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Why I offer free anti-procrastination coaching every week

If you could have a free 20 min consultation with an experienced anti-procrastination coach, to identify usable strategies to break through procrastination, and there were no obligation and no hard sell, would you take it?

If there’s any hesitation, it might be this: Why would a good coach offer services for free? And you ask yourself, if a coach has me on a call, won’t they try to pressure me to buy? If you’re like me you’ve found that free offers usually (though not always) come with strings attached.

This is genuinely no pressure and no strings attached. Why? Allow me to explain.

I love what I do

I love what I do, because:

  • I work with people around the world via Skype or phone.
  • I get to see the changes they make in their own lives and the lives of others.
  • My clients are people who invest in their own growth.
  • My clients are doing great things, including finding their passion, improving their communication with colleagues and loved ones, improving their effectiveness at work, carrying out important social research, running a charity, bringing the joy of literature to students, finishing a PhD, and managing their own well-being. All of these make the world a better place,
  • Each of my clients, whatever path they are on, is my inspiration.

Hard selling? Not so much

Now let me tell you all the reasons I love hard sell:

Sorry, I got nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about my work if the other person is asking about it. Marketing is good when it connects you to what you need. But the hard sell doesn’t suit my personality or my ethics. So I will never try to trap anyone with a sense of obligation over a free call that’s actually a sales call, pressure you to make a faster decision than is in your interest, or engage in any other kind of deliberate manipulation.

What’s in it for me?

So why the free offer?

Firstly, I would rather introduce you to my coaching for 20 minutes than pitch it to you. And I work in a way that I enjoy (a great anti-procrastination strategy, by the way), so I’m genuinely happy to give you this.

Also, a good proportion of people who get the free session do end up paying for coaching. Not all do and that’s the way it should be because I’m not the right coach for every person on the planet.

But enough do sign up that I get to give people something of value, make the world a little better, and call it “marketing”. Win-win!

Where do I get it, you ask?

Want your free 20 min consultation? Sign up here. I can only do a certain number each week, but I’ll do my best to talk to everyone who requests a 20 minute session.

Before they ever met you

The person who treated you hurtfully, who judged you, who disappointed you… Their responses to you were set in motion long before they ever met you. This is not about you.

You? Now? Your influence and power lie in stopping for a moment and choosing your response.

Note: This is not analytic philosophy or epistemology. It is not “The Truth”. It is just my attempt to point to a truth about human interaction. 

Easily set meeting times across time zones

One thing we did not evolve to do was convert time zones. It can be surprisingly easy to get wrong even for people with good arithmetic skills. I’ve gotten times mixed up repeatedly when setting up international online meetings, or else used a lot of mental energy getting it arranged, energy that I’d rather use for the content of the meetings.

So if you set up meetings across time zones, you may like World Time Buddy – my favourite tool for timezone conversions. Clear and simple interface, and really quick and intuitive to use. The select/slide tool makes it easy to adjust times, and easy to know you’ve got the actual correct times.

Once you’ve decided on a time, use a timezone-friendly tool such as Google Calendar to send the invites. Or else arrange the whole thing with a scheduler that syncs with your calendar (e.g. Calendly or SetMore – or Doodle for something super simple that doesn’t sync with your calendar), but start with World Time Buddy to work out the range of suitable times.

I have no connection to World Time Buddy (apart from finding it an awesome headache saver), nor to the schedulers.

Want freedom? Maybe quit fleeing

When we feel pressure, a common instinct is to flee. Sometimes fleeting is wise (e.g. from an abusive relationship) but oftentimes it is not.

There is no universal law here. Facing the pressure and taking it on (yet again taking on more responsibility, and complaining about it) may be terrible advice. On the other hand, you may know yourself as one who has avoided responsibility, who has failed to follow through, who has allowed opportunities to slip away. If so, then consciously and choosing to take responsibility is likely to give you power in your life.

Not taking responsibility randomly, for the first thing that pops into your worried brain, or that someone asks you to do. Not for something that you’ve had guilt feelings about since childhood. Rather, for something that will turn you into a better person, something that might involve uncomfortable changes, that you’ve been avoiding for months or years. No universal law and no simple rule for choosing when to face and went to flee, but these may be signs of a responsibility that will give you freedom.

Freedom is the ability to set your schedule, to decide on the work you do, to make decisions.
…When in doubt, when you’re stuck, when you’re seeking more freedom, the surest long-term route is to take more responsibility to make something happen may be your wisest option.

– Seth Godin’s blog

How To Use Rewards to Defeat Procrastination

Procrastination is our bias towards the present, controlling our behaviour. A small pain or loss now looms more than a much more serious gain, pain or loss in the future. Understanding how this works can let us turn procrastination around.

