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pro 3For the last few weeks, I’ve been posting on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’. Here’s the next one…

Can Procrastination Ever Be Beneficial?

Procrastination rarely brings us feelings of happiness and delight. On the contrary, it usually fills us with guilt, stress and depression and we’re perceived as being lazy with no sense of direction. But can a deferment of actions to a later time, such as better time, be beneficial?

Are we not procrastinating when we adhere to the sage sayings of “haste makes waste” and “when in doubt, do nothing?” And, we’re told to “think before you speak” or put “mind in gear before opening mouth.”

Are these not forms of procrastination? Yet, it’s perceptive advice. It’s how we employ these words of wisdom that makes the difference. If something needs to be done today, don’t put it off until tomorrow or suffer the consequences…unless this delay is used to our benefit.

Procrastination is said to be poor time management and lack of organizational skills and denotes a defect in your personality. Some procrastinators are known to be perfectionists but perhaps they just don’t have the necessary data to perform the required task or duty.

They’re not putting off the task forever but gathering additional information and statistics until they feel confident to act at an advanced level. It’s not wise to perform unprepared, but use your time judiciously in becoming competent, careful not to be labeled slacker.

Procrastination, like water, follows a path of least resistance, so there’s no wasted energy or effort. Many times we procrastinate not because we’re lazy but because of the convolution of the problem at hand. As we ponder the situation, we can weed out what isn’t important leading us to a better solution.

Procrastination can teach us discipline, patience and the ability to work better under pressure. While we ponder we’re searching for a more effective way to do a task, which is a form of time management. Procrastination prompts subliminal organization.

We can usually decide when to do a task and obtain better results when we act at our opportune moment. But, we must not unduly delay in determining when it’s to our advantage to seize the moment.

There are many good reasons for putting things off. Before making an important decision, have you ever said, “let me sleep on it?” As you retreat into a quiet refuge to think creatively and clear your mind, solutions become apparent. Time flows persistently like a river but so do your thoughts. They never cease. Channel them productively.

If procrastination has become your lifestyle, know there are many good reasons for delaying action. Don’t allow negative feelings to capture your mind. Do your research, assess the problem and begin.

Force yourself to sit and work for at least five minutes and chances are you’ll keep going. Do the worst first and don’t worry about mistakes. Visualize completion. Procrastination can be one of our most useful tools but like any good carpenter we must learn to use it well

Last week, and for the next few weeks, I’m going to post on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’. Here’s 8 ways to stop procrastination.

8 ways

We all procrastinate to some degree. There are always other things you could be doing. Some say there’s no cure for procrastination so perhaps we need to seek not to prevent it but to slow it in the best way possible. When you’re working on the most important thing on your to-do list, that’s good, but you’ve delayed working on lesser things haven’t you?

Procrastination is a way of avoiding depression or coping with emotions that lead to depression or stress. This brings only temporarily relief and the next day when you awaken, no little fairy has done the work for you and the emotional stress of not completing your project returns. So, what to do?

Get organized. Now don’t procrastinate on this also. Make lists but keep it simple and realistic. Include both small and the large things to do on this list. The completion of small things could lead to big accomplishments.

When a task is completed, mark it off. It’s fun to watch your list grow shorter. You’ll be surprised how this gives you a feeling of success and spurs you on to greater success. Classes in organization are offered in many places and may be just right for you.

Prioritize your lists. The most important task is not always the most pleasant. Should you pay bills that are due to avoid a late payment penalty or you should you clean out a kitchen utility drawer? Meeting deadlines gives your morale a boost and sometimes your pocketbook too.

Take a step at a time and slice the work pie into smaller pieces. Before you know it the whole pie has been eaten. It’s been said that the longest journey begins with the first step. It’s the same with an overwhelming task. By the yard it’s hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch.

Have realistic expectations. If you have a large task that’s causing anxiety, do some of the smaller things related to the task as a whole. Thus the whole becomes manageable.

Get a calendar to list dates and appointments and to make sure you meet all deadlines for both short and long term goals. Look at your calendar frequently and don’t overbook. White space on your pages can bring a feeling of peace.

Don’t believe you must do everything perfectly. You’re human and humans make mistakes. That’s evident if you watch outtakes of a TV show.

Get started. Each day schedule time to work on the task at hand and eventually the task will be finished. Reward yourself and anticipate that reward as an incentive to work. Go back to work refreshed.

Allow adequate time to complete your task and don’t panic if you fall behind. Be flexible. Extensions can usually be had but don’t work with this in mind. Many projects never get done by feeling you’re the only one who can do it properly. A good leader is one who delegates and has a Plan B.

