FILM PRO PRODUCTIVITY & SUCCESS

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March 31, 2019  

RUMINATING ON RUMINATION - Episode 22

 

On this week’s show, I’m going to talk about RUMINATING. I mentioned it in passing on THE INNER CRITIC episode 6 I think it was, but I’ll be expanding on it here and offering solutions. Rumination can take over your mind, kill your creativity, bring you down, make you paranoid and kill your love for life. It’s a nasty, nasty piece of work.

Before I go on to that though let’s talk about last week’s episode. So switch off your mobile phones, stop letting yourself get distracted and let me recap on PROCRASTINATION.

It’s something most of us have a bit of a problem with so I hope you found the episode useful. If you checked it out, how did you get on with the call to action? Have you applied the solutions to your life and work and if so, how’s that worked out for you? Remember you can always get in touch via twitter @filmproprodpod or on Facebook @filmproproductivity, or on the official website at filmproproductivity.com/contact. The more adventurous amongst you might even want to use the SPEAK PIPE SERVICE on the contact page to leave a voicemail. I genuinely love hearing from listeners so please check that out.

My final word on procrastination is this, and it’s a quote from Karen Lang - “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” And if you really have to procrastinate make sure you do so by listening to this podcast. At least you’ll be moving forward in your productivity skills.

ANECDOTE

As I said a minute ago, today’s show is all about a rather nasty, creativity-killing, negativity forming, stress, anxiety and paranoia-inducing ailment called RUMINATION.

The Cambridge dictionary describes rumination simply as “the act of thinking carefully and for a long period about something” but that doesn’t go even halfway towards describing what it really is. Another online dictionary hits nearer the mark with "to turn over in the mind," and says it comes from the Latin “ruminates”.

Healthline.com hits far nearer the mark – It says “The process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark, is called “rumination.” Later it says that “a habit of rumination can be dangerous to your mental health as it can prolong or intensify depression as well as impair your ability to think and process emotions. It may also cause you to feel isolated and can, in reality, push people away.”

This starts to give you an idea of just how dangerous rumination is for the soul. If your head has ever been filled with one single thought, or a string of thoughts or even a memory of something you just can’t change that keeps repeating… and repeating… and repeating itself, then you suffered or are still suffering from RUMINATION.

To me, and I haven’t had it in a long time I’m relieved to say, “RUMINATION”  is the nagging incessant part of your subconscious that replays your failures and what if’s and only focuses on the negative. It’s not so much a voice - like the negative inner voice or INNER CRITIC I’ve talked about in Episode 6 - it’s more likely to manifest as thoughts, emotions or resentments that just keep looping in our mind and will keep you awake at night. Typically we ruminate about the past, including perceived mistakes and missed opportunities. I say perceived quite deliberately as some people find themselves ruminating over NOTHING AT ALL.

It’s an incessant repetition of a problem without resolution and is common in those who suffer anxiety and depression as these conditions cause our brains to become less flexible and able to deal with problems. Rumination makes us rethink again and again and again AND AGAIN what we should have said or done and keeps kicking at us when we are down long after we can do anything to change it. It replays the unfair treatment (REAL or IMAGINED) we have received by others, by the government, by our employers or friends or family. Things that most of the time we can’t change anyway – especially in the wee small hours of the morning when these looped thoughts take root. Rumination is born of our bad experiences and it won’t let you forget them.

I think I’ve used this analogy before but it’s true. I was once stopped by the cops for using a mobile phone whilst driving. Trouble was – it wasn’t true. I was driving along minding my own business and got pulled over. These two cops would neither look at my phone which would have disproved them nor search my car for another phone, which they suggested I had hidden. For 10 months I awaited a trial for this as I refused to pay an on the spot fine nor receive the points they were trying to force upon me, and I actually had to appear at court twice. Once to see if I’d changed my mind, which was infuriating, and once for the supposed trial.

I lost the job of fight director on I think it was Case Histories, a big Jason Isaacs drama because of those idiots that made up a story to meet their quota as both dates I was booked for fights on it fell on the two court days I had to attend. That incident lit the fuse that finally led me to completely lose the plot because I couldn’t handle the injustice. Even now, injustice stings me more than it should, in any form.

I played the incident over in my head 10000 times or more over the 10 months, getting more and more angry but do you know what? I stood up in court and I won the case. Even now, although I am perfectly happy with my life and position, I feel a fear of the time I was angry for 10 months – and it was so damaging to me - who has ruminated so much over that one incident - over the loss of the work and over the injustice – that I will never go to the police ever again. The damage is so rooted by rumination and I simply can’t trust cops. That’s their fault for lying, that’s how I won the case by the way – I caught them in a lie - and the fault of rumination for ensuring I’ll never forget it.

But don’t panic folks. That small damage is left within me, and I live with it, it’s no big deal. A destruction of my trust and a clouding of my outlook certainly, but for the larger part I got over it and all is well. Peter Kinderman says that “Rumination tends to be eased if we learn to be mindful; if we are able to be aware of, and understand how our own thoughts work.” And it’s with that mindfulness that I live happily now.

Let’s look more closely at what it is, why we do it and some solutions.

LESSON

Professor of Psychology Sonja LyubomirskyI explains that “The combination of rumination and negative mood is toxic. Research shows that people who ruminate while sad or distraught are likely to feel besieged, powerless, self-critical, pessimistic, and generally negatively biased.”

In an article in Psychcentral, and I’ll link to all these sources in the show notes, we discover that Ruminating as a thing is “characterized by overwhelming self-criticism and negative self-talk about one’s failures and shortcomings.” We think that if we’d just done something better or had been better, the outcome would’ve been more positive. It is also is characterized by black-and-white, all-or-nothing catastrophic thinking, which is referred to as CATASTROPHIZING by the way, and if you don’t do it yourself, I bet you know someone that does. When we ruminate, we think things like “Why me?”; “Why does this always happen?”; or “Why did he or she say that?”

The research on RUMINATION is quite prolific but it’s not something that I often hear discussed. We know what Rumination is now, but the bigger question for me is - WHY DO WE DO IT?

Well, According to the American Psychological Association, we RUMINATE for a variety of reasons including:

  • The belief that by doing so, you’ll gain insight into your life or a problem.
  • Having a history of emotional or physical trauma – sounds like that was the root of my problem when I had it.
  • Facing ongoing stressors that can’t be controlled. For listeners for whom English is a second language STRESSOR is a noun which means “something that causes a state of strain or tension.” Basically, it’s something that causes you STRESS. So just to recap on that one - The third they list is Facing ONGOING STRESSORS that CAN’T BE CONTROLLED
  • It goes on to say that rumination is also common in those who possess certain personality characteristics, which include perfectionism, neuroticism, and who have an excessive focus on one’s relationships with others. These individuals might be consumed by what others think.

The article in Psychcentral suggests a few other reasons why rumination might manifest itself. According to “The Psychology of Success.” Blog:

  • It’s just human nature to ruminate. Our brains, which evolved over millions of years to pay attention to danger, tend toward negative thinking for the sake of survival. “Back then, if we failed to detect threats, like a predator, a natural hazard, or some other kind of aggression, it could cost us our lives and the chance of passing on our genes.” As such, our brains — thoughts and beliefs — are wired to detect and attend to negative experiences instead of positive ones.
  • They next suggest that RUMINATION may be common in Individuals who have low self-worth. These people use absolutes like nobody will hire me, or nobody likes me, or I have to do everything instead of searching for productive solutions to their issues.
  • “PEOPLE WHO ARE DEPRESSED AND ANXIOUS tend to show this pattern of thinking more often,” Research has shown a connection between rumination and depression. “Rumination dampens problem-solving and keeps people trapped in a depressive state.” People who ruminate don’t have much confidence in their solutions, so they aren’t proactive about alleviating their pain. Plus, rumination often pushes people away, further feeding the depression.

CEO David Sikhosana says that “Overthinking is best known as creating problems that are never there.” And that’s a big part of the problem that ruminators face. The rumination of things that don’t really matter, breeds paranoia for problems that just don’t exist.

Some might say of course well, what's so bad about rumination, it's all about problem-solving right?

Psychology Today answers that while it's true that problem-solving and planning are essential to overcoming a difficult problem, people who ruminate tend to take these activities too far and for too long. It goes on to say that:

  • People who ruminate will often spend hours analysing the situation, even AFTER they've developed a plan for dealing with it.
  • Sometimes people will ruminate about the problem so much so that they never develop a solution to the problem. This is where rumination becomes really problematic.
  • If the situation has you in a bad mood, rumination will keep that bad mood alive, and you will feel upset for as long as you ruminate and if you ruminate on the problem for days, chances are you'll remain upset for days. In my own analogy remember I was angry for 10 months, and probably still suffered for another year after that before I finally settled.

And the research is extremely consistent.

  • People who ruminate are much more likely to develop problems with depression and anxiety.
  • Rumination is also connected to many different forms of self-sabotage. For example, if you ruminate on something upsetting a friend did, or is perceived to have done, it's going to take longer to forgive that friend and get back to enjoying time spent with them.
  • If you hold a grudge and constantly ruminate on what that friend did or is perceived to have done even if they are innocent, you will forever destroy that friendship.

But I’m not going to leave you hanging. There are solutions to the problem. I’ve learned some of these the hard way so listen up so you don’t have to.

  1. For me, the surefire best way to beat it is to try and DISTRACT YOURSELF. That goes really for any worry you might have, whether it’s a relative in hospital or the loss of a relationship, or just generally being down. If you start to ruminate and recognise it, which is part of the solution btw - find a distraction to break your thought cycle. Call a friend or do a household task - preferably something a bit more engaging. Maybe watch a film or read a book – that worked for me. I’ve got the ultimate distraction and that’s my dog Angus – If I caught myself ruminating I’m certain that just walking the dog would go a long way to improving my mindset.
  2. STOP YOUR TRAIN OF THOUGHT. Think or even tell yourself “Stop!” or “No!” when you start to ruminate. You can even utilise my higher level thinking strategy to manoeuvre yourself out of trouble. Try putting your repetitive thoughts in perspective. Writing it down will help this. When it’s out of your mind you may just realise that the problem is not important at all, and might be able to let it go.
  3. Another technique might be to take this further - PLAN AND THEN TAKE ACTION. You could - instead of repeating the same negative thought over and over again, take that thought and make a plan to take action to address it. Write it down on a piece of paper and be as specific as possible and realistic with your expectations. Doing this will disrupt your rumination. Once you have outlined a plan of action, take one small step to address the issue. Refer to the plan you made to solve the problem you’ve been obsessing over and move forward step by step, to resolve it or get over it.
  4. If perfectionism and goal setting has led you to rumination with GOALS THAT ARE UNREALISTIC, you may have to just revisit them and make alterations. Setting more realistic goals can reduce the risks of overthinking your own actions. I scheduled a load of stuff to happen at the same time as I am working on this podcast, but the jumping around slowed me down and almost ground me to a halt. That was solved quickly however when I took on my own advice from the multitasking episode and simplified my schedule. Now I am only working on the podcast for a few weeks, and I’ve moved my other goal-oriented tasks till after the 24th February when this launches. I’m zooming through my podcast stuff now as a result.
  5. An article I read in psychology today which is my starting point for this solutions section, suggests that HAVING MANY SOURCES OF SELF-ESTEEM is important for keeping you in a better mood and reducing your risks of rumination. The more sources of self-esteem you have, the smaller the risk that you will fixate on your perceived shortcomings. The self-esteem that I believe they are talking about is treating yourself with respect and taking good care of your health, development, and environment. If you are open to growth experiences and meaningful relationships, tolerant of risk, quick to joy and delight, and accepting and forgiving of yourself and others then your self-esteem will strengthen.
  6. You could try MEDITATION. It can reduce rumination because it involves clearing your mind to arrive at an emotionally calm state. When you find yourself with a repeating loop of thoughts in your mind, seek out a quiet space. Sit down, breathe deeply, and focus on nothing but breathing. If you think it’s a bit mental or you are uncomfortable then check out the app called meetups, or you may have luck on Craigslist or Gumtree, and find a group nearby that you can learn with. Meditation is big these days and you won’t have to look far to find others who practice it. Try udemy.com for video courses on the topic if you prefer to learn alone.
  7. TALK TO A FRIEND - Ruminating can make you feel isolated. Talking about your thoughts with a friend with an outside perspective may help break the cycle. Talking through your concerns can help, but make sure you pick someone who won’t simply ruminate along with you. Oh and try to stay off social media. Releasing you woes there may make you feel good in the short term, but you’ll get dragged down by it if you don’t get the responses you hope for. You may get a bit of interaction at first but over time, people will switch off to you and you will feel even more isolated. Talk to someone. Find real human interaction.
  8. If you really need it – TRY THERAPY. A therapist can help you identify why you’re ruminating and how to address the problems at their core. If you feel that somehow that therapy is over the top, get over it. Therapy exists for a reason and if you’ve tried what feels like everything else then it’s gotta be worth a shot. It’s not half as expensive as you think it is either, so stop putting obstacles in your way and pick up the phone or send an email. It’s a good way out of the problem.
  9. Finally – and this is one that really worked well for me. SCHEDULE TIME TO WORRY. What I mean is, put it in your diary. Put in 10 minutes at a specific time of day and allow yourself to worry only during that period. This simple psychological trickery really works. You give yourself permission to worry at that point and you will be able to let go far more easily at all other times. It’s a bit hippy-dippy you might think, but it’s good.

So there are a few good solutions for you. I hope that they will help you if you believe yourself to be a ruminator. And if you want to bring an end to your repetitive negative thoughts, here are some changes you can make to your life to help you out.

  • BE PROACTIVE - Use your higher level thinking self to identify the problems in your life and then start taking actions to solve them, one step at a time
  • SET YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS. Constantly work on building your self-esteem by taking care of yourself and doing things you enjoy and excel at.
  • CREATE A SUPPORT SYSTEM. Having friends and family members, and maybe even a therapist, will distract you from your ruminating thoughts and will boost your self-esteem.

SUMMING UP

To sum up you must realise that it is absolutely possible to stop ruminating.

It starts with high-level thinking, the practice of working on your life and career at the same time you find yourself living and working in it. So each time you find yourself ruminating, make a mental note of the situation you’re in. This includes where you are, what time of day it is, who is around you (if anyone), and what you’ve been doing that day. Developing ways to avoid or manage these triggers can reduce your rumination and allow you to take back control.

A lot of what I’ve presented has been from psychological journals tempered by my own experience but I’ll just chuck in a thought or two further on the matter as we finish off -  firstly I’d say to try and avoid AVOID BLACK-AND-WHITE THINKING. If something has gone wrong, or you made one mistake, it doesn’t mean that your whole life is doomed. Cut yourself some slack and teach yourself to realise that black and white thinking just isn’t reality.

And remember when you’re feeling low, that it’s easy to get caught up in believing that bad things are happening because of you. Don’t allow yourself to believe that you’re a victim. Having a victim mentality will not lift you up, it’ll entomb you in your fears and enslave you to things like rumination.

I’ll end with the words of author Colleen McCarty

I’m tired of being inside my head. I want to live out here, with you.

CALL TO ACTION

Your call to action this week is if you have a problem with rumination or you think you know someone that does - to tackle it head-on with the advice that I offer here today. If you don’t then revisit the advice I gave in episode 4. The 5 a day for good mental health system, with the acronym alive. Stay active. Observe the world about you. Interact with others. Help others. Keep learning new things. It’s all good for your mental health.

ENDING

I realise that this episode is not a particularly film pro one at all, but it is something that everyone may suffer from, from time to time and hope that it’s been useful for you. I don’t choose these topics lightly and I think this is important. Next week I’ll be talking about productivity topics such as COMPOUNDING, and FRONTLOADING in an episode entitled KILLING THE MICROWAVE MENTALITY. It’s one of those mind-expanding concept episodes so I think you’ll like it.

Earlier I quoted Professor Lyburmirskyl or Professor Unpronounceable might be more appropriate for me. I’ll end with another one of hers as for me it represents the spirit of this podcast.

“If you're not happy today, then you won't be happy tomorrow unless you take things into your own hands and take action.”

So please don’t allow yourself to get cornered into anything that makes you miserable. Take control, seize it if you have to, and save yourself. It takes a little courage to make it so but if you can stand on your own two feet and move freely in a direction of your choosing, you will be happy.

Thanks again for choosing to spend your valuable time here with me. Please - take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

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  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website filmproproductivity.com
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Sources: https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-reasons-we-ruminate-and-how-to-reduce-the-cycle/

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-ruminating https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/overcoming-self-sabotage/201002/rumination-problem-solving-gone-wrong

https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/depression-and-ruminative-thinking.aspx

Thanks: A Himitsu

 
Music: Adventures by A Himitsu https://www.soundcloud.com/a-himitsu Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b... Music released by Argofox https://www.youtu.be/8BXNwnxaVQE Music provided by Audio Library https://www.youtu.be/MkNeIUgNPQ8 ––– • Contact the artist: x.jonaz@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/ahimitsu https://www.twitter.com/ahimitsu1 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgFwu-j5-xNJml2FtTrrB3A
March 24, 2019  

OBLITERATING PROCRASTINATION - Episode 21

 

This week we I’ll be talking about another topic which every one of us likely suffers from, from time to time - PROCRASTINATION. We’ll look at what it is and its causes and list a few techniques and tricks that can be used to burn it to the ground and let you move forward with what you have to do.

Last week was my longest episode at 29 minutes so I’ll try and keep this one short. In that show I talked about what I like to call, COLLABO-HATERS – or BAD COLLABORATIONS and how to avoid them. The episode ended up quite long as in my experience there are a lot of them about.

If you’ve not experienced them then lucky you, but check it out as maybe, just maybe, it will help you to protect yourself in future. I still, despite my best efforts, find myself working with difficult or untrustworthy collaborators but I am very well prepared to face them down these days.  If you’re considering collaborating, just make sure that 1/ The person you are working with is brilliant and will bring something useful to the table – if they don’t then frankly, you should just do it yourself, and 2/ That their personality and values are in alignment with your own - This is as vital as the first but is the more difficult to identify. I also have a collaboration agreement template which you can download for free in the episode 20 show notes.

Incidentally, I took on the subject partly because it was on my mind, but also because of the success of season 1 episode 12 TIMEWASTERS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM. This podcast has a broad listening base but it appears that these, TELL IT HOW IT IS, episodes are very popular. Later in the season I’ll be examining the topic of toxic personality types and will post a few warning signs about them for the unwary amongst us. That’s going to be an awesome episode but now - at last - let’s talk about - PROCRASTINATION.

ANECTDOTE

Benjamin Franklin said, “You may delay, but time will not.”

And don’t we know it? Time just nips away at us every day and with every moment that passes I am aware that I will never see it again. As deadlines loom in fact, my stress levels can increase and make my INABILITY TO TAKE ACTION even stronger.

I remember when I was at school, well I remember vaguely through the mists of time, to be honest, but I do remember - that there was one sure way to step up and get things done – and it’s identified in this quote by American cartoonist Bill Watterson “You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”

I jest of course as the trouble with last minute panic, is that it’s rarely going to generate your best work - in fact, it’s barely going to cover the bases. I still however sometimes find myself pulling out a task just as it’s due and scrabbling about to complete it.

