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  #121  
Old 03-08-13, 10:12 AM
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Smile Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Well, you don't have to share what you note with anyone else, Stef.

So, Britainton, notice a few things (which is the reason to make note of all of what you do):

From 6:44 to 9:30, you were engaged in "preparatory" things that did not advance the ball on the thing that makes you anxious (the brief that you "have to finish" today, which was in the future yesterday (as in, today was yesterday's future)).

Then between 9:30 and noon, you do real work on the brief for about one hour. This is good; this is progress. But by noon, how are you feeling? Are you feeling like you made progress? No. You're beating yourself up because you have to FINISH, and you're telling yourself that you're going to have to be deprived. You aren't allowing yourself to take 30 minutes for lunch, and you're worried that you'll end up having to spend the whole weekend working on this thing. You've moved your brain into the future "I have to finish by 5:00 pm tomorrow," and your brain is getting more and more anxious about that fact.

So you take an hour and 15 minute break (you could've had lunch, couldn't you? You could have talked to a colleague, maybe even brainstormed on this brief, or met a friend, or done something that made you feel less alone and less deprived, but you forewent that because of time, and that, in fact, made you spend MORE time on something that doesn't soothe you).

Then you do real work on the brief for an hour and 15 minutes, and you reward yourself with a break, which is good. But then the client meeting eats up another hour and 15 minutes of your day, and by the end of it, I'll bet that you feel lousy, don't you? You've only really put two hours and 15 minutes into the thing that makes you most anxious. That anxiety-producing thing is likely a 40+ hour project, right? And it's due when? Monday, maybe? And all of that preparatory time, all the bus riding time, etc. is not "available" to you to process what you are doing with the brief, because you're not far enough along.

And you're anxious, which is the worst part, because you're focused on finishing. So with that baseline anxiety then every little bump up in anxiety that is just the litigator's normal day will make you so anxious that you need to do something to relieve it, so you're on the internet playing games.

Don't focus on finishing. Trust that you'll finish the last time you start.

And try letting yourself take care of yourself no matter what. So you get a lunch break. Period. At noon, stop whatever you're doing, and eat something, and walk around or whatever, for 30 minutes. The non-procrastinators around you take care of themselves better than you do, don't they? They take lunch breaks, or smoke breaks, or something. You're allowed to do that too, not just when you've "been good," but because you're a human being who needs to eat and needs social interaction.

You're doing great, Britainton. This is the first step. Once you start paying attention to what you're doing, you'll see how right Fiore is, which will help you commit to choosing a different path for yourself.

I'll be interested to hear how your next few days goes.

And BTW, thanks, Britainton. Because, to be honest, "coaching" you helps me take care of myself better and commit more to doing what I know works for me. So I really appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there.

Do you get paid by the hour, btw? Or are you on contingencies or flat fees? Just curious, because I'm now self-employed and get paid by the hour on many of my files (but not all of them), and that's a big help. Knowing that I've "paid myself" for the day by doing four hours of work on hourly files is a big emotional boost for me. But to be honest, it's hard to do many days. Between administrative stuff and non-hourly deadline driven work, it's a challenge to get that much work in every day.
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  #122  
Old 03-08-13, 04:42 PM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

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Originally Posted by Sandy4957 View Post
[Lots of uncomfortable truth]
I really appreciate you spending the time to pick apart my day as you've done. Having someone else's take on the unfortunate realities that I often suspect but rarely acknowledge or confront is extremely illuminating, especially since recognition of what's going on is so important to the process.

Quote:
Do you get paid by the hour, btw? Or are you on contingencies or flat fees? Just curious, because I'm now self-employed and get paid by the hour on many of my files (but not all of them), and that's a big help. Knowing that I've "paid myself" for the day by doing four hours of work on hourly files is a big emotional boost for me. But to be honest, it's hard to do many days. Between administrative stuff and non-hourly deadline driven work, it's a challenge to get that much work in every day.
I get paid a salary, but we charge by the hour for the most part, because contingency fees in family law cases are illegal. We're supposed to get in about 150 billable hours each month, which hasn't been all that difficult so far. I'm not burning the midnight oil tonight because I need the hours, it's because the damned thing's due on Monday!

