Archive for the ‘procrastination’ Category
Funny how “just doing it” – whatever “it” is – makes for a much better day. Today I got up early and powered through a bunch of to-do’s before my girl was even up. Once I got her to school, I gave myself 30 minutes of online time, and then I got to work (at my paying job). I took a 30-minute break to make lunch, throw in some laundry, do a couple of 5-minute Room Rescues, a “swish and swipe” in the bathroom, and make a pot of tea for my afternoon work session. I left a bit early to pick up my daughter so I could do a couple of errands on the way, and now here I am, Backyardigans and snoring cat in the background with a few quiet moments to blog. Looking forward to heading downstairs soon for a well-deserved glass of wine . . .ahhhh.
Any anti-procrastination advice worth its salt will urge you to just get started on whatever it is that you’re putting off. Everything from daily housekeeping chores – like washing the dishes – to really important and complex projects – like writing a will – can be broken down into small pieces. Start somewhere, anywhere, and you usually end up doing much more than you thought you could.
Sarah at organizedmom.net posted about this today; after a very busy day, she was feeling really tired and not at all motivated to clean house. But once she got up and started picking up, momentum carried her until she finished. Her reward was the ability to sit and fully enjoy her television show without the distraction of the messy house.
I know I often spend more time dreading a task than it would take to just do it. This is a habit and a way of thinking that I’m working hard to change. I feel sure that if I do, I will experience far more order, serenity and peace of mind.
Of course it does!
If there’s something lurking in my To Do pile that makes me want to run, chances are it’s something I’ve been avoiding for a while. If I decide to put if off again, I’ll get momentary relief – phew! – glad I don’t have to deal with that today.
But what happens in the long-run? The next time I see that task needing attention, I’ve added guilt and even more anxiety to the equation; now I really want to run. Maybe the problem has gotten bigger, maybe I’ve missed a deadline – mostly I just feel awful that I’ve let whatever it is go too long.
Today I faced my anxiety about a couple of things I’ve been avoiding. Keeping Neil Fiore’s wise words in mind, I took care of the anxiety and the tasks – and just got them done!
Although it’s very tempting to give in to the instant gratification of putting things off, I know that it erodes my confidence and my self-esteem, and makes me feel like my life is out of control. Procrastination is definitely not the path to serenity . . . .
Earlier today I indulged in a bit of a poor me post about losing sight of my goals and disliking my day job. I spend more time thinking about how much I dislike it and trying to avoid it than I do working. And the truth is, once I get started it’s not all that bad, especially compared to the anxiety and guilt I feel about not working.
So . . . I had a little Come to Jesus Meeting with myself this evening and decided that I need to JUST DO IT, as the famous saying goes. Our family depends on the income, the work itself could be a lot worse, and ultimately all this procrastinating is bad for my state of mind. Neil Fiore says in The Now Habit:
Trying to escape work by procrastinating will only increase your anxiety; only work will diminish [it] . . . the only thing that really helps is to start working.
Well said, so true – for me anyway. And ironically, what I do is write about food . . . I like to write, at least here, and I love to cook and eat and read and talk about food, so I can’t figure out why this is so painful for me.
My goal is to work (a measly) minimum of 10 hours each week. Starting tomorrow I’ll aim for 2 hours a day, even if it means I work for just five minutes at a stretch – no, just kidding! Instead I’ll follow Neil Fiore’s advice and work for 30 minutes at a stretch. And in between 30-minute work sessions I can spend 5 minutes dealing with the basement project.
My blog will be my witness, and you, dear readers are welcome to cheer me on.
Several weeks ago I wrote about the notion of attending to your “big rocks” first, in terms of time management and productivity. I had three big rocks, and ambitious goals.
As of this writing, I think I’m still carrying just one of those big rocks. Why?
The first rock was to work towards financial security for my family, by diligently working at my freelance job, which bores me to tears. I have to force myself to do my projects, and this is no way to live!
The second rock was to find a new job, by making one contact daily, which was probably unrealistic in the first place. But I’m so unfocused and unsure of what I want to do that I have no compass for making those contacts.
The third rock was to work on my personal serenity project – decluttering and organizing my house, doing a little bit each day. I think I can give myself a pat on the back for this one. I’ve organized my sock drawer, and my linen closet, greatly reduced the amount of stuff I had on my desk, and managed to clear the floor of piles of debris in my basement “holiday room”. I’ve taken two trips to the consignment store, put together a favorite recipe binder (two in my case – I cook a lot), and organized my spoons .
So how to tackle rocks one and two? A coach. I thought I had to approach a coaching relationship with goals, like: “I’m dying to be a (fill in the blank) and I don’t know how to get there”, but I’m learning that the idea is to start the process with questions. I know I want to make more money, but I’m really torn between my interest in social service work and my entrepreneurial dreams.
In the meantime, I do need to pick up that financial security rock and keep marching along . . .