Creatives like film pros and other artists have the additional problem of having to be creative sometimes on demand and the process of creativity for me at least - is rarely a one-shot thing. I mostly create and then I review, then possibly seek advice on what I have.

I then move on to a second draft for example if it’s a script or a refining recut if it’s an edit. The process of revising our work is a powerful one but that can’t begin until we complete that first draft, and as anyone who’s been through this process knows, that first draft is usually the most difficult.

My favourite quote on this topic, which is attributed to Ernest Hemingway and I use very often is that “the first draft of everything is shit”. Once you understand that basic premise and the power of the statement based on the works of the man who said it, it makes tacking your own first draft a lot more attractive.

Time and again, and I’ve used this analogy in another episode, just after I shoot something, but before I edit, I find myself locked in a PROCRASTINATION LOOP. Checking social media and cleaning the house suddenly become the most vital tasks on my to-do list and I generate a sense of urgency for doing them first. In fact, I can find any number of far more important matters like organising the contents of a drawer, or surfing on eBay for stuff I don’t need which, had I not had a specific, perhaps imminent task to do, would probably be significantly less important in my mind.

My procrastination in a situation such as this is fed by fear. I worry that what I have filmed is no good, or will not cut together as I’d imagined, and 9 times out of 10 this is completely unfounded. If it’s not unfounded btw your procrastination is maybe based on a worry or knowledge that there’s something tricky in there you are going to have to sort. Just remember that things are rarely perfect first time about. You can always revise and improve in future passes.

And to dunk that one in the net, here’s a quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci who said: “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” He’s not wrong.

THE LESSON

In the novel David Copperfield, Charles Dickens writes that “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” So like many of the subjects that I tackle here, proven of course by the previous one by Da Vinci, procrastination is not just a problem of the modern age, and although I am sure that social networking HAS contributed to the problem, we must also remember that Dickens didn’t have the advantages of the easy to reach research and inspiration that the internet offers us now.

James Clear, in an article that I will link to in the show notes, says that “Human beings have been procrastinating for centuries. The problem is so timeless, in fact, that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behaviour: Akrasia.

Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment.

It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control.

The modern definition presented on a quick Google search is “the action of delaying or postponing something.” with synonyms such as dithering, delaying, and stalling.

I list all this here, but I have a suspicion that if you are listening, that you know EXACTLY what procrastination is. Some of you may even be listening to this podcast when you KNOW you should be doing SOMETHING ELSE. Hopefully, this episode will get you back into action.

So that’s what it is, but the bigger question is why do we do it?

Do you think that you procrastinate because you are disorganized, lazy, or, worse, or because you just don't care enough! The chances are that this is simply not true. Procrastinators are very often smart, capable, hardworking people - they just can't get things done on time and can't seem to figure out why. There’s an article in Psychology today that asks 9 questions that could help you get to the bottom of your own why, and the answers may reveal the real reason behind your procrastination.

  1. When faced with a task, do you think of all the ways it could go wrong?
  2. Do you picture how important people in your life might react if you failed?
  3. Do you believe it's better to not try at all than to try your best and fail?

If you answered "yes" to these three questions that may mean, like I have described in my edit analogy, that you have a FEAR OF FAILURE is behind your procrastination. The thought of putting in effort but still failing makes you anxious, so you choose avoiding and to procrastinate instead.

The next three questions are:

  1. Are you overwhelmed by the possibility of new responsibilities if you are successful?
  2. Do you subscribe to the idea "If I do well, then others will expect more of me"?
  3. Do you feel your success will lead to other people finding out the "real you"?

A "yes" to these three questions, may mean you fear not failure but SUCCESS. Procrastination protects you from the higher expectations and greater responsibilities that may come with succeeding. Like those who procrastinate because they fear failure, you keep yourself safe from facing your true limits by avoiding the challenges and putting things off.

  1. Do you believe that if you're going to do something, you should try to do it perfectly?
  2. Do you find it difficult to persist when things aren't going just right?
  3. Would you rather avoid doing something than do it imperfectly?

If you identify with these, then perfectionism may underlie your avoidance. Because you believe that things should be done perfectly, the result is that NOTHING GETS DONE AT ALL. When faced with a task, you become overwhelmed and frustrated - paralyzed by impossible standards.

While the reasons for procrastination may vary, the results are often the same - a seemingly endless cycle of anxiety, avoidance, and shame. Nothing gets done, and you can't enjoy anything with that guilt hanging over your head.

I’m talking here like I’ve never tackled the topic before but of course I have. It’s difficult to do a podcast on the subject of productivity without some crossover between the episodes, and many of the techniques I will present here to overcome PROCRASTINATION are covered in depth in other episodes. Indeed the first topic of the season, that of drive will feed in directly to what I am saying and for some of you that identified with the final 3 questions there, top of the list of reasons for procrastinating is likely to be Perfectionism which I tackled in Season 1 episode 5.

You can always go back and listen to those episodes, but since you’re here let’s get into some solutions you can apply right now and discuss ANTI-PROCRASTINATION STRATEGIES.

  • This advice will be of no surprise to any regular listener of the show, but write it down. You can proactively tackle your work by writing down the tasks that you need to complete and specifying a time for doing them. Seriously. In all things, procrastination or not, remember that if you write a task down, you are 80% more likely to do it. I write it down on whiteboards in my office and at home so that it’s in sight and in mind.
  • Several studies show that self-forgiveness can help you to feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future. So forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past and move on.
  • For some people the promise of a reward is helpful. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a piece of cake or a coffee from your favourite coffee shop. That’ll make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
  • The principle behind self-help groups is that peer pressure works. Find a fellow procrastinator or a friend and ask them to be your ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER. You can set each other monthly, weekly or bi-weekly tasks or goals and hold one another accountable. This only works if you both take it seriously though and see last week’s episode on bad collaborators to ensure they don’t drive you nuts at the same time.
  • Next try some of my anti-procrastination systems from episode 9 – FOUR GREAT HACKS TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION. THE ONE TOUCH RULE, THE TWO MINUTE RULE, THE 5 MINUTE RULE AND THE 10 MINUTE RULE. These in their various forms will force you to tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up and overwhelm you. They are very effective techniques which I use every day.
  • Another article in Psychology today which I’ll link to in the show notes suggests that you should “Rephrase your internal dialogue. The phrases "need to" and "have to," for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage . However, saying, "I choose to," implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.”

But there’s a couple of specific things that I find particularly useful in keeping that procrastination habit at arm's length.

  • The first is to Minimize distractions. Turn off your email and social media, utilise the do not disturb function on your phone and avoid being near a television or a PlayStation or whatever app or toy you like to use to distract you. My particular habit is Youtube addiction and I have to be very careful when researching these shows that I don’t end up watching cat videos or lens and kit reviews instead.
  • The second is that there’s a book called EAT THAT FROG by Brian Tracy which is easily one of the most famous books on productivity and overcoming procrastination out there. I’ll link to in the show notes – but in simple terms, it suggests that you do your most important (could be difficult, awkward or stressful) job first. If you get those tasks that you find least pleasant out of the way early it will give you the rest of the day to concentrate on work that you find more enjoyable. In the book, Brian Tracy comes back to this 4-part combination over and over.
  • 1 Select Your Most Important Task
  • 2 Begin Immediately.
  • 3 Work on It Single-Handedly.
  • 4 Finish It!!
  • In total, he outlines 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time so if you want to get into this even further, check it out. Just don’t let investigating anti-procrastination techniques in effect become your procrastination “crutch”. Just remember the 4 rules.
  • Select Your Most Important Task
  • Begin Immediately.
  • Work on It Single-Handedly.
  • Finish It!!
  • It IS that simple.

AMAZON AFFILIATE LINKS - EAT THAT FROG

US: https://amzn.to/2VnjGPF 

UK: https://amzn.to/2BQDBz7

As a wee additional for you

  • Keep a To-Do List to prevent you from "conveniently" forgetting about unpleasant or overwhelming tasks.
  • Prioritize your To-Do List using the techniques described in Episode 3, which was the third of this shows preseason episodes. It’s available right now on your podcast app.
  • And I’m quoting here from some article I found but can’t lay my hands on, Become a master of scheduling and project planning. Use tools to can help you to plan your time effectively, and reduce your stress levels.
  • Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times. Do you work better in the morning or the afternoon? Identify when you're most effective, and do the tasks that you find most difficult at these times. See the episode on mental energy to understand more about this, your most valuable, and finite resource.
  • Set yourself time-bound goals. Seriously folks. Putting stuff in your diary will make all the difference to your drive. I’ve done several episodes on goal setting and the 1st of this season is all about drive so if you need a boost. Check them out.
  • And finally, utilise the plethora of available task and time-management apps. I recommend Google calendar and TO-DOist and again I’ve done an episode on this so look back and have a listen if you want more suggestions.

SUMMING UP

Alan Dean Foster says that “The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” If you recognise that in yourself, then I hope that this episode has been helpful to you.

Like all the techniques, tips and tricks I recommend here, I actually use these things and they work. I also RECOGNISE when I am procrastinating and I think that in itself is very valuable. If we can’t be honest in ourselves about this sort of thing then we really aren’t going anywhere.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”.

CALL TO ACTION

And your call to action this week is to take your tasks, and if they are in your head, please, for the love of god write them down. Then use the system presented by Brian Tracy in EAT THAT FROG and

  • Select Your Most Important Task
  • Begin Immediately.
  • Work on It Single-Handedly.
  • And Finish It!!

That’s all you have to do to beat procrastination and get yourself moving forward again.

Remember the words of the late American author, Janet Dailey “SOMEDAY is not a day of the week.”

