Are you smart and motivated and passionate, and have lots of cool things you’d like to get done, but somehow when it comes to doing them, you just . . . don’t?
Are you great at ideas but lousy at execution? Talk a good game but don’t get any results? Spend a lot of time thinking about where you want to go, but not much time actually moving your ass down the road that would take you there?
You, my friend, are a flake. Congratulations.
We are a worldwide force. If we could all get ourselves moving in the same direction, we would change the world. However, that will never happen.
Most of us are creative and smart. We’re often very funny and really pretty charming. We get things quicker than a lot of people do.
What we lack is focus. Everything looks good to us. We want dinner in Paris and a dive trip to Fiji. Most of us care more about experiences than about stuff.
But because we don’t take care of the “stuff” aspect of life, we don’t have the experiences we really want to have.
That, and we lack this “drive” thing. We have desire, but we don’t know how to engage drive. The wheels are turning, but the car ain’t going forward.
If you are a flake, you need to learn how to get things done. Getting things done (meeting goals, completing projects, all that irritating junk productive people do) will let you have better experiences.
We live in a world made of stuff, so it gets pretty painful when we blow stuff off. You actually can learn how to get things done. Here’s how.
What do you want out of it?
You’re not going to get a damned thing done until you actually know what you want to get out of it.
I know this is making your eyes roll into the back of your head. You know all about this visualizing your goals business. You may have even forced yourself to write down exactly where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years, with all the little details that will make it real to you.
That’s a good thing to do, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about something much simpler. (Much flakier, in fact.)
Just know what you want to get out of the thing you’re working on.
Do you want to do it to make some money? OK, why do you want money? What does that get you?
Sit down with a pen and paper (or a keyboard if you must) and answer the question:
You can describe a scenario, or visualize images, or focus on how you’ll feel or what the material facts will be. If you adopt too much of someone else’s formula, it won’t feel real to you. Just answer the question in a way that makes you say, “Oh, yeah. That’s it. That’s actually exactly it.”
Now it’s time for something that the self-helpers don’t usually talk about. Writer Robert Fritz calls it the “Pivotal Technique,” which I think is an apt label. If you need to turn yourself around in a major way, this is how you can do it.
Get nice and clear about what you want.
Get completely, impeccably, bullshit-free clear about where you are now, with respect to that.
That’s it, just those two. Simple but not easy.
Put another way:
Understand exactly what you want. Understand exactly where you are.
Notice the difference.
Please note that there is not a follow-up step called “beat yourself to a bloody stump about not being where you want to be.”
If you’re in New York and you want to go to San Francisco, how much good does it do to beat yourself up about what a lame-ass you are not to be in San Francisco? How far west does that actually move you?
Not one millimeter? Hmm, interesting.
Figuring out what’s next
All those annoying productivity people will tell you that the next step is to make a map that goes from here to there.
The map has all the steps you’ll need to take. Those steps are probably broken into sub-steps. Along the way, you’ll identify the resources you’ll need to develop and the avenues that are most likely to get you to your goal.
Get real. You are a flake. You are not going to do all that. In fact, just the thought makes you want to go grab an ice cream, doesn’t it?
And here’s another thing. You don’t know the whole map. You’ve probably never been to this place you want to go. So what makes you think you can map it out? You can’t.
The best you can do from where you are now is to get a sense of where “kinda-sorta the right direction” is.
Flakes are flaky because the map seems impossible. Productive people are productive because the map seems real.
The flakes are actually right, but fat lot of good that does us.
The productivity people follow their imaginary map, and because they’re doing something, they get somewhere.
But there’s a way out.
All you have to do is figure out what’s next. This comes from David Allen’s venerable book, Getting Things Done, which is a terrific system if you’re obsessed enough to do all of his rituals. But the rituals are mostly optional.
Just get an idea of what single action you should take next that will take you kinda sorta in the right direction.
If you’re going to San Francisco from New York, your next action might be “get on Google Maps to figure out what roads go west out of town.” Or it could be “call Greyhound and see what a ticket will cost me.” Or it might even be “wait until the sun goes down to see where west is.”
Those are all legit. They all set you up to start moving in the right direction.
Your brain might start blaring like a smoke alarm with 2,000 things you need to do next. You can’t do 2,000 things right now. Write down the things you think are at least somewhat important. Then pick just one to do next.
Allen is very smart about this. It has to be the single next thing to take action on. Not “get both of my COVID vaccines” or “find $900 for an airline ticket,” but “check Craigslist tomorrow morning for temp job” or “send mom a birthday card so I can hit her up for money next week.”
If you can’t do it in 20 minutes, it’s probably not the next action. Find the next action.
