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Hip Hip Hooray for Rummage Sale Day

Posted By Melissa McKenzie, Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Updated: Monday, April 3, 2017

PAMP members and non-members spent this past Sunday (Mar. 19) finding deals at the 2017 PAMP Rummage Sale.

Held at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto, at least 200 people came out to shop for previously loved children’s toys and games, maternity and kid’s clothes, household items and baby gear.

PAMP-member volunteer Ashwini Parsana has volunteered at the Rummage Sale for the past three years, taking advantage of the incentive to get in early.

“I’ve been part of PAMP for three years and I volunteer for every Rummage Sale,” she said. “It’s a great incentive that we get to shope early if we volunteer and it’s a great way to meet new parents. When you’re volunteering you get to socialize a little, you get to shop a little. I just enjoy it every year.”

Volunteers got access 15 minutes prior to the doors opening at 8:30 a.m. and some, like Ashwini, knew exactly what they were looking for. 

“I found lots of books and toys and clothes,” she said, noting that in addition to shopping for her daughter, she was searching for things for her sister, who recently had a baby.

There was “tons of stuff and tons of age groups and varieties,” she said, adding that there was “something for everyone.”

PAMP’s next event is Spring Fun Day at the Farm on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Click here for more information or to register.

Tags:  events  pamp events  rummage sale 

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Spring Fun Day at the Farm Coming Soon

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring has sprung! Days are getting longer and the weather is warming. For PAMP kids, it means more time outside and more fun in the sun.

PAMP is kicking off spring with its annual Spring Fun Day at the Farm. This year, due to its popularity, PAMP is upping the ante with a third farm day.

Always held at Pastorino Farms, 12391 San Mateo Road in Half Moon Bay, come on out to ride a pony, pet furry farm friends, take a trip on the farm train, jump in the bounce house and enjoy the flower and gift shop all while spending time with other PAMP families and friends.

We’ll provide a selection of snacks – granola bars, fruit chews, cookies, crackers and chips – as well as bottled water, but encourage you to bring a lunch and relax at the Pastorino Farms picnic tables. It will be a fun-filled day for everyone.

As a must-see event, make sure to sign up for $10 per PAMP member family. Invite your friends too! Non-PAMP members can snag a spot for $25. Register today as spots fill up quickly and you won’t want to miss out!

Pastorino Farms is only 30 minutes from the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area. Come and enjoy all of the great activities and spend time with fellow PAMP members. The event starts at 10am, but you’re welcome to come up at any time and spend as much or as little time as you want. Children of all ages are welcome.

Want to get in for free? The best way to get in on the fun without paying is to volunteer. We’re looking for volunteers to help out at the event. Interested? Email volunteer@pampclub.org.

 

Tags:  events  fun day at the farm  pamp events  spring 

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Study: Babies Injured by Nursery Items Every 8 Minutes

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A study published in the Pediatrics journal this week said that more than 66,000 children under the age of three find themselves in the emergency room for accidents involving nursery products.

Averaging out to one emergency visit every eight minutes, the study examined emergency room data over the period of January 1991 through December 2011, with nursery product-related injuries jumping nearly 25 percent over the study’s final eight years.

The most common injury was a fall and the most common culprits were baby carriers (20 percent), cribs/mattresses (19 percent) and strollers (17 percent). In a whopping 81 percent of cases, injuries affected the child’s head, face or neck.

New safety standards in June of 2011 make cribs made prior to then no longer compliant and parents are encouraged not to use used car seats because there is no way to track if the safety system had been involved in an accident. Further, the study suggests parents use the four Rs of safety: research, check for recalls, register the product and read the entire manual. Recall information can be found at www.recalls.gov. Read more at USA Today.

Tags:  emergency room  study 

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Come Out For a Family Day of Fun at Parents Place April 23

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring has sprung and the warmer weather and longer days are upon us, which means active toddlers will be itching to get outside and stretch their legs. They’ll want to run, jump and wear their moms and dads out. What better way to let them burn some energy than to attend a trusted event where they can play and you can mingle.

The Third Annual Parents Place Family Fun Day will let you do just that. Held this year on Sunday, April 23 at Parents place, 200 Channing Ave. in Palo Alto, the Parents Place Family Fun Day is a great opportunity for families with young children to “bounce in our toddler fun zone, rock out to live music, nibble on tasty treats and play at one of the many children’s activity tables.”