ENDING

Thanks once again for choosing to spend your valuable time here with me. Please take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, BEAT THAT PROCRASTINATION and join me NEXT TIME on Film Pro Productivity.

  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu
  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website filmproproductivity.com
  • Please follow the show on twitter @filmproprodpod or find me on facebook @filmproproductivity. My personal accounts on twitter and Instagram are @fight_director
  • Please support the show by subscribing, leaving an AWESOME review on iTunes spreading the word!

Sources: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/in-the-age-anxiety/201301/get-it-done-in-2013-how-overcome-procrastination

Thanks: A Himitsu

Music: Adventures by A Himitsu https://www.soundcloud.com/a-himitsu Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b... Music released by Argofox https://www.youtu.be/8BXNwnxaVQE Music provided by Audio Library https://www.youtu.be/MkNeIUgNPQ8 ––– • Contact the artist: x.jonaz@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/ahimitsu https://www.twitter.com/ahimitsu1 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgFwu-j5-xNJml2FtTrrB3A

 

March 17, 2019  

BAD COLLABORATIONS - Episode 20

 

Today I will be talking about a subject that no one ever seems to discuss but it’s one that creatives have to endure perhaps more often than most. Whereas I can admit that sometimes collaborating on a venture can be awesome, there are times when it just ISN’T a good idea for productivity or for your sanity or career or goals or bank balance to do so. I’ll also discuss specific types of collaborator that you MUST learn to avoid.

I’m itching to get into today’s podcast but as always though, let’s look back at last week’s episode and discuss how you are getting on with PROTECTING YOUR MENTAL ENERGY. That was another one which I feel very passionate about. It’s of such vital importance to our productivity levels that now that you understand what it is, I am hoping you have already started implementing measures to protect it. Please check back if you missed it as it presents some information which. Like today's episode, isn’t raised too often and really should be.

This week I’m talking about creative collaborations with people, but not just any people. I’m talking about the ones that I’ve seen all too many of in my short time on earth– I’m talking about what I like to collectively call collabo-HATERS.

Steven Spielberg talks about collaboration - he says “When I was a kid, there was no collaboration; it's you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.”

ANECTDOTE

My professional behaviour and many of my own values were learned during my time as a student at Scottish Youth Theatre. The standard of training which I got there made some of my later, supposedly higher level training pale to near insignificance, and one thing that we did a lot of was COLLABORATION.

Perhaps more correctly stated, it was ENSEMBLE WORK where COOPERATION was key - but within that ensemble the talent level was high and the spirit of collaboration was strong. We worked closely together to form tight performances based on a mutual passion for the theatre and mutual respect for each other and formed great long lasting friendships along the way. We staged some outstanding critically acclaimed shows and the spirit of collaboration, although firmly under the directorship of an incredible artistic director Mary McCluskey, was infused through all of it.

In recent years though, I am sorry to say that I have found it increasingly difficult to find true collaborators “in the wild” as it were... I mean I have found many team players and good people, but it only takes one bad apple to ruin a creative project.

They say that there is no “I” in TEAM …but these days I’m more likely to say – well that depends...

The COLLABORATORS I’m specifically talking about are likely to be a partnership between two or perhaps three creatives who perhaps head a team such as a writing team, a director/producer or writer/director or co-writing partnership but I’m sure they exist in many other areas too. I can only talk of my own experience here.

Sadly, I have LEARNED THE HARD WAY that getting hitched to the WRONG collaborator CAN lead to utter misery and a lot of angst and a lot of wasted time and mental energy.

THE LESSON

Harry Truman once said that "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."

When true collaboration happens the way it's supposed to, everything becomes better. You SHOULD find yourself working faster, finding mistakes more easily, being more creative, raising the bar of quality and producing overall better work. I know this as I experience it on film sets every week. The well-oiled machine of a truly collaborative team effort especially when led by a steady hand is a beautiful thing but…

…that said I’m sure that I am not the only one that has been scarred by the unpleasantness of bad collaboration. I suspect in fact that this is a situation which many of us face every now and again, and if you have been particularly UNLUCKY you will have found yourself in negative creative partnerships all too often.

… and there’s really not that much out there, on the internet at least, that discusses what I perceive as quite a serious problem for creatives. There are a few articles aimed at writers, authors specifically, which I’ll put links to in the show notes but generally speaking it’s a lot of positivity about how awesome it is and next to nothing about how crap it can be too.

I have the beginnings of an identification system, for recognising useless, flaky, untrustworthy or plain dangerous collaborators, or as I coin them here - collabo-haters. And I’m doing an episode on it as you need to watch out for these types of people. They will destroy – DESTROY – you’re creative projects and they will break your heart, dissipate your passion and ware down your soul - if you let them.

Here are a few archetypes of bad collaborator.  These can stand alone or in their worst incarnations will be a combination of more than one type.

By far the most common type that I have come across is THE HIJACKER.

  • The HIJACKER you see is the supposed collaborator that sooner or later tries to ASSUME OWNERSHIP, IN PART OR ALL, OVER YOUR CREATIVE IDEAS or PROJECT.

I feel like I’m the first to raise the topic of hijackers in creative work like filmmaking. I touched upon them I think in an earlier episode but let's get into it.

The lowest level for me is, to put a name to it for this podcasts sake, the Low-Level HIJACKER.

That’s the person who tries to invite themselves onto your project without you actually asking them. Typically this will be someone who turns a conversation about what you are doing, by the time you get to the end of it, into a project that they are doing with you.

For example, you say, I’m doing this wee film about such and such, which then becomes them responding, oh we should do this in it. And you are like woh woh whoa there - “WE”? That’s the sort of person that somewhere down the line after you have shot it without them, will be overheard telling someone else how they came up with the idea but they’ll never usually try to take on a larger hijack as its just lies. I should perhaps have referred to them as the bullshitter, but you certainly don’t want to get into a collaboration with one of those either.

Another low-level hijack might happen with someone further down the line in meetings when a team member tries to shift the direction of a meeting in a direction that suits them and won’t allow it to get back on track. To avoid this use Oprah Winfrey’s system for all meetings. She asks right at the start. "What is our intention for this meeting? What's important? What matters?" – and with that bookend in place, a meeting can be kept on target, and a low-level hijacker attempting to sidetrack the agenda can be kept at bay.

So that’s what I will call, for the purposes of this podcast, a LOW-LEVEL HIJACKER.

Now - A MID TIER HIJACKER - might manifest as a daily crewmember visiting set who has a skill. I’ve seen it in a camera operator who had decided they knew better than everyone else and just wouldn’t shoot what they were asked to do. I see these types quite often on either low to no budget projects or on bigger budget films where you perhaps have a first time director – For me when it happened, I let it slip at first, as I thought - this guy really knows what he is talking about and AS I HAVE A SORT OF BRILLIANCE VERSUS PAIN IN THE ASS SYSTEM which I apply when I work with people I figured - He acts like he knows what he’s on about – He acts brilliant. Maybe he is! WHEN THAT BRILLIANCE SCALE TIPS INTO THE PAIN IN THE ASS AREA, THOUGH, YOU REALLY NEED TO BE WARY.

Sadly with the camera operator, I’m talking about, when I saw his work in the edit, it just wasn’t that good at all and I realised I should probably have pushed back a little more and made him shoot what he was asked to do. A daily helper doesn’t have a long invested interest in what you are doing you see, and some people like to come in and “save the day” and move off again. Sadly, like with the low tier hijacker, the only guarantee in their work is that they will be telling other people how they saved you in the time they were on set when they hit the pub later that day.

Another MID TIER HIJACKER will perhaps be someone who hijacks your time or if you have listened to the last episode, who hijacks your mental energy. This goes into the area of time wasters which I tackle in episode 12. Time wasters will hijack your time by playing on your goodwill, or guilting you into doing something that suits them down to the ground and benefits them greatly, in the guise of it being a good idea for you, but in reality they leave you, in the end, feeling tricked or conned in some way as your own goals are left behind whilst you effectively work for them rather than with them…

With HIGH-LEVEL HIJACKERS we hit Defcon 1 BEWARE BEWARE – These are ones that come in under the radar, and gain your trust - then do a less than brilliant job along the way, make mistakes and leave you to clean it all up, wait till it’s all finished, disappear completely for a few months of post-production telling everyone how wonderful they are and then when the film goes into the public eye they try to run off with the prize… And If you hear in my voice that I’m talking from experience here you’re f*ckin beeped outright.

But even they are not the ones that annoy me the most. Those are dangerous people but the hijacker I detest most of all is the one that steals your voice or your reputation to use for their own ends. I once had an armourer call me and ask who someone was that had used my name to try and hire AK47’s for a job. I swear to god I had no clue who that person was – Turned out to be an extra. Someone else inferred I was a producer on their film and actually succeeded in borrowing two action vehicles in my name. I got called by the person that loaned them whilst he was on set who said who the hell is this assh*le ? Beeped out and I swear, I totally swear I had never met them! I did know who he was, but I only from reputation, and it was bad. He’d used images from a big show at Stirling Castle which I’d spent 3 months doing fight direction on in a document he’d sent out saying he was a stunt man. He wasn’t a stunt man either and he had NOTHING to do with that Stirling Castle event whatsoever.

You’ll get people like that try to attach your name to film productions in development and even use your resume to gain trust until they get what they want and then they turn around and burn you. They’ll say they got there on their own and you get side-lined. These people exist and I dislike them intensely.

So that’s the HIJACKER and I am sure there are more examples.