Procrastination is basically a simple term for a deep problem with human nature and the problem has to do with time. We live in the here and now but what’s good for us is often long in the future. And we have plans in the future. We will save money, and we would eat healthily, and we would exercise and we would do this and we would do that and we will do all that. Today I just don’t feel like it. Today the chocolate cake is tempting, and the gym is far away, it’s oh too humid outside, and I really saw a new bike and I don’t feel like saving.

These are the words of Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioural economics, and the author of the highly regarded “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions“. Ariely suggests associating undesirable tasks with pleasurable activities, and tells a enlightening personal anecdote.

As a student, Dan Ariely faced a powerful reason for procrastination – a far away loss versus a short-term, intense pain. He contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion. Without proper treatment the disease could be deadly, but not for perhaps 30 years. (A very serious loss, very far away.) The treatment was to inject himself three times a week for 18 months. The medication made him feel terribly ill for hours, with vomiting and fever, beginning within an hour of the injection. (Immediate pain.) He followed the regimen without fail for the full period – but according to his doctors, he was their only patient to do so.

Amazing self-control? More self-control than other patients? No, he has the same struggles as the rest of us. Instead, he created a connection in his mind between the task and something he loved and wanted: movies. He did this in a very deliberate, planned way. Three days per week, he rented videos in the morning and carried them all day in his backpack, anticipating them. When he came home, he got everything he needed to watch the movies, gave himself the injection, and began watching.

His strategy imported new benefits for the present, making them even more immediate than the suffering. Rather than bemoan his lack of foresight, he subverted it.

What about us? Look for ways to use this principle to turn your own procrastination challenges around. This might be through a reward. It might be through creating a strong, “gut-level” association between the action you need to take and the results you want. This is something you can work on yourself, as well as something I do in my coaching, using reframing and NLP; I also use another approach called “propagating urges”, taught in the excellent CFAR workshops.

 

In this short video, Ariely tells his story. If you want more detail and some introductory neuroscience, skip to the second video, further down the page.

 

(Source and transcript)

And with more detail and neuroscience:

Advertising Explained

A scientist friend describes a supermarket trip at age seven, where he saw a packet that advertised Imitation raspberry flavour.
“That means it’s not raspberry, ” he said to  his mother. “Why do they say what it isn’t, instead of saying what it is?”
His mother replied, “They probably tried This is made from coal but we think you’ll like it, and nobody bought any.”
And that, says my friend, is the moment he first understood the nature of advertising.

New Year’s Resolutions – What Works For You?

I’m conducting an informal survey. Have you ever made a new year’s resolution… and kept it? If so, you’re officially awesome, and I’d love it if you could share how you did it. What strategies did you use? What support did you have? How did you think about it, that made it easier and made it a reality? Any secrets to share? Please let us know in the comments.

Many resolutions are made, but few are kept, so in future posts I share ways to keep resolutions, and alternatives to the traditional new years resolution. For now, just these tips:

  • Try a January resolution instead. Then February.
  • Do it every day
  • Think ahead: How you can make it easy to succeed. What you will do to remember. How you’ll stay motivated.

How about you – what works, in your experience? Please share below.

Transition Convergence 2013 in Melbourne, Australia

Transition groups around Victoria are gathering in Melbourne, to reconnect and discuss ideas and plans for transitioning to a resilient, locally-based post-carbon society:

Saturday 16th November, 2013 at 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Please RSVP by Friday 1st November to Jan Down: janet_down at optusnet.com.au – if you’re a Transition type of person but not part of a Transition group, I imagine there’ll be space for you, but check with Jan.

Where:

The Multicultural Hub
506 Elizabeth Street Melbourne –
opposite the Victoria Market

Please bring:

Pictures, maps, stories, from your Transition group for display.
News, questions, ideas – what’s worked, what hasn’t, what to celebrate and build on…

Melbourne people please bring finger food to share for a potluck lunch.

Please read the full announcement from Transition Hobsons Bay.

Open source robot hands

The Open Hand Project is developing advanced prosthetic hands to be accessible and affordable, aiming to be under $1000. It’s doing this through an open hardware model (open source plans and production by 3D printers) and by raising money through a crowdfunder. It’s £15,000 short of the goal with only 4 days to go – I’ve contributed, and I’d love to see it go ahead.

via the P2P Foundation blog.

Update: Success! They hit their target.

Changing Gears – simple living tour of Eastern Australia

Next stop Ballarat (3 October 2013).

