Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time Management for Manic Moms - Week 6: Put Off Procrastination

Time Truth 6: The cost of putting things off is higher than the price of doing them

Just Do it

  • if you're one of those people who look or think about their list and then promptly ignore it, you may be suffering from a common syndrome, known as DDS, or Dirty Dish Syndrome.
  • sufferers of DDS have a tendency to put things off. 
  • One of the symptoms of this affliction is severe pain, because the cost of putting off is higher than the price of doing them in the first place. This often leads to stress, disappointment and mayhem in the sufferer's life.
DDS (Dirty Dish Syndrome)
  • Given the opportunity to do a task, the typical sufferer will choose not to.
  • The currency in which you pay for not taking action isn't necessarily financial. It can be accounted for in all manner of ways.
  • In the case of the dirty cup, it's effort and time, but procrastination can cost you your health, your finances and your relationship with your family.
  • More often than not, the things we put off are our blueberries, items which fall into the valuable but non-urgent compartment of the shopping basket of life. Put off for too long, they can lead to cost and regret.
  • Think of 3 things that you have put off in the past. Make a list. What did it cost you to put them off?
Why on earth do we put things off?
  • We can rationalize the sensible nature of getting things done, but for some reason we still procrastinate. How bizarre.
  • You are not totally in charge of your decision-making. You are influenced by something from within that makes your hand reach out and take the cake.
Your Internal Management Team
  • the Inner Voice
  • the Gremlin or Demon
  • For the author, it's her Time Management Team (TMT) - has various players with differing voices
  • You need to take charge of your Time-Management Team, because after all, it is your life.
  • FANNY FUN - just wants to have fun. The only thing she wants in her near focus is fun.
  • The Terrible Twins: DO IT LATER DELIA and COMPLACENT CAMILLA - they will assure you that you have plenty of time to do it later. Everything is under control. Do those things that are right in your focus now. That other stuff can wait a while.
  • STELLA STRESS - she'll have you convinced that it's best to put as much off as possible, because of course you do your best under pressure. Keep everything out of your near focus until the very last minute.
  • HILDA HABIT -she'll have you procrastinating like you don't know what, and you won't even have to think about it. The only things she wants in her near focus are things she's used to.
  • LINDA LAZY - can't be bothered to get anything done. Everything's too much effort. Her motto: "No gain, no pain". The only thing she wants in her near focus is anything to make her life easy.
  • The Gruesome Twosome: FREDA FEAR and PATRICIA PERFECTION - Patricia wants everything to be perfect, and Freda is frightened of failing. Between them, they'll persuade you to put things off until the last minute. That way you won't have time to do anything properly. You've got a fabulous excuse for failure and for not reaching perfection. What a team. They don't want anything in their near focus until it's too late to do it properly, giving them an excuse for not doing a great job.
  • NINA NO-TIME - overwhelmed by the sheer size of any task, Nina will look at it and categorically tell you that there isn't enough time to get it all done. To justify herself, Nina will direct your attention to all the little, less important jobs you have to do. By bringing these into your near focus, Nina will make you feel like you're really busy. But we all know you're busy doing nothing all day long. Well, nothing of any importance anyway.
  • CLARISSA CAN'T DO - will look at any task and tell you point-blank, "You can't do it.". She'll convince you that it can't be done by you, so best put if off. Bring something you can do into your near focus.
  • these characters all have fabulous powers of persuasion
Who's running your team?
  • You have to take charge. If you don't, it'll end up costing you dear.
  • All the members of your team mean well, and they are on your side, by they're misguided.
  • They're all trying to help and protect you:
    • Fanny is trying to protect you from boredom
    • Freda and Patricia from the embarrassment of failure
    • Linda from over-straining yourself
  • Think of a few things you are avoiding.
  • Make a Table of Temptation to analyze the pros and cons of your procrastination
    • What am I putting off?
    • Why am I avoiding it?
    • Benefit of putting it off
    • Benefit of doing it now
    • What am I tempted to do?
Top-Ten procrastination busters 
  • to help transform your Time-Management Team voices into your Dream Team
  1. Crystal Balls - the Crystal Ball technique allows you to view the potential of future events and gives you a chance to reconsider what you focus on in your present. You can change your ways and create the future of your choosing.
    • Gaze into your fabulous future 
      • Stand in a space with no other people around
      • Look in the direction of where you think your future is, then point to it. Notice where you are pointing. Notice how far away our future goes from you. How much time do you think you've got left?
      • Point to your past. Notice where you are pointing, notice how far away from you your past goes.
      • Point to your present. Notice where you are pointing. Are you standing in your present, is it high up, low down, in front of you, to the side, does it go around you? Really notice where it seems to start and end, in relation to the future and the past.
      • Get yourself a pen and and a paper and make a drawing of what you have just done. Draw a line which connects the past, present and future together just like a dot-to-dot.
      • What you've drawn is your Time Line. As you stand in you present gazing along it into your future, you become like a human crystal ball, able to see the consequences of your actions.
      • By bringing the consequences of not taking action into our present consciousness, it helps us take the right actions
  2. Reframing - the way we look at tasks can affect how we feel about them, and subsequently whether we do them or not.
    • sometimes looking at a task in a different way can give us the impetus we need to get started
