Month: January 2016

Is Anxiety Stopping You from Getting Stuff Done?

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Emotions, emotions, emotions…

Yes, your emotional state can effect your productivity. If you are overwhelmed with a high level of stress, you may put off completing tasks to check Facebook or watch one episode of your favourite Netflix series. This may seem like a small amount time, but this distraction is a powerful emotional coping mechanism, says Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. If you don’t think you can face the challenge, you may choose to avoid it with activities that are more fun.

Netflix = Fun!

but may not be the best way to get stuff done

I am the BIGGEST advocate of balance, so I am not saying that you should not check Facebook or watch Netflix, just plan for it in your time. Know yourself and what happens when you choose the distraction before the work. I know that if I lie to myself and say, “I will just watch one episode and then get started”, I won’t get anything done. Work first play later, reward yourself after the work is my advice, but still do both 🙂

Oh yeah, it’s that time again.

PsychNerd Time! 

Brain Nerd

Did you know that the simple act of forgiving yourself can help you to move past procrastination? I know! So simple!

Researchers, Wohl et al. (2010), wondered if self-blame may be counter-productive. They studied students preparing for mid-term exams and wondered if there was any truth to the notion of letting ourselves off easy led to even more procrastinations. NOPE! they found the opposite!

“Forgiveness allows the individual to move past their maladaptive behaviour and focus on the upcoming examination without the burden of past acts to hinder studying”

Forgiveness starts with acceptance and understanding. Why are you procrastinating? Are you worried about not knowing what to do? Do you feel that you may not be able to complete the task well? Ask yourself why you are avoiding the work. No, you are not a bad person, you are actually trying hard to cope with a difficult situation. Good work! Let’s learn how to cope in a way that also allows you to get your work done so that you can feel better 🙂

Have You Heard About Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

This therapeutic method could offer you some insight into how your thoughts effect your feelings and your behaviour. Part of the CBT process is to identify unhelpful patterns of thinking. For example, someone might only notice the negative things that happen to them and not notice the positive things. Or, someone might set unrealistic standards for themselves, such as “making mistakes is unacceptable.” Your thoughts can effect your emotions which then can shape your behaviours. It’s important to identify unhelpful behaviours that maintain procrastination, such as avoiding certain situations and withdrawing from others. What are the thoughts that lead to these emotions and behaviours?

Well…here is a guide to help!

10 Unhelpful Thinking Patterns

Here is the list of 10 Common Unhelpful Thinking Patterns that human beings experience. Yes, we all experience one or more of these patterns at some point in our lives. The work is in the ability to recognize the pattern and balance the thought to make it more realistic.

Try This Today!

  1. Read over the “Labelling Your Thoughts” resource.
  2. Highlight the thought patterns that you recognize in yourself.
  3. Try to notice when you are thinking this way (hint: your emotional state can tell you that you are thinking in an unhelpful way).
  4. Ask yourself, “is this true?” or “am I only seeing the negative side?” or “am I using Emotional Reasoning and not checking in with my rational thoughts?
  5. See if this changes how you feel in the moment.

Understanding why you are procrastinating can help you to forgive yourself and move on to more productive ways of coping.

Video Break

Instead of procrastinating with Netflix, try watching this video instead. At least you are learning something new that can help with your procrastination!

Matt Cutts offers this short, lighthearted TedTalk that can offer you new ways to think about setting and achieving goals. Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven’t? He suggests that you try it for 30 days.

  3 Inspiring Pieces of Advice for Today…

  1. Never stop being curious about what you are made of. Take on those challenges.
  2. Please take risks! If you win you will be happy; if you lose you will be wise. There is no negative outcome when you push yourself 🙂
  3. “What you think you become; what you feel you attract; what you imagine you create” Buddha


Inner Strength.jpg






Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success




Procrastination: Dealing with Setbacks

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Setbacks, oh those experiences that make you just want to quit. I have had many. You may feel ashamed, angry, hurt, confused or think that there is something wrong with you. Today, I want to talk a little about ways to avoid getting derailed by setbacks.