Quote:
And BTW, thanks, Britainton. Because, to be honest, "coaching" you helps me take care of myself better and commit more to doing what I know works for me. So I really appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there.
I'm glad that this is helping someone other than me. At the moment, both Stef and I are not yet ready to make the unpleasantest thing the very first item of the day, so this might be a long thread.
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  #123  
Old 03-09-13, 02:21 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Going home now (1:25 a.m.). Brain has turned to goo. Brief not done. Will have to come back tomorrow, maybe after the kids are in bed.

Ugh.
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  #124  
Old 03-09-13, 05:48 PM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

First thing of the day.

Think of it as like a flu shot. Working on it first thing (I don't even get out of bed), takes all that anxiety and focuses it on a tiny bit of progress. Mostly, you'll just come up with ideas, but you'll be diving right in, which will make it less stressful later.

Trust me. It works. The problem for you, Britainton, is that you're so close to the deadline on this project that it can't really work, because you DO have to finish by a particular time.

So spend 30 minutes in the morning on something else, something due in two weeks or more, but anxiety provoking.

If you're going to procrastinate on the brief, it may as well be doing something more productive (more likely to pay you back later) than internet games.

Not trying to be preachy here. I'm just saying that that first thing in the morning rule is a pretty critical one to help you "see" the alternative universe that you could be living in.
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  #125  
Old 03-11-13, 12:59 PM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Well, I finished the brief "first thing in the morning today", and there was some reward there, and I'm taking a full hour for lunch today, but I have another project that I have to get done by Thursday afternoon to start on now, plus catching up on all my other cases, so not quite reward enough. I'd love to just hit the "reset" button and start from scratch again; I don't know how long it'll take before I stop playing "catch up". But this morning was good -- no distractions, no diversions, no internet wanderings...
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  #126  
Old 03-11-13, 03:17 PM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

You'll feel some relief after two weeks, and it'll be much better in a month.

This is provided that NOW you are spending maybe just 30 minutes per day on something due in two weeks. Make sense?

You're taking advantage of your brain's ability to unconsciously process things...
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  #127  
Old 03-12-13, 09:18 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Hokay. I'm pretty much flying in "urgent" mode all this week until Thursday (depositions, hearing, motions, etc.), but, on Thursday, I'll spend 30 minutes working on an exceptions brief that isn't due until the 28th, which might as well be 1,000 years in the future as far as my brain usually works.

Also, why am I the only one here transforming my organizational habits? I don't remember taking a step forward -- did everybody else take a step back? C'mon, Stef, show a little solidarity! Sister Sandy can't just be preaching to 1!

Also, funny story -- at 3:51 yesterday, my secretary comes in my office to tell me that the runner hasn't been back yet to pick up my Superior Court brief for filing. Superior Court closes at 4:00. Brief due today. So, I grab the box of briefs, run to the Grant Building, and try to stall the Prothonotary employees to keep the office open until the runner shows up with the copies of the reproduced record.

So, I just managed to keep from getting disbarred and sued by my client for blowing an appeal deadline by about 15 seconds. Life with ADD is fun!
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  #128  
Old 03-12-13, 10:02 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

hello B.,

well I'm an assistant in a law firm (but for management, very little actual legal work) so I don't have the longterm deadlines. I haven't bought the book, really this is my project for late summer!

I start my day doing "at least something" to get going. whatever I want to put off is usually urgent enough that I can't ignore it more than 1/2 day. this is a huge improvement from coming in and "just checking CNN for a couple of minutes" for example...

Total solidarity though!
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  #129  
Old 03-12-13, 10:52 AM
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Thumbs up Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Stef, you're in an entirely different position. You really just have to be able to MANAGE the ADHDers in your life (i.e., the lawyers) and your life will be much less stressful. BTW the last section of this book, and the whole book The Now Habit at Work may well be better for you.

Even when you're in urgent mode, Britainton, throw 30 minutes to something else, for a few reasons: 1) those short 30 minute bursts will not cost you anything, because you're going to spend that time doing something else (internet games?) anyway; and 2) they'll really add up over the next few days, so that you'll be able to delegate something, or order something that you'll need, etc., rather than having to do it right at the deadline. The idea here is to have you starting projects as soon as they come in, and giving them progressively more and more of your day as they come due. That way, they're never OFF your radar, which allows your unconscious mind to "take care of them" a little for you.

Just try it. Give 30 minutes to something due next week. Use it as a break from the grind of working on the thing that's due this week.

