Dogs Don’t Like Perfectionism Either!

This piece by Nancy Tanner on how impatience ruins dog training is brilliant: When I am asked what is the biggest problem I see in dog training today, it is the same problem I saw fourteen years ago, and thirty years ago, it is the misunderstanding of time. It takes time to learn how to be a teacher to another species. It takes time to learn how to learn from another species. It takes time to build understanding. It takes time to learn how to observe and how to apply what you observe. It takes time to build a relationship with trust. It's not just dog training! Ask teachers of any craft or skill what their #1 challenge is with students, and the answer will inevitably be, "getting them to slow down." While (speaking generally) you want to do your work at a steady clip and not get bogged down on any one detail, you also don't want to rush through the important details--and they can take way longer to get right than many of us think (or want). Even now, after decades of serious writing, I'm … [Read more...]

How to Deal With Your Family Over the Holidays

For many people, holidays are incredibly stressful. Even leaving aside issues related to family history and dynamics, when people who happen to be related but don't have much in common get together there can be multiple points of contention, including food, politics, and religion. Here are some tips for coping. 1) Educate Yourself (or Refresh Your Education) in Effective Communication. My favorite communications primer is actually a classic parenting book, “How to Talk so Kids Listen and Listen so Kids Talk,” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It’s a quick read with fun cartoons, and I recommend it to everyone regardless of whether they have kids. You can use its tips and techniques for getting along with, and resolving conflicts with, everyone, including adult family members, friends, and coworkers. This New York Times article on resolving family conflict is also excellent. It turns out that there’s a whole host of simple things you can do to defuse conflict, like sitting down or stepping … [Read more...]

Be Sure to Check the “Preapproved Payments” Page on Your PayPal Account Every So Often…

...and to cancel those preapprovals no longer needed. I just found that I've been paying $10/month to elance.com. Unlike more honest, forthright companies, they don't send account statements, so it's easy to forget you've subscribed and are paying. I haven't used elance probably in a year, so this was wasted money. … [Read more...]

Sample Will for Writers from Neil Gaiman

It's understandable why people do it, but you really shouldn't procrastinate on writing your will. Along with your current assets, writers need to plan ahead to make sure both their literary works AND future royalties and other writing income are in the hands of people who will do well by them. Neil Gaiman has helped posted a draft will for writers that you can use and edit. … [Read more...]

I don’t often repurpose a blanket rack as a scarf and jewelry holder…

...but when I do, the result is so good I just have to share it...             I have this preconception about myself that I'm not so good at home decor, so when I do come up with a clever idea it feels great. Plus, the rack was $10 off CraigsList - so score! … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Your Power Zone

Second guest post by Linda Marks. Given that, the older I get, the more life seems like a balancing act, the below rings very true. When reading it, bear in mind that procrastination and underproductivity are caused by disempowerment. So, we can infer that moving too far along any of the dimensions Cedar identifies can lead to procrastination. – Hillary Cedar Barstow of Right Use of Power defines power as "the ability to have an effect." She underscores the truth that "how we use this ability is the difference between abuse of power and use of power for good." Cedar has identified four different dimensions with goals that relate to power, each of which has two polarities. When we tend to behave at one extreme or the other, we find ourselves losing power. When we work to find a balanced place in the middle of each continuum, we can live in "the power zone." Here are the four dimensions Cedar has identified: Be informed and aware Goal: Use power to evolve relationships and situations. Polarities: … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Soul Mates and Wound Mates

Below, one of the best essays I've read about relationships anywhere. I hope it's as meaningful and useful to you as it was to me! It's the first of two guest posts by Newton, MA-based Linda Marks, MSM, a super-smart and innovative psychotherapist, lifework counselor, and author. Her newsletter is one of the first things I read when it shows up in my inbox, and you can subscribe for free at her blog. More info on Linda here, and thanks to Linda for kind permission to reprint! – Hillary So many of us wish to meet a "soul mate," another human being with whom we share a deep connection, with whom the level of intimacy seems rich and endless, and where we may feel like we've known the other person forever, even when we have just met them. With a soul mate, we can talk about seemingly anything, and the potential for joy, growth and fulfillment through relationship seems profound and exquisite. What we often don't take into consideration, and may not be aware of, is that when we have a deep connection with … [Read more...]