My friends Greg Foyster (journalist) and Sophie Chishkovsky (classical cellist, salsa dancing enthusiast and generally passionate person) are serious about simple living, and took a bicycle tour of the length of Eastern Australia to learn about it. Greg has now written a book about the experience: Changing Gears – A Pedal-Powered Detour from the Rat Race, and they’ve begun a 2000 km book tour from Melbourne to Sydney – by bicycle, of course. Accommodation is a tent by the side of the road. See below for dates, or their tour page for the latest.

Changing Gears: A Pedal-Powreed Detour from the Rat RaceHere’s the book – click for reviews on GoodReads.

I know Greg and Sophie from Murundaka co-housing in Melbourne – they’re smart, passionate and compassionate. I’ve got my signed copy of the book and will be reading it soon.

Pedal Powered Tour all events

What I’m studying online

At the age of 42, having studied engineering,  with experience in collaboration on the web and a lot of exposure to other ideas, I’m aware of many gaps in my knowledge. I’ve always read widely, but the new MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are a great opportunity for structured learning, so I’m diving in.

I’ve signed up for five courses – crazy when I’ve got other commitments? Absolutely – a little craziness is healthy, and so is a willingness to try things out. I’ve already quit one that wasn’t what I hoped for – the beauty of MOOCs is that you can try things out at no cost, and quit or defer if you need. My primary intention is to learn. In the process I’ll make conscious decisions to quit and defer when appropriate, and focus on the excellent courses that expand my mind.

I’m focusing on these two – watching the lectures is replacing my television and some of my social media time:

  • Social Psychology (Wesleyan University via Coursera).
    Purpose: Creating change in the world and in ourselves requires understanding people. 
    Impression
    : Two weeks in, I’m familiar with most of the content, but it’s filling in detail and giving some insights. Readings can be lengthy – generally they’re recommended but not essential. It’s clearly presented, and I look forward to the coming weeks.
  • Think Again: How to Reason and Argue (Duke University via Coursera)
    Purpose: Rather than verbal fights, learn to debate constructively. I make a conscious effort to debate constructively, aiming to understand those with different views, and to help them to understand where I disagree and why. I expect that this course will help me be more effective in this.
    Impression: One week in, it’s quite easy, but is starting to build a structure for logic and reasoning. I’m optimistic.

I’ve also signed up for another three courses.

  • Learn to Program: The Fundamentals (University of Toronto via Coursera). I signed up today, a couple of weeks late. I know a little programming, but if it’s too demanding to catch up I’ll just retake it later.
    Purpose: We live in the 21st century – computer code shapes our lives and our careers. Understanding that to some degree is important even if you’re not planning a career in programming. I hack a bit of code and deal with coders regularly in my work with Appropedia and in advising on websites – understanding more of what’s going on will be useful.
    Impression: Stay tuned.
  • Writing for the Web (Open2Learn – from Open Learning Australia). I’ve been through a couple of weeks of lectures before quitting – too basic for my needs.
    Purpose: Useful for someone with little or no knowledge of blogs, managing websites or writing for the web.
    Impression: May not be useful for someone who has been writing for the web for some years and can manages a blog with some competence. I’ve quit this course and am looking for something to push my skills further.
  • User Experience for the Web (WebUX) (Open2Learn). This is a self-paced course – I’m not planning to start seriously just yet. It may also be covering ground I already know, in which case I’ll skip through it and then look for something more advanced.
    Purpose: This might help me (with my colleagues) to give Appropedia users a better experience, and help me give better advice to clients when I consult on wikis.
    Impression: Stay tuned.

 

Chriswaterguy.com

This site began as Chriswaterguy.net” rather than the “.com” equivalent. 2 reasons:

  • This is not a commercial site. Nor is it an organisation. This is why my first choice was “.net”.
  • I had no interest in paying money to domain squatters. It only encourages them.

I’ve been encouraged to switch to “Chriswaterguy.com” because it’s simply the standard form for a website. I would have already owned the domain if I’d thought to register the .com address sooner, before it was taken by a squatter. However, given the choice between paying a small fee to a parasite for a very marginal benefit to myself, versus allowing the parasite to pay domain registration fees indefinitely for no benefit, I chose the latter.

As search engines and their integration with browsers improve over time, web real estate becomes less significant, anyhow. Not completely insignificant, but I know that I’m extremely easy to find on Google. Probably even on Bing.

However, the squatter gave up, so I’ve registered the .com domain, and will move there shortly. (All old links and bookmarks will redirect.) Thanks to Malcolm Ocean (note: malcolmocean.com) for pointing this out to me. (I’d actually forgotten that I’d ever been in touch with the squatter.)