But there are other types of collabo-HATER too. I got a bit of feedback on twitter for this section, and I won’t name names as I don’t want to get them into trouble but the first one that came up was THE FLAKE. That’s the collaborator that just turns into a loon and embarrasses you in front of a client or your crew or just in general and you find yourself inching away from them literally and figuratively. These people rear their ugly heads only once other people start interacting with them, and you realise that either they have no people skills at all or they are just plain rude and disrespectful. I hate seeing people treated with disrespect and it immediately turns me off a collaboration. I don’t like being embarrassed or finding myself having to apologise for someone, who appears to represent me. I’ve been lucky in this field, I’ve not got into bed as it were with too many FLAKES.

The UNPREPARED is another collabo-hater that came up on my twitter discussion about this topic. That’s the person that turns up on the day when it’s all important that everyone is on the ball and you discover that they haven’t listened at the meetings, haven’t read the script or charged their batteries or prepared in any way and these collabo-haters are very common. I usually find that this is some guy or gal that’s got it into their mind that they are somehow DOING YOU A “FAVOUR”. They’re usually late too incidentally. I had this happen to me on a film of mine. Everyone was getting paid but this one guy somehow missed that tiny detail and called to that he was going to be late. In his mind, it was some unimportant short film. He arrived into a situation where I had some 40 cast and crew and a full dressed location set and a local star actor involved before he realised that it was a full serious shoot. He actually said, I didn’t realise it was gonna be like this, and I was thinking, so when you thought it was a p*shy wee film you were going to just give it your least possible effort. Believe me, you never want anyone on set that has it in their mind that they are doing you a favour because when they let you down, they’re doing you no favours whatsoever.

Another I have identified is THE UNWELCOME GUEST. I heard a story that there was a really cool new production company formed and they were doing great stuff. They didn’t have much money though and the next thing I heard that someone had come along to help out. This wasn’t really someone they’d invited in, he’d kinda invited himself and was working for free. After he had his foot in I heard he was trying to creatively change or lead what they were doing and had caused what we in Scotland would call a stushy – or a great deal of upset. They had a devil of a time getting rid of this guy and getting creatively back on track to where they were before this uninvited collabo-hater came along.

Michaela Watkins who plays Valerie Meyers in Casual says that Film and TV production is COLLABORATION and I absolutely agree with her, EVERYONE'S JOB IS INVALUABLE in the collaborative teamwork that takes place on and offset with all departments but as I work through this list I’ll just remind you that I’m largely talking about lead collaborators. I’m aware that this is another long episode so thought I should jump in with a reminder!

The next collabo-hater is THE CHERRY PICKER

This one is self-explanatory perhaps. The cherry picker wheedles their way through a production sometimes working quite hard, but leaving all the jobs they are disinterested into their co-collaborators. Cherry pickers need to be identified and dealt with as soon as possible.

That said I will qualify this one as you may find that you match quite well with a cherry picker. I’ve seen awesome collaborations between people who enjoy the administrative side and those who love the creative. I raise it here as a problem collaboration if you have two people that really have the same skill set - it can be very disheartening for the one left to pick up the difficult and less engaging jobs within the partnership and in that situation ultimately IT WILL FAIL.

THE SIDELINER is like a substrata of the hijacker and will start cutting you out of communications and make arrangements behind your back. These people think they are clever and if you let them get away with it they will become MARTYRS telling everyone who asks that without them, the production would have fallen apart. I’ve felt a bit like that myself sometimes but I think I’ve got over it now. I cut these people off as soon as it becomes clear that I’m becoming a glorified secretary and not an equal collaborator.

This happened on a project on which I became the producer. After about two weeks I was finding out stuff I should have been aware off from the start and I got dropped right in it at an important meeting. After that and a third strike where he was just plain disrespectful, I dropped that guy like a hot potato and sent him a list of production co-ordinators instead. I was on board as a creative and active producer but he, it turns out,  did not want me to influence the project in any creative way. When I left, his project died. These people need fools about them that will do the hard work so they can start to play the part of CHERRY PICKER I mentioned a minute ago. And some of the hijackers will try to sideline you along the way too – Be aware of this as they’re some agenda usually behind their actions.

THE COPYCAT – This is the person or organisation sometimes that STEALS YOUR BLUEPRINT. I’ve had it happen to me numerous times and this is the hardest one to spot. They’ll come on board to work with you, but sometimes as early as the next week you’ll see them using your templates or running a similar thing. My cousin is a painter and decorator – he has this with apprentices. I mean everyone has to learn somewhere but I tell you what I notice these days. Some people want a fast track to the top. They don’t want to do the hard work and gain the experience. They want what you have now. At least once a month I’ll get an email to fightdirector.com basically saying. I want your job. Please teach me for free asap. I’ll come on set and help you. YOU may recognise that one as the UNWELCOME guest.

Look I could easily go on but I’ll leave it there. These are just a few examples of the sort of collabo-haters that are lurking in the creative world and you are far more likely to find that they are a collection of the ones listed here rather than just being one of the archetypes. You may find your own unique breeds out there too, but how do you deal with them?

There is an old business concept that says you should hire slow and fire fast. That you should take your time when bringing someone into your organization and if it is not working out, let the person go quickly. It’s not quite that simple in real life but it’s worth considering. I need to temper that advice a little though by saying that if you wait too long to consider, all the best people might be taken. Use your heart to determine if a collaborator will be good for you, or not.

SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

Finding out too late that you are working with a bad collaborator is awful. No other way to put it, but you needn’t as I have done all too often, throw in the towel and shut it down. There is no one best solution but…

  • A good first step is to try talking honestly, respectfully, and directly with the problem collaborator about the issue. If you have set up clear agreements, which I’ll talk about at the end here, then revisiting them can make conflicts easier to settle. The goal of your conversation might be to gently inform your collaborator that the things are straining as they might not even be aware of it. You can identify which of your goals may be at odds and identify possible solutions together. It’s not easy, but it’s better than most of the alternatives.
  • If that doesn’t work, you might try asking someone in a position of authority to mediate—a producer or someone in a similar position, or a respected, disinterested neutral third party.
  • Sometimes though the best option is just to put up with it for the time being, but not carry out any further work together.
  • In a worst-case situation, you will likely have to abandon a project.

BUT I HAVE ANOTHER SUGGESTION

Don’t collaborate in the first place. There I said it.

Here’s the thing right - The first line of defence against getting hitched to the wrong collaborator is to ask yourself, do I actually want to have a collaborator? You should really ask yourself - Do you even need a collaborator?

I know soooo many creatives that make the major mistake of inviting people to collaborate on a project without ever thinking it through. They’re so keen to tell people about it and get people involved in their next big scheme that they end up sharing it out and promising roles in it and crew jobs when it shoots.

You need to learn to develop what I’d call a HABIT OF CARE and STOP THIS BEHAVIOUR. It’s just as important sometimes to learn not only when to speak up, but when not to speak at all.

I also know creatives that, especially when they are putting something together and I’ve done it myself too, who will invite someone on board that really doesn’t have the skills or the drive or the standards or the talent sometimes, or if they do they’ll be invited on to help, not because they are needed, but really just to make the writer or whatever FEEL BETTER about what they are doing.

This is a fast track to collabo-hating because when that person lets you down or disagrees with you and derails your project they’ll still have their name attached to it –

­­- and you won’t be able to get rid of them. If you invite someone on to co-write with you for example and you eventually sell the script and you know in your heart that you did all the work, you’ll STILL have to give away half the earnings to them. Just to make you feel better because you got a bit scared or lost faith in yourself in the early days. You didn’t need a collaborator to share everything with – what you actually wanted was ADVICE. You could have talked to a friend, you could have PAID a script doctor or other professional, you could have done anything other than pull in someone that wasn’t fully behind what you were doing AND SIGNED AWAY HALF THE PROJECT.

I get approached by folk all the time asking me to read their scripts and inviting me on to produce or direct and in all honesty, I don’t have time anyway but what I say to them is this – You don’t want me to take your script or idea and work with you to take it further unless you want to pay me to do it of course as then I’ll be invested. To which they will be like – what? But I’m a creative genius and I’m gifting you this opportunity – But I still say - you want to do that yourself – Because most people will not be as passionate about your story as you will. And people don’t like to hear it but I’m doing them a favour believe me. I know people that have fallen out with me over that advice and you know what, that bothers me a little but – I stand by it.

So with all of that said, somewhere along the way you’re going to decide yes, I DO NEED A COLLABORATOR on this one - so how do you find the RIGHT one. Well for a start you look out for all the negative signs that I’ve already listed here. You spot those signs and you avoid these people.

Then you utilise that HABIT OF CARE and you choose carefully. Check them out. Ask others who’ve worked with them what they are like. It’s then you might find out that they constantly miss deadlines, or they act like they know what they are doing but really don’t. You find out then that though titled as editor or writer or director or whatever that someone else pulled them through it! And that happens all the time.

You might discover that they don’t listen to feedback or are always going to go with their own ideas over yours, they’re all "take" and no give or they are terrible communicators. It’s amazing what can be discovered with a little bit of a background check and if you are getting into bed with someone creatively speaking you want to know if they are going to pull their weight.

And when you’ve checked all this and you both think, you have found the right partner you then do the right thing and sign a PRE-NUP.

Yes, I’m going to end all this with COLLABORATION AGREEMENTS and to sweeten the deal I’m going to include my own collaboration agreement for FREE DOWNLOAD within the show notes. A collaboration agreement is a PRE-NUP – It sets out what will happen if one or the other of you lets the other down and locks you together so you have a commitment to each other when you sign it. It sets out the terms in full, with dates and timescales and credits, and fees etc. and if you find that one or the other of you is not really willing to give up titles or whatever when things get real like this and they have to sign, then you find out well before you get into bed with a collabo-hater.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TYyxHUJn8h-IUdz7y4meBCzzJ_9KOk4n/view?usp=sharing 

When collaboration is great it is truly great - in the words of fellow Scot James McAvoy “Filmmaking is a miracle of collaboration.”

