How Journaling Can Help Improve Time Management

This is a guest post from James Frankton of Why am I Lazy?

Managing your time effectively can be a challenging proposition. With so much to do in every day it can sometimes seem like an impossible task to get it all finished.

Add a little procrastination into the mix (perhaps because you’re just too overwhelmed to know where to start) and it’s little wonder why entire days can simply slip away without enough productive work having been completed.

The good news is that journaling can help you to improve your time management abilities and overcome procrastination more effectively. Continue Reading

The Importance of Being Heard

importance of being heard

Image: Thomas Hawk.

What is it about journal-writing that causes personal change?

In my experience, the element of journal-writing responsible for a long-term sense of well-being comes from the opportunity it provides to feel heard.

With all types of communication challenges, from family squabbles to Middle East Peace Settlements, we have learned that being understood, and having the ability to share one’s side of the story, is a basic human need. Once fulfilled, it opens doors to so many other human gifts; affection, compassion, forgiveness, and generosity, to name a few.

In almost every Mediation and Conflict Resolution intervention, emphasis is placed on the mechanics of active listening. By allowing people from both sides of an issue to affirm the values they hold dear, even those with seemingly opposite viewpoints can find mutually satisfying conclusions. Feeling heard results in happier outcomes for everyone.

The Harvard Negotiation Institute, the Compassionate Listening Project, and the Center for Nonviolent Communication provide countless extraordinary examples of how feeling heard can cause miracles between warring nations, in the judicial system, on school campuses, and in our homes. Being acknowledged seems to be the starting point for personal transformation.

Journal-keeping is an excellent method for recording your own side of the story. By telling your truth, without having to prove anything to anybody else, there is no worry about looking good or pleasing others. Simply putting your concerns into your own words, you create a space to clarify the issues involved, to reconcile your feelings in the matter, and to compose a more thoughtful perspective. Not only does journaling help you to articulate your needs with other people, by itself it is a form of self-understanding and self-care.

What kind of world would we live in if everyone made the time and space for themselves to experience feeling heard?

Most of the time, complaints are nothing more than an undercover cry for acknowledgment. Often, we don’t really need (or desire) anything to change. We simply want some recognition for the situation we’ve endured, or the accomplishments we’ve made, or the effort we’ve given. I haven’t seen a scientific study on this (yet!) but I feel confident in predicting that people who journal consistently about their contributions, struggles and triumphs complain a lot less than people who don’t.

One woman who took my “Passion, Clarity & Purpose” journal-writing workshop last Fall expressed that she had felt disempowered and neglected in her marriage. She shared stories about not getting enough support for the things she cared about. She complained she was feeling miserable, being a caregiver without any appreciation. Throughout the course, her journal-writing seemed to center around the communication issues with her husband. She even felt guilty for taking the journal-writing class because she felt there were other things her husband expected her to do around the house. Then in the sixth week, about halfway through the course, she exclaimed to the entire class, “I haven’t even been appreciating myself!” A whole new view of herself came alive, just by giving herself permission to be heard. Today, she treats her journal-writing with a priority like brushing her teeth or taking vitamins. She writes with the purpose of becoming her own best advocate.

Here is a journaling activity you might try, for activating your own sense of being heard.

3 Steps to Activate Your Sense of Being Heard

  • Start with a specific complaint, unfair situation, or conflict that you are currently dealing with. Take a few minutes to write out the nature of the situation, and the ways you’ve tried to deal with it. What has been said? How has it escalated?
  • Then ask yourself these questions, and allow yourself to explore in your journal whatever comes up.
    • Why is this bothering me so much?
    • Why do I care about this issue?
    • What values of mine are being violated?
    • How can I communicate this, while also leaving space for the other person to feel heard?
  • Next, read what you’ve written, and summarize your journal entry with a statement or two to affirm any conclusions, to pinpoint new openings for reflection, or simply to grant permission to come back to this subject again later.

A journal is a friend like no other, perpetually offering you an opportunity to have your voice heard, to have your feelings validated, to have your truth sought and told. Kathleen Adams, the founder of The Center for Journal Therapy, fondly refers to journaling as “the 79-cent therapist”. Ask any therapist: Most of what they do for their clients relies on the power of listening.

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stop procrastinating

How To Take Action & Stop Procrastinating

Here’s a scary fact for you: Every minute you spend procrastinating, or every hour you waste, is time you can never claim back. There’s no “refund window”, where you can get wasted time back in your pocket.

That’s why it’s crucial to start taking action … NOW is the right time to beat procrastination and get stuff done. And in this article I’m going to teach you some of the most effective techniques you can use to stop procrastinating and take action.
Continue Reading

4 Ways That Your Brain’s Love of Listicles is Bad News for Taking Action

list catLists…

Why do we love them so much?

The truth is, our brains seem to be wired in a way that inherently loves lists.

This isn’t a bad thing, unless you’re looking to make a lifestyle change or improve yourself in some way, like lose weight or get in shape. In that case, the usual kind of list posts (listicles) we see can actually do you more harm than good – unless you read them a little differently.

I’ll give you a 4 step method for turning any list into an action plan below, but first, let’s look at why lists are so inherently popular and why this negatively affects our ability to take action to improve our lifestyle.

Continue Reading

Time Perception is Everything

seneca not that we have so little timeThinking about time and how we perceive it usually results in little more than a pretty terrible migraine.

