the people around you … and how when asked which they’d prefer, people responded overall in a roughly 50/50 split.

The whole episode was fascinating to listen to. And had some moments of familiarity.

Whether you compare yourself physically, financially, socially, emotionally, or some other way, we all do it sometimes. The more we do, the less happy we are, because Top Dog is a difficult status to achieve and harder to maintain.

Where are you only happy if you’re better than the people around you? And where are you happy regardless of the state of the people around you?