Procrastination is something everyone has experienced. Although there are many reasons for it, understanding why you do it won’t necessarily help you get things done.
Delaying or putting things off until the last minute can sometimes work to motivate as there is nothing like a hard deadline to bring on the hyperfocus. Hyperfocus can be helpful, and many people falsely believe that they work best when under that kind of pressure. The problem is they don’t remember how awful they felt for the next three days. When you depend on your adrenaline to get you through a project you are using up your reserves and sometimes there is a price – your health.
One idea that I am thinking of using is declaring one day a week as Anti-Procrastination day. I believe it comes from the Fly Lady but I found it on Diane in Denmark. Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination day and she suggests completing one or more things that you have been putting off. She typically focuses on small things so there is a feeling of accomplishment. Just taking 15 minutes can make a huge difference but I’ll need more. Keep a list going so that you can get right to the tasks on Wednesday.
Since we are talking about procrastination, I have to ask….are you reading this because it is of interest or are you procrastinating on something else with a higher priority? No judgement here. You make your own choices. Let’s talk about 5 common procrastination pitfalls.
- I don’t feel like it right now, I’ll do it later
This is sometimes called “discomfort intolerance” when you think about the task you need to do and your body tenses or you suddenly feel overwhelmed and realize you can’t work on a task because you don’t “feel” like it.
- Admit it….you are never going to “feel like” doing it. Now figure out why. Is it boring, difficult or time consuming? Are you clear on the steps to completion? Are you afraid of failing or succeeding?
- Schedule a time to work on it – even if just a little piece of it. When that reminder goes off, get to it.
- Time yourself. Often time estimates of how long things take can be really off.
- Too many things to do and I want to do it all
- Figure out what is really a priority and what is not rather than what is just easier or more interesting to work on.
- Limit your to do list to 3 things that are important to you and keep the rest of the items on another list.
- If nothing is a priority, then nothing will get done. You should be looking at quadrant 2 activities/tasks not quadrant 4 (Eisenhower matrix).
- Distractions are everywhere
- According to one article, each time you hear a ping or a ding from your electronics, you are losing 10 points off of your IQ even if you don’t give in to them. Turn off all notifications or go on airplane mode and/or use focus mode which limits the distractions you can see on your device.
- When internal thoughts distract you, while you are working, take time to write them down instead of jumping up and dealing with them. Each break in your focus can add 20 minutes to your project/task while you regain the level of focus you had before you were distracted.
- Check in with your body before you start working. Do you need anything? Should you bring a drink or small snack with you so you don’t need to get up from your work?
- Instead of “now” and “not now,” think of “present you” and “future you”
- Handling things in a timely manner helps “present you” stay calm and prevents “future you” from becoming frantic. What can you do today that will make “future you” happy or less stressed?
- Take a look at your systems and processes – are there any improvements you can make, that will make your life easier in the future?
- Learn from your struggles. If you faced a challenge and solved it, document it for the next time. Learned a new skill, found a helpful app – keep track of them for next time.
- Change the negative into positive
- Science says our brains tend to focus on the negative as a safety measure, so we need to be aware when that happens and up the volume on the positives. Create a victory list of what you did accomplish instead of a longer to do list for tomorrow.
- Stop the negative self-talk. It doesn’t help you get things done, instead it stresses your brain and makes it harder to think.
- End the day on a positive note. Cross off those things you accomplished and celebrate. Add to your victory list and then go do something that makes you happy. Life is not about what you did or didn’t get done. It’s about who you are becoming.
Let me know what you have been procrastinating on over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.
Time is our most precious commodity. If we don’t use it, we lose it and it is one thing we can never get back. Sure, we can try to pack more into a day but often that leaves us feeling overworked, exhausted or stressed. Ever feel cheated that you didn’t get to do what you REALLY wanted or needed to do?
Instead of cramming more into our day, look for a few spaces between tasks, errands or transitions. I am sure there are several five-minute blocks somewhere in your day. For today, let’s assume you found 3 blocks of 5 minutes = 15 minutes total. You decide what works for you. Just don’t overdo it trying to get one more thing done and make yourself late.
Now how will you use those 5-minute blocks? You can decide your three big categories, and then list ideas under each. My three categories are listed below with some ideas to help get you started. Use your imagination and make it work for you. I have seen how having a specific time limit can help motivate us for unpleasant tasks every week during Work It Wednesday when we use 3, 25-minute blocks to get things done (contact me for zoom link to join us at 10am ET). Let’s use these blocks to improve our lives.
