Does this file folder make my butt look big? No, we’re not talking about that butt. We mean the other kind: “I really need to do XYZ, but…..” These buts come in all different shapes and sizes too. We’ve heard them all, from: “but…I need more time” to “but…I don’t have the resources” and of course, the good old “but…I just can’t seem to get my husband and kids on board.” These excuses are used often by all of us. We’re not innocent either. We’ve both given excuses more times than we’d like to admit as to why we’re not able to get to that project or pile in the garage.
Sarah on “perception vs. reality”
“I like to think I’m pretty organized but there are definitely certain things that I have put off indefinitely because I tell myself I don’t have the time or energy to deal with them. For example, I have a few boxes of things from my grandmother that are taking up space in our garage. I’m supposed to sort through them and pick out what I want to keep, but I convinced that it would take a lot of time and effort to do, so I kept putting it off. Finally, two weekends ago I forced myself to tackle it as the boys played in the yard. Guess what? It took a lot less time than I anticipated. I need to remember that my perception is sometimes off and the reality is that things take less time than I expect.”
Alicia on “the avoidance game”
“Most people are terrific about staying on track when it comes to crossing things off their lists that they enjoy doing. However, when it comes to tackling tasks that you dislike, it’s very common to let them fall by the wayside. There are two tricks that I use on myself to overcome this tendency. The first: I take a minute or two to focus on why it is important to do the dreaded task. I think about all of the good things that will come about if I just do it and the negative consequences that will come about if I fail to do it. The second trick I use is to pair it with something on my list that I really want to do. I tell myself that as soon as I finish the dreaded chore, I get to reward myself with the project I really want to take on. Both have worked wonders for me over the years.”
Here are some additional tips for helping you overcome your excuses and trim your organizational but:
1. Make it a Habit.
If you hate doing a “repeat” chore, like the laundry, try establishing a specific day and time that you will always tackle it. Then hold yourself accountable for sticking to your schedule for one month. After one month, doing it on the allotted day at the allotted time will have become second nature, a habit. And once something is a habit, you are much less likely to put it off with a “but.”
2. Make Yourself Accountable.
Rather than just catching up on the latest gossip, use your next coffee date with a pal as a chance to be held accountable for tackling something. Share a task you’ve been putting off with each other and then agree to an incentive that will keep you honest. For example, if you’ve been putting off donating the toddler toys and you fail to do it by your next coffee date, you owe your friend $25. It’s important that the incentive be large enough that it would be painful to have to make good on it.
3. Just Do It.
It turns out Nike really did have something figured out with that slogan. You’ll spend more time talking yourself out of doing something than you will actually doing it. So like Sarah did with her garage, just get out of your head and jump feet first into the project. If you’re stuck, grab an egg timer, set it for 20 minutes and go.
4. Motivate with A Why.
Put together a mental list of all of the good things that will come from taking action. Cleaning out your attic? Think of all of the people you’ll be helping with your donations, picture the extra space you’ll now have to turn into a sewing room/work space for your teen, feel how liberating it is to be free of that task. The more you focus on the positive outcomes, the more likely you are to get up and do it.