Something I have often mentioned on this blog is that when I am totally on top of something then I have energy to do that something. This applies even if it’s something I don’t particularly like doing.
A classic case of this is doing the dishes. If I allow the dishes to mount up for a week, then the energy for finally doing them is going to be conspicuously lacking. What’s more, the very thought of them is going to be draining my energy for other work. If on the other hand I tackle them immediately after each meal, then the energy is there and I can put them out of my mind until the next meal.
Like me, you may have many “trouble spots” which you find difficult to keep organised. For some people it’s keeping a tidy desk. For others it may be things like filing or dealing with email. And for a lot of us it’s all of them!
There’s a two-step process which will keep you on top of tasks like these:
1. Increase the frequency at which you deal with the task.
2. Work all out to get on top of the task (it may take several sessions to get there)
3. Once you are on top, aim to stay there by completing all the task each time.
So let’s take as an example the task of keeping a tidy desk (one very dear to my heart!). In theory I tidy my desk once a day, but in practice it often gets missed out because I’m too tired at the end of the day. A vicious circle then develops because the more effort it’s going to take to tidy the desk, the less likely I am to summon up the effort to get the task done.
So looking at the three-step process, what can I do to solve this? The first step is to increase the frequency at which I tidy the desk. So I could have a rule that I tidy my desk every hour on the hour. Each hour I put away everything on my desk, except the stuff I am currently working on. Since not much is going to have built up in an hour, this tidying will usually only take me a few seconds. Problem solved!
Pick some minor annoyance in your life like an untidy desk, and carry out the three-step process. Once you’ve solved that problem, ask yourself what else you can use the method on.