TaskMaster – Getting Things DONE!
Sunday, January 29, 2012 8 Comments
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by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part One of the TaskMaster™ Series
Taming Training 101
Nooooo – I don’t mean standing with a chair and a whip, caging the beast that is YOU.
The TASKS must be trained. They need to be tamed so they’ll work the way YOU need them to work.
Task taming is a multi-stepped process:
• Tasks must be trained initially, then
• Revisited and re-trained every time you learn something new about what you really need.
Let me guess . . . at this point, ALL you know about what you really need is that whatever others tell you to do doesn’t seem to work for YOU, right?
I’m about to let you in on an important ADD secret that many of us had to learn about the hard way. Shhhhhhhh!
At least 80% of what others have been telling you wasn’t designed to work for you!
- It was actually intended to chastise you for not ALREADY knowing how to make it work, and
- to get you to stop looking to others for help (especially them!)
Really! And I’ll bet it worked just as designed.
Think about it. Didn’t you feel thoroughly chastised, tongue-tied about what to say next, and reluctant to ask for help the next time?
Let’s take a closer look at that.
Run down the following “motivating” statements that have probably been aimed your way those many, many times you have trouble starting a task, staying on task, or finishing a task. “Check off” those you’ve heard personally.
• Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
• You REALLY need to work on developing some self-discipline.
• If you don’t get organized you are going to come to grief.
• You’ve got to learn to postpone gratification.
• Just make a plan and stick to it
• Well sure, nothing comes easy, but you just have to make yourself.
• You really need to take responsibility!
• You have to buckle down.
Well THAT’s just flat-out confusing!
Exactly how does one buckle that down item anyway?
WHAT “gratification” are we not postponing?
(and when do we get into trouble for not attending to THAT detail?)
We thought we DID “take responsibility” by asking for help.
Now what do we DO?
See what I mean?
Let’s not make a long story endless by analyzing why, in response to our sincere cries for help, those who speak to us in that “tough love” fashion seem so mean-spirited. They probably believe accomplishment comes “naturally” to those who want it badly enough and are probably not remotely aware of how what they’re saying comes across to those of us to whom they say it.
No doubt they would become defensive and angry were we to point it out, however, and would then say something even worse, so let’s not. There’s nothing anybody can do about them, anyway.
Let’s look at what we CAN do something about:
- Our own reactions
- Our own decisions and
- Our own actions
Now, I’m not suggesting that you have a lousy bunch of friends or that your colleagues are a bunch of creeps. They are probably NOT doing it consciously (and would deny it vehemently if you showed them this article). Most likely, they’re not mean and nasty — they are probably beside themselves with frustration because they just don’t GET why you don’t get it!
So let’s see what we can do about changing THAT little reality.
Take a look at the items that resonated with you in the above list of comments that have probably been aimed your way.
Think of a specific example in your life where you tried to listen to that “advice” and failed to reach a goal or complete a task.
Write down five words that describe how it made you feel.
Label this your list of five feelings.
We’re going to do an exercise using this list after we make a few more, so put it somewhere you won’t have to look for it when the time comes.
The best idea would probably be to put it in a notebook of work you do while you are reading this series of articles. THEN, when TaskMaster comes out in the form of a book, you can keep any additional Task-Taming details in the same place.
Just keep track of it, however you decide to do it. Tape it to the wall by your bed, or on your refrigerator. You will probably be able to locate either of those places again relatively easily.
TaskMaster Example: List of Five Feelings
- Invalidated & Worthless
- Hopeless – foolish for trying
What were some of the tactics you used to deal with your anxiety about not knowing how to tackle a particular task? (Write down any five supposed “procrastination” activities you took on instead.)
If you having a little difficulty with this concept, try to recall some of the things that occurred around the same time period
• You put yourself to bed because you really weren’t feeling all that great
• You over-promised in some other arena and couldn’t follow through
• You over-ate (or over-drank or – well, you know where I’m going here)
• You spent a marathon weekend cleaning the basement
• You fell in love – again
• You went shopping to update your wardrobe
(or your workshop, or your pantry, or your wine cellar — you know what you do when,
“out of the blue” you recall that you simply must run out to buy something “important.”)
• You sank into a deep malaise and accomplished absolutely nothing for a while
The little things we do
I want you to consider that there might be a connection between a few of the items that “occurred around the same time period” and that list of five supposed “procrastination” activities I asked you to come up with. Ya’ think?!
I would like to suggest that these supposed “procrastination” activities are actually “avoidance” activities. You’re not avoiding the TASK, you’re avoiding any feeling of anxiety around not feeling like you have a handle on the task — or avoiding the anxiety of any shame around the fact that you haven’t already accomplished the task.