SUMMING UP

To sum up, please remember that when everyone is NOT equally invested in an overall purpose and goal things start to fall apart fast. At the start, I said that I don’t fully agree that there is no “I” in TEAM … and these days I’m more likely to say – well that depends... Well, what I was getting at there is that I personally like a pecking order. I like to know where I stand and sometimes what you need to be is not the benevolent collaborator. Sometimes you have to be the team leader, and make solo decisions and taking that further sometimes you need to be the boss. The one in charge that listens to your teams' ideas and decides what way is best to move forward. Collaboration is sometimes just not a good idea! Brigitte Nielsen said it well and I think it’s appropriate – “I like to be controlled, but that doesn't mean controlled like a dog.” You can be a great collaborator and still be a great team leader.

I set out into my career very much as a collaborator and I still enjoy that spirit of collaboration in all that I do. But I say the SPIRIT of collaboration quite specifically as ACTUALLY - I no longer seek true collaboration unless it is with truly BRILLIANT people. Take my advice btw and try to ONLY WORK WITH BRILLIANT PEOPLE. My best collaborations in recent years have been with Bryan Larkin, who is so much better than I am at so many things, but our skills have been complimentary and when we work together the work is always well received.

Just be careful that in any collaboration you find yourself in THAT YOU HAVE NOT ACCIDENTALLY BECOME THE COLLABO-HATER YOURSELF.

CALL TO ACTION

The call to action this week is not specifically related to the content. It’s just to ask for some help. I'd really love for you to spread the word about the show. I have about 120 subscribers. I’d love to get more people listening and I need your help to do so. Please just tell someone about the show. Have a talk about collabo-haters and encourage them to check in and listen. I do this podcast as I want to give something back to the professional film community and the more people I have listening the better it will be.

ENDING

Now - I hope I’ve not totally put you off the idea of collaborating - just give you a few words of warning along the way.

In the words of the Indian spiritual master, Amit Ray remember that “Collaboration has no hierarchy. The Sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth."

For now though - take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, watch out for collabo-haters and join me next week on Film Pro Productivity.

  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu
  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website at filmproproductivity.com
  • Please follow the show on Twitter @filmproprodpod or on Facebook @filmproproductivity
  • Or follow my personal accounts on Instagram and Twitter @fight_director
  • Pleas support the show by subscribing, spreading the word and leaving an AWESOME review. Without your help, the show will never find a new audience.

Sources: https://www.smartsheet.com/collaborative-teamwork

https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/bad-coauthors-how-to-avoid-them-and-what-to-do-when-you-have-one/

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/oprah-winfrey-uses-same-3-sentences-to-get-every-meeting-off-to-perfect-start.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucalufZoCYY

Thanks: A Himitsu
 
Music: Adventures by A Himitsu https://www.soundcloud.com/a-himitsu Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b... Music released by Argofox https://www.youtu.be/8BXNwnxaVQE Music provided by Audio Library https://www.youtu.be/MkNeIUgNPQ8 ––– • Contact the artist: x.jonaz@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/ahimitsu https://www.twitter.com/ahimitsu1 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgFwu-j5-xNJml2FtTrrB3A
March 10, 2019  

THE FOUR DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION - Episode 19

 

Today we’ll be delving into a business productivity system called the 4 DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION aka the 4DX which I believe will be applicable to the world of creatives like film pros.

I won’t make this too long an episode as the system is fairly quick to follow but before I go onto it let’s look back at last week’s episode and which talked about Protecting Your Mental Energy.

Mental energy you see is over and above time and money and skills and everything else, IS YOUR MOST FINITE AND VALUABLE ASSET. When you’re mental energy is depleted you are less able to be effective and just one side effect of this is that you can be easily manipulated. Have a listen if you missed it and get protecting your own MENTAL ENERGY. You can thank me later.

ANECTDOTE

In the words of that famous philosopher, LL Cool J, Stay focused - go after your dreams and keep moving toward your goals.

I’ve talked a lot in the show about how focus is important if you want to get things done, and to get things done you really need a strategy, and if you have a strategy it must be designed to work towards your goals.

Today I’m going to discuss how to execute on the strategies which will lead to you achieving your goals. The difficulty we face once a strategy is decided you see is EXECUTION OF THAT STRATEGY or the delivery if you don’t quite follow, your strategy.

I am just about a third of the way through researching, writing and recording this season and I have a plan to get it all done, but it’s a tight and driven schedule of work and life gets in the way really every day. Today I’m slipping as I’m recording this right at the last possible minute. Nothing catastrophic will happen tomorrow but if I continue to miss the scheduled process goals for my main goal, roughly an episode every 4 days then by the time I hit my target date, I’ll be behind by at least a couple of episodes. Now I can pick them up after and the audience won’t really know if I am clever about that, but I have another series of new goals which land on the 1st of March, so if I miss my season 2 launch date it will bang into those goals and they will be put back. If I’m not careful my focus will change from aiming for success to just ensuring that I don’t fail which is a different matter.

There are lots of things messing me up today. Last night I got an unexpected email about the second Dead End film and had to give up time then and again this morning to deal with it and I didn’t sleep well as it was involved. My car is off the road and that’s slowing my schedule too. I’ve scripts to read and communications to make and hoovering and shopping and life, in general, to contend with and come the 11th February I’ll be back shooting at the BBC so my time will shrink even further. In reality, I need to record as many episodes as I can before that date, which at time of recording is just 19 days away, so really one every three days and these things take time – in effect I’ve so much going on that I’m suffocating and my ability to take action is diminishing. My time and energy is getting sucked away.

That situation that struggle of life and work and other things, disconnected from my main goal - is described in the Sean Covey, Chris McChesney and Jim Huling book THE FOUR DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION which calls it THE WHIRLWIND.

When putting together the book they surveyed over 200,000 leaders around the world to find out why they struggle to execute - the answers varied, but the authors realized all their answers had one thing in common. The main reason leaders and teams routinely fail to execute promising strategies and important team goals are because they spend all their energy dealing with the whirlwind.

The FOUR DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION is a system which cuts through that whirlwind of everyday life etc and I’ll be referencing the book throughout today's show. As always I’ll link to it in the show notes with a full transcript.

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LESSON

The book says “The real enemy of execution is your day job! We call it the whirlwind. It’s the massive amount of energy that’s necessary just to keep your operation going on a day‐to‐day basis; and, ironically, it’s also the thing that makes it so hard to execute anything new. The whirlwind robs from you the focus required to move your team forward.” – unquote

And it goes on to say that “The whirlwind is urgent and it acts on you and everyone working for you every minute of every day. The goals you’ve set for moving forward are important, but when urgency and importance clash, urgency will win every time."

Dwight D. Eisenhower said that “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

I‘ll post the image for this in the show notes but he had a priority system which I’ve mentioned on the show before but never actually delved into.

You can only benefit from the Eisenhower Method if you are willing to commit to making radical categorization of your daily tasks. This Method requires that you group your tasks and activities into four priorities, separated in a visual layout. So it’s a box if you can imagine with 4 quadrants.

JJ.jpg

Priority 1 tasks are both urgent and important.

Priority 2 tasks are important but not urgent.

Priority 3 tasks are urgent but not important.

Priority 4 tasks are neither urgent nor important.

And here is how you can handle your tasks based on those Principles.

Important/Urgent quadrant 1 tasks are DO TASKS – Get them done immediately and personally e.g. crises, deadlines, problems. I focus on these important things and take into consideration when they’re due.

Important/Not Urgent quadrant 2 tasks are DECIDE TASKS and are done personally e.g. calling friends and family, researching, planning, gym, strategy.

Unimportant/Urgent quadrant 3 tasks are DELEGATED TASKS e.g. interruptions, meetings, booking flights, some research, possibly some social networking.

Unimportant/Not Urgent quadrant 4 tasks are DELETE TASKS just dropped e.g. time wasters, trivia, spam email, telemarketers, or you could include checking social media or watching TV.

I’ve found that every time I’ve let urgency trump importance, I’ve regretted it. – Unquote, Trent Hamm

So, that’s been a little aside but within what I am talking about here that may turn out to be quite useful. Coming back now to THE FOUR DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION the writers of the book discovered through their interviews that executing a promising idea or important goal amid a raging whirlwind requires discipline.

It requires the discipline to deal with urgent items while remaining focused on what’s important. The sad truth is that this becomes a struggle which is almost always won by the Whirlwind, which dooms your strategy from the beginning.

Why is this? Well, according to the Four Disciplines of Execution methodology, it’s because even the boldest strategy for moving forward won’t have an impact unless you centre it around execution.

In the Whirlwind which is just all of the things, you need to do on a daily basis to keep things chugging along.

They need to get done, but they don’t actually move the needle on your strategy.

This leads to a struggle for attention.

On the one hand, you have this Whirlwind of daily activity that demands your attention.

And on the other, you have the high-priority responsibilities that will ensure your strategy is met.

The Four Disciplines are all about realizing this and putting in place the practices you need to make sure the most important work gets done first.

When combined, these four disciplines will allow you through determined action to achieve their goals on a regular basis.

So what are they? Well, I’m going to refer partly to a summary produced by www.ProductivityGame.com here and combine it in with some more info.

  • Jim Huling says that “Execution starts with focus.” and Jim Rohn said “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” - Discipline #1 is THE DISCIPLINE OF FOCUS. The first discipline requires sustaining the whirlwind at its current level while you advance towards what it calls one WILDLY IMPORTANT GOAL or WIG - W.I.G. A Wildly Important Goal, it actually says one or two but let’s keep it simple –remember the more you try to get done, the lower the odds of success of each of the goals you seek to achieve.