There’s a lot of chatter on the productivity blogs about “processing your inbox to zero” and how to manage email overload. I decided that poor David Allen would hyperventilate if he saw my inbox, so I took a crack at it, and began by ruthlessly deleting mail after mail. Most of those emails represented indecision and/or procrastination; I figured if I hadn’t done anything about them for several weeks, I never would – so away they went into cyberspace.
I was able to reduce the number of emails in my inbox from 200+ to under 10. As we speak, there are 10 read (but not processed) emails awaiting my attention. Some examples of what I’m now avoiding:
- a baby shower invitation
- an email from a cousin which includes his siblings’ email addresses – which I need
- an invitation to a political fundraiser
- a request from Budget rental cars inviting me to create a profile – for fabulous discounts, of course!
One rule I try to live by when dealing with email is to never sit down at the computer without my calendar. So many emails require checking on dates and times and it’s so much easier to just look, decide and delete right on the spot. Of course this doesn’t help with the guilt of wanting to say no to something – I deal with that by procrastinating!
I get quite a few promotional emails from online retailers; I don’t unsubscribe because I’m waiting for the free shipping promotions – I wear petites which are not usually available in “bricks and mortar” stores, so I order online a lot and I try not to pay shipping if I can avoid it. I’m pretty good about deleting those right away if they aren’t offering free shipping.
I’m about to unsubscribe from Daily Candy. While I have to admire the founder for her ingenuity (a daily email focusing on just one topic or product), they’re all about consuming, and they have this weirdly smug tone-of-voice that I find annoying. And let’s be serious, I’ll never buy a $400 purse . . . so DC is going away today.
I do make use of folders to store emails; I have way too many I’m sure, but the ones I’m finding useful now are my Summer 08 folder (vacation and camp info); my Hours folder where I keep the emails I send to my employer (if I ever work instead of blog); and my Daisy Scout folder (I’m one of the co-leaders).
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your email inbox, take a quick look (remember you can spend just five minutes on this to start) and maybe set a goal of deleting anything that’s older than three months, or 10% of the entire contents – something arbitrary but quantifiable so you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment.
For me the payoff is as high as clearing my desk or decluttering the linen closet – give it a try!
My husband finally put it into words last night, and he’s right. I’m addicted to the internet.
Needless to say this is not doing much for my productivity. The one bright light is that I used to be addicted to internet window shopping; now I’m addicted to improving my blog. “Clicking around” is also very soothing somehow; I guess it requires so little real thought or effort, and if you’re at all a curious person the possibilities are endless . . .
So what to do? I can’t imagine giving it up entirely, though I know people who don’t have an internet connection at home. I suppose some kind of schedule or limits are in order – I feel like a wayward child!
If any of you, dear readers, have suggestions, please share!
In the world of weight loss – where I’ve lived for a very long time – there’s a lot of talk about motivation through tangible rewards, and it seems to work for lots of people.
My experience is that the positive change itself is reward enough for me. If I stick to my food program and see a weight loss, I’m thrilled. If I stick to my Now Habit commitment and work diligently each day, I’m thrilled. If I stick to my routine of picking up the house before I go to bed, I’m thrilled. The reward for me is the weight loss, the work getting done, the tidy house in the morning.
It took me a while to recognize this about myself. I was always marking catalogs with clothing I’d like, or writing down books or CDs I wanted to buy, and then setting weight loss or other goals. But I wasn’t motivated by the clothes or the books.
Tackling clutter and disorganization can be overwhelming, and staying motivated to keep at it is half the battle. I guess we all need to discover what drives us to good – or not-so-good – behavior and act accordingly.
but if you can’t, try just five. Sometimes even 15 minutes seems overwhelming.
I routinely do “Five-Minute Room Rescues” (inspired by flylady, as was the title of this post); I set the kitchen timer and buzz through a room, picking up, wiping the surfaces, sweeping, even vacuuming sometimes. I can make a noticeable difference in a very short amount of time, and it feels really good to have the house tidy – in fact, I sometimes even feel serene . . .
I’ve been doing my laundry on a schedule since I discovered flylady several years ago. I set up the schedule around laundering my daughter’s nap mat cover from her daycare so it would always be ready to go – and I’m still using the same system, 5 years later.
This means I do “lights” on Saturday, “whites” on Tuesday and “darks” on Thursday. I choose one other day to do sheets, bath towels, kitchen towels, etc. as needed. As a working mother, I have found this to be a lifesaver. I don’t even have to think about it anymore; once it became a routine, I was set! Of course there are times when I get off-schedule (travelling, illness, losing my focus, etc.) but I find it very easy to get right back on track. And it prevents spending the weekend doing laundry. And now for . . .
What Doesn’t Work
One terrible habit I’m still trying to break is not putting the clean laundry away promptly. That basket will sit for days sometimes! I don’t know why I do this; I guess putting laundry away is tedious, and who wants to do something tedious, especially when you have to do it over and over?
I’m about to go put load of laundry in the dryer and I’ll have just enough time to put it away before I have to go out!