And no, nearly missing an appeal deadline is no fun at all. I haven't had that, but I once missed a filing deadline in federal district court and it just sucked. Thankfully the court was totally cool about it, but it was the same sort of thing you described. I didn't know that it hadn't been received by local counsel until 1/2 hour before the deadline, and then once they had it in hand, it was too late to make it. I sweated bullets all night after that.

No fun at all. You can't live like that. 'Cause one day surely you'll miss it. And that's a heart attack waiting to happen.

You're doing great, Britainton. Hang tight for a couple more weeks and I guarantee that you'll see progress.

What can you spend 30 minutes on TODAY that isn't due this week? Just 30 minutes...
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Old 03-12-13, 11:03 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Stef, this is just a suggestion, because whether you could actually do it depends on what sort of people you work for. But I've gathered that at least one of your assignments is a lot like Britainton and me.

So here's what you could offer him (it is a him, right?) that would be very valuable for him, and would likely alleviate some of your stress. You could put together an "Unschedule" for him (so that he sees how much of his days are eaten up by basic things that he's not thinking about now), and you could also reverse calendar some of his projects, so that you are giving him little nudges about two months out: "Do you need me to gather together the pleadings that you need to review for the such-and-such brief on the blankety-blank file?" "Any research materials I can grab for you on the blahdy-blah matter, due in four weeks?"

If he gets used to using you that way, you'll become completely essential to his livelihood.

Also, if you're not sure how much time these projects take, just look at his time sheets and see how much he typically bills for them, then use the Unschedule and reverse calendaring to figure out when he should be starting (as opposed to when he likely is).

To give you an idea, I used to typically start a major brief or motion about two weeks before they were due. That's because I knew from experience that they usually take between 50 and 100 hours. But of course, there's no way, when I budget in all the stuff that I do per day, that I could EVER make room for all that without foregoing something (sleep, meals, exercise, etc.), so I went from one crisis to another.

If you know that he always spends 40 hours preparing for trial, then you can figure out what tasks he's doing to prepare (just from his time sheets) and back them up based on the Unschedule and reverse calendaring, then "nudge" him by giving him the materials that he needs to do it, well in advance.

You pull that off and you'll become the most valuable assistant in the office, I guarantee it.
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  #131  
Old 03-12-13, 11:06 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

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Stef, you're in an entirely different position. You really just have to be able to MANAGE the ADHDers in your life (i.e., the lawyers) and your life will be much less stressful. BTW the last section of this book, and the whole book The Now Habit at Work may well be better for you.
I also need a diploma in psychology! and perhaps a Taser
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  #132  
Old 03-12-13, 11:13 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Ha! Totally! I hear you!

I never had an assistant who could help me out of my habit, but I had one who came close. She was good at anticipating what was coming down the pike...

BTW, I was just posting in one of Fuzzy's threads that procrastination is like a drug, and we are addicts. Breaking the habit is like breaking any other habit, it turns out. You find healthier alternatives and stick to them, one day at a time, and bit by bit, you like your new life more than your old life, so you lose interest in the old habit.

Ok, gotta get cracking.
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Old 03-12-13, 11:35 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

by the way my last remark (taser!) was not for anyone on these forums, nor my direct bosses.
actually I'm good at anticipating on a small scale, I figure, "I bet he's going to ask about that!" so I'll look up the previous emails, etc...
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Old 03-12-13, 01:57 PM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

Totally understood, Stef. I'd have happily let my assistants taze me if it would have meant that I'd have focused on what I needed to do!!! LOL!

Yes, that sort of anticipation makes you very valuable. It's very nice to have that little stack of what you need sitting there when you're, say, about to head out the door for a client meeting or what have you.
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Old 03-15-13, 10:07 AM
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Re: The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination, by Dr. Neil F

So, I've been continuing to work in "urgent mode" for most of this week, between depositions that I was given responsibility for at the last moment, catching up on work from last week that I didn't get done because I was writing my Superior Court brief, and other emergent situations.

Also, since Wednesday, I've been somewhat glued to the Vatican website and other media watching the Conclave, Pope Francis' benediction / homily, etc., so that's been one major (but historic) distraction.

But today, no more media, but it's Friday, so I'll be tempted to shoot off early, and my boss wants this Pretrial Statement done today, so I need to motivate myself to just do the thing.

Any suggestions?
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