Traveling Among the Greats – My time at BookExpo America 2015

procrastination, productivity, self-help
Renate at BookExpo America 2015

I rarely use my own experiences to make a point, but showing my new book at BookExpo America (#BEA15) and BookCon last week in New York City is a highlight worth sharing.

Seeing “Beyond Procrastination” among all those incredible new books by some of the best writers in the world was humbling as well as unbelievable. How did I get there? One word, one action, one step at a time.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of moments when I was procrastination, productivity, self-help, successready to let go of the project – it took too much time and energy; the words just wouldn’t come; the financial investment was, and still is, burdensome and risky; and above all: is it worth it?

Yes it is, I decided time and again. The most encouraging sign that I made the right choice was that I followed my own advice to stay on track: take a break when it gets too much; enjoy the process when the ultimate goal seems too threatening; be patient! And many more of the tips and tricks in my book.

If you are working on a project that seems endless and overwhelming but is close to your heart and not bankrupting you, I would like to encourage you to keep going. The rewards along the way will stay with you for the rest of your life. I might never exhibit another book at BEA but nobody can take away those five days in May of 2015.

overcoming procrastination, self-help, work-life balancePS: “Beyond Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing Your Life” will be available at Amazon and in book stores September 21, 2015!



































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































What’s Your New Year Motto?

New Year's resolution, New Year Motto, goal settingEven if you made New Year’s resolutions or set specific goals for 2015, choosing a motto can focus your energies in more subtle ways. Concrete goals with actionable discrete steps are indispensable to achieve our objectives. Yet, joie de vivre cannot thrive on prosaic tasks alone. We also need some poetry in our lives. What motto could add color and charm to your 2015?

I have chosen just one word to inspire me this year: Action! OK, that’s not very poetic. But it feels very invigorating to me. It’s about movement and energy – I love feeling strong and capable moving through space. It is also about adventure and exploring new physical and mental worlds.

I think self-publishing my latest book Beyond Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing your Life will be my big adventure this year. It is constantly leading me into unknown territory that is both exciting and terrifying. I’ll keep you updated …

As life becomes more complex and the world around us changes big city, change management, modern lifefrequently and fundamentally, a New Year’s motto can orient us during times of uncertainty and indecision. What is my life about again? Action! For you it might be peace or health or laughter. Whatever sentiment you would like to use to highlight this year, make it your maxim.

Short phrases and quotes are great motivators and guiding stars as well. Here are some of my favorites:

We must become the change we wish to see in the world.
– Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

Choose with no regret.
– Mary Anne Radmacher

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.
– Joseph Campbell

You must do the things you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Do no harm.
– from the Hippocratic Oath

Be gentle first with yourself.
– Lama Yeshe

Marathon, productivity, procrastination, happy 2015Looking at these powerful quotes, I think I will add be gentle first with yourself to my initial motto.

Action! And be gentle first with yourself. (2015 here I come!)

Where are you headed? I hope our paths cross this year.

Happiness – A Mixed Bag After All

Happiness is a gift. Being happy all the time can be a curse. procrastination, good life, happiness, unhappiness, productivity, increase productivityPsychologists Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener point out that happy people tend to be less persuasive, lazy thinkers and too trusting. For example, they don’t take the time to properly develop an argument and consider objections others may have. Life simply feels too good to work hard.

What’s even more surprising, the conscious pursuit of happiness can make us unhappy. The more we chase it the more it eludes us. You might have experienced this. Let’s say you go to a party that you’ve been looking forward to all week. When you get there, you still feel a little stressed because of work, but tell yourself to be happy and smile. That forced smile takes immense energy and probably depresses you far beyond the original strain.

And then there is the always-positive, always-happy boss cheerleading you on to higher and higher performance only making you feel harassed and demoralized. Hint: according to Kashdan and Biswas-Diener, commiserating with your employees when the work is tough and expectations unrealistically high, can be much more productive and emotionally uplifting than high fiving without a cause.

happiness, procrastination, productivity, performance, emotions, sadness
Banksy – New York City 2013

In general, our tendency to divide our emotional experiences into good and bad often leads us to prioritize happiness over fear, anger and sadness. We forget that those “negative” emotions serve important functions such as dealing with loss.