    • If you are resisting doing a task, ask yourself: how can I look at this differently so the resistance will be removed?
    • Whatever resistance you're experiencing, look at the task another way. See if it helps.
  3. Bite of the Apple - tackle things one bite at a time.
    • You engage in the activity known as long-term planning and time-chunking.
    • Another easy way of getting you started on a large task that you're resisting is to just do one small thing towards it. Do one thing today that will start you on the journey of completing the task.
    • Each journey of a thousand steps begins with a single step. Taking even a baby step will move you closer to your goals. It'll motivate you to take more action as you start to gain momentum.
    • By setting a realistic deadline and by breaking the tasks down into smaller chunks, the impossible becomes possible.
    • Give yourself a little affirmation for success. An affirmation is a positive statement that let's you know you are moving in the right direction.
    • Sample affirmation: "Every day I am getting closer and closer to achieving all the tasks that are really important to me and make a significant difference in my life."
  4. Volume Control - learn how to control your own personal volume control to turn down the torturous tones of the tongues that tempt you, and say no to their nagging. (their = "Management Team")
    • Use your new-found control to turn down the volume on unwanted feelings, too.
    • Feeling of being under pressure, stress or guilt - none of these emotions is terribly helpful for productivity, so turn their volume down.
  5. Can't Do to Can Do - tell your RAS you can't do something and it will be in overdrive looking for evidence to support that belief
    • "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." - Henry Ford
    • Try these really simple ways to get you thinking that you can:
      • ask yourself "Is it that I really can't do it, or is it that I just don't know how?'
      • open up to the possibility that this is something you could achieve in the future. Instead of saying, "I can't do it", say, "I can't do it yet." This also gives you the permission to move forward.
      • ask, "What would I need to know, learn, or do, to be able to do this?
      • imagine yourself doing this thin you can't do yet at some point in the future. See, hear and feel what it's like to be doing your "can't do"
      • ask yourself:
        • what steps did I take to achieve this?
        • what options did I have and which ones did I choose?
        • what did I do to motivate myself to get on with it?
        • who helped me?
        • what is it like achieving this?
        • where would I be now if I had chosen not to do this?
        • what action will I take today to move forward with this can't-d and transform it into a can-do?
  6. No Pudding for Procrastinators - give yourself a reward when the task is complete
    • You only give yourself "pudding" when procrastination is off your personal menu.
    • If you motivate yourself to complete a task that you really didn't want to do, celebrate and reward yourself.
  7. Inject Urgency 
    • Create pressure artificially. Bring your deadline forward and give yourself breathing space.
    • Make a plan with contingency built in - and stick to it. 
    • Get someone else to hold you accountable. Ask a friend to check in with you periodically, at set dates before the deadline, to see if you've done what you said you would.
    • Build in milestones that will force you to do small parts of the task on a regular basis.
  8. New Habits - create a new habit
    • Decide what new habit you want.
    • Identify what triggers your old habitual behaviour.
    • Think of ways to remove the trigger.
    • Create a structure to support your new habit. Make a tick-list for the next 21 days to monitor your progress. This will also help you to be mindful of your new behaviour. Put a reminder in your Daily Diary. Remember, people who put their intentions down are more likely to manifest them.
    • Celebrate your success and reward yourself.
  9. It needn't be perfect - with such a high bar to reach, we're likely to fail
    • "Does everything really have to be perfect? What would be an acceptable standard?"
    • 80/20 Law - 20% of your efforts will produce 80% of your results. After that you get diminishing returns on your effort and focus.
    • 5 questions to ask yourself when Patricia Perfectionist is at work:
      • What would happen if this wasn't perfect?
      • If I just did my best what would I have to do?
      • How much less effort would it take to reach a perfectly acceptable standard?
      • Who says this has to be perfect?
      • What will happen if I attempt to reach perfection?
    • 5 ways to turn Fear of Failure into Courage
      • List the benefits of achieving what you're putting off.
      • Ask yourself, "What's the worst thing that could possibly happen if I have a go?"
      • Ask yourself, "What's the best thing that could possibly happen if I have a go?"
      • Take inspiration from others who have failed but persevered in order to reach their goals.
      • Think of 3 ways that attempting this could make you stronger as person.
    • If you achieve all your dreams and desires without ever failing, then you've not tried hard enough, or dreamt hard enough.
  10. Management Meetings - sit down and have a meeting with your management team
    • Put out 2 chairs that face each other. When you sit in one chair you will represent the views of yourself. You will put the case forward for getting on with the job in hand. In the other chair you will represent the case of your team - Hilda Habit, Fanny Fun, Freda Fear and the rest of the gang, who want to put things off.
    • Start by sitting in one chair. State all the reasons for getting on with the job.
    • Move to the second chair and state the reasons from your Management Team for putting the job off.
    • Return to the first chair and explain to the team all the reasons why their justifications are not valid. Tell them the benefits of doing the job now, in particular what's specifically in it for them.
    • Come to a compromise with your Management Team, so everyone is happy and you can take action to move forward.
    • Have fun with this. How silly are some of the arguments?
If you want to live the life of your choosing, take control of what you do in the moment and tomorrow will be surprisingly fabulous.

