Getting it DONE — Part Two

It was Henry Ford who said “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Not all of us act on our intentions — we do some things happily, but with regard to others we procrastinate.

Years ago at church or motivational meetings it became the habit to issue people with a circular piece of card with “TUIT” written on it: our prompt to go home and get around to wiping an item off the “To Do” list. We chuckled, but I can’t remember if the Round Tuit worked!

What DOES work? Fear of possible embarrassment when a pending visit takes place — that’s good motivation. Imagine as vividly as possibly how you’d feel if caught out. But also imagine how good you’ll feel when the job is done — and write a note to that effect to pop on the fridge door.

Become accountable! Tell friends what you plan, and when, (especially those who’ll question you about it later, and your child or sibling or mother who surely will!). Ask friends for advice, and with luck one will offer to do the task with you. You’ll have to fit in with their availability, and that will be a spur to effort. Turn it into a contest, with each racing to do half — or do it companionably side-by-side, chatting and enjoying the accomplishment.

There are websites dealing with tidying up a home or de-cluttering. After all, sometimes our belongings become a burden, and you won’t always want what you treasured so desperately a few years back.

Or employ a professional to help: work alongside them, learn from them and try to match their efforts (you don’t want to have to pay them to return another time, do you?). Pre-arrange any removal of rubbish, and stock up on uniform storage containers for what you will keep. Label everything well. Enjoy the sight at completion, and take a photo! Brag about it on Facebook and you’ll get no end of congratulatory messages from people who wish they could manage the same.

What if it’s a lot of small tasks you’ve put off? What if each task is really the sort of thing only you can do? Make a list with an indication of priority. Divide a task into definable stages that might each take 20 minutes. Indicate a reward when each final stage of a larger project is reached (go to a movie?). Or have a set of stickers to mark what’s done. Choose one thing off the Round Tuit list every day which has a spare hour.

If, like me, you have favourite TV shows, take with you any task that can be done as you watch (or switch to during those detested advert breaks). If you want to lose weight, DON’T take the task with you: instead dash TO it every ad break, do what you can and dash back.

Write each task on a separate piece of paper, and fold them into a box. Then see what you pull “out of the hat” when you have that spare hour. If they are indeed 20-minute tasks then you’ll have time to recuperate or play those computer games or whatever floats your boat.

In my spare time over the last 25 years I’ve written a historical novel that took 9 years of research and labour, a reference book that took most of a year, a series of 7 children’s history books that collectively took 3 years, a memoir that took 6 months, a book of Christian devotions which was added to over a period of 2 years, and have amassed more than 30 short stories which are currently appearing in two anthologies.

Yes, I’ve well proved I can maintain impetus on long-term projects. I don’t kick myself too much for the fact that people will praise me for my teaching and writing, but they will never, EVER have cause to describe me as “house-proud”– so you can guess in what area I tend to procrastinate.

In my professional diary I note all intended follow-ups or preparations, and can see a whole week at a glance. But what of tasks left undone at the end of a week, when I turn the page? Periodically I turn back over past weeks, highlight tasks yet pending, then I start a list.

If something ought to be on the URGENT list, Blutak a reminder here and there about the house. And when a backlog really causes a problem, have a “half-hour dash” to see how much difference you can make to a single room just by putting away clothes, making the bed and spreading out for sorting all those things populating the top of your dresser. You might end up with yet another task (washing clothes) but it will likely be a very necessary thing.

What you can’t plan for, is that you are almost sure to find something you’ve been looking for, when you get around to a long-put-off task. That adds to the reward.

Having said all that, I must return to a cleaning task I divided into 5 parts and have done 3 — always hoping my husband will look and say “Hey, I could do that better!”



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