Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Oh, goody! More self-help books

As I'm teaching an afternoon and evening class today, I didn't have to leave for work until 11 am, which is good for two reasons: I didn't have to get up really early and also I was there when the package came.

New self-help books!

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have always had a love affair with self-improvement and teach yourself type books. I blame my Dad and the fact that I went to church. My Dad because he had copies of Pelmanism on the book shelves (which I found and of course read). I also noticed how he taught himself things like astronomy and philosophy from books. And of course the minister and the Sunday school teachers were always telling me that instructions for living a fulfilled and worthwhile life could be found in the Bible. :)

Anyway, as a result I am a sucker for How To books, both about writing and anything else. I have always felt that if only I could find the right book, I'd have the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything and I would become a calm, organised, brave, efficient and wise person -- and a best selling novelist to boot.

Now, conventional wisdom would tell me that this is just not going to happen. And no, it's not. Not in one huge road to Damascas blinding light changing one's life kind of way, but there are some books that do work and do in fact have changed my life, even if it's only in tiny increments. If I get one valuable insight from a book, I feel it was worth reading. It's like being given one more piece in the jigsaw. Each piece I acquire takes me another tiny step closer to being the person I want to be, living the life I want to live.

So this morning I acquired Self-editing for writers and Do It Tomorrow.

I've only had a quick glance at Do It Tomorrow, but I feel it may turn out to be the vital companion to Getting Things Done. The GTD method works brilliantly -- up to a point. I use it to organise my work and having a Next Action Sheet rather than a To Do List is helpful. As is grouping tasks by kind and/or where they have to be done. It's so much easier to sit down thinking, "I'll make some phone calls," and finding then grouped together rather than scattered randomly throughout the list. However… I still procrastinate badly on things that aren't required by another person.

Or using Mark Forster's terminology, I suck at Thought, Decision, Action. Actually, I'm brilliant at the Thought and Decision part, it's the Action bit where I often stick. I operate almost entirely in Stimulus, Response mode. I am brilliant at Stimulus, Response, but just not very good at acting without something pushing me.

No time to ponder this now as this is long enough and I need to go shopping to buy coffee and some apples for the still life for this evening. (The apples are for the still life, not the coffee. That's for G.) But I will probably muse about this some more tomorrow, especially if the book actually does prove useful in teaching me how to act rather than simply react.
Tags: procrastination gtd

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