Procrastination Isn’t About Laziness

Hands up if you have procrastinated?  Everyone has put off doing something in their lives, whether it is cleaning a closet, finishing a project, or just doing the laundry.  The default view of procrastination has equated it to laziness, basically an assumption that putting things off is a kind of character weakness.  However, is it true?

unknown person sitting indoors

A powerful article in the New York Times recently gave me a new perspective on this topic.  Author in her piece Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control), argues based on the scientific evidence that people procrastinate due to the powerful effect of negative emotions.

“Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond. …

“In a 2013 study, Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as ‘the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.’ Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on ‘the immediate urgency of managing negative moods’ than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article now – don’t put it off a moment longer!

 

Konmari for Kids

mariekondoBeing organized is a challenge for all ages.  As a father, I see how children tend to be caught up in the moment.  It is always fun to see their eager faces when they pull toys out to play.  However, once the toy has lost its enjoyment for that session it is often left where it was last touched.  Is there a way to encourage children to tidy up and see the fun in it?

In a recent blog post, Marie Kondo shares her top four tips for tidying up with kids, starting with tip one – Narrate as You Tidy:

“As you tidy, explain to your children what you’re doing so they can learn from you. Try to convey that tidying is part of maintaining a comfortable home. If they see their parents tidying regularly with a smile, children will think of tidying as a positive everyday activity.”

To learn the other three tips, please visit her blog on the KonMari web site.

 

What Does the Science Say?

There are many methods and techniques to become organized at home and work.  The list is long and includes GTD, Building a Second Brain, KonMari, and many others.  However, have you ever thought that the gains made by these approaches are only illusionary?   Perhaps they are all simply feel-good methods that work for a short time and then fade away?  In short, is there any science to back up the claims of these systems?

In a blog post on the revamped Getting Things Done web site, David Allen provides a brief overview to explain why methods like GTD have an impact that relates directly to cognitive science.

“Recent cognitive science research shows that the number of things you can mentally prioritize, manage, retain, and recall is . . . (hold on) . . . four! If you park any more than that in your head, you will sub-optimize your cognitive functioning. You will be driven by whatever is latest and loudest—rather than by strategy, intuition, or objective assessment.”

Read the rest of David’s thoughts along with his book suggestions on the Getting Things Done blog.David-Allen-GTD

Ready, Set, Bank

I just returned from the ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC.  If you are not familiar with it, the conference is the largest gathering of librarians, library workers and supporters in the world.  It is a great opportunity to uncover new trends, meet up with colleagues, and discover new technology.

person holding pink piggy coin bank

This year, I came across a wonderful free online course that can be done individually or through library facilitators.  It is called, Ready, Set, Bank.  The course is designed to educate people who are unfamiliar with online banking.  Two target populations for the course are seniors and immigrants.  As the course states:

“Ready, Set, Bank℠ gives people everywhere the tools and confidence to start banking online. Our videos guide learners through every step of the process, with overviews and step-by-step tutorials to help them manage their finances electronically.”

The course is a series of short online videos set into five chapters that are meant to orient individuals to the basics of online banking.  I am excited to explore the possibility of bringing the course to the Palm Beach County Library System.

Learn more by visiting the Ready, Set, Bank web site.

Choiceology

Hands up if you are a human?  Okay that is everyone except you Google bots!  Well if you are human, guess what, you are liable to fall for mental fallacies.

What is a fallacy?  A fallacy is invalid or faulty reasoning that can lead to a wrong decision.  Let’s look at a simple example.  It is easy to judge a decision based on its results. However, is it always true that a good outcome resulted from a good decision?  After all, a person might get home safely one night while driving drunk, but he would be a fool to think that being intoxicated made him a better driver.

To learn more about our fallacies and how to counteract them, I highly suggest listening to the podcast Choiceology.  As described on their site:

“Can we learn to make smarter choices? Listen in as host Katy Milkman shares stories of irrational decision making—from historical blunders to the kinds of everyday errors that could affect your future. Choiceology, an original podcast from Charles Schwab, explores the lessons of behavioral economics, exposing the psychological traps that lead to expensive mistakes.”

Final_Choiceology_Katy_WEB_200px

There are three seasons of Choicology episodes available, so why not give it a listen?  I think it would be a good decision.

 

 

Go For It! Advice from Public Library Directors

“WHAT DO LIBRARY DIRECTORS DO? The answer to this question may seem self-evident, but it is actually a lot more complicated than it first appears.”

public-lib-coverI’m happy to share that Public Libraries Magazine has published my newest article titled, Go For It! Advice from Library DirectorsFor over a year’s time I interviewed 50 public library leaders to learn more about how they interpret their job and to solicit their insights. This diverse group of directors shared their thoughts on challenges, trends, what they wish they had known before starting as a director, and advice for aspiring directors.

Here are samples of their wisdom for those considering a career in library directorship:

“This is an exciting job, no two days are the same. You must like change and have agility to go with the flow of any given day. ”

“New directors need to come in and take risks. Don’t be afraid to make changes and do new things.”

“Kindness and coming from a place of love are critical. A director should be courageous enough to fail and willing to accept that failure and grow from that.”

“Don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions. Explore and push the boundaries about what a public library can do.”

“If you have any inclination, you should state it with confidence by talking to as many directors as possible and get as much advice as you can. There are very few failures, but there are some great people who never launch because they didn’t put themselves out there.”

I want to thank all 50 directors who participated in the interviews and send a special thank you to editor Kathleen Hughes for accepting my third article for publication.  The full article is now available online at Public Libraries magazine.

The Office Martial Art – GTD!

For many years I was yoga teacher at a local studio in West Palm Beach, FL.  I was drawn to yoga for the exercise and the peace of mind that came from this meditative practice.  Later on, when I discovered GTD and related productivity principles, I saw them as the yoga of office work.  That is, skills and techniques that would provide calm in the face of workplace stress.

David Allen as long used a similar metaphor for GTD in his talks.  He views it as the martial art of work and in a recent blog post, offered ten ways that GTD and karate were similar.

1. There are no beginner’s moves.
You begin in karate learning moves that you will practice as a third-degree black belt. A roundhouse kick or knife-hand block is the same, whether you are just learning it or you are a sensei. Being responsible for your internal commitments, deciding what next physical action is required on something you want to do or change, clarifying your intention and vision—those are true from beginning to end, no matter how mature you are in life or its process. There’s no elementary way to process your inbox to zero.

2. It feels counter-intuitive and unnatural when you start.
Trying to stand and move gracefully in a karate “front stance” feels initially like one of the more unnatural things the body has ever attempted. It’s almost as weird as writing everything down that you commit to do something about, as it occurs to you. Or spending valuable time cleaning up non-critical open loops on the front end. Weird science.”

Read the remaining eight similarities at the Getting Things Done blog.

karate