My good friend, Jill McKean (pictured above) is a professional organizer. I have found many of her ideas about organizing helpful, and plan on having her here in June to work with me. I’d like to be organized but am usually in a busy creative mode (which is messy and clutter enhancing) or in a deeply contemplative mode (which focuses more on prayerful thinking than doing.)
We will first consider the main part of the house which isn’t so bad, but just overrun with homeschooling stuff, art materials and books. Eventually, though, I hope to have her help me with what I call my office — but should be called disaster — and is the real project I desperately need tackled. All the extra stuff in the household, including what both my husband and I brought home when our respective parent’s homes were closed, is either in the basement (for him to deal with) or in my office (for me to deal with.) I so dream of a clutter free, self-respecting office/studio space I made streamlining one of my two goals for this year (see my blog entry here explaining this). Jill teases me that it is time to move out of what she calls “pre-contemplation” regarding all this, so this blog post is an attempt to claim that for myself. I hear myself contemplating the contemplation of organization but not doing anything. I need action!
Jill recently shared some of her strategies for overcoming procrastination. I have often been plagued with that! There have been circumstances where prayer based miracles have overcome this tendency on my part in the past, but these were isolated events and I am far from reformed on this account. It seems to me complete regeneration is what I need. But it is often helpful to study the habits of someone who does not have your problem to obtain insight on how to do it differently. I believe in studying success instead of dysfunction. In that spirit, Jill is the farthest thing I know from a procrastinator, so I’ve quoted her below on the subject for the regenerative benefit of those of us that struggle with it.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination goes like this. It begins with you putting off doing it, then it continues to rattle around in your head, remains vague, becomes a monster, and then builds until it’s overwhelming. The deadline comes along and you rush to complete the project. Sometimes it’s done well and sometimes not. The crisis passes and you get some relief until the next project or event.
Some focus and planning can save you from the lurking distress of procrastination and the last minute stress to meet a deadline.
Another way of looking at it is that you see it in totality, which is overwhelming, rather than seeing it broken down into smaller actions, which are manageable. Or you try to fully conceive the project in your head until all your questions are answered before you get started. It’s just too much to keep in your head at one time and that causes stress and frustration which inhibits action to move forward.
Focusing on what it is you want to do, chunking it down into manageable parts and planning a time frame can make the difference between stress and anxiety and progress and completion.
Six Steps to Handle Procrastination
Here are six steps to relieve the pressure, so you can make progress on the project, event or whatever it is you have to do with less stress . . . . and stop procrastinating!
Identify what it is. The first thing is to identify the who, what, when, where, and how of the project.
Get it out of your head. Begin to write it down in a notebook or electronic file so you can get it out of your head. Your conscious mind is best used for focusing not for storage as David Allen will tell you.
Chunk it down. This is another way of looking at the who, what, when, where, and how. Don’t let the monster take over. There are ways to break down any project into doable parts. Start to put your ideas into categories.
Prioritize. Keep asking yourself what is most important in the project and adjust things as you go.
Assign enough time. Often people don’t allow enough time to complete a task. The rule of thumb is to add 50% more time than you think it will take. So if you think it will take an hour for a task, plan on an hour and a half.
Delegate. And, last but not least, delegate tasks to other people. There is always more that can done by someone else than you think. Take a moment to identify tasks and people who can help.
You may protest that your free-form way of doing things is okay, but with a few minutes of focus on each of these steps you can get better results with less stress. And lastly, just get started!
I was struck with how much of this is actually contemplation which I do well. So I’m working with this list now, arm chair organizing and chunking down my enormous task. Next, I will have to consider how to discipline myself to actually follow through when I’d rather paint or pray or walk in the sun… But Jill tells me I’ll have more time for these things than ever before once I’m organized.
Thank you Jill for jostling me out of inertia… one tiny step at a time! There is hope for all of us.