Not only that, but Parents Place is offering free childcare throughout the day, giving parents the change to pop into one of the event’s 20-minute mini-workshops on topics such as mindfulness and surviving tantrums.

“At Parents Place, what we do is driven by our love for children,” says Parents Place on the Peninsula Director Karen Friedland-Brown. “We are thrilled to open our doors to the community on Family Fun Day and help make parenting a little easier for everyone.”

The event was designed with nap schedules in mind. Although the event will run from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Family Fun Day’s events were planned to allow parents to miss the beginning, middle or end of the event. Parents Place even has a lactation room for pumping or nursing moms.

Sponsored by Jefunira Camp, Kidizens and Burgess Pediatrics, Family Fun Day is offered free for all families that means kids can bounce in the bounce house, play in the Lego booth, blow bubbles or get their face painted all day long. Snacks will be available for purchase, but don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Families are encouraged to register prior to the event here

Tags:  family fun day  free event  parents place 

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Report: 1.7 Million Children Die Each Year from Pollution

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Updated: Monday, March 6, 2017

In heartbreaking news, the World Health Organization is reporting that more than 1.7 million children under the age of 5 die every year from the effects of pollution, including second-hand smoke, dirty water, poor sanitation, inadequate hygiene and indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Released on Mar. 6, the report, “Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment,” analyzes how polluted environments are connected to the most common causes of death among children across the world (maladies include: diarrhea, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, malaria and pneumonia).  

The report states pollution problems can begin in the womb but stresses that the health issues are preventable. Further, the report breaks down the numbers, reporting that 570,000 children under 5 die from respiratory illnesses and infections (pneumonia caused by air pollution and second-hand smoke), 361,000 die from diarrhea resulting from not having access to clean water and poor sanitation and hygiene, 270,000 die before they reach one month old, 200,000 deaths are caused by malaria and 200,000 children die from injuries related to hazardous environments, which includes poisonings, falls and drowning.

Countries with high rates of infant and toddler mortalities are almost exclusively poverty-stricken and either under- or- over-industrialized. One over-industrialized country of note is China, where environmental protections are still in their infantile stages. To compare, urban areas of child average 61.83 micrograms of air pollution – small enough to enter the bloodstream through the lungs – per cubic meter of air, while urban areas in the United States average 8.51 micrograms.

In the US, the growing concern comes from electronic waste from mobile phones and other devices that are not properly discarded. The chemicals released from electronic items are linked to lower IQs, attention deficits, lung damage and cancer and is expected to increase by 19 percent by 2018. Proper recycling is key to curbing the problem before it becomes an epidemic.

Read the full story here.

Tags:  pollution  study 

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Choosing the Right CPR Class For New Parents in the San Francisco Bay Area

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 7, 2017

If you’re pregnant or recently given birth, you’re well aware that baby safety involves learning many new skills. One of those skills is how to do infant and child CPR. You may be asking yourself who teaches CPR classes in the Bay Area and which class is the right one for me? What follows is a guide for finding and choosing the right CPR class for new and expecting parents in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Finding The Right Class

As a new parent learning CPR, your focus should be on finding the best class. Many CPR classes offer a certification card, but this is usually irrelevant for new parents. Most people who get a CPR certification need to fulfill a requirement for their job or a government regulatory agency. Because a class offers a certification in CPR, doesn’t mean the class has better content than a non-certification class.

There are several parenting centers and hospitals around the Bay Area offering infant and child CPR classes as well as baby products and other helpful classes for expecting and new parents. Most of these classes will not certify you in CPR. California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, DayOne (several locations) and Birthways in Berkeley are a few of the best, but there are several more.

If you don’t need to be CPR certified there are instructors who can customize a class to focus on the safety topics important to you. For example, you may want to learn infant and child CPR and respond to choking emergencies (which should always be part of a CPR class), but also want to learn how to respond to allergic reactions and treat wounds. It can be worth the effort to find an instructor that will teach you the class you want. Many of these instructors will travel to your home or business or set up a private class for you at their facility. Most require a minimum number of students to have a class, often six people. Some do not require a minimum, including my company, In Home CPR, Sonoma Health in Santa Rosa, and CPR Education in Walnut Creek.

CPR Certifications

Many of the CPR classes offered in the Bay Area also come with a certification. If you decide you want to be CPR certified, the two best-known organizations offering certification classes are the American Red Cross (ARC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Both organizations’ CPR certifications are valid for two years and cover how to respond to choking emergencies.