Do what you feel like
The flake’s superpower is that we are very good at doing what we feel like.
If you figure out your next action to take, and you don’t just get up and do it right away, do the Pivotal Technique again.
Understand what you want, and why you want it. Understand where you are now. Notice the difference.
Then do what you feel like.
Just keep cycling through that. As a flake, your unconscious is very good at protecting you from things you don’t want. If you don’t feel like moving kinda-sorta in the direction of your thing, there’s something about it you don’t want.
A great flake technique is to say something to yourself along the lines of:
OK, unconscious mind, gigantic pain in the ass that you are, thanks for keeping me from doing something I don’t want to do. Could you do me one more favor and let me know what about it I don’t like? Thanks.
Ask yourself that question out loud before you go to bed. Maybe write it down on a piece of paper as well. Then forget about it and see what pops into your head the next day.
Once you can see what you don’t like, you’ll figure out a way around it. Flakes are excellent at figuring out ways around things.
There are a few more techniques that work magnificently for flaky minds:
Don’t misplace your brilliant insights
By letting yourself noodle on the answers, I can promise you will get useful answers to your questions. Your “background processor” is often a lot smarter than your conscious mind is. So you’ve got that going for you.
But again, because you’re a flake, you’ll probably lose track of those answers.
In fact, you have already come up with terrific answers and lost them again many times. It’s just how we flakes work.
So set up a flake-friendly way to capture those clever insights. I call mine the Idea Garden. All the notes and ramblings and scribbles go in there, and eventually some of it composts into something I can use.
Flakes throughout history have used notebooks for this. A physical notebook is a fabulously flexible way to grab ideas and attach them to other ideas. Now that we live in the 21st century, a catchall app like Evernote or One Note is also handy for anything that you want to keep hold of in the long term.
I try to stick to no more than three or four main things to focus on. That means I have to give things up sometimes. When I started making textiles, I stopped being as diligent about my urban sketching practice.
You may need to think about what you’re willing to give up to make the space for your interesting project. (Two suggestions: TV and Facebook.)
Harness the game-changer
I saved the absurdly powerful one for last:
Work with other people.
I discovered this in a powerful way during lockdown, and it’s the single most flake-friendly productivity tip I know.
If you aren’t showing up for yourself, show up for someone else.
Coworking is really good. But if you can’t get to a physical coworking space, you might be amazed at how well digital coworking can work.
That means sitting down live on a digital platform with other humans. To make it work, make sure you set the right boundaries. Decide in advance how much time is for socializing and how much for sitting down to work productively. Get a moderator to ensure that you stick to those boundaries and keep everyone on mute while you’re working. And try to get folks you like and respect in there.
It’s important to make this a shame-free zone. Coaches who pride themselves on “kicking people’s asses” for not being productive are actually incredibly unhelpful. Real accountability comes from the energy of being in community, not from fear of being belittled or yelled at.
I’m biased in favor of this because I started a digital coworking community that has genuinely amazed me.
I spent my life assuming there was no “productivity switch” we could flick to become those irritatingly productive people. But it turns out I was wrong.
The plan in 7 reasonably painless Steps
- When you’ve got something to do, figure out what you really want to get out of it.
- Do the pivotal technique. Think about what you want, then get clear about where you are right this minute. Notice the difference.
- Figure out the next pretty small thing to do.
- Do what you feel like.
- Start an Idea Garden for ideas, notes, plans and insights.
- Stick to three or four primary areas of focus.
- Work alongside other people to harness the power of supportive accountability.
Fellow flakes, what kind of things are you trying to get done now? Making any progress? Let us know in the comments!
Dave Navarro says
Next actions FTW!
Marie Rotter says
Great post! I like your point about, “What can you get done in the next 20 minutes?” I have a tendency to take on too much, then I get overwhelmed and chuck it all.
For example, today I’d like to clean my house, write a blog post, update my online portfolio, and call a contact who’s offered to help find a book deal. Oh yeah, and I need to start on that book.
Is this possible to do in the two hours my baby is napping? Absolutely not. That’s why I’m writing comments on a blog right now.
I’ve learned that by breaking down big ideas into “today,” and making a commitment to actually do it has helped me improve my flakiness. For example, I set a goal this year to get in shape and lose weight. I set this goal every year but never make it. This year I decided I’m going to go to the gym just today. If I don’t make it today, I don’t beat myself up about it, and tomorrow I will wake up and say, “I’m going to the gym today.” So far, I’ve been averaging 2-3 times a week. It’s taken a while, but I’ve lost 15 pounds. The point is, it’s getting done.
