Organizational Tip #3: Procrastination Nation

September 8, 2007 at 2:09 pm (dream, goal, Organizational Tips, perfectionism, procrastination, video games, wasting time)

Anyone with mostly human DNA and a beating heart has experienced the joys and woes of procrastination.


Why do we clean the entire bathroom ceiling to toilet when a paper is due? When you are dreading prep for a job interview? Suddenly, you have an emergent 5 course meal to plan. We’ve all been there. So, I will include the psychology lurking behind this, and a few steps to push on through.

1. Fear of failure/perfectionism: Especially if you have a reputation of success, the bar is set high. Your mother, your buddies, the tollbooth lady, whoever you know or have bored with your life story, know you can achieve amazing things. Disappointing these people is scary, so often instead of completing a task, you have an unfinished novel, a partially baked cake, or a half painted Monet look-a-like in your den aka scary junk room. By avoiding completion, you effectively don’t disappoint.

Solution: Your imagination or nightly dream world may run wild with potential conversations or scenarios with people you don’t want to disappoint. These play-acted scenes may include people screaming in horror. There are two things to understand. Most people are so wrapped up in their own lives (i.e., failures/successes/romances/digestive woes) that they barely notice what is going on in front of their little beaks. Little Chimichanga here certainly wouldn’t notice your foibles.


And second, by taking chances, you will gain respect and admiration, because most of those people you know also suffer from fear of failure as well. You will end up inspiring those around you with your strength. And aren’t you always curious to know what happens at the end of a story? Well, those that love you want to know what happens next in your life.

2. Pain avoidance can be fun: Spending hours blogging (lol), painting your fingernails, toenails, and walls, or playing X-Box until arthritis sets in, are all completely engaging, fun activities. That’s the point. They distract to such a degree, that you can forget all your plans, your problems, your hopes and dreams. Is that a good thing? No. Do you want on your gravestone “here lies Bob who achieved 5 billion points in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider?” No, I didn’t think so. Your nerd friends who also haven’t bathed or achieved much in the last 10 years might build a shrine for you, but no one else will.

So, get a game plan together so that you can take breaks, but spend most of your time working on your life goals.

3. Hard work is hard: Yes, it sounds dumb. But, that’s what it is. Not easy. In addition to pain avoidance, this point also includes the fact that completing a difficult task may require long hours of concentration. Your mind might wander, your rear may hurt, your head might explode, but sometimes this is what it takes to get hard work done.

Solution: Get a good chair, make sure your desk, monitor, keyboard are all at a healthy height/position, have energizing snacks available. Make your work environment friendly and comfortable. Maybe add a house plant or a nice photo too. Warn others in the house that you will need quiet for this time every night and also tell others what you are doing to keep yourself honest.

Next, take your goal and split it up into little bits on a list. Make your dream a reality by making it less dream and more practical reality by turning “get a graduate degree” goal into “make phone call to dean to get transcript, call Professor Schmuckinsky for a recommendation” and others. Then put a due date next to each of these. Be realistic. Set aside 30 minutes a night or morning, depending on your day job, to focus. The first night, set a timer for 10 minutes.

Work for 10 minutes on this task. Then you can blow off the next 20. The next night, add 5 more minutes, again keeping yourself on track with your trusty timer. Each night, add 5 minutes until you are at 30. If you want to push this longer, go right ahead. And make a big X over what you have accomplished and tack it up on a board in front of you so you can witness your progress. I’d recommend taking breaks every 30 minutes, of about 5 minutes to feed your brain with a snack, to do something mindless, to recharge your energies. Also, try to avoid an all or none attitude. If you mess up one night, you are not a failure. Do not just chuck the whole plan. Keep plugging away. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you’d like to write in with comments regarding your goals and your progress, I’d love to hear them.

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Organizational Tip #2: 5 Ways to Disconnect and Refresh

September 2, 2007 at 8:05 pm (bulldogs, healthy eating, Netflix, Organizational Tips, relaxation, youtube)

Instant gratification has become a part of our world. The faster the better. I used to sit tapping my fingers aggressively, huffing and puffing waiting for my dial-up connection to load a page. Now, along with lightening speed internet speeds, comes an expectation for our brain waves to keep up the pace. And this means returning 100+ emails a day, keeping up with technology, participating in 20 internet communities. And I’m not even including the outside-of-the-internet life we all (hopefully) enjoy. This would involve cooking and eating, maintaining relationships, a career (unless blogging is yours), paying bills, etc etc etc. This pace somehow seems normal.

So, what I profess are 5 tips to decompress from this manic life we lead. The bonus is you will return to your work refreshed and energized and with a brain that actually works.

1. Stop and look and listen. When signs of exhaustion set in, it is often too late. Your brain is already fried and perhaps you are reading and re-reading the same email or find yourself missing entire sections of a friend’s story. There are multiple signs of overload. It may be a headache. For another, falling face first into your keyboard. Pay attention to yourself and the signs of exhaustion. Rushing to a finish line is only valuable if you remember the ride and you have a clue where you are rushing. So, just stop and evaluate how you are feeling.

Stop, Look and Listen by MC Lyte:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl-YR0JRnGY”>

2. Schedule breaks into your day. As nerdy as this might sound, set alarms for mini-siestas each hour you are working. Let’s say you sit down to write correspondences and/or to do work at 9am. Set the alarm for 20 minutes and stop when the buzzer sounds. Use a kitchen timer, preferably a digital one as the noise might drive you mad, defeating the purpose of this whole exercise. Another tool is a desktop widget that allows for different alarm settings. One such tool is the Simple Timer Gadget 1.0, downloaded for free at:
These are noiseless and can be used if you are in an office environment.

Get up from your desk and take a break. Set a buzzer for when the break should end, say 10 minutes later. So your day may look like this.

1pm Set timer for 20 minutes; FOCUS AND WORK
1:20pm Set timer for 10 minutes; BREAK
1:30pm Set timer for 20 minutes; FOCUS AND WORK
1:50pm Set timer for 10 minutes; BREAK

Continue as appropriate. You’ll be amazed how much your focus will improve, how much more you accomplish, and how much your morale and motivation improves.

This is somewhat like mental interval training. Your brain works for a spurt, you have a goal, thus improving motivation as an end is in sight. Ding, the alarm sounds and you are on break. Perhaps it is 10 minutes of talking on the phone, reading a fun article, or throwing in a load of laundry. The important detail is that you are removing yourself from the same focus and as a result, you are better conditioned to do work when you return.

3. Nosh regularly. The next piece of advice is to feed the engine that is your brain. Perhaps you feel that sitting and doing work does not require as much fuel as running a marathon. Well, you are right, except for the fact that your brain still burns calories. By eating healthy snacks throughout your day, especially during those solid work phases, you are maintaining your sugar levels and energy for that boulder on your shoulders. Vegetables, fruit, a wedge of low-fat cheese, a few crackers are some of the snack ideas I’d recommend. Do not indulge in high-fat, greasy foods as you are providing more bulk for your behind than your noggin.

If you wait too long, you might overeat and eat too fast:

Preferably, you’ll have a healthy snack like one of these two fellows:

4. Walk around the block. On one of your 10 minute breaks, get your rear in gear and out of a sitting position. Get your blood flowing. I’d especially recommend opening the front door and walking around the block. A change of scenery and some blood flow will improve your mood, your coloring and will freshen your perspective upon return to the desk.

5. Lastly, reward yourself for your hard work. Plan something fun for the evening. Have a scheduled manicure or massage. Have a Netflix DVD waiting. All work and no play makes for a dull life.

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Organizational Tip #1: Post-traumatic Martha Stewart-itis syndrome

August 10, 2007 at 4:28 pm (Organizational Tips)

So, who feels more stressed out AFTER reading Martha Stewart’s mag? Maybe I have problems, but I find her small font and perfect home layouts and instructions for creating your own doily to be overwhelming. I just feel like an inadequate failure. And to boot, I can barely keep up with the millions of things I need to do involving daily life maintenance. I haven’t even gotten to the beauty routine I apparently should be doing. Alas, I seek to share life tips that will not add more weight to your to-do lists, but will actually lessen your load. I am also struggling to juggle multiple responsibilities as many other ladies are these days.

My first tip is not so much a tip as a change in mindset. As a female, we seek to please. When I get an email, I feel a compulsion not to offend the sender by waiting too long to write back. When the phone rings, I think, yikes, must get to it! When someone rings the door bell, I throw on whatever scraps are nearby and aim a slightly presentable appearance as not to scare away the villagers. When someone insults me, I USED to believe it, then think, how can I fix my hair, face, manner…you fill in the blank. What is wrong about all of this? I am considering everyone but myself. And why is SOMEONE ELSE’S opinion more valid than your own? Well, it’s not. Who could possibly understand your needs better than YOU? And jumping to attention at every available opportunity is not only exhausting, but it is rude to YOURSELF. So, the bigger picture gain by stopping this horrid behavior is a sense of empowerment. Stop dropping everything and getting completely stressed out and abandoning your responsibilities and dreams.

So, solution number 1 involves focusing on your own needs first. You are not selfish, you are not cruel, and lastly, being a martyr is boring. Relishing in telling for the 115th time how exhausted you are, and how you don’t have time is also boring. What would be interesting is being rested, feeling in control of your destiny, and accomplishing some of your personal goals. So, anytime the phone rings, the doorbell dongs, the email comes buzzing in, first STOP. Second, take a deep breath. Third, say to yourself, will the world explode into a million pieces if I don’t answer the phone? In the modern world, with caller ID, you will know if it’s the Secretary of State ringing. Unless you are Jack Bauer, this is unlikely. Obviously, turning off the lights and your tunes and hiding in the closet when the doorbell rings reeks of weirdness, and perhaps the UPS man has arrived with tasty treats. You may need to answer the door, but if you don’t feel like an hour-long chat with your blabby neighbor, cutting it short isn’t rude…her disrespect of your schedule IS. Not that people are to be cut off rudely or socialization is unhealthy…but if you are focusing and working and accomplishing, these interruptions should be kept quick and you should schedule in fun time with friends. Log your phone messages, important emails to return on your calendar or To Do list for a specific time of day. Pick a specified time to devote full attention, much like a doctor’s appointment. It is time limited, and whatever you don’t finish in that time (I’d suggest 1 hour), is for the To-Do list for tomorrow.

TAKING BACK YOUR LIFE AND TIME plan:

Interruption occurs (doorbell, phone, email, dog humping your leg, etc.)

1. STOP and take a breath
2. Ask yourself, “is this absolutely necessary to attend to at this very second?”
3. If the answer is no, which it should mostly be, then continue your work… If the answer is yes, you must divert attention, then do so, completing the task quickly and return to your previous activity.
4. Make a list of phone calls, emails, visits, and schedule the most vital for a daily block of time.

PROS: a sense of control, more work accomplished in less time, re-prioritizing YOU vs the rest of the world, less stress, fewer headaches

CONS: your change of behavior may surprise and disappoint others who are used to having you jump when they call (after time and reinforcement, they will get used to the new you)

FAB TIP: Toodledo has added great organizational joy to my life. You can add your To Do items, in addition to your schedule, which can all print into a little foldable list every day. Any item you must complete may be given a time of day and time limit as well. Just check out this awesome free tool. Click: Toodledo.com. Toodledo is an easy to use, web-based to-do list. Keeping track of all your tasks will help you avoid disorganization, stay motivated and be more productive. Check it out.