The ARC offers community CPR classes at their training centers, with many locations throughout the Bay Area. The ARC is divided into two offices serving the Bay Area: ARC Bay Area (cities north of Santa Clara county) and ARC Silicon Valley. Visit the ARC website to find a list of current classes and locations. The ARC breaks their classes into infant, child and adult CPR. Infants are defined as one year and younger; children are from one year to puberty.

The American Heart Association has relationships with private companies who teach their Bay Area CPR classes. The easiest way to find a class is to use Google or visit the AHA website and use their “class connector”. AHA CPR classes teach adult, child and infant CPR; they do not specifically focus on infants and children.

I also recommend taking a pediatric first aid course. The AHA has a comprehensive course designed for childcare workers, but it’s all material a parent should know. It covers topics such as bleeding, asthma, allergic reactions, seizures, drowning, burns, bites and stings, sprains and broken bones, and choking emergencies.

Chris Schlesinger’s company, In Home CPR, teaches First Aid and CPR classes at the homes of new and expecting parents throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about In Home CPR at http://inhomecpr.com.

Tags:  Chris Schlesinger  classes  cpr 

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Meet PAMP's New Events Manager

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Although PAMP event manager Iris Safar just started with the organization in January, she already has planned and executed PAMP’s first ever Funtastic Winter Arts & Crafts Day event and is playing a large part in organizing the upcoming Rummage Sale as well as smaller events, including organizing catering, activities, decorating and ensuring each event is comfortable for both parents and children alike.

A Bay Area native, Iris resides in Saratoga and says her favorite part of her job is seeing kids having fun and parents mingling at PAMP events. “At PAMP, I mostly like the energy of kids and their amusement and curiosity about EVERYTHING. It’s adorable and helps me remember to enjoy life like kids do,” she says. Going forward she wants to “make sure all events are always organized, well-planned and logistically flow well.”

Despite having minimal knowledge of PAMP before applying, Iris says she was impressed with the organization after doing some additional research and excited about the opportunity to help create meaningful memories for PAMP families.

In addition to being an avid yogi and certified hot yoga instructor, Iris is passionate about skincare and beauty, running an Instagram blog – just for fun - called “Beauty and the Buddah.” She enjoys being aunty to her friend’s children and as a child loved Saturday morning cartoons like the Jetsons, Flintstones and Nickelodeon classic shows such as Doug and Rugrats. 

Tags:  events  pamp events  pamp profile 

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Study: Moms are Sleep Deprived

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

In probably the least surprising news of the week, a new survey conducted at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University found that women with children living at home are more sleep-deprived and more tired than their childless counterparts.

The data utilized a nationwide telephone survey of more than 5,800 men and women, asking them how long they slept each night. Seven to nine hours was considered optimal sleep, while less than six hours was considered lacking. Participants also reported how many days they felt tired throughout the past month.

The findings showed that women with young children reported tiredness three more days per month (14 compared to 11) than women without children at home. Of the nearly 3,000 women surveyed under 45, the only linking factor of insufficient sleep was the presence of children.

Women not working and those with a higher household income reported more sleep than those who stayed at home and have lower income families. Women with younger children (newborn to 3) got less sleep than mothers with children aged 3 to 6.

The most interesting finding, however, was that men with children reported no difference in sleep patterns than men without children. But, before you start condemning your husband for his “extra” sleep, research showed that men with and without children, in general, got less sleep than women.

The research will be shared in an April presentation at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Boston. Read the full article here. 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Toddler Discipline

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

So you’ve got yourself a little toddler there – good times. Dana Carvey once quipped “They’re not so bad, just keep M&M’s in your pocket and feed ’em here and there.” If only it were so easy. What makes them so terrible sometimes? That answer is not as mysterious as it sometimes seems (e.g., in the eye of a tantrum at Target checkout). Think about it – right now while you’re calm and not tantrumming back at them. What are they grappling with that we have learned and hence take for granted? Two things: they don’t know how to communicate yet and they don’t know how to manage the overwhelming emotions they’re experiencing for the first time. Wouldn’t that make you want to freak out?

Well, the next time your toddler does, take solace in the fact that you have choices on how to react. What’s more, if you make the “right” choices, they’re gonna’ freak out less and less. I’m going to elaborate but first, allow me to establish some irrefutable truths of human nature – truths that will light your way in your quest to curb your toddler’s seemingly unruly behavior and hence bring you more peace and quiet.