When Adversity Strikes Be Sure You’re Framing It Properly

New York Times health columnist Jane Brody writes about a new book, The Gift of Adversity: The book’s titular message — that adversity can be a gift — is especially relevant now, as millions of Americans who have lost jobs struggle to reinvent themselves. After 20 productive years as a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Rosenthal felt he was essentially forced out by new leadership. “This kind of thing happens to many people in all fields,” Dr. Rosenthal wrote. “Sometimes you need to accept that it’s time to move on — and to do so.” And so he did, becoming an independent clinical researcher, private clinician and, perhaps most important of all, an author of science-based nonfiction written in an entertaining and accessible style. In an interview, he offered this message to people in midlife who have lost jobs: “Accept the situation and view it as part of a national trend, not a reflection of your personal worth. Reach within yourself to see what else you can do, what you value, then … [Read more...]

Why the Middles of Projects are Tough (Part 2): Plus, How to Have Fun Revising!

Middles are Tough. Last time I wrote about how the middles of writing and other projects can be difficult, citing Dante's Inferno, which begins “midway upon the journey of our life," and John Bunyan's classic The Pilgrim's Progress, in which the protagonist, Christian, literally bogs down midway, in the infamous “Slough of Despond.” Middles are where your enthusiasm ebbs often at the exact moment when the project itself seems most chaotic, disorganized, and daunting. They're a double whammy, in other words. But that's not all... Middles are massive. Anne Lamott famously said, in Bird by Bird, that every piece of writing begins with a “shitty first draft,” but it's probably more like ten, twenty, or thirty shitty drafts. Make sure you understand what a “draft” is, though: *It's a single, quick run-through of your piece (or chapter or other section), during which you correct its obvious and easy problems, and partially correct its hard ones. *You move quickly and lightly through the piece, making … [Read more...]

New Articles on Procrastination and Perfectionism, and How to Help Your Kid Kick the Video Game Habit

Just posted new, updated sections on how to recognize and overcome Procrastination and Perfectionism. Please check them out! Also posted a new article called How to Help Your Kids Kick the Video Game Habit. It's adapted from one I published a while back on the Psychology Today blog, andit will be useful to anyone (not just kids) trying to play fewer video games, watch less television, or do less web surfing: "Try treating his desire to overindulge in electronics as a kind of procrastination. That’s what we call it, after all, when adults put off doing their important activities; and a kid who’s obsessively playing video games (or watching television, etc.) can likewise be said to be putting off more meaningful and enriching activities such as sports, art, music, reading, volunteering, a job, or in-person socializing." Hope you find them useful, and as always I welcome your feedback. … [Read more...]

Excellent Beginner’s Guide to Google+

Martin Shervington's site. … [Read more...]

How to Cope With Clueless Questions, Crass Comments, and Crazy Conjectures

Oh, the things people say to writers! “What do you do?” “What do you write?” “Is there any money in that?” “Where have you been published?” “How’s the book coming along?” (Alt: “When will you be done with that thing?”) “Why don’t you just sit down over a weekend and just finish it?” “You should write like Stephen King!” “You should put a vampire in it!” “Why don’t you just go on [popular TV show]?” And, the ever popular, “When are you going to get a real job?” These are the kinds of (often, but not always) well-meaning questions, comments, and conjectures that bedevil writers. A little planning can help a lot in terms of coping, however. Below are strategies for: (a) increasing your tolerance for difficult questions; (b) maintaining conversational boundaries; and (c) dealing with hostility. Read the rest here. … [Read more...]

The Importance of Perception to Productivity Work

People carrying a backpack or other weight typically estimate hills to be much longer and steeper than they really are, to a greater degree than unencumbered people. It also turns out, however, that if someone puts a backpack on your avatar you will experience virtual "hills" as being longer and steeper than they really are. This is crazy! Don't forget that, since both the avatar and hill are virtual, no actual energy is being expended other than for keyboarding! But we perceive an energy expense. However, the effect is true only if it's an avatar customized by you to look like yourself. I'm guessing that's because, in the process of interacting with your virtual doppelganger, you're also identifying yourself with that online persona and getting invested in the outcome. One can therefore reasonably speculate that perfectionists, who tend to overidentify with their work and get overinvested in their outcomes, are literally creating for themselves more of an uphill climb! And the clever … [Read more...]

Dave Grohl on The Truth About How to Succeed in the Music Industry

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Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family fights unproductively.

Useful tips on how to have a constructive dispute with your family. People tend to fight more during transitional times, like when you're leaving for/coming home from work. So work on staying cool during those times. (Time management, which will help you overcome the morning and evening rushes, can help.) Everyone should be sitting at the same level, preferably side-by-side, and with an open, receptive posture. No power plays! Sit on a cushion, not a hard chair! Believe or not, researchers have found that sitting on a hard chair tends to make people behave rigidly. Of course, use "I" statements. And lots more. … [Read more...]