Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’

De-cluttering Part 1: The physical stuff and tipping points

April 6, 2011

I’ve spent quite a lot of my spare time recently clearing out old books, clothes, games, ornaments, etc., and generally spring cleaning. During this process I’ve been considering why, every so often, we feel the need to de-clutter. Not everyone is the same, and what constitutes ‘clutter’ for one person might not be for others.

So how do we define clutter for ourselves, and what makes us feel the need to de-clutter?

A dictionary definition states clutter is a “disorderly heap” and “a state or condition of confusion”. The first deals with the physical aspect (a clutter of ‘things’), the second suggests clutter within the mind.

In terms of physical clutter, I know people who function effectively with plenty of ‘stuff’ around them … various heaps of paper, files, etc.  A previous mentor of mine operated in what others called a cluttered environment. He would argue that he could find logic and order in the clutter; he needed the clutter to find patterns and answers to work-related tasks / challenges. He was the most creative mentor and line manager I’ve ever had!

You may be nodding and agreeing, “this is me, too”; or you may be thinking “I couldn’t work like that”. Either way, I suggest you know your boundaries and there’s an inherent tipping point beyond which you can no longer function effectively – at home or at work.

What’s your de-cluttering tipping point?

The tipping point may well be different for home than it is at work. (I’d be interested to hear from those who also work from home!) It is when we reach, or even pass, this point that the urge to de-clutter kicks in. It’s about knowing when your ‘stuff’ is becoming a distraction (i.e. clutter), resulting in making you unproductive.

Some possible tipping points:

– not being able to find what you are looking for within a few seconds

– not having enough room for the things you have

– thinking “this is a total mess!”

– other people telling you your space / area / room is a mess (here you are responding to other people’s tipping points!)

What are your tipping points for the physical stuff?

Do you consider yourself a creative person? If so, can you function effectively with lots of things around you?

Once you’ve recognised your tipping point, will you go beyond it and procrastinate about doing something?

Would love to hear your comments.

Part 2 will focus on the mental clutter, alluded to earlier.

Eat that frog and reduce procrastination

July 5, 2010

Photo courtesy of Rosemary Ratcliffe

Whilst working with a client recently on time management and procrastination, I was reminded of the book Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. My client was discussing doing the things he didn’t enjoy (his ‘frogs’) first thing, making the rest of the day more enjoyable, and having that resulting feeling of ‘got that out of the way now’!

According to David Allen it’s the smart, creative and sensitive people who have the most undecided things on their To Do lists. This is because they can create very detailed images and thoughts about how a task might play out, which can be off-putting. The tasks don’t even need to be things you have done before, but if you were to perceive them as ‘difficult’, ‘hard’, ‘tricky’ or ‘boring’, for example, your associated feelings will reduce your desire to tackle the task.

Often, it’s the big important life or business-changing things that we put off, and it’s how we perceive them that is the crucial factor.  Think about the things you put off….

  • How do you think of them?
  • What images or thoughts come to mind?
  • What do you say to yourself?
  • How productive and helpful are these thoughts?
  • How can you change them if they aren’t productive?

Taking positive action

1. If your frog is particularly large, try a bit of it each day, rather than ‘all in one go’! For those creatives among you – imagine it separating into, say, 5 or 6 smaller, more manageable (bite sized) frogs, which you can handle over a period of days.

2. Don’t look at it or think about it for too long, unless you can change the image to something more appetising (e.g. a chocolate frog but perhaps not from the Whizzo Quality Assortment!)

3. As David Allen suggests, instead of thinking of the task, think of the 1st action you will take when doing each task. Change your To Do list to your Actions list.

4. Try sauce with your frog to make it more palatable. Adding sauce is about taking any residual unpleasantness away by adding something nice;  eg. having your favourite music on in the background.

What kind of things do you procrastinate about?

How do you overcome this?