  1. Human beings wish to be treated with respect. It’s innate and it’s evident as early as one year. If you want your child to heed your guidance, you will want to treat him with respect.
  2. Children don’t naturally want to “misbehave.” Sure they’re wired to test a bit, but if they do it repeatedly it’s because they have been conditioned to or have not been taught how else to behave.
  3. The word “discipline” has a Latin meaning of “instruction, knowledge.” “Disciple” means “learner.” (please note the absence of the terms “training” or “punishment.”)
  4. Young children learn best by modeling behavior.
  5. “Anger is the enemy of instruction.” OK, it’s a quote from eleven-time NBA championship coach Phil Jackson, but I’m putting it here in the irrefutable truths section. Think about it. Frustration and anger just distract humans from attaining messages.

Now, watch how these do’s and don’ts flow seamlessly from these truths. The next time your toddler is faced with a challenge – be it physical, social, emotional, cognitive or all of the above – and proceeds to lose her marbles, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:

  • Do Accept – You want to meet the situation with an understanding that your child has not learned how to communicate or react yet and is behaving perfectly natural (albeit annoying). If you meet your child with a sense of understanding and acceptance, it will color your reaction and make your child more willing to adhere to your advice and support.
  • Don’t Get Defeated – Your confidence is key and should be bolstered by the fact that you know these situations are inevitable. Helping your child in these moments is very much part of your role now (albeit annoying). You’ll be much more effective if you can manage to accept this as well as your child’s behavior.
  • Do Empathize – This ties into the acceptance piece and the #1 truth above. If you can somehow convey to your child that you genuinely feel for him in these (albeit annoying) moments, it will go a long way towards gaining his cooperation. Remember these are your little one’s first encounters with these over-powering emotions. Try to articulate your empathy clearly.
  • Don’t Exude Frustration – You’re a leader and a teacher. Think about the ones you look up to. They are calm and confident. If you get all flustered, you won’t be able to communicate effectively and your child will not only be distracted from your messages – you will ironically be reinforcing the very behavior you wish to curb. (This flows from the truth I didn’t list: It’s fun to watch mom or dad sweat.)
  • Do Interpret – Try to decipher what your child is telling you through her behavior. What’s the message here and how did your own behavior or tone influence the scenario? (that part’s not easy) Teach her the language she’s missing.
  • Don’t Ignore – There’s a time and place when the best thing to do is simply to ignore a child’s behavior. But it will be both disrespectful and ineffective if you skip all the other steps.
  • Do Teach – Once you’ve interpreted, it’s time to impart. You can do this through both your calm words and your actions. What understanding or language is she missing that will help now and next time?
  • Don’t Train – Best to stay away from bribes unless you think Dana Carvey was onto something (hint: he’s a comedian). As these little guys get older, you can start to explain the benefits associated with making the right choices. Calmly remind them what’s in it for them – much more effective long term than bribes and threats.
  • Do Redirect – For these young ones, especially when they’re all fired-up, you don’t want to get caught lecturing – keep it brief and then move the attention to the next activity. I’m not saying distract your child. I’m saying state the limit, the reason briefly, genuinely empathize and then move his attention toward something he can do. If you can somehow tie that activity towards what she wanted in the first place, but in a more acceptable manner, all the better. You’ll be showing your child that you respect her (that makes humans more willing to listen). It will help if you sell it a bit – as you know, people follow enthusiastic leaders.
  • Don’t Punish – If you in fact accept all five truths above – especially #2 (I like making you read them again)– then it follows that punishing young children is futile. Just ask yourself: Do I want to teach my child that when he gets frustrated and tests limits he will be punished, or teach him that there are alternatives to his behavior, he can make better choices, it will benefit him in the end, and I am here to help him learn all that?
  • Do Allow Emotions – There will no doubt be times when you have done all you can and your child is just not having any of your pearls of wisdom. This is key: allow your child to experience her emotions. Help her label and understand them in time (lots of time)(and then some). If you meet her emotions with understanding, support, and acceptance (accept too that you can’t always “fix” it), the tantrums will lose power and eventually cease. Sometimes they just need a good cry.
  • Don’t Engage in Conflict – Getting worked up? They already know our buttons. Just respectfully and calmly tell your child YOU need to calm down and walk away from the battle. Stick to whatever lesson you were teaching and tell him you’re ready to help him more when you both calm down; balance empathy with calm, confident consistency. Lead the way to communication and solutions.