(That, and a strong desire to watch Back to the Future.)

Regardless, I still find myself thinking about it quite a bit though.

I mean, how many times do you say, think, or hear someone else say, “Time flies,” in a given week?

And then, sometimes we have long weeks.

What is our time perception, really, and how is it affected?

In this post, I’ll mainly just ask questions that have come up during my reading of our perception of time, some things that make it slow down or speed up, and then share an infographic that will practically blow your mind.
Continue Reading

Ultimate Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating

get-startedResearchers tell us chronic procrastination is on the rise.

But I didn’t need to tell you that, right?

Hold on… my phone just buzzed with something super important.

OK. I’m back. Where was I? Right…

In 1978, 5% of Americans reported struggling with procrastination. Today, that number is 26% (Steele, 2007).

What is procrastination and how can we stop procrastinating?

I’ve taken about 8 hours to curate some of the best information online to find out.

This guide will shed some light on what procrastination is, help you understand why we struggle with it, and offer you solutions to beat procrastination to start getting more done.

Continue Reading

maya angelou quote liver of life

“I’ve always had the feeling that life loves the liver of it.”

I’ve always had the feeling that life loves the liver of it. You must live and life will be good to you, give you experiences. They may not all be that pleasant, but nobody promised you a rose garden. But more than likely if you do dare, what you get are the marvelous returns. Courage is probably the most important of the virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues, you can’t say against a murderous society, I oppose your murdering. You got to have courage to do so. I seem to have known that a long time and found great joy in it.

– Maya Angelou

Coming to Our Senses So We Can Live a Wealthy Life

Coming to our senses must, above all, be the experience of our own existence as living organisms rather than “personalities,” like characters in a play or a novel acting out some artificial plot in which the persons are simply masks for a conflict of abstract ideas or principles. Man as an organism is to the world outside like a whirlpool is to a river: man and world are a single natural process, but we are behaving as if we were invaders and plunderers in a foreign territory. For when the individual is defined and felt as the separate personality or ego, he remains unaware that his actual body is a dancing pattern of energy that simply does not happen by itself. It happens only in concert with myriads of other patterns — called animals, plants, insects, bacteria, minerals, liquids, and gases. The definition of a person and the normal feeling of “I” do not effectively include these relationships. You say, “I came into this world.” You didn’t; you came out of it, as a branch from a tree.

– Alan Watts

I came across the above excerpt on Brain Pickings. It’s from Alan Watts’s book,  Does It Matter? Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality where he talks a lot about what he believes wealth is. Continue Reading

Meet the New Icon! Thanks for Voting.

The other day, I sent an email out to everyone asking for help with a decision I was struggling with.

When I started working on LeafOut, I went with this icon:


While I really like this icon, it just seemed to be missing something. Mainly, I felt like I wanted there to be some kind of visual element tying back to ‘leaf.’

So we went back to the drawing board. Continue Reading

How to Transform Your Complaints Into Problem Solving Fuel in 21 Days

complaining and solving problemsIt’s easy to do.

I do it.

You do it.

Your kids really do it…

Everyone complains, but have you ever stopped to think what a complaint is?

What a Complaint Shouldn’t Be

Complaining is not venting.

Venting feels great because it releases the steam. But is it even to the right person?

Studies show that when we’re dissatisfied with certain products, 95% of us fail to complain to the company because we fear doing so will be annoying and time consuming, and we’re unlikely to get the response we want. We are equally avoidant when it comes to complaints to our loved ones. We fear voicing them will only lead to an argument and resolve nothing. Instead, we reach for the phone, call our friends and vent to them instead.

Psychology Today

After a while, we start to feel helpless because we don’t believe we can really change anything.

What a Complaint Is

A complaint is basically when you recognize a problem — when something doesn’t go just right for you.

The problems above arise because we simply stop at venting. People always say it’s good to vent, but even better than venting is thinking of ways to solve or avoid your problems we encounter from negative situations.

21 Days to Turn Your Complaints into Fuel for Problem Solving

I came across a simple, yet extremely effective way to eliminate action-less, negative thoughts out of your day, and become a problem solving machine.

By solving problems, you actively eliminate chances of the recurrent negative situations in our lives that turn us into broken records broadcasting the same complaints to our friends and loved ones day by day.

I recommend you read the whole article, but here it is in a nutshell:

Step 1

Define what a complaint is. The author uses one that I really like:

describing an event or person negatively without indicating next steps to fix the problem.

So basically, acknowledging a negative situation is completely fine, but only if you also think about a solution that prevents the same problem in the future. There are some good example in the original article.

Step 2

Put a bracelet or rubber band on one wrist. When you think or say something that doesn’t match the description of a complaint, move the bracelet to the other wrist and restart at Day 0.

That’s pretty much it.

Here’s a quick, funny story.

When I first heard of this, it was in the podcast. I was cycling around and heard him say, “You put a rubber band on your wrist, and when you complain, you just switch your wrist.”

Maybe it was because I was a little distracted with my cycling, but I thought he was talking about using the rubber band to pop your wrist if you complained… I guess that could be a pretty hardcore way to go about it, but I was glad to realize a few seconds later that he meant only changing wrists!

What do you think? Going to try a 21 day challenge for turning your complaints into fuel for solving problems in your day to day?

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