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Organizational Tip #1: Post-traumatic Martha Stewart-itis syndrome

August 10, 2007 at 3:28 pm (Beauty Tips, Martha Stewart, Organizational Tips, solution, time management, Toodledo)

So, who feels more stressed out AFTER reading Martha Stewart’s mag? Maybe I have problems, but I find her small font and perfect home layouts and instructions for creating your own doily to be overwhelming. I just feel like an inadequate failure. And to boot, I can barely keep up with the millions of things I need to do involving daily life maintenance. I haven’t even gotten to the beauty routine I apparently should be doing. Alas, I seek to share life tips that will not add more weight to your to-do lists, but will actually lessen your load. I am also struggling to juggle multiple responsibilities as many other ladies are these days.

My first tip is not so much a tip as a change in mindset. As a female, we seek to please. When I get an email, I feel a compulsion not to offend the sender by waiting too long to write back. When the phone rings, I think, yikes, must get to it! When someone rings the door bell, I throw on whatever scraps are nearby and aim a slightly presentable appearance as not to scare away the villagers. When someone insults me, I USED to believe it, then think, how can I fix my hair, face, manner…you fill in the blank. What is wrong about all of this? I am considering everyone but myself. And why is SOMEONE ELSE’S opinion more valid than your own? Well, it’s not. Who could possibly understand your needs better than YOU? And jumping to attention at every available opportunity is not only exhausting, but it is rude to YOURSELF. So, the bigger picture gain by stopping this horrid behavior is a sense of empowerment. Stop dropping everything and getting completely stressed out and abandoning your responsibilities and dreams.

So, solution number 1 involves focusing on your own needs first. You are not selfish, you are not cruel, and lastly, being a martyr is boring. Relishing in telling for the 115th time how exhausted you are, and how you don’t have time is also boring. What would be interesting is being rested, feeling in control of your destiny, and accomplishing some of your personal goals. So, anytime the phone rings, the doorbell dongs, the email comes buzzing in, first STOP. Second, take a deep breath. Third, say to yourself, will the world explode into a million pieces if I don’t answer the phone? In the modern world, with caller ID, you will know if it’s the Secretary of State ringing. Unless you are Jack Bauer, this is unlikely. Obviously, turning off the lights and your tunes and hiding in the closet when the doorbell rings reeks of weirdness, and perhaps the UPS man has arrived with tasty treats. You may need to answer the door, but if you don’t feel like an hour-long chat with your blabby neighbor, cutting it short isn’t rude…her disrespect of your schedule IS. Not that people are to be cut off rudely or socialization is unhealthy…but if you are focusing and working and accomplishing, these interruptions should be kept quick and you should schedule in fun time with friends. Log your phone messages, important emails to return on your calendar or To Do list for a specific time of day. Pick a specified time to devote full attention, much like a doctor’s appointment. It is time limited, and whatever you don’t finish in that time (I’d suggest 1 hour), is for the To-Do list for tomorrow.

TAKING BACK YOUR LIFE AND TIME plan:

Interruption occurs (doorbell, phone, email, dog humping your leg, etc.)

1. STOP and take a breath
2. Ask yourself, “is this absolutely necessary to attend to at this very second?”
3. If the answer is no, which it should mostly be, then continue your work… If the answer is yes, you must divert attention, then do so, completing the task quickly and return to your previous activity.
4. Make a list of phone calls, emails, visits, and schedule the most vital for a daily block of time.

PROS: a sense of control, more work accomplished in less time, re-prioritizing YOU vs the rest of the world, less stress, fewer headaches

CONS: your change of behavior may surprise and disappoint others who are used to having you jump when they call (after time and reinforcement, they will get used to the new you)

FAB TIP: Toodledo has added great organizational joy to my life. You can add your To Do items, in addition to your schedule, which can all print into a little foldable list every day. Any item you must complete may be given a time of day and time limit as well. Just check out this awesome free tool. Click: Toodledo.com. Toodledo is an easy to use, web-based to-do list. Keeping track of all your tasks will help you avoid disorganization, stay motivated and be more productive. Check it out.

Permalink 4 Comments