The hardest part in all of this is keeping your own emotions under control when your child is pushing your buttons (see – didn’t you like me better when I understood you?). But if you can manage to do more of these “do’s” and less of these “don’ts,” you’ll find your child will internalize the lessons sooner. That’ll give you more time to read parenting articles – joy!

Tom Limbert is a published parenting author and Parent Educator at Parents Place. He can be found online at www.parentcoachtom.com. Tom has been working with young children and their families since 1992, including 10 years at Stanford's Bing Nursery School. He has a Master's degree in Education with an emphasis in early childhood development, is the co-creator of Studio Grow, and the Director of Woodside Preschool. Tom's first book, Dad's Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time, has over one hundred inspiring quotes and includes a Foreword from Hall of Fame QB Steve Young. He's working on another gift book for dads with Chronicle but his most helpful book is What They Won't Tell You About Parenting.

Tags:  discipline  dos and donts  tom limbert 

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From the PAMP Vault: Overcoming Procrastination

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Procrastination, the habit of putting tasks off to the last possible minute, can be a major problem in both your career and your personal life. Side effects include missed opportunities, frenzied work hours, stress, overwhelm, resentment and guilt. This article will explore the root causes of procrastination and give you several practical tools to overcome it.

The behavior pattern of procrastination can be triggered in many different ways, so you won't always procrastinate for the same reason. Sometimes you'll procrastinate because you're overwhelmed with too much on your plate, and procrastination gives you an escape. Other times you'll feel tired and lazy, and you just can't get going.

Let's now address these various causes of procrastination and consider intelligent ways to respond.

1. Stress
When you feel stressed, worried or anxious, it's hard to work productively. In certain situations, procrastination works as a coping mechanism to keep your stress levels under control. A wise solution is to reduce the amount of stress in your life when possible, such that you can spend more time working because you want to, not because you have to. One of the simplest ways to reduce stress is to take more time for play.

In his book The Now Habit, Dr. Neil Fiore suggests that making time for guaranteed fun can be an effective way to overcome procrastination. Decide in advance what blocks of time you'll allocate each week to family time, entertainment, exercise, social activities and personal hobbies. Then schedule your work hours using whatever time is left. This can reduce the urge to procrastinate because your work will not encroach on your leisure time, so you don't have to procrastinate on work in order to relax and enjoy life. I caution against overusing this strategy, however, as your work should normally be enjoyable enough that you're motivated to do it. If you aren't inspired by your daily work, admit that you made a mistake in choosing the wrong path; then seek out a new direction that does inspire you.

Benjamin Franklin advised that the optimal strategy for high productivity is to split your days into one third work, one third play and one third rest. Once again the suggestion is to guarantee your leisure time. Hold your work time and your play time as equally important, so one doesn't encroach upon the other.

I'm most productive when I take abundant time for play. This helps me burn off excess stress and enjoy life more, and my work life is better when I'm happier. I also create a relaxed office environment that reduces stress levels. My office includes healthy plants, a fountain and several scented candles. I often listen to relaxing music while I work. Despite all the tech equipment, my office has a very relaxed feel to it. Because I enjoy being there, I can work a full day without feeling overly stressed or anxious, even when I have a lot to do.

2. Overwhelm
Sometimes you may have more items on your to-do list than you can reasonably complete. This can quickly lead to overwhelm, and ironically you may be more likely to procrastinate when you can least afford it. Think of it as your brain refusing to cooperate with a schedule that you know is unreasonable. In this case the message is that you need to stop, reassess your true priorities and simplify.

Options for reducing schedule overwhelm include elimination, delegation and negotiation. First, review your to-dos and cut as much as you can. Cut everything that isn't truly important. This should be a no-brainer, but it's amazing how poorly people actually implement it. People cut things like exercise while leaving plenty of time for TV, even though exercise invigorates them and TV drains them. When you cut items, be honest about removing the most worthless ones first, and retain those that provide real value. Secondly, delegate tasks to others as much as possible. Ask for extra help if necessary. And thirdly, negotiate with others to free up more time for what's really important. If you happen to have a job that overloads you with more work than you feel is reasonable, it's up to you to decide if it's worthwhile to continue in that situation. Personally I wouldn't tolerate a job that pushed me to overwork myself to the point of feeling overwhelmed; that's counterproductive for both the employer and the employee.