Extraordinary results can only be achieved when you are clear about what matters most.  As simple as this principle may sound, few ever master it. To find your wildly important goal, DON’T ASK: “What’s most important?” If you ask that question, you’ll inevitably focus on the whirlwind because everything in the whirlwind seems important. Instead, ask yourself: “If everything else remained at its current level of performance, what one achievement would make everything else seem secondary?”

In other words, if you didn’t need to worry about anything else for the time being, what one goal would you focus on right now? Try using the Eisenhower matrix if you are having trouble.

And whatever that goal is you must be specific about it. The way they put it is that you must move from X to Y by (insert date here) So as an example again, my current goal is to Launch Season 2 – to get from where I am now as I record this on the 23rd January  and get from the 4 episodes I have recorded already, to 12 episodes recorded by the 24th of February. I have a super clear goal.

The book says “Once you stop worrying about everything else going backwards, you can start moving forward on your WIG.” unquote

  • Discipline 2: MEASURE LEAD BEHAVIOURS. With unlimited time and resources, you could accomplish anything.  Unfortunately, your challenge is usually the opposite. There are two measurements you can focus on while executing: LEAD BEHAVIOUR measurements and LAG RESULT MEASUREMENTS.

Lag result measurements are measurements of the results you want.

Lead behaviour measurements are measurements of the essential or critical day‐to‐day activities that lead to the results you want.

With this podcast, if I create more content (lead behaviour) I’ll get more people listening, and more subscribers. And that’s a (Lag Result)

In sales, for example, more sales calls (lead behaviour) lead to more sales (lag result).

If you‘re learning a new skill, say the functions of a new camera, then the more time spent studying it and using it (lead behaviour) leads to more confidence in working it and faster operation of it (lag result).

Measuring results can be frustrating though because it takes time for your actions to produce measurable results. That’s why they are called lag results. If you measure a value you can’t immediately improve, your willingness to execute will diminish. However, when you focus on a metric you can influence every day or every week, like a lead behaviour, you’ll sustain your level of execution. Seeing daily/weekly signs of

improvements will increase engagement and drive the execution of your WIG. Your WILDLY IMPORTANT GOAL.

  • Discipline 3: KEEP SCORE - Without a scoreboard, you or your team will lose track of your measurements, forget the score, and lose the will to win. Therefore, you need to create a scoreboard that includes your WIG (title), your lag measurements (line chart from left to right), and your lead measurements (bar chart below the lag measurements). I’ll post an example in the show notes.

TH.png

If you’re improving the lead measurement, and that lead measurement is corresponding to improvements in the lag measurement, then you’re winning. It’s suggested you write this up somewhere it can be seen I’ll be trying it out on one of my many whiteboards.

The thing about keeping score is, well think about it in sporting terms. How much more engaged to fans and players get when their goals start to get scored. It really lights a fire to win.

So disciplines 1, 2 and 3 according to Franklin Covey are nothing more than creating a winnable game and discipline 4 is how we play that game.

  • Author Catherine Pulsifer said “at the end of the day we are accountable to ourselves - our success is a result of what we do.” and Discipline 4 is the discipline of accountability. No matter how brilliant your plan or how important your goal, nothing will happen until you follow through with consistent action.  4DX brings the practices that drive accountability and follow through, despite a whirlwind of competing priorities.

The fourth discipline of execution requires setting up weekly accountability meetings with teammates or peers (not bosses or managers) but as a freelancer I suggest you put aside a session per week, I have half an hour on Friday afternoons in my diary, to assess how you are getting on, write up your progress and hold yourself accountable to stay on course. This is half an hour a week where you can also work on your life and career in a period where you are not living and working in it.

Holding regular weekly accountability sessions like this or with people at your level (called WIG sessions) ensures you stay in the game. When you set up reoccurring weekly meetings with teammates or like‐minded peers to discuss your efforts, you strengthen your commitment to execution.

During your WIG sessions (When working in teams these are usually 15‐minute weekly accountability meetings), do three things:

  1. report on last week’s commitment, or write it up if you are an individual,
  2. review the score and describe or detail in writing the actions you took to advance your WIG, and
  3. Commit to a lead behaviour improvement or a specific deliverable for your next week.

SUMMING UP

The book says If you ignore the urgent, it can kill you today. It’s also true, however, that if you ignore the important, it can kill you tomorrow.

I hope that my potted version of the system has been of interest to you and I think it’s a really cool angle to approach getting things done. The book, of course, expands monumentally on the simple principles which I have highlighted here and as I said before, there will be a link to it in the show notes.

I’ll end with a quote from Paul J. Meyer who said that “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

CALL TO ACTION

Your call to action this week is to decide on a WIG or wildly important goal and figure out your X to Y by a specific date. If you are uncertain of your WIG then see if you can cut through that whirlwind of life and work and whatever you have on by applying the Eisenhower matrix to it. Move forward with your strategy towards your WIG and execute using the 4 principles I have detailed here.

ENDING

Next week I’ll be talking about a subject which I am sure will hit a mark with most creatives. It’s a long episode but you’re going to get a lot out of it. The topic will be Bad Collaborations, or Collabo-Haters as I have coined them.

Until then please take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu
  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website at filmproproductivity.com
  • Please follow the show on Twitter @filmproprodpod or Facebook @filmproproductivity or catch me on my personal accounts on Instagram and twitter @fight_director
  • Thanks for supporting the show by subscribing, telling people all about it and forcing them to listen at gunpoint if necessary and please leave an AWESOME review.

Sources: Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEJDliThj7g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADORZuvw9pw

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/separating-the-urgent-and-the-important/Thanks: A Himitsu

 
Music: Adventures by A Himitsu https://www.soundcloud.com/a-himitsu Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b... Music released by Argofox https://www.youtu.be/8BXNwnxaVQE Music provided by Audio Library https://www.youtu.be/MkNeIUgNPQ8 ––– • Contact the artist: x.jonaz@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/ahimitsu https://www.twitter.com/ahimitsu1 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgFwu-j5-xNJml2FtTrrB3A
March 3, 2019  

PROTECTING YOUR MENTAL ENERGY - Episode 18

 

Today I am going to be talking about Mental Energy and why ABOVE ALL THINGS it must be protected. I’ll talk about what it is, how to ensure it isn’t wasted and the huge difference that protecting it will make to your life.

Last week I took on the rather involved topic of DRIVE and really went in depth to talk about what it was and how to find it and move forward. For those of you that have checked it out, I hope that it’s been helpful.

Now I really agonise over the topics which I bring to you here and even change the topic altogether if I feel that it isn’t working. I measure the strength of an episode’s potential in the prep period and as a solo podcaster that means that I apply the lessons to my own life and work and only bring you things which I personally find to be impactful on it. In episode 2 (check it out of you haven’t already) I covered the topic of saying NO, as in my life, adopting that little word, and using it often, has meant that I have been able to take back control. I use it as kind of a shield. I let requests which will not further my goals, or which are not in alignment my values bounce off it so that I can say Yes to the things that really matter.

It’s a simple premise but it will make a monumental difference to your life if you give it a try and the subject that I am talking about today, MENTAL ENERGY AND HOW WE MUST PROTECT IT, is closely linked to it.

ANECTDOTE

One of my favourite tweeters is Isaiah Hankel, and in his awesome book, THE SCIENCE OF INTELLIGENT ACHIEVEMENT he says that “Mental energy is the world’s hottest commodity. People are going to try to steal it, drain it, and suck it up every second you’re awake. Yet very few of us protect it. Few of us know how.”

AMAZON AFFILIATE LINKS

US: https://amzn.to/2VgMR6M 

UK: https://amzn.to/2VfxVG3 

And if it wasn’t for Isaiah and his hashtag of #HARDTALK on twitter I wouldn’t have been able to put a name to this topic at all – He clarified my own opinion and I am eternally grateful to him for that. I am a total fanboy of Isaiah Hankel’s and we will be looking at what he says about all of this shortly.

I’ve been working professionally in film and tv for 24 years now, and during 18 of them, I was caught up in what I will call a FREELANCER FEAR of letting people down or missing out on opportunity. Of not being able to pay my bills because I didn’t get enough work and that FEAR bred a sort of DESPERATION LED drive to be always reliable, to over deliver and to take not only every single paid job that came along but also to help everyone else no matter the cost to my own life or savings or time. I had this deep-set worry that my not being there and ready and willing would mean I let someone down. In the short films that I was making I covered the ass of anyone who was falling behind and tried to anticipate the problems of each and every department because I worried that, in the low budget world in which I was creating these films, that I was somehow unhelpful or might be seen as taking advantage of them and on those films it was ALWAYS MY OWN JOB THAT I came to prep last, and in the end - in day to day life as well as professionally - I stretched myself so thin that eventually, I snapped. And I’ve gone on about this before and don’t want to sound like some sort of martyr, but I snapped because I just never protected my mental energy. I didn’t understand what it was. I didn’t have the skills that I talk about each week on this podcast, all of which can be applied to make your life and work easier. I never had a podcaster (I didn’t know what a podcast was to be fair) telling me to think smart, to protect my mental energy and to say to me – Don’t worry. Everything is going to be alright.

And remember - “Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.” Unquote. – Dale Carnegie

So let me say that to you now. DON’T WORRY I’m here to help. Everything IS going to be alright.

LESSON

To get into this topic and help you understand what exactly I’m on about I must ask you this. Have you ever been asked to do something paid or otherwise and replied I’m sorry - I don’t have time?

If so, great. Learning to say no in action, which I’ll get into later, but can you think of a time when you’ve said no, I don’t have time, but really did? When you had time, but not the energy to get involved?  What I suppose I am saying is have you ever said no and made an excuse or even apologised to someone because you were tired out?

or because you wanted to just watch tv?

or because you just wanted time to yourself?

