If you are gonna bother to do something, you better do it right. In the mane, this is good advice. It encourages you to spend your energy wisely, give 150% at whatever you try, and speaks to the importance of taking pride in your work. It is a philosophy I have always tried to follow and would hope that when someone is working with me they rest assured I am going to give my all. However as life becomes more complicated, I have come to realize that doing a job right should not necessarily replace doing it all. Let me explain…..
When I envision a closet clean out – maybe you are moving, or its a change of seasons – whatever the motivation, I immediately consider what a BIG project it is. Truly to make it count this is going to be a full afternoon, involving stages, and maybe even requiring the purchase of supplies. Ideally I will create a to do list, a plan, and determine all the tools I may need to make this closet ah-mazing! Pinterest watch out – Jackie and her clip board are on the loose!
The problem with this? Well – life! I will pick a Saturday and inevitably something will come up: Dan gets sick, we opt to do something fun, or I happen to buy a new book and disappear into my couch… Before I know it this one to do item has been hanging around my planner for weeks with no signs of ever getting done. And sometimes there are a few big tasks like that one that just keep getting moved around and no where close to completed. In fact I am pretty sure that is where the inspiration for those commercials about using vacation days to clean your garage or go to the DMV come from!
Over the past year I have just not had the luxury to give time to these tasks like I would have once desired to. I had to come up with plan B – do a little of the task at a time. This felt really icky. How could I have the perfect closet if I spent 10 minutes fixing the shoes, but my sweaters were still in disarray? Well it was better than not doing anything so I just fixed the shoes when time allowed. Then I fixed the sweatpants during one afternoon of waiting for laundry to dry. After that I reorganized my tank tops when I was trying to plan my outfit for a Saturday night. And finally after a few different opportunities of just taking 10 minutes my closet was clean!
This little experiment worked pretty well….but I was still not completely convinced of this approach. My closet had doors, so I could always stop mid-stream and just shut the doors. But it was hard to deny that just taking ten minutes made more progress than I ever had with my attempts to block a whole Saturday afternoon. So I continued to use this approach and ya’ll – it worked! Tasks were flying off my to do list, in bite size pieces, but actually getting done. Plus they started to lose their power of overwhelm because I knew I only needed 10 minutes to start – not 4 hours. It was clear this way of thinking had truly ingrained itself in my brain when one evening at work I only had 15 minutes left in my day before a hard stop, but I had a task that I had budgeted needing 30 minutes to complete. Instead of speculating if I could make it happen, I figured I would just start and see how far I got. Well I left on time that evening with that little project D-O-N-E. Suddenly the value of 5 or 10 or 15 minutes meant more than it had ever before…. and thus was born my new productivity mantra: just take 10!
If you are trying to tackle one million things and they all seem extremely overwhelming, I would encourage you to try this method. In fact, when first starting out I would say set a timer. Look at the task and literally say to yourself “I will give this ten minutes”. Then – the most important part – at the end of the 10 minutes take a deep breath and say “I gave 10 minutes and I am 10 minutes ahead of where I was yesterday”. Once I stopped looking at the task of what I have to do and instead looked at it to say, well I have moved the mark, even if only 10 minutes worth, I actually felt productive! And now I am actually motivated by the thought of giving just 10 minutes to something and then putting it down. My to do list is an opportunity to improve my environment, not a drain on my whole weekend.
Let me know if you try this method and how it goes. What suggestions do you folks have to get things done?
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!