Procrastination: The Thief of Time

How much do we actually accomplish when fully engaged in avoidance mode? What does it take to get back on track?

                               Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off.
                                                     How many are left? FIVE
                                  That’s the difference between deciding and doing!

Even the most motivated people are not always on task. Often the most seemingly busy people, those constantly occupied, are in reality accomplishing very little. Yet, the TV watcher, who we can readily identify is perhaps the most honest of all…doing nothing.

When you are in action; cleaning, reorganizing, or purging the space, you feel industrious. Activity like this is measureable, producing immediate results, unlike the outcomes from other endeavors that may not be so obvious.

One client, who dreaded tax season, always scheduled a major home renovation simultaneously, compounding her anxiety. Her assumption was that as long as she was going to be sequestered in her home office anyway, she could also supervise the other projects too. After the “dust” settled, we looked at the consequences of her actions and how this compromised her relationships, health and overall well being. The physical upheaval around her made it easier to avoid focusing on the task at hand, her tax filings, which were the priority. Once she was able to see that it was possible to do some preparation monthly, her calendar became her most effective tool. With long term goals in place for the year ahead, she was able to space projects, arrange her time commitments accordingly and vow never to have a contractor near her home in the spring.

•What are you procrastinating about?
•What is one small step that you can take now?
•Write it down
•Put it in your calendar
•Do it!

©2015 Maureen Weisner

The STOP “To-Do” LIst

imagesCAUIW14SHow many lists are you actively working on today? Most of us have multiples from daily lists to long term/big-project versions. According to author, Barbara Alevras, our short term memory starts to empty out in 10-15 seconds, so unless it’s recorded somewhere, the thought is likely gone and may be replaced with generalized anxiety about missing something.

With various forms available to capture tasks, yours may be the old school, long hand version in addition to notes on your phone or the spread sheet you keep updating but not reducing. Some are handy and invaluable uses of technology to keep you on task, but the flip side is the constant reminder that you are NEVER getting it all done, merely making a dent in the onslaught of actions that realistically may or may not be important after all.

For clients who are feeling overwhelmed there are various strategies that may be useful.

• If your list is of the “forever” version, break it down into short and long term and limit the number to FIVE entries in each. This may be a challenge, but it does help to prioritize. Think of it as the single piece of luggage you are permitted to board with.

• If accomplishment is important to you, include even the most mundane activities under a broader header so that crossing off many tasks keeps your motivation high. For example, if GET HEALTHY is your long term goal, you might include, eating breakfast, shopping for groceries, gym time, etc. This can serve as a daily guide, and create new habits to support you.

• However, if you find yourself bogged down in busyness, eliminate this “expanded” list creation as it can be a slippery slope to a lot of action without moving forward. Test it out to see what works best for you.

• Reflect on your successes and SHRED your list at the end of the day…no carry-overs are permitted. Tomorrow is another day!

©MWeisner2015

10 Time Saving Workday Tips

how-to-time-management-300x2251. Set Goals
Each morning, write out a detailed to-do list of the things you want to accomplish that day.

2. Create a Plan
Determine when and how you’ll accomplish each item on your daily list – will you need help, supplies, etc.?

3. Prioritize by Importance
It’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll have to cut items off your to-do list, so decide early what the most important items are and prioritize.

4. Prioritize by Urgency
You’ll need to get to those projects that have urgent deadlines so leave the ones that are due next week for later.

5. Break Down Large Tasks
If your list includes some overwhelming items, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

6. Be Realistic
Don’t expect to accomplish everything in an hour. Know your limitations and your abilities.

7. Track Your Time
In order to better understand how you really spend your time, take a few days and write down everything you do and how long it takes. Include breaks, email, social media and everything else, so that you’ll find out what your biggest time wasters are.

8. Set Deadlines
Need some motivation to complete a project? Set a deadline for yourself and tell others about it so they can help hold you accountable.

9. Keep One Eye on the Clock
You don’t want to constantly obsess about time, but you also don’t want to let the day get away from you because you weren’t paying attention. Stay on track.

10. Set Reminders
If you have a deadline or meeting coming up, set a reminder on your phone that will go off shortly before.

Attack the Hardest or Easiest Tasks First?

458You glance at your to-list and it’s overwhelming. Your initial thought might well be to run through the easiest, yet time consuming actions first. These may feel like many small annoyances; t he call you need to return or the quick review of a client project. Yes, we all know how good it feels to check off multiple tasks, send those e-mails out and lo and behold, your morning is gone. Instant gratification is seductive and the busyness feels like you are engaged in a series of worthy accomplishments. After all, these things need to be addressed and you are fresh in the A.M. However, according to Piers Steel, PhD, Professor at the University of Calgary and an expert on motivation and procrastination, this approach wastes your prime performance hours. “People have more attention and focus in the morning, so tackle the hard stuff first, while you have the most energy to do it.” As the day continues our energy is depleted, there are other demands on our time and so the list gets carried along with new additions.

Let’s try another slant on your typical plan of action. Getting started is key and tweaking your approach helps. Begin with a challenging chore that can be handled quickly. Like suiting up for a run or diving into cold water, the first few moments may feel awful but your body quickly adjusts and you are on your way, invigorated as you move. The same can be said for your to-do list actions as momentum takes over it helps you make more progress. How satisfying is it to cross things off your list, both major and minor and relax, if only for a moment of reflection.

• What’s you favorite approach?
• How successful has that been?
• What are you willing to change?
• Renumber your list for tomorrow, adding a challenging chore first

©MWeisner2015

 

 

Get Motivated…Start Packing

strong-mover-201x300Most recently my daughter was in the midst of relocating and coming to terms with the boxes of clothes she had accumulated over the years. This was also a unique opportunity for me to provide a second opinion on a day that I assumed would be fraught with indecision and perhaps a few tears. However, as my daughter rifled through drawers in the bedroom she had used as a storage depot, she was clearly on a mission to release the past. Camp t-shirts, well worn jeans, special occasion dresses, and memories quickly piled up, inextricably linked together. I found myself racing down memory lane and the teen years that were not so long ago as I watched from the sidelines. She was ruthless in her judgments and soon five trash bags were filled with her selections. Once assured that this eclectic wardrobe was destined for an organization that distributed donations to their clients and not sold as bulk for cash, she could relax and revel in her accomplishment. Her history was going out the door, or in our case, at least as far as the basement… with visitation rights.

Downsizing can mean many things; a loss for some and freedom for others. Moving, in and of itself takes energy, effort and a plan. What are you leaving behind and conversely, what are you bringing along to the next space? Was it a purposeful decision or was it thrust upon you? Are the circumstances about building a future or winding down another chapter? Is there joy in your movements or grief as you pack? Whatever the situation, notice your feelings and take the time to honor them. Be kind to yourself in the process and know that you can be your own champion of chang

• Take photos of things you are donating, selling, or leaving behind that have a strong connection for you
• Creating a visual record can make the transition easier
• As you say goodbye to the old you are also able to embrace the new with open arms and a heightened sense of possibility

© 2013 Maureen Weisner