This is awesome and something I could probably really do. Now I just need to make sure I don’t lose the blog post…….
Sonia Simone says
LOL, LizTF. We’ll always be here for you. 🙂
Gee, Marie, that all sounds awfully familiar. “Just today” is a great bit of advice, too. Getting to the gym 2-3 times a week is fantastic, IMO.
I love this post beyond measure.
Michael Martine | Remarkablogger says
I am an expert at creative procrastination, rather than a flake. I can put things off by doing something I had previously put off.
Lynn Crymble says
Hello, my name is Lynn and I am a FLAKE!
It has been over a month since I last posted to my blog and I need help.
Sonia, you are now my “honorary” sponsor and I am hopeful that I can put your advice to good use.
I do feel that a big part of being a flake is fear and uncertainty and that maintaining the status quo means we don’t have to face it.
Would you agree that some degree of perfectionism exists in all flakes and we are afraid to fail or not excel in what we want and where we want to go so we sub-consciously resist doing it?
Oh god, I’ve finally figured out my problem. I’m a flake. So nice to know that I’m not alone in my desperate flakiness 🙂
Seriously, this is a nice post. I’m attached to your two-pronged bullshit-free approach of figuring out what I want, and where I am on the pursuit of it. That removes much of my flaky hemming and hawing.
Great post. Although I incline to being the productivity type this often doesn’t work in uncertain and changing environments (like the blogospere). In these situations we productivity types have much to learn from flakes and their flakiness.
I love, love, LOVE this post! I’ll probably keep it open in a tab (my version of the compost pile, and hell on browser performance!) for however long it takes me to get it locked into my flaky brain.
But at least I know I’m not alone!
@Lynn I can’t speak for Sonia or for all other flakes, but I can tell you that perfectionism is a huge part of MY problem. If I don’t have time to tackle something the way I feel it ought to be done, I just won’t even start.
Thanks for this.
I’m a flake, now I know. I am not alone.
Sonia Simone says
You are all very lovely flakes. I think flakes are terrific. Flakes and dorks. I’m going to start a club. 🙂
@Lynn, yeah, for me perfectionism is a serious issue. I can spend alarming amounts of time on research or other pre-action aspects of getting something done.
Hm, I should delve into that in another post. I’ll throw that into the compost pile. 😉
Judy Dunn says
I think flakeism exists because thinking up all those ideas is just so darned much fun.
Implementing them? Not so much.
I am going to save this post because when I feel less flaky, I’ll need it. Thanks, Sonia.
Phyllis A Rogers says
Another good recommended read along these lines is One Small Step Can Change Your Life; The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, PhD.
As always, Sonia, I love to read what you write. Thanks for sharing with us.
sonia simone says
Chiming in many years after Phyllis’s original comment to say that Yes, this is an outstandingly useful book.
Janice C Cartier says
ROFLOL!!! This is fabulous. I had to make a hybrid system to satisfy my left and right brains. I make the map. It seems I have to set the compass,THE MISSION, so I can turn it over to right brain to get us there.
Like that editorial calendar.. it’s kind of sort of working, but only if I use it loosely.
NEXT ACTION my favorite words in this arena of productivity. Yay Dave and yay Sonia for being a brilliant flake.
David Bullock says
This is perfect. I have this left brained/right brained problem.
Next Step. Next Action. Next New Idea (because I see something else). The new idea is the problem.
Talk about a nice way to start getting yourself together.
I stopped trying to manage time. It is impossible. I found I can only manage tasks and promises.
Great post. It is so easy to get interested in “everything” and get nothing done.
Thanks for the not so gentle nudge this morning.
Gary Fletcher says
Great post Sonia. Count me in for the flakes club. Maybe we could organise a first club meeting by about… oh maybe 2017…?
sonia simone says
Hey look, it’s 2017! Maybe time to get that club going 😀
I’m so happy to know there’s a whole community of flakes out there just like me!
I tried GTD, got my office in order, and then gave up within a week because once things were in files I forgot about them (did not matter that the file was labeled “Action”) and only worked on what I actually wanted to. True flakiness.
**Raising hand** I am a complete flake, and I love this post.
Hey, in addition to some of the more pared-down flavors of GTD, I’ve found David Reynold’s stuff on Constructive Living to be IMMENSELY helpful in dealing with mah flakiness.
Sonia Simone says
Oh, very cool Kat, I will put David Reynolds on my Amazon list pronto. Phyllis, I’m ordering the Maurer as well, thank you!
@Gary, great idea, I’ll put it on the compost pile. 🙂
My name is Steve and I am a flake.