What is it that you do that makes you feel better after you realize that you’ve let yourself –or somebody else– down by dropping the ball . . . again? What comes next?
I don’t mean the part where you scream at the kids, cry, or sling blame at your spouse.
I want you to think about what it is that you do when you are attempting to recenter —
so you can do anything besides scream, cry and blame.
Those activities (or lack of activities) are some of the unconscious ways you handle stress when you try, yet again, to march to someone else’s drummer.
What you need is your own personal profile of warning signals to keep you conscious – and these recentering techniques you are already using are the best place to begin. Once we figure out what they are, we’re half way to figuring out how to use them more effectively – or how to replace them with something that will work better.
What do you often end up doing instead of what you set out to do?
Some of the answers my clients have come up with are below. Do any of those sound familiar?
Think about what YOU do as you read their responses.
- Instead of completing the task, I felt like I really had to stop to reorganize my files.
They were such a mess, I couldn’t move forward.
- I felt like I really needed some exercise to clear my head so I went jogging
– before I knew it it was two hours later and I had to get ready to go somewhere.
- Balancing my checkbook suddenly became the most important thing in the world.
You know how long that takes!
- I started to get some computer work done to be able to feel good about some other accomplishment, but ended up playing solitaire for a really long time.
- I called my girlfriend to see if she had finished the task she was working on.
When I got her voicemail I started calling all over town to find out where she was.
What do the items from my client’s list above have in common?
They are all ways we humans attempt to avoid shutdown and overwhelm in response to the first inkling of TASK ANXIETY. We’ll talk more about that in a subsequent article in this series, but for right now, try to embrace the concept without a lot of additional explanation.
Think about those little things that you do. Write down as many as you can remember ever doing. Use your own personal shorthand and forget grammar and spelling – this is not an assignment that will be graded by anyone but you. Just get the list on paper.
As you bring your unconscious coping mechanisms to consciousness, you are beginning to carve out a picture of the key areas where you re-direct your attention in response to the stress of task management: task anxiety.
I want you to focus on four major areas.
1. Your physical environment
2. Health & well-being
3. Money matters & work tasks
4. Personal relationships
Take a look at the items on your list of “avoidance activities” and put them into one of the four categories above. Notice how many fall under each category.
Does one of the four categories stand out?
- Do you have more items in that category?
- Do you have fewer items in that category but find yourself using them more often?
- Do the items in that category bother you more than the others?
- Is one of the categories totally missing? Double check your memory to see if you can fill in a few additional activities that fit the category. (Pay particular attention to how annoying it is to be asked to do this as well as checking to see if the items in this category bother you more than the others)
If any category “stands out,” start becoming aware of its siren song in the weeks to come. Begin to ask yourself if you’re avoiding something else any time you begin an activity in that category. You probably know yourself better than you think, but you’ve never thought about what you do in terms of what it means to task management.
MEANWHILE, hang on to those lists – there’s lots more to come in the TaskMaster™ series, and you know you don’t want to have to start over!
IN ANY CASE, stay tuned. There’s a lot to know, and a lot more to come. Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.
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Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)
You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.
For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
– and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves –
Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
(in case you missed them above or below)
- Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation
- The Top Ten Reasons to Reframe Procrastination
- The Link between Procrastination & Task Anxiety
- Shame on Shoulds
Wanna’ see how I use this technique?
- Check out COMING SOON (to read for process modeling, not content/examples!)
Other related Articles on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
- Avoiding the Holes in the Road
- ABOUT Activation
- A Little ADD Lens™ Background
- About Executive Functioning
- Brain-waves, Scans & Attention
- ABOUT Impulsivity
- Distinguishing Distractibility
- Nine Challenges to Effective Functioning
- Changing the Frame Changes the View (from the “stuff” series)
- Bumbershoots, Metaphysics, Logic & Coaching
A bit of Related Neuroscience
- Catecholamine influences on dorsolateral prefrontal cortical networks
(comprehensive paper published June, 2011 – Amy Arnsten, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine)
- ADD Overlooked: Cognitive Anxiety | CorePsych Blog
Related Articles ’round the ‘net
- Be a Task Master: Take Control of Your Time Without Being a Slave to Your Schedule
- Procrastination and Inertia
- Inertia (running coach Dean Hebert’s take on self-change)
- ADHD in the workplace (chrisnothling.com)
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder Impacts Career Options (adultadhdtips.wordpress.com)
- Life in the Neuro Diversity Zone…. (cripsnqueers.wordpress.com)
BY THE WAY: I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.