Be aware that the peak performers in any field tend to take more vacation time and work shorter hours than the workaholics. Peak performers get more done in less time by keeping themselves fresh, relaxed and creative. By treating your working time as a scarce resource rather than an uncontrollable monster that can gobble up every other area of your life, you'll be more balanced, focused and effective.

It's been shown that the optimal work week for most people is 40-45 hours. Working longer hours than this actually has such an adverse effect on productivity and motivation that less real work gets done. This is especially true for creative, information age work.

3. Laziness
Often we procrastinate because we feel too physically and/or emotionally drained to work. Once we fall into this pattern, it's easy to get stuck due to inertia because an object at rest tends to remain at rest. When you feel lazy, even simple tasks seem like too much work because your energy is too low compared to the energy required by the task. If you blame the task for being too difficult or tedious, you'll procrastinate to conserve energy. But the longer you do this, the more your resolve will weaken, and your procrastination habit may begin spiraling toward depression. Feeling weak and unmotivated shouldn't be your norm, so it's important to disrupt this pattern as soon as you become aware of it.

The solution is straightforward: get off your butt and physically move your body. Exercise helps to raise your energy levels. When your energy is high, tasks will seem to get easier and you'll be less resistant to taking action. A fit person can handle more activity than an unfit person, even though the difficulty of the tasks remains the same.

Through trial and error, I discovered that diet and exercise are critical in keeping my energy consistently high. I went vegetarian in 1993 and vegan in 1997, and these dietary improvements gave me a significant ongoing energy boost. When I exercise regularly, my metabolism stays high throughout the day. I rarely procrastinate due to laziness because I have the energy and mental clarity to tackle whatever comes my way. Tasks seem easier to complete than they did when my diet and exercise habits were poor. The tasks are the same, but I've grown stronger. A wonderful side benefit of the diet/exercise habit is that I was able to get by with less sleep. I used to need at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night to feel rested, but now I function well on about 6.5 hours.

4. Lack of Motivation
We all experience temporary laziness at times, but if you suffer from chronically low motivation and just can't seem to get anything going, then it's time for you to let go of immature thought patterns, to embrace life as a mature adult and to discover your true purpose in life. Until you identify an inspiring purpose, you'll never come close to achieving your potential and your motivation will always remain weak.

For more than a decade I ran a computer game publishing company. That was a dream of mine in my early 20s, and it was wonderful to be able to fulfill that dream. However, as I entered my 30s, I began feeling much less passionate about it. I was competent at what I did, the business was doing well financially and I enjoyed plenty of free time. But I just didn't care that much about entertainment software anymore. As my passion faded, I started asking, "What's the point of continuing with this line of work?" Consequently, I procrastinated on some projects that could have moved the business forward. I tried to boost my motivation using a variety of techniques but to no avail. Finally I recognized what I really needed was a total career change. I needed to find a more inspiring career path.

After much soul searching, I retired from the gaming industry. What an amazing change that was! I found renewed passion in helping people grow, so I didn't have to use motivation-boosting techniques to get going. I was naturally inspired to work. I still feel totally inspired. Best of all I procrastinated less on non-work tasks too -- my passion spread across all areas of my life.

Center your work around an inspiring purpose, and you'll greatly reduce your tendency to procrastinate. Finding your purpose is a powerful way to defeat procrastination problems because you won't procrastinate on what you love to do. Chronic procrastination is actually a big warning sign that tells us, "You're going the wrong way. Take a different path!"

5. Lack of Discipline
Even when motivation is high, you may still encounter tasks you don't want to do. In these situations, self-discipline works like a motivational backup system. When you feel motivated, you don't need much discipline, but it sure comes in handy when you need to get something done but really don't want to do the work. If your self-discipline is weak, however, procrastinating will be too tempting to resist.

If you really want to overcome procrastination, you must release any attachment to the fantasy of a quick fix, and commit to making real progress. Hopefully you have the maturity to recognize that reading a single article won't cure your procrastination problems overnight, just as a single visit to the gym won't make you an athlete.

6. Poor Time Management Habits
Do you ever find yourself falling behind because you overslept, because you were too disorganized or because certain tasks just fell through the cracks? Bad habits like these often lead to procrastination, often unintentionally.

The solution in this case is to diagnose the bad habit that's hurting you and devise a new habit to replace it. For example, if you have a problem oversleeping, take up the challenge of becoming an early riser.

