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Turn Crappy Into Happy

I know there’s at least one thing on your current to do list that you are dreading to tackle (and you’ve probably found many creative ways to put it off for the last few weeks).  Just thinking about doing this thing makes you feel cranky, lethargic or both.  Instead of getting it done, you end up spending hours online in your favorite celebrity gossip chat room, eating a pint of ice cream or zoning out in front of Gilligan Island reruns.  This is neither productive nor fun.  Good news, there’s a way to turn this crappy situation into a happy one.  Actually, there are three ways and they were created and taught to me as tools by my brilliant teacher, Martha Beck. Pick the one that works best for your circumstance:

  • Bag it: Does this item really need to get done at all?  Has so much time elapsed since you put it on your list that it’s practically irrelevant whether it gets done or not?  Will the laws of gravity and inertia stop working if you don’t get this thing checked off the list?  What are the REAL (not imagined) repercussions if you just kick this item to the curb?  If you can dump it, dump it.  You will feel an immediate sense of relief if this is the right solution for you, but if this thing must get done so that order in the universe is maintained then read on . . .
  • Barter it/Buy it: Believe it or not there is someone out there (someone you may know) who actually gets their jollies doing the very thing you’d trade for dinner with Hannibal Lecter.  This person may have an item on their to do list that they hate, but you enjoy (or at least don’t mind) doing – trade tasks. I just bartered with a friend: she’s helping me organize a set of tools for a class I will be teaching (she is very good at and enjoys setting up systems, while I’d prefer to belly flop from a high dive) and I am helping her jumpstart and brainstorm ideas for her business name (something she does not enjoy, but I think is fun and exciting). If you can’t trade it, consider hiring someone to do it for you – if it’s so important that you couldn’t bag it, it must be worth a few bucks to you, right?  I have heard happy reports from people who have used virtual assistants to help them with everything from planning a party to writing up a business plan.  Google virtual assistants for more information.
  • Better it: Okay, so you can’t bag it and you can’t get anyone else to do it, you are the only candidate for the task. Make it more palatable by breaking up the task into smaller tasks and then give yourself a disproportionately large reward for completing each baby step of the task. For example: As I mentioned, I hate organizing things, but if I had to do it I might start by limiting myself to only 15 minutes of engaging in the task a day (less time if that made me feel nauseated) and I might start by using that 15 minutes to simply focus on the task at hand, taking no action at all or simply jotting down a few ideas of how I might go about what must be done (if I felt inspired, I would take it farther, but at least I have my baseline of what I will accomplish, and it’s super simple).  Then, as a reward for getting even that much accomplished, I might treat myself with a movie, buy a new book and take time out of my busy day to sit and read it or take a leisurely walk outside on a nice day (make it a non-edible treat, especially if you are dealing with weight/food issues). Martha recommends giving yourself an even bigger reward (a day at the spa, perhaps? A full detail on your car?) when you finally clear that item from your list. I concur wholeheartedly.  For more detailed information on self-rewards, check out Martha Beck’s post How To Be Richly Rewarded. Spending just a few minutes every day on a task may not seem like it will make a difference, but I promise you, it does.  Add a reward on top of it and you may even be excited to tackle that dreaded task.

If you are not doing what you love at least 80% of the time, you are not serving at anywhere near your full potential.  None of us get to benefit from your amazing talents and skills if you’re engaged in something you consider drudgery. Get that silly thing off your list ASAP and get back to doing the things that make you feel alive and energized, only then will you be able to deliver on the valuable goods you have to offer.

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  1. June 22, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I LOVED this post. The title, everything. Thanks so much! Love, Goddess

  1. June 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm
  2. October 24, 2009 at 6:36 pm

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