Setbacks can lead to procrastination in the form of avoidance. Wanting to avoid repeating that painful experience. First, please know that the process of overcoming procrastination WILL involvThe harder you falle relapses. Since it is impossible to avoid a failure or two, the key is bouncing back and pushing forward. When you do relapse, take time to reflect on the reasons for it and use that insight to improve.

Reflect: What do you want? Is this goal important to you? Why? What would it mean in your life if this goal was achieved? Are you willing to work through this difficult time for this goal?

Sometimes we procrastinate after a failed test, a receiving a grade that is lower that you where hoping for or had a social situation go badly. If we don’t take the time to address this, it hangs around, and not in a good way. You may start seeing yourself in a negative light and make that perception a part of your self-worth. Please don’t! You are not defined by “the failure” (if that’s what you want to call it), you are define by how you bounce back. This is an opportunity to learn. Take it on!

Find the magic in these life experiences.


The Fringe Benefits of Failure with J.K. Rowling

At her Harvard commencement speech, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling offers some powerful, heartening advice to dreamers and overachievers, including one hard-won lesson that she deems “worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”

If anyone knows something about magic, it is the amazing author of the Harry Potter book and movie series. Check out her Harvard Commencement speech to explore the magic that can come from failure, gain a new perspective, make a plan and confront that procrastination!

PsychNerd! Oh Yeah!

Brain Nerd


Perfectionism and coping with daily failures: positive reframing helps achieve satisfaction at the end of the day. Stoeber & Janssen, 2011

These researchers found some pretty interesting techniques that people successfully used to cope with disappointment and setbacks.

  • Acceptance – well it is what it is….yes, that happened! Ok, so now what?
  • Positive reframing – looking for the positives anywhere you can, perhaps by looking at what has been done rather than what hasn’t. What you did well and where you can go from here.
  • Humour – there is humour, even when it seems hopeless. This one is a tough one, but make an effort to find a funny perspective.


You could choose to feel worse by using these common strategies for feeling like crap: (btw, feeling like crap takes away all of your motivation and ability to persist through difficult).

  • Self-blame – “I am hopeless, stupid, horrible…”
  • Denial – “It was all their fault, they wanted me to fail”.
  • Venting – focusing on the negative experience, ignoring the upside, or what went well. Yes, it was a negative experience, but that is not the whole perspective.
  • Behavioural disengagementin other words: moping, sulking, being a baby…

One of the researchers, Professor Joachim Stoeber, gave some great advice: 

“It’s no use ruminating about small failures and setbacks and drag yourself further down. Instead it is more helpful to try to accept what happened, look for positive aspects and, if it is a small thing, have a laugh about it.”


Rock Bottom JK Rowling


Yes, setbacks are hard. I know this well. You have a choice in how you bounce back. My advice is to accept it, re-frame it (look at some of the positive aspects), make a plan going forward (keep your momentum) and don’t let procrastination get a hold of you in these difficult moments.

This is one of the emotional reasons that can lead to procrastination, the fear of trying again and the shame associated with the setback. You learn so much in these moments, take on the challenge, get moving and see what you are made of 🙂

I am not giving any advice that I am not currently using myself….



Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD


Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Procrastination: Run After that Little Time Thief and Tackle it!

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Thief Procrastination

Scientists define procrastination as the voluntary delay of an action despite foreseeable negative future consequences. It is opting for short-term pleasure or mood at the cost of the long-term outcome. 

Yup, that sounds about right. It’s the “feel good now” philosophy 🙂

We can talk forever about Goal Setting Strategies and still find that something gets in the way of our goals. Sometimes that problem is goal clarity. It is very important to have a pretty clear idea of the direction you are heading and why you even want to achieve that goal. The “why” really helps in the painful times, because really, who EVER “feels like” doing anything that is hard. Not me…EVER!


There is a strong partnership between Time Management skills and Emotional Self Awareness (Emotion Regulation) which seems to be the magical combination in goal attainment.