For tasks you've been putting off for a while, I recommend using the timeboxing method to get started. Here's how it works: first, select a small piece of the task you can work on for just 30 minutes. Then choose a reward you will give yourself immediately afterwards. The reward is guaranteed if you simply put in the time; it doesn't depend on any meaningful accomplishment. Examples include watching your favorite TV show, seeing a movie, enjoying a meal or snack, going out with friends, going for a walk or doing anything you find pleasurable. Because the amount of time you'll be working on the task is so short, your focus will shift to the impending pleasure of the reward instead of the difficulty of the task. No matter how unpleasant the task, there's virtually nothing you can't endure for just 30 minutes if you have a big enough reward waiting for you.

When you timebox your tasks, you may discover that something very interesting happens. You will probably find that you continue working much longer than 30 minutes. You will often get so involved in a task, even a difficult one, that you actually want to keep working on it. Before you know it, you've put in an hour or even several hours. The certainty of your reward is still there, so you know you can enjoy it whenever you're ready to stop. Once you begin taking action, your focus shifts away from worrying about the difficulty of the task and toward finishing the current piece of the task which now has your full attention.

When you do decide to stop working, claim and enjoy your reward. Then schedule another 30-minute period to work on the task with another reward. This will help you associate more and more pleasure to the task, knowing that you will always be immediately rewarded for your efforts. Working toward distant and uncertain long-term rewards is not nearly as motivating as immediate short-term rewards. By rewarding yourself for simply putting in the time, instead of for any specific achievements, you'll be eager to return to work on your task again and again, and you'll ultimately finish it.

7. Lack of Skill
If you lack sufficient skill to complete a task at a reasonable level of quality, you may procrastinate to avoid a failure experience. You then have three viable options to overcome this type of pattern: educate, delegate or eliminate.

First, you can acquire the skill level you need by training up. Just because you can't do something today doesn't mean you'll never be able to do it. Someday you may even master that skill. For example, when I wanted to create my first website, I didn't know how to do it because I'd never done it before. But I knew I could learn to do it. I took the time to learn HTML, and I experimented. It didn't take long before I launched a functional web site. In the years since then, I continued to apply and upgrade that skill. If you can't do something, don't whine about it. Educate yourself to gain skill until you become proficient.

A second option is to delegate tasks you lack the skill to do. There are far too many interesting skills for you to master, so you must rely on others for help. You may not realize it, but you're already a master at delegation. Do you grow all your own food? Did you sew your own clothes? Did you build your own house? Chances are that you depend on others for your very survival. If you want a certain result but don't want to acquire the skills to get that result, you can recruit others to help you. For example, I don't want to spend my days trying to understand the details of the U.S. tax code, so I delegate that task to my accountant. This frees me to spend more time working from my strengths.

Thirdly, you may conclude that a result isn't needed badly enough to justify the effort of either education or delegation. In that case the smart choice is to eliminate the task. Sometimes procrastination is a sign that a task needn't be done at all.

8. Perfectionism
A common form of erroneous thinking that leads to procrastination is perfectionism. Believing that you must do something perfectly is a recipe for stress, and you'll associate that stress with the task and thus condition yourself to avoid it. So you put the task off to the last possible minute until you finally have a way out of this trap. Now there isn't enough time to do the job perfectly, so you're off the hook because you can tell yourself that you could have been perfect if you only had more time. But if you have no specific deadline for a task, perfectionism can cause you to delay indefinitely.

The solution to perfectionism is to give yourself permission to be human. Have you ever used a piece of software that you consider to be perfect in every way? I doubt it. Realize that an imperfect job completed today is always superior to the perfect job delayed indefinitely.

Perfectionism also arises when you think of a project as one gigantic whole. Replace that one big "must be perfect" project in your mind with one small imperfect first step. Your first draft can be very, very rough. You're always free to revise it later. For example, if you want to write a 5000-word article, allow your first draft be only 100 words if it helps you get started.

Some of these cures are challenging to implement, but they're effective. If you really want to tame the procrastination beast, you'll need something stronger than quick-fix motivational rah-rah. This problem isn't going away on its own. You must take the initiative. The upside is that tackling this problem yields tremendous personal growth. You'll become stronger, braver, more disciplined, more driven and more focused. These benefits will become hugely significant over your lifetime, so recognize that the challenge of overcoming procrastination is truly a blessing in disguise. The whole point is to grow stronger.

Reprinted with permission from StevePavlina.com (uncopyright/public domain).

Steve Pavlina is a father, self-help author and motivational speaker. 

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