When a client asked me how I was feeling shortly after my mother passed away, I spontaneously answered, “Not bad often enough.” I was as shocked by this statement as she was. There was deep truth to it, however. Because I prioritized work over my grief, it took me much longer to get beyond the initial raw pain.

What’s the take-away? All emotions are important and have their rightful place in life. And, yes, when happiness strikes, embrace it with all your heart and offer the world your most dazzling smile.

Are you a 52/17?

Did you know that the most productive people work 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break? This came out of a recent study, but frankly, it’s not surprising. (My mom used to persuade me to rest regularly – I was a bit of an overachiever in school.)

While these kinds of definite pronouncements based on aggregate productivity, breaks, time managementdata always make me a little wary, I absolutely agree with the basic message: work less to achieve more – within reason.

In my experience as a life coach, the exact timing of work and rest varies greatly from one person to the next. I always encourage my clients to find their own sweet spot when it comes to switching focus or stepping away from a task.

What is your most productive on/off ratio? Stick to it and you’ll see vast improvements in your productivity. In any case, you’ll feel much more focused and relaxed when working.

Daydreaming – a Beyond Procrastination Tool

Just because the summer is almost over doesn’t mean you have to give up daydreaming. Yes, lying on the beach or slowly sipping a drink while watching the sun go down over the mountain are ideal Daydreaming, Productivitysettings for letting the mind wander. But allowing yourself the time and space to explore your inner worlds can happen anywhere and at any time – with surprising benefits.

In his article Dreams of Glory, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman encourages all of us to engage in regular “positive-constructive daydreaming.” Why? When daydreaming about our future, for example, we often focus on long-term goals and visualize achieving them which motivates us to take action.

Or we fantasize about telling our micro-managing boss off, feeling much better about ourselves. Once the anger is out, daydreaming about how to best approach him or her could even lead to having an actual constructive discussion about work responsibilities.

Most of all, daydreaming is joyous and helps us stay relaxed once the demands of post-vacation life take over again.

Unfinished Business

The onset of spring is a powerful time for new beginnings. But what if unfinished business is blocking nature’s push? An incomplete degree, a book that is missing its last chapter or a career change that ran out of steam, can make us feel demoralized and stuck.

Ready to Go!
Ready to Go!

Here is my suggestion: instead of half-heartedly launching a new venture, use this season’s energy to finish what is hanging over your head. What would it feel like to sit back and know that you finally did it – you can move on now?

In my life coaching experience, most people in this situation are actually much further ahead than they think. Therefore, the first order of business is to list everything that still needs to be done. Next, break down each item into small doable pieces and schedule when you are going to do the work.

Your action plan works best when it is both realistic and ambitious. Also make sure you give yourself a deadline – preferably a meaningful date like your birthday or an anniversary. Finally, make a commitment to your strategy and do something on your list today. Unfinished business be gone!

If this feels too overwhelming, ask a friend you trust to help you think through it and keep you on track along the way.

Anything that has been keeping you up at night for a long time might need more systematic support. To help people in your situation, I have developed a three-month program that specifically focuses on completing unfinished business. To find out how I can get you unstuck, contact me today to set up a free informational call. It’s worth a try!

3 Fun Tips to Eliminate Tax Procrastination

1. After-Filing Party: Plan a celebration two weekends before taxes are due and tell invitees that they have to finish their taxes before coming. The highlight of the evening could be creating tasty drinks like green tax tea or a refund martini – shaken not pic

2. Tax-Filing Party: Get together with a bunch of friends and family and do your taxes at the same time. For best results, invite your accounting buddy. If you don’t have an accountant in your network, why not hire somebody to come to your party and help out where needed. It’s fun, it’s cheap and you get it done. (Hold the alcohol until after filing!)

3. Swap Returns: If your tax situation is rather simple, choose somebody you really trust and ask them to exchange tax duties – you do her’s and she does yours. It’s often easier to deal with a friend’s paperwork than with your own. Just double check the numbers before you file.

You might as well share the pain doing your taxes and the joy of being done!