- Drink a glass of water
- Go outside and breathe
- Stretch my muscles
- Call or text a friend
- Meditate (yes, even 5 minutes is beneficial)
- Put away the winter jackets and boots
- Clean out and organize a drawer
- Remove 5+ things no longer needed or wanted
- Toss/recycle today’s junk mail and catalogs
- Declutter a shelf or clear a counter of all non-essentials
- Spend 5 minutes with each child and listen
- Plan a family activity for the weekend
- Make a meal plan for the week
- Go outside (take a walk, shoot hoops, swing, etc.)
- Do a 5 minute (maybe longer) reset to be ready for tomorrow
Creating routines and habits that keep the family organized impacts the level of stress in your home. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in five minutes. Feel free to build onto the momentum as we have seen how clutter and disorganization can impact mood, weight, stress and health.
Let me know what you are most proud of doing in your 5 minutes over on my Facebook page. Let’s get a conversation going.
As soon as you wake up, what do you see? Is your bedroom space a sanctuary from the stress of daily life where you can easily and calmly start your day or is it a cluttered reminder of all you’re not taking care of and making you feel overwhelmed and frustrated each and every morning?
Now, think about how you would like your master bedroom to function. Do you need it to be a “home office” space as well? Is it a TV room where your kids can go or do you pile the clean laundry on the bed with the hopes of folding it and putting it away? Or is it a place to “hold” your clutter so it is not in the rest of the house? What do you want it to be?
Clutter and Disorganization can:
- Make getting dressed a hassle
- Impact your sleep
- Interfere with romance
- Waste time
- Increase your stress
- Make things harder and/or take longer
What is the impact?
The truth is we cannot expand our spaces to fit all of our things so we need to either reduce how much we own or redefine what is really important to us. By removing those things that you no longer want, need or use or that do not belong, you can begin to free up some space. In the master bedroom, both parties need to share their hopes for the space. In a child’s room, they need to have input as well.
Biggest impact in a master bedroom….electronics! The TV, the ipad and even the phones all impact your sleep cycles and serve to distract you from the true priorities of that room. “A new study from Brigham Young University examined how technology interferes with relationships. The researchers concluded that “technoference” can be damaging not just to a relationship but to your psychological health as well.”
Clutter and disorganization can also interfere with your morning and evening routines. Those routines that are supposed to help you calmly end your day and prepare yourself for sleep can be totally thrown off if you happen to step on a lego. (You know what I mean)
Various studies also mention the effects of clutter on children. Everything from scoring lower on tests of cognitive ability and self-regulation to learned helplessness and withdrawing from academic challenges. Also, being overwhelmed by the number of options can prevent kids from using their time creatively.
Ideas to Help
- Declutter – seriously….declutter
- Reduce your clothing so that it fits in your storage spaces when all the laundry is done (dressers and closets)
- Organize by grouping like things together
- Hooks for tomorrow’s outfit and things that can be worn again
- Bins inside drawers to hold things you don’t need to fold (pjs, socks, etc.)
- Clear off all flat surfaces so only the necessities are there
- Remove extra pillows and décor
- Label clear bins in kids’ rooms to help with organization
- Make the master bedroom inviting (and not kid friendly????)
And lastly, when you get up in the morning, make your bed. It changes the way you think about your room and gives you an automatic win for the day. So, calm or chaotic – the choice is yours.
Farewell 2021 – Although I would like to say I am happy to see you go, the reality is that I don’t remember much of what happened in 2021. What do you remember from 2021?
I took some time to go through my journal from last year and skimmed through the photos on my phone in order to bring it all back into focus. Don’t you just love it when Google reminds you of what happened last year on this date?
The more often we recall those events, the more likely they are to stay in our memories. My planner is another place I look for past events, ideas and recurring themes. You get the idea. I searched for the high and low points of last year and the special moments that occurred and noticed some of the challenges that were sprinkled throughout.
For me, those covid added pounds and blurry work boundaries showed up throughout. For you, it might be disorganization, financial stress or negative self-talk or any number of other concerns. Whatever your top two are, I’m suggesting that you not make a resolution or a complex plan to tackle it this year. We know resolutions don’t work and we end up with more negativity and feelings of failure for something that we “feel” we should be able to do.