I absolutely loved this article. Best thing is that it’s not preachy. The line about eyes rolling was spot on – I was in the process of a roll as I read it.
Of all the GTD and self-help stuff I’ve read on the web – and believe me, I’ve read a lot – this post is easily the best and most inspiring.
Wow, so it turns out I’m a flake – damn!
I’ve been using those Perfectionist and Procrastinator IDs so proudly for so long – but I’m actually a flake – #@*$ – sorry, really bad word came out.
So, having read this post, which I was led to by another blog, which was mentioned in an article I was reading, that was referred to in an email…hang on, what were we talking about?
Can’t remember – guess I’ll just go and have lunch, and I’ll get back to what I was doing later…
Melodee Patterson says
I am so happy that I found your blog, Sonia! Every post has a concept that really hits me between the eyes (in a good way) and this post is no exception. I read this: “You don’t know the whole map. You’ve probably never been to this place you want to go.” and realized what a flake I am! I’m constantly going someplace I’ve never been before and now I know why I never knew how to get there 🙂 Thanks!
I am so glad to finally be able to put a name to my affliction.
So fitting, so perfect, so…just so.
clever and fun. I’m glad I found this post. Thanks…
Daniels last blog post..Discount running shoes. Are they safe?
The path that took me to this post was a good diversion………..
Yes I can admit it….. I too am a FLAKE!
Thanks it make a lot of sense.
Sonia Simone says
Lisa, we flakes will unite and rule the world! Um, as soon as we lose 10 pounds. And start that MBA program. And get a good system to control some of the chaos on our desks. And cars. And closets. And garages.
Er, . . .
J.D. Meier says
Beautiful, punchy post!
One thing I just don’t see enough of at work is teaming up. The right kind of teaming. If you’re a starter, pair with a finisher. If you’re an engineer, pair with a marketer, if you’re a simplifier, pair with a maximizer.
The other issue is the brutal reality that seeing a project through from cradle to grave is tough — lots of resistance along the way. The worst enemy is time. The longer an idea stretches over time, the easier it is to … oh! shiny, new thing! …
J.D. Meiers last blog post..Social Loafing
This would have been a really nice guide to help flakes, except for one fatal flaw: you never address WHY we lack drive. That is the absolute most important question the flake has to have an answer for. Why is it that we don’t engage and do when we know we have to? Why, sometimes, do we remain in neutral even when it threatens to destroy our lives?
Until you can figure that out, all your advice is time and thought down the drain for the flake.
Danielle Warby says
OMG, this is so my life. Total flake right here. Thanks for this – I’m going to print it out, underline all the relevant bits (all of it really) feel all inspired, then do nothing.
Thank you. I’ve finally found a place where there are others like me! I don’t feel so alone. Yay!
This is a wonderful post. As I was reading I immediately began the exercises. You have completed your mission, got a flake to act, or at least begin to act. I will let you know when I complete my goal.
I flake because I can. And I love that freedom.
Sonia Simone says
Nicole, I love “I flake because I can”!
p. s. I am sharing your site with my fellow flakes. 🙂
Sonia Simone says
Flakes unite! Or untie! Or something!
Absolutely perfect! You had to be writing with (this) flake in mind. 🙂
I’ve also found another book to be helpful: Organizing for the creative person, by Dorothy Lehmkuhl.
But, finally, what helps for me is to build on my strengths, and acknowledge my growing edges.
2. Do the pivotal technique. Think about what you want, then get clear about where you are right this minute. NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE.
What difference; where? Between what you want and getting clear about where you are, or ???? what?
Paradise @ lastminuteacademic says
I am highly frustrated now as I was JUST writing a post on the exact same thing but this is written quite well, it’s going to be a challenge!
Best bit of it for me: noticing the difference and asking yourself questions.
FLAKES UNITE!!! 😀
Paradise @ lastminuteacademics last blog post..Jerk Mentality?
It’s like you looked into my eyes and saw my soul. I’m so grateful for this post. I’m all-of-a-sudden understanding myself so much better.
Alexa Weber Morales says
Am I a flake? Yes, sometimes I lack focus. But I have gotten a lot done over the years, while maintaining a huge load of responsibility on my shoulders. Last year I trained for a triathlon at the beginning of the year and raised $3000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I want to repeat the experience. But last night I was tormented by anxiety dreams about training. I am a professional musician and writer, not an athlete. The triathlon is for fun, and stress relief, and charity. Is it the right thing to do? Or is it a flaky thing to do given the dire state of my finances (mine and those of most other self-employed folks I know)? Or is it “acting in abundance” as one friend put it? My husband says do it, my brother says don’t. Confusion reigns. Was my dream trying to warn me off?
Awesome post, though. Already a fan of GTD. Thank you.
OMG I laughed so hard at this post because it is 100% me! One question, how did you manage to get around to writing the post on flakiness? I probably would have had the idea bouncing around in my head but would have never gotten around to writing the post. Yeah I know, total flake! LOL
I was google searching for something completely different and this post came up and I was irresitibly drawn to it. Voila! At last!! Man, I am sick of all these ‘go-getta’ friends of mine giving me grief about how clever and creative I am, but I need to be more’proactive’ and not to ‘procrastinate’, etc , etc. This made me want to scream and run for the hills. Now, some GREAT advice about how to deliver on my talents. And yes, we Flakes ARE very creative, and see beyond the ‘stuff’. This is quite proabbaly the most important bit of anything I have ever come across on the goddam interweb. Brilliant. Now, what can I do in the next 20 mins?
omg what a great post
Excellent post – you had me cracking up as I recognized myself immediately. I’ll try these suggestions and appreciate the help! 🙂
Scotts last blog post..Beer Review – Kitachino Lacto Sweet Stout
Sonia Simone says
This post is like the flake coffeeshop. I love it. 🙂
I started reading this thinking, “oh god, here’s another productivity expert who’ll drive more angst into already insane people.” I was pleasantly surprised! I say throw away your GTD lists and organizers; be real, you’re not going to do any of it for long. Be here, be now, be present, and allow passion to arise.
Kaushiks last blog post..The Second Obstacle – The Search
Nothing new under the sun – except that you said it so I got it – I am now embracing my flakiness!
Sandras last blog post..18 Reasons I love Google Docs
louise chinnock says
Oh my goodness, I am not alone ! there are more of us flakes about!!
For years now my lovely other half has been quoting the term “FLAKE” ,”FLAKEY” to me. Everyime a new idea or venture pops into my head those immortal words are fired back, usually accompanied by a snigger!!!
My note books of pure scribble, money making ideas, new careers , diet fads are all compiled around me, stored in every crevice in the house!
Your article, that I have somehow stumbled on has finaly made me realise that I am a true flake!, its not made up, and there is actually a name for my condition!!!
My chap will be pleased to know that he was right all along.
I loved your article, so i am sending many many thanks to you for making everything fit into place…
I am a true flake….and bloody proud of it!!!!!!
Erin Freeman says
I stumbled upon this article thanks to someone posting a related link on twitter, I think I ended up following a handful of links from that tweet but one way or the other I got here and I’m glad I did!
In response to the question about perfection, I’ve believed forever that I was just a really lazy perfectionist.. I want things done absolutely perfectly else there’s little to no point in doing them, right? Now I know I’m a flake and I know how to take control of my flakiness 🙂
Just think of all those ideas and moments of inspiration that have led to nothing.. it’s terrifying!!! right, where’s my scribbling pad gotten to?
train horn says
Very very very interesting post. I first knew I was a Flakey person when I stumbled a post in http://www.seodiva.net/. lolz. Be back for more flakey post. 😀
Excellent post! lol..I am totally a flake, thanks for clearing it up for me. 🙂
I am most definitely a flake. I did not know that there was a name for people like us.lol
Okay! You made me laugh….at myself! You have nailed it! I can see I’ll be visiting your blogs often. It’s really great to get value in a personable way, thanks!
This was absolutely fantastic. I am whoring it out to my fellow flake friends as I type.
I felt myself exhaling a huge sigh of relief reading this. Flaky people unite! Thank you so much! Definitely sharing this…
Yes! Flakes unite! I’m so glad to have a solid label for my patheticness. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some pivoting to do. Thank you.
thanx for this I think…I am a serial flake…hard to admit it. I have to do something fast as it is negatively affecting every aspect of my life…so thanx for this information…armed with this maybe I can finally get with it.
Brenda Nicholson says
Flake is sort of a new term for me in relation to myself, but totally acceptable.
I write a blog for people with ADHD and you have totally nailed us. I especially like the pivot thing – I can see the difference between where I want to be and where I am, but why won’t I take action? Oh, that’s right – you covered that too!
Such a wise, wise woman you are! I humbly bow….
“Get real. You’re a flake!”
I have always wondered where my friend’s behavior came from but after reading your post i have just discovered that she is a flake… thanks i have to do something about it because its affecting her personality.
I’m not going to kill myself for not knowing how to make good money. Just going to figure out the ‘flakes’s way. Will tell you how it works.
Have a great day!
.-= Prabu´s last blog ..The girl with a yellow cloth =-.
thanks for the smackdown! just wanted to wave hello because i feel like i’m running into you everywhere on the web, between the writing stuff and the knitting stuff!
