Psychological Self-Help

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involves setting aside time each day to play, to socialize, to
exercise, and to have free time for relaxation. Charles Garfield
(1989) in Peak Performance says productive people need to
take vacations and play (without guilt)! Insist on your fun. 
Turn worries and self-doubts into assets by asking (a) What is
the worst possible outcome? (b) What would I do if the worst
happened? How would I carry on? (c) What strengths and skills
do I have that would help me cope? How will I forgive myself
for messing up? (d) What alternative plans could I develop for
having a good life? (e) Can I do things now to help avoid this
awful outcome I fear? (f) Having prepared for the worst, how
can I use my worries to prepare to become stronger and more
capable? This kind of planning helps us face the inevitable risks
that lurk ahead for all of us. 
Fiore suggests a unique scheduling system. Schedule your fixed
hours (classes, meetings, meals, etc.) and your play time.
That's all, no work! Make the playing mandatory, not the work.
Focus only on starting to work, not on putting in hour after
hour each day. If you start a project and concentrate on it for
30 minutes, record this on your schedule... and give yourself a
reward. Start as many 30 minute work periods as you can. The
idea is to build the habit of frequently getting to work and to
build the desire to work. Work becomes more enjoyable when it
isn't seen as hard, boring, endless chores that have to be done. 
Other methods are prescribed: a calendar based on when
projects are due, a set of realistic goals, an approach to work in
a relaxed state of concentration, and a quick, optimistic
response to setbacks. In the final analysis being motivated and
productive is a result of liking yourself. Thus, building
confidence and self-respect is at the heart of this program. 
A couple of other self-help books focus on overcoming serious self-
doubt and fears that lead to procrastinating or blocking (Sykes, 1997;
Boice, 1996). Blocking often involves delay and panic and is especially
likely to happen when the finished product involves an evaluation or
public scrutiny, such as a term paper or a book. 
A different approach to escaping the unpleasant internal critic is
taken by White (1988), who says that a behavioral approach, such as
teaching time management or study skills to this kind of
procrastinator, often increases his/her resistance to work rather than
helps. White helps her students understand the unconscious mental
struggles that often underlie perfectionistic procrastination. She asks
them to imagine certain internal parts (common in children from
perfectionistic families), such as "the NAG," "the CRITIC," and "the
CHILD." The nag constantly reminds you of what must be done. The
critic tells you that you'll mess it up or look foolish or be rejected. The
child tries to get you to avoid the threatening, unpleasant work ("I
don't want to. You can't make me!") by seeking fun ("Let's party! Turn
on the music and where's the beer?"). As the child runs away, the nag
shouts orders, and the critic attacks even more. A miserable existence!
Sometimes, the perfectionistic procrastinator is pretty successful even
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