Tips For Handling Those Tasks You Hate

I think we all have those tasks that languish on our “to do” list waaay too long. One of my procrastination tactics is the old cut and paste this chore until later in the week,  or better yet next Monday when I am fresh and the week is young.

For me, some of these tasks are phone calls I don’t want to make (that client who keeps cancelling – the request to have someone review my book). I dread the possibility of rejection. Then there are  the projects I am working on (my digital estate plan, promoting my virtual organizing). These tasks seem both overwhelming and not as urgent as other tasks.

So, what to do?

  1. Acknowledge that I am doing this.
           Just verbalizing how I feel and why I keep putting off this task gives me some perspective. Instead of just feeling the negative thoughts, I can start to make a plan for action.

     2. Think about how I am going to feel once the task is complete and how I am going to reward myself.

          I know that I will be much lighter without this monkey on my back. I will feel free to do something I really want to do without feeling guilty.
    3. Look at the possible positive outcomes from doing these tasks.
         The client may be just waiting for my call as her nudge to action. People may be very happy to review my book. They just hadn’t thought to do so. My projects are all ones that will give me peace of mind.

    4. Break down large projects into small parts.
         Stop putting on my “to do” list things like “work on visual organizing promotion.”  Instead put down “brainstorm everything you need to do to promote.” This is doable and then I can start to list each little task.
    5. Use if-then planning (got this out of Psychology Today article). 
         If I haven’t finished (put in task) by 3:00 p.m., then I am going to file it away and work on (new task). If the client hasn’t responded to my email by Wednesday evening then I am going to call her at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. According to the Psychology Today article, by deciding in advance what you are going to do and when and where you are going to do it, there’s no deliberating when the time comes. If-then planning has been shown in over 200 studies to increase rates of goal attainment and productivity by 200-300 percent on average.
OK! I have my plan. Let’s just do it!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Breakfast room/mud room zone

It is a new month and time to work on a different zone in my house. This month I concentrate on what I call my breakfast room (never ate breakfast there in my life but my mom called it that when I moved in and the name stuck). The actual activities that happen in this room are; overflow for parties, storage for all party supplies, containers for leftover food, storage for suitcases, the cat box home (moved to guest bedroom during parties), and tucked behind a set of doors is my washing machine and cleaning supplies. My goal is to clean and organize everything in this room during the month of April. There are 4 walls in this room and 4 weekends. I tackle a wall a weekend. I touch everything- clean much of it- and decide if it goes back where I pulled it from, gets trashed, given away, or goes somewhere else. My goal in every zone is to eliminate some items. I am contemplated if I really need that hanging bag suitcase. I have not used it in years. I know that my party supply section always has some get rid of items. On my shelf with food containers, I make certain that every container has a lid that fits. If there is not a match, the item is tossed.
If you do not have a mud room or extra small room, you could tackle a storage area instead. Let me know what area you will be working on in April.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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School is Out!

The end of school is almost here! Your children are soooo ready for it to end. Last day they are going to come home, dump their school stuff and run outside. OK, so give them one day. But, those stacks of old school papers – not to mention that backpack have got to be dealt with before summer can really begin. Have them clear a space (keep dogs and cats clear for their own safety) and turn the backpack upside down and dump its contents on the floor. Shake it a few times so that what is stuck to the bottom with old gum and candy also comes out. Now do the sort. Smelly clothes and sneakers go to the laundry. Tattered papers and candy wrapper go to the trash. End of year awards can be salvaged and put into a clean folder for the future. Check out old crayons, pencils, and other school supplies to see if they are going to be kept for summer art or are they in such bad shape they need to go to the trash. If anything in the pile tries to crawl away- step on it. Decide if the bag is going to be used again or is it now also ready for the trash (broken zippers, tears, strap broken). Do not let this clutter stay beyond one week. Have everything that is saved filed or put away and everything that is no longer good recycled or trashed. Now, enjoy the summer!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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Procrastination

I had lunch with a friend today who said that someone had told him that people who procrastinate are lazy. Procrastination is one of the topics I have been studying for my presentation on Time Management. If a person has ADD or ADHD and they procrastinate it is probably because they can’t selectively focus their attention. They get distracted by all stimuli and can’t figure out how to get started and will approach the task in a disorganized fashion. That does not mean they are lazy or unmotivated. It takes a superhuman effort to begin concentrating on a new task. Refocusing is painful. They may do great after they get started.
Other possible reasons for procrastination are that the person dreads the task. They may not understand how much time the task will take. They may want to wait until the last minute, when the adrenaline gets flowing and be a hero and pull it out at the last second. Sometimes people procrastinate because they really feel the task is not really important or they don’t understand the repercussions that might come from not doing the task. They may see a task as too large and overwhelming and have not been taught to break large tasks down into manageable bits. Many times they are just living in the now and want to do something else at this moment. It is also very likely that on their “to-do” list they have started with the wrong task. For example: if you need to do those taxes, the first task on your calendar might be do locate and check off all the supporting paperwork. If you sit down to do the taxes at the last minute and haven’t done the first task, then it will be overwhelming and you will be up late and not working at your prime. Think of a task you have been putting off. Do any of the above possibilities fit your situation?

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Ready for Action

While working on my presentation on Time Management for ADHD adults, I came across an ahaa moment while reading It’s Hard To Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul. She talks about being organized as being a dynamic between a state of readiness for action and taking action. There is a rhythm of taking action, creating the natural disorder that comes with taking the action, restoring order and thus returning for readiness for action. Most people who have difficulty with organization leave out the step of restoring order. If paying bills- getting out the basket of bills, the ledger or computer, the checkbook, the stamps is getting ready for the action. Writing out the checks, putting them in the correct envelopes, stamping them, and entering the amounts is taking action. This causes a disorder in the space you are working. Now there is a basket, a checkbook, and other items that have been pulled out to do the task. Many people feel like the checks have now been paid so they stop- have lunch- do something else and do not get around to putting everything back away, which at this point would only take minutes and therefore do not restore order. Therefore order is not restored and clutter begins. Keep skipping this last step on most of your tasks and chaos reigns.