.-= jane´s last blog ..Buildings of Bamboo: An Interview with Juergen Ernst =-.
Not so much of a flake myself, but this was a delight to read.
Then again, we are all a flake at one point in our life.
Sharing it with the many flakes I know.
There’s hope! I’ve always had big ideas and big goals, but I stay stagnant because I get frustrated by what seems like a series of overwhelming steps to get from A to B – and then I beat myself up over my lack of momentum. Thanks so much for breaking down the flake mindset – and making me feel less alone.
Rob Christeson says
I especially like the thought about mapping. That can be such a roadblock to think about how hard it would be to make a complete map. Just deciding to “head west” and then determine the next step is brilliant. Thanks for the great post!
Nice! It’s always great to see a fellow flake succeed; I will definitely check out the recommended reading.
Backpack looks promising too. In addition to content mgmt/copywriting, I’m a musician who juggles a LOT of different groups/projects. I’m wondering if this service could cater to my kin? Storage on the site seems small for keeping a lot of recorded music, but I reckon there’s a way around that issue…
Will keep reading, so keep blogging!
.-= Sam´s last blog ..4TH ANNUAL FEED A FAMILY ~ DESIGNING FOR CHARITY =-.
This was one of the most helpful distillations of accomplishing goals I’ve read. I am a flake, and I don’t like to map my path. Now I better see why I have so many ideas, then I don’t ever really do anything with them… they aren’t fitting where I want to go. But better than that, in just a few paragraphs you helped me to better figure out why they aren’t and how to re-evaluate them.
Connie A Vaughn says
Thank you for the article. I found it true and amusing. I am not only a flake, I am a stupid flake and now may be going to prison.
Do you have a hardcopy newsletter or anything I can get in there?
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
I’m 18 and have had the worst time applying to college because it has 5 million steps and just thinking about it is exauhsting. You described me better then I could. I’ve printed this out and am laminating it. I’m deffinitly keeping this. You have no idea how much i appreciate it.
I seriously think I read this post once a week to keep me motivated /rejuvenate me. Thank you for writing it. You’ve got a fan for life!
Allan Bacon says
Great post. Nice and simple approach, but complete.
I call my compost heap a “Someday List”. It’s where I keep all of those fun ideas that pop up that I can’t get to soon. It’s done a lot to keep me from freaking out that I’m going to forget some super cool project.
Glad to find your blog.
.-= Allan Bacon´s last blog ..Guilt-free networking: How Allan dropped his elevator pitch and started meeting cool people =-.
OMG – I can’t believe you wrote this whole article ALL ABOUT ME….and now to see that there are others like me out there:)
My favorite line? “OK, unconscious mind, gigantic pain in the ass that you are” hahahaha
Thanks for the great article!
Jill, The Veggie Queen says
Hmmm, not sure that I’d call myself a flake but a cultural creative constantly distracted by bright, shiny objects.
I love the suggestion of Backpack although using notebooks has helped me a lot, if I can remember the date or timeframe when something happened.
The one thing that I would not do, nor recommend, is that you call your subconscious a pain the ass, because the next thing you know, you might have a hard time sitting down or get sciatica or ??? A compassionate and loving tone works better for me to grapple with issues, including getting my conscious and subconscious minds working together toward a goal.
Thanks for the great post.
Shawna R. B. Atteberry says
I don’t know if I can say this enough: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am a huge flake, and this has to be one of the best things I’ve read on being a flake and may be, sort of, eventually getting stuff done. So glad Alexia tweeted this post.
.-= Shawna R. B. Atteberry´s last blog ..Why I want to be a whale =-.
Marcus E Perry says
Genius. If you run for mayor of Flaketown, I would like to be your campaign manager… and with the tools listed in this post, I will be able to run an effective campaign without flaking.
Miranda Spencer says
I second everyone — you’ve nailed me, Sonia, AND given me a path out of my circularity. So, commenters, should we start a Facebook group for Flakes or what?
I actually AM productive, but believe strongly I’m only running on half my superpowers.
Thanks for your article. I’m a flake too and appreciate the info. I also bought the “Getting Things Done” book that you recommend…unfortunately, I have had it for months but never even opened it…looks really nice on my bookshelf though next to “Good to Great” which I also haven’t read yet !!! Perhaps this will finally motivate me to read the book…nah…who am I kidding…LOL !!! Seriously though…thanks very much for bringing these issues to light for many of us.
