Sunday, October 09, 2011

Welcome to Get It Done Month

Tip of the Week, October 2, 2011

Let me tell you about The Shade.

Back in--yikes--March, the cord on one of the two shades in my bedroom snapped, making it impossible to open. For the past (cough, cough) several months, then, it's been permanently drawn, waiting wearily for a replacement. Quite literally every week I vow to call the shade company and order a new one, and quite literally every week between March and now, I have not. It's time to change that.

Sometimes no matter how good our intentions or how seemingly strong our resolve or how important a task, it takes some sort of kick in the pants to get us to tackle it. As that much-needed dose of motivation for myself--and, I hope, for you, too--I'd like to officially declare October Get It Done Month, and to encourage each of us to use the next few weeks to deal with tasks and projects we've been putting off. Here's some background info on why we procrastinate, how to move beyond, and how to get started on your own accomplishments for the month.

How Hard Can It Be? Why We Put Stuff Off
Given that I've been living with a broken shade for 7 months, you'd think that replacing it would involve weaving a new one myself from the hair of a rare Himalayan animal, not picking up the phone and making a call.

What's with the procrastination? For me, it's a combination of things:
  • It's not a fun task.
  • It involves several steps (measuring the window, going through my household files to find the make and model of the shade, finding a provider, contacting them, and so on).
  • It's not important enough to rise to the top of my list, so it often gets pushed off altogether.
  • Despite the annoyance (and semi-darkness) of only being able to open one shade, I've kind of gotten used to it.
Of course, the downside of my endless delaying is not only that my bedroom doesn't look and feel the way I want it to, but also that I think about this task every single time I look at The Shade. There are plenty of other things that deserve my mental energy and attention more.

Getting Beyond Putting It Off
The best methods for overcoming procrastination and taking action on a task depend on what's behind the delay. Here's what I need to do to get myself moving, based on my reasons for stalling:
  • Come up with a reward for finishing the task so that while the work itself may not be fun, what comes after it will be.
  • Write down each of the steps involved and tackle them one at a time; it's a lot easier to think of measuring the window or finding the receipt for the shade in my file than to think of finishing this project in one fell swoop.
  • Enhance the importance of getting this done by reminding myself every day that finishing it means I never have to do it again.
  • Keep my eyes on the prize: I want my light-filled bedroom back!

How Get It Done Month Works
And, of course, one of the biggest motivators for getting this done is the fact that I'm making this commitment to all of you: by the end of this week, I will have ordered a replacement shade. I encourage--and request!--you to leave a comment and ask me how I did (and, of course, I'll share my progress in next week's Tip; for October, we'll go back to a once-a-week Tip schedule).

While you don't need to share the task you want to accomplish with hundreds of people, I invite you to take the opportunity each week this month to commit to a task or small project you've been putting off. Each week, ask yourself these questions:
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why have I been putting this off?
  • What can I do to get beyond procrastinating on this?
  • What's the first step I'm going to take to get this done?
Want a boost, or want to share what you're committing to? Post it to The Organized Life Facebook page, tweet it with the hashtag #getItDoneMonth, or leave it in a comment.

I'm excited to get my stalled projects into gear (especially before the busy holiday season starts), and I hope you are, too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a window to measure.

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