ProcrastinationFor the next few weeks I’m going to post on Procrastination. These are not my words – I downloaded this PDF years ago, and there is no identifying info on it, so I have to go with ‘author unknown’.

What’s the Real Definition of Procrastination?

Let’s start with the definition from the dictionary. Procrastination is the act of putting off, postponing or delaying intentionally and habitually something that should be done. This act may make you feel guilty for not being productive and responsible. You become stressed and this becomes an excuse to delay what should be done even further.

When you procrastinate, do you feel a low sense of self-esteem, not worthy and distressed that you’re not meeting others expectations? Do you overestimate the size of a task until the thought of doing it overwhelms you? It’s said that procrastinators expect too much from themselves and become out of touch with reality and their goals are in reality only wishes and dreams.

Procrastinators are often times perfectionists. They spend an inordinate amount of time trying to perfect one small task while the larger, needed task goes unfinished or not begun.

Perfectionists and procrastinators often continue to work on a tiny part of a project to avoid the evaluation of others, thus becoming a workaholic. The underlying problem for some perfectionists is that they are egocentric and will settle for nothing but the ultimate.

Psychologists classify procrastinators as two types: relaxed and tense or anxious. The relaxed type directs their energy into tangent tasks, thus avoiding what needs to be done. They view the whole elephant and are unable to take a bite at a time. They see the task as not pleasurable and enjoyable and demand instant gratification. Procrastinators gain the gratification by doing a more menial chore.

The anxious type is usually unrealistic about time and goals lacking the ability to focus and tell themselves they will start later. They rationalize reasons for delaying a beginning.

As time runs out, guilt and anxiousness increase leading to depression and even withdrawal. Failure, delay and unmet goals become a cycle with an unending loop that continues to repeat.

Procrastination is common in the academic world when a student waits until the last minute to start an assignment. Some students say they work better under pressure but this usually results in inferior work. They know the work must be completed to complete the course but other more pleasurable distractions get in the way.

If you avoid reality you could be a procrastinator on the road to a mental health disorder. A compulsion to surf the net, play video games constantly, too much television, or even using sleep as an escape could require professional help. These things are not bad in moderation but start with being honest with yourself.

Do you see yourself in these definitions? This is an attempt to characterize the act of procrastination and help you determine if you are, in fact, a procrastinator. No real solutions to procrastination are offered here. The solution to most problems begins with awareness and admitting you have a need. We’re all guilty of procrastination to some degree. Seek what degree is best for you.

Next week: 8 ways to stop procrastination.

DJ

Dialogue Tags and Action

I cannot speak highly enough regarding two editors I have worked with. I thought it might be useful for you to share what Megan taught me. Below is an extract from her opening comments regarding book 1, Operation Foxtrot Five…

You have great dialogue, but I would like to address your use of dialogue tags. Dialogue tags are what come after a line of dialogue to let readers know who is speaking (he said, she asked, etc.). Many of your dialogue tags are combined with an action tag. For example:

1) …Andrew Hallen said as he rolled his chair across the floor and started tapping at the keyboard of his computer.

2) “Morning, ma’am,” he said cheerfully as he passed the bunch of red roses to her.

 Combining action tags and dialogue tags is okay sometimes, but majority of your dialogue tags should be separate from action. The ratio right now is off. Luckily, though, this is an easy fix. You have two options: (1) delete the action tag altogether or (2) create an action beat.

Here is an example of an action beat:

             Original sentence—“I love you,” he said as he took hold of her hand.

            Revised tag—“I love you.” He took hold of her hand.

 Do you see the difference? The second version is more concise and a smoother read. All we’ve done is remove the said, let the dialogue stand alone, and left the action. It makes a huge difference in readability, and it can reveal character traits. Action beats are sharp and keep the pace strong. You do use action beats in your book, but more often than not you combine the dialogue and action tags. I encourage you to separate them, delete the action, or just get rid of the dialogue tag altogether and rely on the action beats to do the work of both.

One final note on dialogue tags. Said is the invisible dialogue tag, meaning most readers don’t even notice it—they skip right over. This is good, because it allows a reader to focus on the story instead of the tag. Words like you used a lot: cried, instructed, admired, etc., cause a reader to stop and focus on the dialogue tag instead of the dialogue itself. Keep an eye out for these and any excessive dialogue tags. I’m marked most of these, but feel free to adjust or delete more.

I hope you found this useful, and thank you, Meagan.

DJ

(c) DJ Stutley 2015

Passive Voice

To be honest, I didn’t have the faintest idea what Passive Voice meant until I had had several books published. And then I was more confused than ever. It was sheer luck that most of the time I had it right.

I recently came across another blog post that came up with this very clever way of understanding passive voice. This is what was posted…

So here’s a quick tutorial on passive voice.

          In passive voice, the object of an action is the subject of a sentence.
         For example: The ball was thrown.
         (The ball did not do the throwing, so it’s passive voice.)

Please go and have a look at the whole post – it is certainly well worth reading. Just click here and it will take you there.

Here’s to a productive writing week… :)

DJ

 

Through the eyes of a child.

My daughter called, saying she had just picked up her four-year-old from kindergarten, and this was the conversation in the car as they waited at the next pickup place on the school run.

‘Did you know, Mummy…’ Tia paused thoughtfully. ‘If we all work together and help each other, the world would be a better place.’

‘That’s right,’ Mum agreed.

‘Like… Granddad is good at fixing things, and Grandma can cook.’ Tia leaned forward from the back seat and tapped her mother on the shoulder. ‘And you’re good at making muffins. And Daddy is good at killing kangaroos!’

dump truckAfter we had a good laugh on the phone, I thought about it. Tia’s daddy is the only one willing to drive the grader at a ridiculous angle on the edge of a cliff. He drives huge mining dump trucks that have wheels taller than my house. He’s been asked to mentor men almost twice his age. Tia has no idea what he really can do. To her, he’s a hero for what she does know.

It made me think back to my dad. My earliest memory of him is walking (me almost jogging) through the city streets of Perth, holding onto his little finger. As long as I held on, I was not going to get lost or left behind. The fondest memory I have is waiting at the top of the hill and watching for his motorbike to come around the corner way down at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes he would stop and let one of us hop on the back for a ride home (3 houses away) while the rest of us – and the neighbours – would race them home. To me, back then, he was good at fixing things, and chopping wood. Yet now I know he was good at so much more…

Would any of you like to share what your dad was good at?

DJ

(c) DJ Stutley 2015

 

Never give up

It’s Tuesday…! Yes, I know it’s not one of my usual post days, but I just couldn’t resist posting this.

Never give up

 

 

At first I thought it was funny, but then it hit home. Do I have that sort of courage and persistence? If I did, what could I accomplish this year? I wonder… 

My glass of water lesson.

cold waterJPGI was hot, tired and frustrated the other day, so I picked the largest glass I could find and fixed a cool glass of cordial. I had just taken a refreshing sip, when my granddaughter turned up, looking with envy at the condensed water droplets running down the side of the glass.

‘Is that cold?’ she asked.

‘Yes, it’s VERY cold.’

‘What is it?’

I hesitated, knowing she wasn’t allowed cordial or juice unless it was a special occasion. ‘It’s cordial.’

‘Is it good for you?’ she asked.

‘No,’ I said bluntly, hoping to discourage further conversation.

‘Then why do you drink it?’

I looked down into her brown eyes. She waited patiently for an answer and I was momentarily lost for words. ‘Because,’ I said sadly, ‘sometimes I don’t do what I know is good for me.’ I smiled. ‘I’ll have water next time.’

She smiled, nodded, and skipped away, leaving me looking at my refreshing glass of sweet, chemical laced liquid. It sure didn’t have the attraction it did only moments before!

DJ

(c) DJ Stutley 2015

The letter that won’t be read.

IMG_0870I put the phone down and was immediately enveloped in a cloud of sadness and regret. My heart was breaking for my son-in-law, who had just been told that the woman he thought of as his mother had died.

The tears my daughter was struggling to hold back were evident over the phone. I knew they were in for a heartbreaking time. Hours later we were at the airport to pick up our son-in-law. He’d stepped from the heavy machinery he’d been driving at the mine site, onto a plane with only his phone and wallet. Once we had him at our home, we found clean clothes and toiletries so that he could shower and go to bed. The next morning he jumped in his car and headed south to where the family was gathering.

My feelings of regret came from the fact that this elderly woman had been ill for a long, long time and my daughter and I had often discussed what the outcome would be when she passed on. As it became obvious that she was probably not going to  leave hospital again, I thought about writing to her and complementing her on the way she had raised her grandson to be an exceptional young man, and the father of my grandchildren. I thought she would like to know that my husband and I were proud of him and loved him as if he was one of our own children.

I never wrote that letter. I wish I had. Maybe I will….

DJ

(c) DJ Stutley

Good Monday Morning to you, one and all. Here’s a quote that summarises the last 10 years of my life. I’m working on parts of my story now, and will bring you little snippets in the future. Until then, take note…

bad:good things

 

Have a great week :) 

DJ