Sonia – loved the article, although it’s really hard for me to admit I’m a flake! I’m smart, motivated, passionate.. just like you said.. but I want to be at point Z and I’m at point A! And I’m spinning my wheels (there’s a deep groove forming…)!! If only planning was more INTERESTING.:) Thanks for this:
“Understand what you want, and why you want it. Understand where you are now. Notice the difference.”
It’s beautifully simple. Maybe something even a flake can handle!
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Self-branding =-.
WOW!! This is so me. My wife and I just had a huge argument where she called me a flake! Then I found your blog, and I agree – I am a flake. Trying to crawl out of it is so difficult, but your article is so good, I actually just printed it out – and re-read it!! Step 1 completed…
Moses Siregar III says
This was fantastic, thank you. I mentioned it on my blog today, along with one of your other posts.
.-= Moses Siregar III´s last blog ..Passion for Writing: April 12th, 2010 =-.
I am a flake, and proud of it!
I think I read this post awhile back and was feeling too flaky to reply. 😉
I must be a Master Flake, but at least now I have a Master Flake Plan to follow. This might just be simple enough (though not easy – but nothing worthwhile ever is) for me to follow!
Banner Signs says
I’ve used many of the techniques you write about and they really really work. Most people will just read this and move on and not do anything about it and live continue to live their lives as flakes. Don’t be that person. Take control and read this post ten times to really let it sink in.
WOW! You article was phenomenal…it was like you knew me in detail…and yes you guessed, I’m a Flake. But now, i really realize what I have to do. You know, in your article we can point out the main reasons why people fail in life…lack of action and lack of focus. You outlined the basic principles of success…THANKS!
Just bookmarked it and I’ll read it as often as possible.
Love it 🙂 Love GTD’s simple concept of Next Action. Love the way you melded it all together.
I’m sitting here on a Sunday trying to get my head into doing my accounts and get my tax return in for next week. It’s not getting done. ‘Cos I hate it and my bookkeeper let me down.
So thanks for the kita – I’m refocussing right now (after I grab some ice-cream)!
I hate being a Flake!!!!! I HATE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joel Nielson says
Love the post. Thank you. It’s nuts how personality types work…
No one likes to be put in a box, but we sure can learn about ourselves (and rapidly progress) if we’ll listen, consider, tweak, and keep going – huh?
The Ad Critter | Copywriter, designer
omg. i hated being a flake
but seeing so many other flakes made me laugh and feel a little better about it
Eddie Gear says
Good one Sonia. I would have loved it if could put this up at my office.
Yup…you got me. I’m a FLAKE!
And it isn’t so bad…if you’re a couch potato!
I have to do something about it….
Michael Stagg | Stagg Solutions says
My name is Michael, and I’m a flake… LOL
Seriously, this post feels like it was written directly to me. There are some pretty awesome tips here that I fully intend to put to good use. Thanks for sharing!
Wow – I never thought of myself as a flake before but your description is right on! I am going to take your advice to heart and start with figuring out what I REALLY want out of it. So I’m off to get my paper and pen – I totally agree that the keyboard is nice but doesn’t have the same effect as writing things out by hand.
I don’t mean to get cheesy here but I thought I was all alone. In this success driven society I was afraid to let people know how hard I have found running my own business. The way you described ‘Flake characterisics’ was so completely me I want to shout “I’m a a flake and proud! Thank you so much. Youv’e turned it all aorund for me.
I can totally identify the “flaky” part of my personality. I am exactly as described in the post above…sometimes. Interestingly, when there is something that I really want, there is no stopping me. I wish I could be like that in all my endeavors.
I suppose I have just found the way around my own flakiness. 1. find out what I really want, because I’m more likely to go get it. 2. use the exercises above to get through the tasks that bring out the flake in me.
Thanks for this article as I am in the planning stages of a new business now.
I agree with one of the early posters. Is there a facebook group for flakes. Is it possible that flakes could unite and motivate one another? Or, would we all procrastinate together 🙂
OMG I AM a complete FLAKE!!! I swear you wrote this post for me and me alone! lol
thank you for that…and I LOVE the 7 Reasonably Painless Steps! I am going to try that approach from now on! FANTASTIC!!
thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Colin the Creative says
Just found this post and it couldn’t have appeared at a better time. I’m having one of those days where nothing useful is getting done. I particularly liked the idea of asking our “gigantic pain in the ass” subconscious mind what is keeping me from getting things done – I’m going to ask it’s dumb ass tonight whats up and see what pearls of wisdom is making me not do things. Brilliant!
Robert Alton says
It never occured to me that I might be a flake, but after reading this post I can admit it and actually embrace it.
Thank you Sonia for bringing this to light and helping me to step out of the flake closet.
Joe Henderson says
You rock! I just gotta say that….oh look a squirrel…. where was I? Oh, the post.