Let’s take another approach. It is a fact that the brain tends to focus on the negative rather than the positive side of things (it’s genetic, to protect us). Now let’s add in this new thing called, “Covid/Pandemic Fatigue” which is, according to an article on Healthline, completely natural, yet leads to being “demotivated and exhausted with the demands of life during the Covid crisis.” You don’t need me to tell you that there is more fatigue and negativity all around us – why should we promote it if we don’t have to?
New “rule” for 2022, let’s focus on the positives! Change just one thing- your approach to each day. There are lots of options, which ones resonate with you?
• Ask yourself, “What can I do today to be more positive or that will add to my day?”
• What can I do today to take better care of myself?
• Keep track of your successes with a Victory List
• What one thing can I organize today? (You know I had to put that in)
• Keep out the ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) that creep in
• Take a photo to capture a positive in your day
• Read an uplifting quote
• Start a gratitude journal
• Go to bed on time!
• Walk away from your work – keep clear boundaries
• Turn off your screens and tune into those around you
If you do have something you want to improve or work on this year, then do it in a positive way and 2022 just may be your best year yet!
Graphic thanks to: ‘https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by BiZkettE1 – www.freepik.com</a>
Each year we start out with the best of intentions. Sometimes though, those intentions can turn out to be so much extra work that we quickly give up. Let’s take a look at three things you can do to make sure you are doing things for the right reasons.
First up, create some boundaries (borders or limits) so you can make logical choices for you and your family. A family meeting is a great way to hear what is important about the year from each person’s perspective.
• Decide if “x” is worth your time, energy or effort before you say yes. Sure, you may want to do it all but at what price?
• What is fun for each person? Can you incorporate that into a plan?
• Handle or prevent those interruptions and obligations that you can control and find a way to limit or cut short those that have you at the mercy of someone else.
• Turn off your alerts and decide when you will be available.
• Get everyone involved and listen to their input. They will be more invested in the outcomes.
Taking care of yourself is the next key. It’s hard to let go of our own expectations sometimes but it is extra important to stay well this year. Self-care means making the time to exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, socialize and do the things that lower your stress level. Being organized makes your life easier too, why do things the hard way when you don’t have to?
• Create morning and evening routines that serve you that include a specific bedtime and wake up time.
• Set aside some time for yourself. (Sometimes that means locking the bathroom door – do whatever it takes).
• Choose wisely grasshopper, as you are trading away time that can never be regained.
• What helps you feel recharged? Can you fit that in somewhere?
Lastly, Planning and Prioritizing are important. Prioritizing will keep the important things on the top of the list and having a plan will keep you on track. By creating an action list the night before, you have time to think about how important those tasks are to you. Without a plan your day can go in any direction but with a plan you are in charge of where it goes.
Ways to Plan and Prioritize:
• It’s okay to not be able to do it all – some things should never be done, and some can easily be put off as long as you are the one that decides. Get the family to pitch in too.
• Schedule in even the tiniest tasks, don’t list a project with multiple steps on the list just the next step.
• Estimate how long you think a task will take and then time yourself. Don’t forget to include travel time, prep time and clean up time.
• Be realistic in the amount you can accomplish in one day. Start small and build your momentum by getting the higher priorities or the more distasteful (but important) ones done
Keeping these three keys in mind will help you focus on what is really important this year and hopefully it will help you feel less stressed-and that’s my hope for you.
Procrastivity is part procrastination and part activity. We all know that procrastination is not a good thing. It means putting off things that you know you really should be doing. However, procrastivity is when you “put off” (procrastinate) on what you REALLY should be doing in favor of another activity that also needs to be done but is less brain taxing. Sure, the (less important) task needs to be done and you want to feel some sense of accomplishment – but, should it be the priority? Probably not. You will feel the cost of it later when the real priority is due. For example, doing laundry instead of the taxes.
Do you procrastinate, because….
• You don’t understand what you need to do?
• It is a boring task?
• It is too hard or complex?
• It takes “too much time” or you just don’t know how long it will take?
• It has too many steps?
So instead, Russell Ramsey, Ph.D., notes in his article in Psychology Today, that when you surrender to procrastivity, it may be because the activity is maybe more hands-on, or has a routine to it that you don’t really need to think about. It is often an activity where you can see the progress and know what the end point looks like. For example, you know when the laundry is done but not necessarily how long it will take for the taxes to be done (which usually feels like forever!).
What can help?