Emotions…sigh….sometimes a super difficult task to understand those pesky little creatures! I know…oh how I know!

My awesome husband describes the process of doing something extraordinarily difficult as pulling a hat out of a rabbit. That always makes me giggle 😉 In this spirit, to get better at tackling procrastination we need to build strong Time Management and Emotion Regulation strategies. Even though working through difficult things seems so overwhelming, these are the times that define us. It is when I have persevered, when I have moved toward the goal even though I did not feel like doing anything, or thought that it was impossible, that I found out what I was made of.

“We are who we are, in the tough times”

~Me, I say this all the time


When I was younger, procrastination was a very real problem for me that had a very detrimental effect on my self-concept. I would often get most tasks done, in the end, after a complete freak out and panic; but often did not produce the best result in the end. Yes, I handed in crap, embarrassing crap, as a student, at times…ugh…




Psych-Nerd Time AGAIN!

Brain Nerd

Did You Know?

  • Emotion-regulation strategies and visions of the future self are the key ingredients in tackling procrastination (Rosenthal, 2015, Stockholm University).
  • People who procrastinate are  “giving in to feel good,” Dr. Pychyl (Carlton University Procrastination Research Group). Check out his free podcast series!
  • Chronic procrastination isn’t actually linked to perfectionism, but rather to impulsiveness, which is a tendency to act immediately on urges, according to Dr. Piers Steel, an organizational-behavior professor at the University of Calgary.
  • The mental-health effects of procrastination are well-documented: Habitual procrastinators have higher rates of depression and anxiety and poorer well-being. Dr. Fuschia Sirois, a psychology professor at the University of Sheffield, in England.
  • Non-procrastinators better envision and connect with their future selves. Dr. Fuschia Sirois


So, since procrastination is not linked to perfectionism, but rather impulsiveness, use anxiety as a “cue” to get started while combating Temporal Myopia (TM) at the same time!


Seriously, look up what TM is! Super nerdy, but so true, and curable.


Try This Out Today…

Specific Goal Setting: break down long-term goals into smaller, more concrete sub-goals. Instead of saying that you are going to work on a paper on Tuesday, be specific and divide it into manageable sub-goals: “I am going to work on a paper for one hour at 11 a.m”.

Create a Vison: Imagine yourself achieving your goal, how do you feel? Can you “see” yourself in this new accomplished version of yourself? If not, take some time and imagine yourself achieving this goal. If you can’t, maybe this is not the right goal for you. If you can see yourself achieving this goal, expand the vision further by asking the following questions:

  • How will I feel when I complete this task?
  • Does this task help me in the future? If so, how?
  • How do I feel when I break the task down into smaller goals? Less anxious?
  • Is this goal mine or is it someone else’s goal for me?


Career Direction procrastination

Are you are not following your passion?

…here is something to consider…








When I was working on my Bachelor of Science (BSc) at the University of Alberta, I found myself spending so much more time on my Psychology homework than my Chemistry, Physics and Biology. I would read my Psych stuff before going out to the pub with my friends on a Friday night….Hmmmmm….nerdy I know, but I absolutely love this psych-stuff! This may be why you are procrastinating.


light_bulb_clip_art_7801.jpgMy Advice Today

You: “But I don’t feel like doing it!”

Me: “Do what is right, not what is easy”.



Next week, let’s start working on

Emotion Regulation to combat procrastination.

Let’s pull a rabbit out of a hat!

I love hearing about what works for you! 

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


More Stuff that is Cool

Wall Street Journal (August 2015): Stop Procrastinating, Start by Understanding the Emotions Involved

2013: Procrastination and the Priority of Short-Term Mood Regulation: Consequences for Future Self 

Rozental, A., Forsell, E., Svensson, A., Andersson, G. and Carlbring, P. (2015)  Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy for procrastination: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol 83(4), 808-824


Want to Reach Your 2016 Goals? Make Gratitude Your Buddy

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Happy New Year!

As we head into 2016, most people start setting goals for the year, or at least start thinking about what changes they would like to make in their lives. The mindset of “Yay! Fresh start!” permeates the air. I love a good ol’ fresh start myself. This year I want this fresh start, this opportunity for growth, to be a successful one for me. So, I have decided that gratitude is the best starting point for me.

It’s-the-journey-that-brings-us-happiness-not-the-destination.My own observation is that most goals tend to have a back story; a search for happiness. Who doesn’t want that?!?! Happiness means different things to everyone; however the most important aspect of the search for happiness is your perception. Happiness is not a destination, it is a process. Sounds cheesy, I know, but think about it, if you wait until the moment that you have “made it”, there is a chance that you will not feel like you had expected. What if you are waiting for something that doesn’t happen all at once? What if you missed all the little “wins” along the way? If you want to achieve your goals this year, start shifting your perspective from happiness being an “end game” to it being a journey or a process. Way better than waiting for that one magical moment! 🙂

Take the time to notice the infusions of happiness in even the smallest moments in your life. Let’s balance those thinking patterns with some positive perspectives and create an upward spiral of positive emotions! (Garland, Fredrickson, Kring, Johnson, Meyer & Penn, 2010 – Full Article)

Squeeze a little gratitude into the process and you will notice that a little happiness creeps in. When we feel positive emotions, we tend to be more motivated to persist. Simple formula: Happiness = Motivation to work on your goals. So, since goals are very important to our personal empowermAttitude of Gratitudeent, success and happiness; we need to add a little gratitude “fuel” to get us there.

I have learned so much from students who have fled difficult circumstances around the world. Most notably, the power of human beings to overcome, to persevere and to do so much more than “just survive”… being able to thrive and flourish after horrible experiences. Gratitude seems to be the common theme.

It’s my favourite time

…Psych-Nerd Time!

Brain Nerd

Research conducted by Emmons & McCullough (2003), divided research participants into two groups: “Hassles” and “Gratitude” groups. One group was told to focus on the hassles (negative) in their life by recording 5 weekly hassles and the other group was to focus on gratitude (positive) by recording 5 weekly things they were grateful for. The following is what they found:

People in the “Gratitude Group”…

  • showed a 25% increase in happiness
  • were more optimistic about the future
  • felt better about their lives
  • did almost 1.5 hours more exercise a week than those in the Hassles Group.

Yes! gratitude sets your mind to “success mode” so you can fit into your pants again 😉

I can’t help myself…

One More Psych-Nerdy thing !

  • Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson (2005) carried out a pretty cool study. They had participants do a simple gratitude exercise every day for a week. The participants were then asked to continue this practice on their own. The researchers followed up with the participants 6 months after and found that the group that participated in this simple gratitude exercise were happier and less depressed than the other group.

Try it out!


The Gratitude Exercise

Convinced by the research? Well, even if you’re not, the beauty of this exercise is that it’s so easy that it shouldn’t even be called exercise. All you need is enough time – as little as two minutes – to think of three things that you are grateful for: things that benefit you and without which your life would be poorer. It can be anything, big or small. Then, if you’ve got time, you can think about the causes for these good things. Write it down. And that’s it!

upward_spiralThe danger is that this exercise seems so trivial that you may think that it isn’t worth doing. But consider this: people are constantly worrying about things they don’t have or things that haven’t happened, consequently they rarely take stock of the beneficial things that they do have and good things that have already happened. If it’s possible for even the simplest negative thought to provoke a change in mood, then why not a positive grateful thought as well?

Spiral Upwards!

Video Snack Time!

The one thing all humans have in common is that each of us wants to be happy, says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar. And happiness, he suggests, is born from gratitude. An inspiring lesson in slowing down, looking where you’re going, and above all, being grateful.


Thank you so much for a wonderful 2015!

I am very grateful for all of your kind words, suggestions, questions, comments and participation. I look forward to what 2016 brings!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

Counsellor * eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success


Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389 [Full text PDF].