You write like I think and THAT keeps me engaged. Keep it up, I’m hooked!
Ok. I think I just found a way out of Writer’s Block, and it’s not going to cost me a fortune in analyst fees. Thank You!
Ouch…nothing like a morning gut-punch to put a lifetime of chasing faster, shinier, brighter into perspective. Always intent on changing the world, rarely accomplish more than changing my pants. I will lower my white flag and pivot now…after I get some orange juice.
Thanks a lot for this post. Illuminating.
Paula Lee Bright says
This post has made me happier than anything has in a long while! At last I see myself clearly. I’m a freakin’ flake. That’s all that’s wrong with me. If I proceed with my two businesses in the manner described, I’ll get it done.
Because ain’t NOBODY works harder than me once I’m going. Once I know what to do. Once my path is clear. Whoohoo! Life begins anew. All I can say is, “Thank heavens for Sonia Simone.” YEHAAA!
I cannot tell you ho comforting this blog was for me. I am not alone. I have wrestled with flakiness all my life, now maybe I can stop beating myself up about it. Lol. Fabulously useful I will print it and read it every day
“Way of the Flake” – love this Sonia! And I am completely a Flake. The name is much more elegant, in it’s own flakey way, than a Myers Briggs or other style label.
And knowing that you’re a Flake too gives me hope. You’ll be getting affirmative replies to this post for years to come… Thanks for writing it!
I’m a flake. I remember years ago an old man came into the car shop where my stepdad had me scraping paint off of a car and he sized me up and said in a simple flat voice: “Alex, you’re a flake”. I was wounded but I didn’t even know what that was. Was he saying that I’m like a flake of paint, not real, not worth anything? Of course what he meant was that I am not worth anything to someone who wants to use me to get something done, which is actually good! But it was his tone I didn’t like. Of course I didn’t really know that what being a flake means is that I’m not even useful TO MYSELF. So all these years later I notice I have a student in my class who has the attention span of a spider monkey and totally does goofball stuff that is totally inappropriate at random, answers other students’ questions but can’t answer the questions I give him and I then I see that old man coming out of my subconscious telling me to tell him that he is a flake. I then feel rage because I still am not sure what a flake is. I come online and search. Damn, I’m a flake. I know everything that should be done in my life but I am a damned STONE when it comes to doing the drudgework. I have a MASSIVELY inert motivational system all at odds with a totally inspired vision for every facet of my life. I have studied myself and tried to change everything: psychocybernetics, motivational psychology, meditation, drill sergeant-like severity, externalization of memory and process, decluttering and simplifying, reducing everything to some experiential essence so that I can make sure that I choose the most compatible means to an end rather than merely a symbolic one which won’t do, etc etc etc.
I’m looking at this and saying to myself… here we go again, something else that won’t work. But even so, there is something here that rings true. The subconscious is VERY intelligent, and it is protecting me. I don’t have to beat myself up over that. Just have to be honest with it, like you do with your shadow-side in Jungian psychology. I have to ask it what it is really trying to do/not do, let me do /not let me do. Commune with it in some kind of really primal way. Finally I am going to have to admit that I won’t disgrace myself anymore by doing what I don’t feel like doing, and that I always do what I feel like doing when I’m true to myself, so all I really have to do is be true to myself. The other side of a flake is a person who is true to himself and nothing else. Just gotta flip this coin…
A great GTD article. I guess I must admit I am a flake. Been denying it for many years, yet, somehow I this clears things up some. It really is a lot of work Getting Things Done!
Emily Rose says
I totally get this, I am a flake and a darn good one, I have started making progress towards my goals most recently and it feels really good, but I still always find other things to put off until later, and end up doing them at te last minute. But I figure, embrace it, go with it, the things get done when they are supposed to. So I just started implementing more deadlines for myself and things get done. But not too many deadlines, yeah i have a million and one projects I want to do, but I put the majority of them onto the back burner because now is just not the right time for them and I can do them later. It also kind makes me feel good to have things on my list that I can go do when i finish the ones I am working on, I’m never for want of something to do. It makes me confused when people talk about being bored.
Always thought of myself as a lazy diligent person. This really sums it up. Thanks Sonia
Sonia Simone says
I like “lazy diligent person” a lot …
Elsi Chu says
This post is hella old…. but I just found it…. and oh my word. It’s like you are speaking directly to my soul. Thanks for making me feel at least a little less alone. I’ve been trying to accomplish basically this routine with moderate success but I know the key in part is just to stick to it. I’m going to give it my best shot. Thanks again!
Sonia Simone says
You are very welcome! 🙂