Every week my mom tells me she plans to clean her bedroom, and for whatever reason, the task is interrupted by something less significant.
She doesn’t like the clutter but can’t seem to organize or discard non-essentials.
You understand the procrastination because it’s probably part of your life, too.
My arm is also raised validating my guilt. The area in my home most overlooked is papers atop a filing cabinet where paid bills and important documents are contained. I recently organized every paper and filed it all while shredding documents that replace the new entries.
This task took much less time than anticipated and, as always, I asked myself, “What took you so long?”
The game plan for each of my formidable tasks includes the use of a timer accessed on my smartphone (the new phone that replaces the one I washed with my clothes). Setting a timer is a practice I’ve mastered over the years to finish non-fun projects.
What I do is either set a time limit to complete all or part of the task, or I make action-based decisions (keep, discard, etc.) about certain items within the project.
For example, there is lots of mail to review when I return from business trips or vacation. Mail is stored in a container so I can sort it when ready. I apply a 10-minute limit to look at each piece of mail and begin by selecting bills and obvious junk mail. If 10 minutes ends, I’ll put the container back in place to sort again the next day.
You’re wondering: Why not take care of everything at once?
All mail is sorted if time allows. If there are more-pressing issues, I’ll deal with non-essential mail later. Perhaps I’m working, or I’m hungry, or I’m to accompany my mom to the doctor. My attention span depends on what’s happening in my life. You definitely understand that.
Whatever pile is waiting for your organization can be finalized in quick spurts or in another manner. Here are eight ways to tame your tasks.
1. Assign 10 minutes to the project. This is what I shared in the above example. Remember your start time by looking at a clock or watch, or set the timer in your smartphone. Time will pass swiftly.
2. Only review 10 items. If you’re sorting 50 pieces of mail or clothing, you’ll be done in five days. Does that seem too long? It’s not when you consider the number of days the task has waited.
3. Organize one side only. It’s draining to consider how much energy it takes to reorganize an entire closet, room, or garage. Manicure one side. Seeing it the next time will encourage you to finish another side.
4. Find visual inspiration. Sometimes you’re not sure how to start the process, and that’s one reason why you haven’t addressed the task. Take 10 minutes to look at well-done spaces on Pinterest or Houzz.
5. Reward yourself first. Will eating a brownie or counting money before you start boost your motivation? Don’t do it if the reward makes you drowsy or annoyed. Pick a quick activity that inspires achievement.
6. Reward yourself after. Is the finish line a better time for that brownie or fun with finances? Think about the incentive as you handle the task. Just putting your feet up afterwards is also a good influence.
7. Channel your energy correctly. You can think dreadful thoughts, or you can think positively about the task. Try not to let your mind talk you out of achieving the easy-to-do project (bad mind!)
8. Do the part that makes you happy. Matching 100 single socks is no fun (baby socks are worse), but organizing your gorgeous shoes or handbags to remind you of your good taste puts a smile on your face. Start there.
My mom is still procrastinating on bedroom organization, but one day she’ll accept my offer to help her, and we’ll turn the chaos into calm one side at a time.
Which of these eight methods inspires you to complete a long-awaited project?