It is important that at some time you complete the task that you have been procrastinating on. If you have ADHD it might be when the deadline gets closer and you use that adrenaline/anxiety push to get you through it. But what does that cost you? Stressing yourself out to get something accomplished can have all kinds of serious effects – think stress, high blood pressure, fatigue, lack of sleep, weight gain (from feeding that cortisol monster) etc. That’s a high price! So, what can you do instead?
First of all, be careful what you put on that “to do” list. Make sure that you are listing tasks and not projects. A project is anything with multiple steps. That’s why kids can never “clean their room” because it is really a number of separate things to do and not just one thing. Keep that in mind when you want to write “do taxes” when you really mean, collect documents for taxes. Sure, it might make your list look longer but I would encourage you to only put down 3-5 tasks for the day. The rest of the list can “live” somewhere else and you can pick from it each day but don’t overwhelm yourself by listing everything you wish you could do today.
Ramsey also suggests making the task more manual or action oriented to get started. It may be collecting what you need to start the task and putting them where you will be working. Then decide what the next step should be. Once you get the task rolling you might see that it is not as bad as you thought and you’ll keep working. Be careful though, make sure you know the minimal amount of time you are willing to commit to the task. Then if you go over – hurray! If you don’t – at least you did what you promised yourself. Take pleasure in that.
If you are suffering from overwhelm and feel that you will get to the task after you do “x” or “y”, or when you feel better – I have to tell you it doesn’t work that way. You can’t wait until you feel better or get “x” done – so you should just set a day and time where you will commit to working on it. Then keep that promise.
Getting started or task initiation is one of the executive function skills that those with ADHD find the most challenging. Often the first thing that happens is that the “planning monster” takes over. Creating a long, but beautiful to do list doesn’t help you get to the action piece. It may in fact overwhelm and paralyze you. Breaking it down into its smallest steps and lowering your expectations to completing 3-5 tasks rather than 25 will help you build that action muscle. You might also discover that the feeling of accomplishment helps you complete more.
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we cook, we eat and we connect with our loved ones. Special occasions will find friends and family gathering there too. Shouldn’t it be an organized, peaceful place?
Working from home over the past 18 months and having to make 3 meals a day, has had me in the kitchen much more often. How about you?
Do you feel like your kitchen is organized and functional or do you hate to cook because of all the work it takes to find things? Are things easy to grab or do you need to move other things that you rarely use in order to reach them?
- Is this set up working for me?
- Am I using all the appliances and gadgets that are stored here?
- Can I quickly find what I need?
- Do I have enough space to work?
- How often do I use that roasting pan and why is it taking up valuable space?
Here are 5 things you can do to make your kitchen more functional and less of a nightmare:
- Remove those things that are only used for holidays and special occasions. Move them somewhere else that you can still get to easily but out of the kitchen.
- Reduce the number of mismatched dishes, mugs, and glasses down to what you really need. Clear out all the old tupperware and saved plastic containers – they are not healthy to use. Save enough dishes, etc. to not have to wash them daily. Dishtowels, cleansers and cooking utensils, what’s reasonable?
- Clear the countertops- less is better. What do you really use daily or at least weekly? Coffee makers and large kitchenaid mixers can probably stay but canisters, appliances you rarely use can be stored off of the counters.
- Create a “work zone”. Where do you usually prep for cooking? Make sure you have what you’ll need within arm’s reach such as knives, cutting boards, spices and utensils. Creating zones for serving and cooking can also be helpful.
- Organize cabinets and drawers so things are easy to reach and you don’t need to move A to get to B. Racks, hooks and pull out shelves are easy to install. Group spices, oils and vinegars together near your cooking zone. Group food together too.
By making your kitchen more functional, you may find you enjoy being in it more and that meal prep is less stressful. Having a meal plan can help and regular cleaning routines so that dishes don’t pile up can make a big difference in how you feel when you walk into the kitchen.
- How is your mail system? Do you keep it all in one place or is it on the counter, on the table or in several piles somewhere else? Are your bills in all of those places as well?
- Do you have a bill paying system? Many bills are automatically paid online these days but there are still some bills that must be paid “manually” do you keep up with them or have you had to pay late fees?
- Where do you charge your devices? Are you often searching for the charger? Or the device?
- Do the dishes seem to pile up or do you need to move things around on the counters in order to have space to work?
