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99's On the Go
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Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2014 Brian Remer
Updated Nov. 2014
99's on the 9th
based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.
Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.
Kate was stuck in her writing and stuck in the snow. Her words fell like slush and the wet, heavy snow outside made her back ache. But the walk had to be shoveled. Grumbling under her breath, she dug into the snow again.
Then she noticed the gently drifting snowflakes and crisp, silent air. She took a deep breath of winter, chose to be present in the moment, and felt her body relax.
With the rhythm of physical work, she entered a state of flow and finished quickly - gaining new ideas for her writing in the process!
You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.
There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.
Is this 99-Word Story really about procrastination - and is procrastination all that bad? Kate new the snow could wait until the next morning but her writing deadline could not! Yet by briefly avoiding a tough task, she not only enjoyed the peace of a winter snowfall but also gained inspiration for her writing.
The field of psychology sees procrastination as a negative condition to be overcome. Some psychologists cite our preference for pleasurable activities as a reason to put off the drudgery of what we have to do. Others theorize that we cope with anxiety about doing a task by avoiding it. And still others think that we put off tasks in order to enjoy the thrill of working under pressure at the last minute.
All my life I've heard reprimands for my procrastination. Yet it wasn't until I became a busy adult that I realized that it's not a bad choice - unless you don't realize you have chosen it.
In every example I have experienced or observed, procrastination (not doing what you think you should be doing) is really the result of an underlying cause which is unrelated to laziness, disinterest, bad habits, or deep psychological flaws. Instead, procrastination causes fit a few categories:
- Priority - Maybe the task is important to you but not to me!
- Size - The project is so big I can't imagine finishing it so why start now?
- Complexity - The assignment is like an octopus with so many tentacles I can't grab one to get started.
- Skill Level - I don't know what to do or how to do it (usually involving power tools).
- Energy - I'm tired and can't do more right now (easily misinterpreted as laziness).
When I've been able to analyze my inactivity in one of these ways, the ice breaks and I've been able to shovel through the drifts of work.
If it's a problem of misaligned priorities I can refocus and determine whose concern is really most urgent.
For size and complexity, I'll start with the most obvious. Take a small step, do anything, keep moving, and chip away at the big task until it has been shaved down to a manageable size. (By the way, this is great for writing. I have rechecked the spelling, and tweaked the formatting, font, and color of this article a number of times. These actions are not writing but they have to be done anyway so I've accomplished something while waiting for my muse!)
If the impasse is a result of my lack of skill or energy, I can stop complaining that I don't know how or that I am too tired and ask for the help I need.
Procrastination can certainly lead to bad results. And for some folks, its cause has very deep roots. (I know a woman who paid two months extra rent and lost her security deposit because she couldn't get around to moving out of her apartment!) But for most of us, a simple recognition of the issue can point to solutions that make us more productive without imposing an unnecessary layer of self-loathing.
Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.
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