The weather is just beautiful and the last thing anyone wants to do is sit inside on a computer. So after a few days of the long finger I've set up a little outside station with the help of a few extension leads, some big girls to take cute little tot onto the green to play and some nice quiet ipod music.
So here I am sitting in the sun blogging!!
Just like someone who has nothing to do.
I mentioned some months back that I was a speaker at a seminar last year on 'The Organised Home'
The seminar was fully booked out by mostly young mothers struggling to run a home, a job for which they had received practically zero preparation or training. My presentation was 'Is There Life After Housework' a title stolen from a dusty old book, written by Don Aslett, I had borrowed from a library when I was a young mother of three tots and was genuinely drowning in my own home, even though I had been given good training by my mother as mine was probably the last generation who were expected to pull their weight at home. My problem however was two things...
One-I couldn't get a good run at it because of the small children.
I can honestly say that book, which incidentally is back in print, changed my life. I'll have to read it again to remember exactly how it did that but it definitely marked a turning point in my productivity and being able to get a lot more done in a lot less time. Tackling procrastination is key to a lot of our inefficiencies in life, not just in the home but in our workplace, our relationships, our friendship with God. You know you've thought, if not said it...I'll do it tomorrow, I'll write that later, tomorrow, when this happens, when that happens, after this, after that....
The ever extending Long Finger...
So a big focus of my presentation was tackling the crippling habit of procrastination, and not because I have mastered it but because it is a tendency I struggle with myself every day with varying levels of success. The bigger the job I have lined up the more likely I am to do anything except that thing. I have been known to spend an evening making beautiful hand made cards like this one:
two days before I need eight of us to catch a boat and I haven't even started packing yet, husband is working up until the last minute and I still need to buy sandals for two children, someone needs a swimsuit and I've suddenly realised that someone else has grown without permission and all his summer clothes are too small.
My husband says:
'I'm not...I'm just making these cards...'
We always end up catching the boat or whatever it is we're supposed to do but sometimes only with a huge level of last minute stress and me ending up exhausted with something that could have been done easily at a relaxed pace.
Now remember, procrastination is a habit, not genetic so just like any other habit we wish to break or gain, it can be changed by practice. I spoke a bit on the causes of procrastination, but here I'm just going to give a few tools that I have found helpful.
(1) Mentally estimate how long the dreaded task will take.
This can be really revealing. It is just amazing how far we can long-finger a job and have it hanging over us. If we just actually just did the job it may take maybe 15 minutes or half an hour. Sometimes we put that job off for years! Now that's all very well but when you calculate the accumulative affect of the low grade stress the putting off has caused, the unachieved benefits of the job done (storage space freed up, being able to find things in a hurry, greater efficiency etc)...all for the sake of 15 minutes!!
(2) Visualise the job completed.
If for example you have a junk room to clear out and turn into a bedroom, don't look at the huge clear-out you have to do, instead keep your eye on the finished job, let your mind wander to your ideas for the pleasing and fun finishing touches as you complete the task. Have a picture in your head of how it will look, or even have a picture cut from a magazine of the design you're using.
(3) Imagine the feeling of accomplishment when the job is done.
This is different to the physical result but rather the satisfaction and relief of the job well done.
(4) Get rid of the thought 'I can't'.
Replace it with 'I can...and I will'.
(5) Let go of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is not a good character trait nor something to aspire to. It is stifling to family life, marriage, home care and lots of other areas of our life. It also prevents us from trying. There are lots of jobs (especially when you have small children) that don't need to be perfect. Just start the job and do your best. A job reasonably well done is better than a job not done at all. You know the wisdom drummed into students approaching exams...better to try all questions as well as we can rather than get 100% in one question and not attempt the rest. It is a recipe for failure.
(6) Do the difficult part first.
There was a small book which was popular a while ago 'Eat That Frog' which my friend gave me, I only skimmed through it but this short clip explains the simple and very wise philosophy behind it.
(7) Make yourself accountable.
Tell someone, or everyone, that you're planning to do or achieve something.
I'll give an example: Last year I wrote this post on my other blog promising to do a 10K mini marathon in aid of babyheart.org even though my level of fitness left a bit to be desired. I posted it on Facebook and Twitter, told my family and friends and updated regularly. The reason I advertised myself is because I know that my temperament is to often start a job with great gusto only to wriggle out of it when the going gets tough.
I am doing the marathon but only because I'd be too embarrassed not to after all my fanfare. I booby trapped myself on purpose. On top of it, I'm finally beginning to actually enjoy the training so it's a win-win situation.
(8) Break the job into bite sized chunks.
Instead of saying to yourself "I'm going to Spring Clean this house today."
Try something like this...make a list of the jobs which you think constitute spring cleaning. Then do one a day. Tick each one off as it gets done. When you look at each job individually you may see that each job shouldn't take that much time. Maybe half an hour max. That is so much more manageable than trying to do it all at once and exhausting yourself. You'll still have plenty of time to do everything else you usually do and time and energy left for what is really important, the people you love.
Here's my 20 Day Challenge, yours will be different for sure. (I'm putting it here to trick myself into doing it, I'll report back at the end. I might even take a few before and after photos, except No 11 ;-D )
So those are a few techniques to help battle procrastination. I hope you find them helpful. Why not set yourself your own 20 Day Challenge? I'd love to hear how you get on.
Remember that your home is not an end, it's a means to the smooth running, formation, care and relaxation of the people who live there. If Mom is worn out, the family doesn't thrive as well as it could. That may not be politically correct thinking but I think it's what we all know to be true.
If you enjoy my blog why not 'like' my Facebook page? The link is on the right of the page here.