Chirped by Tina
Coming as I do from a family of procrastinators and obsessive compulsives, getting anything done can be a challenge. Particularly around the house, without looming work deadlines and pressures, it’s easy to let things slide. So, during a recent flurry of home project productivity, I decided to chirp about what was working for me, to help me maintain my momentum and create a template I can come back to when this rush starts to fade. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t check off many big, impressive tasks, but sometimes a few little successes can snowball into grander victories as you bask in your new “get ‘er done” attitude.
Note: this chirp is for PROCRASTINATORS, not for the highly efficient self-starters of the world. Cass, you should read only for typos and grammatical corrections! (-;
Peck #1 – Make a New Short List
You probably already make to-do lists. I do it all the time, and tape them in places I’ll see them every day to “inspire” me. My husband gets tired of having my longer lists taped on the cabinet by the sink for months, and moves them to the inside… I haven’t looked at those lists in years until today. My kids are in college and one of the items is about finishing a third grade memory book! Not helpful, just shame-inducing. (The first step is admitting you have a problem…?) So if you have really old lists, take ’em down, pile them up, and throw them away. Or, if you’re a hoarder like me (no judgment here!), staple them under your new “fresh start,” get-the-ball-rolling list of little things that have been bugging you that probably wouldn’t even take that long to do if you just did them! I’m talking replacing the second bulb in the irritatingly dim laundry room, instead of waiting for the working one to burn out, too. Keep it short, five to ten items* that you could reasonably get done this week (or today)! You can always make a new list if you get done ahead of whatever schedule you set for yourself. And never underestimate the satisfaction of crossing off the last project on your latest list! Not that the other cross-offs weren’t great, too, but being able to throw that list away? Priceless!
* If you’re worried about forgetting something non-urgent that you’ve been wanting to do, but you don’t want to overwhelm your short list, try keeping a master list in a notebook. Divvy it up into small, medium and humongous projects and sprinkle them into your short lists a few at a time, depending on the complexity. Don’t forget to cross them off the master list when they’re done!
Peck #2 – Celebrate Even Small Victories
If you’ve crossed off a bunch of easy jobs in rapid succession, reward yourself with a quick guilty pleasure, preferably one that isn’t self-defeating. If you’re watching your weight, don’t make it a cookie! Maybe allow yourself some limited internet browsing, read a chapter in your book, or spend a little time on a favorite craft or hobby – things you normally might feel guilty indulging in when there are so many more pressing things you should be doing. Then tackle a more involved item from your list. Bigger accomplishments should of course merit bigger rewards!
Peck #3 – Break Up the Larger Jobs
The really small stuff, like that laundry room light bulb, will take you two minutes, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t replace it sooner every time you do the laundry. But some of your to-dos may require a little more effort, like figuring out the right replacement part and where to order it, and then actually installing it. Sometimes just anticipating multiple steps (and therefore that delayed gratification) can be a reason to put the job off. I drew a symbolic jar of “micro goals” (not my idea, click the link to a great article in the New York Times!) on my 2018 Vision Board in January. The idea is to break a bigger job down into bite-sized pieces, and just take it one mouthful at a time, building momentum as you go. Try making yourself some check boxes, for example: ◊ Research, ◊ Order, ◊ Install. Then get started! Determine the make and model of your dishwasher and google it for replacement parts: CHECK. Place your online order: CHECK. Leave “◊ Install” to be checked off later when the part comes in, or if it’s the last thing on your list, transfer it to your next list and ceremoniously dispose of the first one! Realizing that the first bite was easy inspires you to dig in to the second one, and next thing you know, you’ve swallowed the whole worm.
Peck #4 – Take “Before” and “After” Pics
Again, this is for the bigger projects. Don’t clutter your phone with pics of burned out light bulbs. But, if your neighbor gives you an old sewing machine from her attic that desperately needs some TLC, take a “before” picture for later comparison. Everyone loves a dramatic makeover! And you’ll be able to admire your handiwork whenever you need a pick-me-up, or show your hubby when he asks about your day… Trust me, he’s won’t realize just how bad it was… Maybe show him all the special polishers and cleaners you had to use for it, too! (-;
Peck #5 – Get the Props You Deserve
Identify your similarly challenged peeps and get some positive reinforcement for your progress! Surely you aren’t the only one of your friends or relatives that has motivation issues? Has someone else been dreading weeding their over-grown garden? Let them know you’re finally tackling your own, and maybe inspire them to do the same! Then get a little virtual pat on the back by sending them the results of Peck #4… Be sure to encourage them if they reciprocate with their own photos.
In an ideal world, your “rewards” are also goals in and of themselves. A quick walk on a nice day adds to your daily step count while also feeling like a break from housework. Reading a chapter in your book puts you closer to finishing it for book club. Last week I alternated filing small handfuls of paperwork from my overstuffed desk with editing a few photos from a weekend with friends. I made a dent in my desk disaster and got my photos ready to share with the gang. It was a win-win! And winning twice over is so much better than feeling like you got nothing accomplished. It inspires you to do even more. Take that inspiration and run with it. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish!