Decisions Move the World

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Diving board I write a lot about decision making. So much of clutter and other stuff that's in your way is the result of not making decisions about it. The pile of needed decisions keeps growing till you just get overwhelmed by it and then the simplest decision seems strenuous. That naturally induces procrastination.

Why decide? Here's why:

  • When you don't decide, others do it for you. Are they going to pick the choice you want? Uh-uh.
  • The longer you wait to decide, the more likely your desired option(s) will expire or otherwise go away
  • When you avoid deciding to keep your options open, you still don't have that thing you want. You just have the option to have it. Would you rather have the daydream or the real thing?
  • When you boldly make decisions, you stir up positive energy. You take action. You move. You pull it off.

Decision making is a skill you can learn. I'm almost ready to publish my new info program about decision making and habit building, where I teach you both those vital skills. So, stay tuned, or drop me a line in the comments. What can I help you with today?

Diving board from vauvau's photostream.

Why I Procrastinate

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Why do I procrastinate? Yes, I do it too! I distinguish between taking personal time and actual procrastination (which is an essential skill for solopreneurs), but procrastination does happen.

Holding hands When I'm procrastinating it's usually because I think I won't do a good job or I think I'll outright fail at something. So, it's fear, mostly. When I'm trying to think of something to write on this blog, I reject lots of ideas because they seem too obvious or I don't think I have anything interesting to say about them.

I don't like to fail or to be wrong. No one does. I have to take myself by the hand and reassure my scared little self that if I don't do anything, that's another way of failing, so why not "just do it"?

What's the worst that could happen?
That people will think I'm stupid and irrelevant. Actually, what's even worse is that no one will pay attention to me! Again, if I don't give them the opportunity to ignore me, I also don't give them the chance to read something that might interest them.

Being more objective about my task helps me. As a professional organizer, it's part of my job to write posts that help people. I do it because it's my job, not because I want people to like me (okay, I do want that, but I can't focus on it). I can't help all of the people all of the time, but I know that some of my ideas are good and will help some people. That's enough.

Other reasons to procrastinate: you prefer thinking up ideas to doing the actual work, you don't want to be controlled by others ("you can't make me!"), you always put the needs of others before your own, or you can't get going until you're in crisis mode.

How do you procrastinate and what do you do about it? I don't think it's possible to completely avoid doing it; just learn to recognize it and fix it. We all need little tricks up our sleeves to get going again.

Hand holding from dino_olivieri's photostream.

Does a To-Do List Have to be a List?

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Most of us are way too busy to remember all that we need and want to get done. That means it’s important to use a tool of some kind to keep track of it all. The most common one is a to-do list.

What if you hate lists? What if the prospect of making a list fills you with terror? What if your list is so long that you want to go straight back to bed and forget about it?

The good news is, you can use other tools.

To get your list down to a manageable size, divide and rename it. If you have an aversion to doing that intimidating important thing on your list, use a little structured procrastination. If you just don’t want to write a list, draw it instead.

Alexia Petrakos of the Alternating Current wrote today about how to-do lists suck. She’s tried written lists six ways from Sunday and they just don’t work for her. Her solution is to make maps and pictures instead.

I like how she describes the activity of map making and how moving her hand, hearing the sound of the marker (and sometimes the scent), and looking at them on her wall all help her remember and keep track of what she’s doing.

Appealing to multiple senses and learning styles is super effective.

I get the same result from writing my lists over and over again. I’m visual but I’m also wordy. Once I’ve written something, I have a visual memory of where it is on the page and the words I used to describe the task. Sometimes I don’t even need to look at the list again because the act of writing cemented it in my mind.

I never get that sense when I make lists on my computer, so I don’t do that anymore.

If you hate lists, quit making them. Try drawing as Alexia does. Try mind mapping, a specific type of drawing with words and pictures. If a technique doesn’t work for you, dump it and go for another one.

Do you prefer drawing to writing? Have a to-do list horror story to share? Let me know in the comments!