- Are your shoes piled up near the door? Do you really need all of your shoes there? What needs to change here?
- How about your clothes? Is your closet stuffed or your drawers overflowing? Is your laundry system working for you or do your clothes stay in the dryer (or hamper) until you need them?
- Are your meals planned ahead or do find yourself running to the grocery store with everyone else at 5pm?
- How is your car running? Do you keep up with car maintenance and regularly fill your gas tank?
- Is bedtime a struggle? Or do you go to bed around the same time each night?
- Do you exercise/walk regularly?
Last month we talked about cleaning up some of the paper piles that you have been collecting and reducing the amount of paper you hold onto “just in case.” I hope that you are feeling lighter by now and can focus on reducing the number of places you keep the remaining papers so you can find what you need when you need it. If you didn’t finish, that’s okay but try to deal with all the paper that is coming into your home each day. Don’t wait until you have cleared out the backlog as that is an ongoing process, not one that can be done quickly.
Three Kinds of Paper
- The first group of papers are the irreplaceable ones. The social security cards, the deed to the house, the title for your car, your marriage license, passports, etc. Sure, you could probably figure out how to get a replacement but it wouldn’t be easy. This can include sentimental memorabilia and specialty items. Not photos though, they have their own storage needs.
- Then there are the bills – if anyone except me still gets paper bills - that need to be “touched” at least monthly or quarterly in the case of property tax or water bills. These are short term papers. The receipt for those gloves you bought but haven’t worn them enough to know if you really want to keep them. The utility bills, receipts for things you have purchased or papers from school. This category also includes the things you are thinking about purchasing and the fliers you want to review before recycling. Keeping magazines and catalogs in this category avoids the year long pile up that can occur.
- Lastly, there are long term storage These papers don’t need to be accessed for a year or more. This is where tax records, and warranty information and manuals live (if you tend to keep that kind of stuff).
Where to Store?
For Irreplaceable Items: These items should be stored in a fireproof, waterproof, portable container in case you need to leave your house in a hurry. You might want to put copies of your credit card information, your license and health care cards, doctors’ names and contact information in there too. Think of the things you would need if you had to leave your home and make sure those things (or copies of them) are in there.
Short term papers: I am sure you have one spot for all the bills – you do, don’t you? It can be wherever you want it to be, but all bills and short-term papers need to go there and no where else. No one wants to scour the whole house looking for that property tax bill that came two months before it was due. Some clients have set up “command centers” using a hanging file box and different folders for action, bills, school schedules, receipts, etc. I have a set of cubbies over the desk in the kitchen – best idea ever! Wherever you decide to keep them, keep all of the papers there so you only need to look in one place. If you are crafty though and keep a lot of ideas for future projects, you might want to set up a space to keep all that stuff together as well. Take the time to label things in broad categories so you don’t need to go through the whole drawer to find one pattern. Magazines and catalogs you want to go through can also be contained in a basket or bin. When the next one comes in – the first one goes out.
Long term Storage: This storage should be out of the way but still easy to get to. You don’t want it taking up valuable space in a closet when it can stay safely in a plastic box in the attic or a dry basement. As your kids grow, this may also be the space you put there most treasured items. Be sure to use an archival box to protect them. I hesitate to even mention warranty booklets – most are available online so there is no need to hold onto them. Think about how many times you have actually had to use one of them. Was it worth holding onto? The biggest problem with long term storage is it mostly likely will not get looked at again. Every year though when you go to put your tax documents away you can take out the documents from 4 years ago and shred them. If you are getting electronic copies, you can delete them too. The records your computer is holding also need to be gone through and/or put into folders that have broad categories with very specific file names. Computer documents are a whole newsletter on their own. I mention them because the push now is to scan copies and shred the paper copies in order to reduce the paper in your home. If you do that, be sure to tag them and use specific file names so you can find what you are looking for.
How Much is Enough?
You will need to decide how much paper you feel you “must” hold onto. Ask yourself can it be replaced, what is the worst that could happen if I don’t have this and seriously will I ever get to this project? Then decide where to keep it. If you have storage already set up, be sure to go through and purge what you can before adding in the new. (Photos and memorabilia should have their own home). It is an investment in time for sure, but when you need something and can go directly to the cabinet to get it – you will feel so proud of the effort you put in.
Get started now – don’t leave it all for your kids to go through????
PS Don’t forget to shred anything with your name or identifying information on it. Identity theft happens. Good luck!