Actions for Week Six
  • Look at your list of things you've been putting off. (5mins)
  • Choose 2 of them to work on this week. One should be a small, achievable item - for example, spending ten minutes everyday playing one-to-one with your children. It could be putting up a picture that's been propped against the wall for months. The other should be a larger, more time-consuming project.
  • Totally complete the small item. (5-20mins)
  • Break the larger task down into manageable chunks. Put all the short-term actions into your Daily Diary. (10mins)
  • Take at least one step on the larger project. (5-20mins) Remember, lots of small steps will move you forward.
  • Don't put it off. Put the book down and start now!

  1. Keep a notebook and pen next to your bed so if you have any great ideas you can write them down and get to sleep. If a worry is keeping you awake, give it the same treatment.
  2. Put your clothes straight into the washing basket rather than getting there via floor, where they have a tendency to gang up and loiter with intent.
  3. Use your answering machine - you don't always have to answer the phone just because it's ringing!
  4. Do you really need to bathe slightly older children every night?
  5. Train everyone in your family never to put anything down but to put it away.
  6. Focus on one thing at a time. When you try to catch 2 rabbits, they both get away.
  7. Leave the lid off your washing tablet box, so you can just reach in and get what you need.
  8. Put your photographs into albums as soon as you get them. Don't wait until you have 5,000 all out of order and have lost the will even to try to sort them out. Work through the backlog a small chunk at a time.
  9. Make meals in bulk, then freeze them in portions to use another day.
  10. Put labels on everything. If something goes missing, it will be returned as if by magic.

  • We have a tendency to put things off.
  • The long-term costs of putting something off is usually greater than the short-term price of just doing it in the first place.
  • We are influenced to put things off by our internal thoughts. We can learn how to overcome these influences.
  • The usual reason for procrastination is that we see a benefit in the moment for doing so. The short-term gain often seems more appealing than the long-term consequences.
  • To put and end to procrastination, we can learn new habits and techniques around taking action.

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