When you just didn’t have enough headspace to take on new things. It’s not that you didn’t have TIME to help someone, but you just didn’t have the head space. Well, that head-space is the mental energy I’m talking about and it’s YOUR MOST FINITE RESOURCE.

Amy Morin, author of 13 things that mentally strong people DON’T do says that “Wasting brain power ruminating about things you can't control drains mental energy quickly. The more you think about problems you can't solve, the less energy you'll have leftover for more productive endeavours.”

Has your brain ever been so cluttered with unfinished tasks, commitments to other people, grand plans and small ones, regrets of things long past, worries about what other people think or just might think or letting someone down, or with wording the emails you feel you need to reply to, or shopping lists of things to buy, birthdays to remember, and any other thing that gets stuck on your mind, that you feel so fatigued that you just can’t seem to achieve any of it

That’s what happens when you don’t take care of and PROTECT YOUR MENTAL ENERGY. And the end of that journey by the way - is burnout.

I quoted from Isaiah Hankel earlier as it’s his angle on all this that most precisely aligns with my own, and there’s a lot of articles on this subject out there – for me though, the only one that I fully agree with, is Isaiah Hankel because he doesn’t pull his punches.

He says that “Mental energy is YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET. Without it, you won’t have the enthusiasm, motivation, drive, and physical energy to live a full rich life. - The problem is this asset DEPRECIATES RAPIDLY every day.”

And that depreciation comes about through distraction. It’s why I urge you in episode 3 to do a brain dump and prioritize, and get all of your thoughts and tasks and worries out of your head and onto a piece of paper or a whiteboard. It’s why the first major topic of the entire series was about learning to say NO.

The subject of Mental Energy is detailed at length in Isaiah’s excellent book, THE SCIENCE OF INTELLIGENT ACHIEVEMENT, and even that title, you may notice, aligns very closely with The Higher Level Thinking which I encouraged you to adopt right from episode 1.

Isaiah points out that although “People carefully protect the money in their bank account and the time in their calendar, they do little to protect their attention.” And “Attention”, he says “is the gateway to your mental energy. WHERE YOUR ATTENTION GOES, YOUR MENTAL ENERGY FLOWS.”

He also quotes several scientific studies in the book, stating that we only get about an hour and a half to two hours of peak mental energy and five hours or less of “near” peak mental energy each day. For the rest of the day, your mental energy levels are medium to low at best. But don’t worry - The good news is that if you get enough good sleep, your energy replenishes 100%.

So now that we know WHAT IT IS, and how VALUABLE IT IS - I think it is especially valuable if you regard yourself as a creative and are constantly having to come up with new things, and out of the box thinking and solutions, then HOW DO WE STOP IT FROM GETTING AWAY FROM US and GET IT UNDER OUR CONTROL?

“Taking back your mental energy is not a cakewalk. It’s a dogfight.” Says Isaiah Hankel, as it depletes so quickly again each and every day and every DISTRACTION, everything on your mind, will have a pull at it and tear a piece off.

He also reminds us that more often than not you will discover that the direction in which your attention is flowing will be in the direction that suits someone else’s objectives. That’s the battle he is referring to. I go on and on about taking control of your own destiny, and getting control of your mental energy is a major part of that.

You see your brain hates change and it likes distraction. It wants you to stay in this comfort zone of distraction you’ve created, wasting your energy on the wrong things—so it works to keep you there, but you can’t let it linger.

SO HOW CAN WE BEGIN TO SAVE OURSELVES?

Well, we’ve about come full circle as I’m back to using the word NO. If you want to protect your mental energy you need to get back control of your life and start saying no to the things in your life that really don’t matter, and saying NO as I have said before is as much about stopping yourself from saying YES as it is about saying no. You don’t have to say yes to anything that doesn’t further your own dreams or goals, no matter how it may make you feel. You need to shake off the negative connotations of the word and realise that far from being a negative force on your life, the word no is really the most positive.

When you get back a modicum of control in your life by saying no to those things that don’t really matter, you will find yourself with time to consider those things that really do.

  • Isaiah Hankel says about this, and again I’m totally in alignment with him, that you should Set “NO” as your default response. He says “Start rewarding yourself for being selective. Every time you say “no” you get one step closer to achieving TRUE SUCCESS.”
  • He also says that we can protect our mental energy further if we stop “burning through our mental energy on emotional drama and the key to doing this is to learn to walk away from energy draining people.”
  • Now I won’t go fully into this here as later this season I’m doing a whole episode on it but toxic people, Energy Vampires and Negative and Energy draining people—people grow stronger by feeding on your attention, who play the victim and create all kinds of drama to steal away your attention must be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.
  • We can also improve our odds by surrounding ourselves with positive people. Isaiah says to “Find people who energize you and keep you on track towards your goals. Then, hold onto them.” Humans are naturally social people. Building relationships makes us happy and gives us energy. Spend time with people who think positively, and have a lot of energy, and talk in a positive tone. It will make think more positively and give you energy.
  • We can also take on activities which increase our mental energy levels. “Don’t forget to allocate time to friends and family, hobbies, etc. These activities provide excitement and keep you motivated. It seems counter-intuitive, however taking a break from work can actually help you get more work done. Having fun stimulates your brain in a way that improves energy levels.” And I’m going to ask here – is there anything you used to do, even as a child that you now no longer do but wish you did? Why don’t you consider doing it again? Seriously, why don’t you? By using the word NO you have created elbow room to manoeuvre in your life – so re-join that netball team, or make a model aeroplane or go hillwalking or whatever. It’s good for the soul.
  • Also - Keep your mind stimulated but not overworked. Mental challenges will give you energy, but too much may leave you fatigued. Without enough challenge, you may become bored and lethargic. Try learning a new skill to stimulate your mind.

And there are many more things you can do like meditate, or go for a walk etc but my favourite is to

  • Declutter Your Mind – Do the brain dump. Get all of your thoughts on to a blank page or whiteboard – Please go back and listen to episode 3 to find out more about all this. Declutter your mind by delegating, setting reminders, taking notes, and keeping a calendar. Get it out of your brain and assess quickly what is vital and important in it all, what is incomplete and needs to be completed to give your mind a break – These incomplete tasks will really drag you down btw – and what you can completely illuminate.

To avoid making mistakes, and to declutter your mind, keep as much as you can outside of your brain. For example, if you set a meeting with someone, put it in your calendar so you no longer have to remember it. Keep a to-do list. It will enable you to be more present and conscious of what you’re doing in a given moment. Delegate what someone else can do for you. These are all ways in which you can protect your valuable mental energy.

SUMMING UP

“Your mental energy is going to plummet throughout the day, certainly. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s only bad if it’s being wasted on people and activities that are pivoting you away from true success. Be selective and start saving your most valuable resource—mental energy—for the best things in life, not the worst.” Isaiah Hankel

I would normally expand a little on the topic here but as Isaiah said it so well I’ll leave it at that. Well almost – I take grander ideas in these podcasts and focus them down to the essential but there’s something Isaiah points out in the book about having depleted mental energy and I personally think it’s the most important part of all of this.

When your mental energy is depleted you become more easily manipulated and you can find yourself caught up in things that are not in alignment with your goals or your values. You need to be very wary of this happening to you so keep a raised level of awareness in regard to it and be careful out there.

CALL TO ACTION

Your call to action this week is to do a self-assessment. A brain dump to assess what’s there. Use the Prioritizing strategy from Episode 2 to help with this.

  • Firstly illuminate the unimportant.
  • Then look at what you can automate. Emails or weekly shopping for example.
  • Then see what you can delegate – and do it.
  • Next what is down there that you can put off until another day and deliberately procrastinate on it. It’s not important enough right now to take up brain space.
  • And that will leave what is important, and concentrate on that.

Move the details of your important stuff into a diary or an app and keep your brain free of this excess junk. Keep it clean and your mental energy will stay for longer.

And if you’ve done a proper brain dump you’ll see that a lot of the stuff that’s been on your mind is not urgent, and some of it just isn’t even important and you can let all of that go.

And if worry is your problem, I’ll be revisiting that topic later in the series. For now though remember the words of novelist  Arthur Somers Roche who wrote that “Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”

Don’t let worry for things that might never happen, drain your most finite resource. Mental Energy.

ENDING

Thanks again for listening. Please please please spread the word about the show and get more people listening in. I need you to spread the word for me as there’s only so much I can do with no money and social networking. If you do fancy supporting the show btw there’s a direct link to donate on the official website too. It’s at the bottom of each page. It costs about £300 a year to keep it going and at the moment I pay for that myself but as you never know who is listening I thought I’d throw it out there!

Next week I’m delving into the principle of the FOUR DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION. I’ll be talking about how you can have the goals and the plans but if you don’t have a clear means of executing your strategy you can still get stuck in the seeds. The 4DX as it’s known will help you out of that.

Until then please take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, PROTECT THAT MENTAL ENERGY and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

  • The music you can hear right now is Adventures by A Himitsu
  • You can view the show notes for this episode on the official website at filmproproductivity.com
  • Please follow the show on Twitter @filmproprodpod or Facebook @filmproproductivity or catch me on my personal accounts on Instagram and twitter @fight_director
  • Thanks for supporting the show by subscribing, telling people all about it and forcing them to listen at gunpoint if necessary and please leave an AWESOME review.

Sources: https://welldoing.org/article/why-mental-energy-is-your-most-valuable-asset

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJvTloFVqts

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/8067675.Isaiah_Hankel

https://buddhaimonia.com/blog/10-daily-rituals-that-will-increase-your-physical-and-mental-energy

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/15-ways-boost-mental-energy-levels.html

 
Thanks: A Himitsu
 
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