Getting off the couch & getting going – Part 1


Worry, Worry, Worry!
. . . The agony of agonizing

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Time & Task Management Series:

Let’s Get GUI!
Looking at Good, Urgent, and Important

When I first began to blog on the topic of organization and task completion, I was initially daunted.

It seemed to me that productivity, accomplishment, follow-through and planning were such HUGE topics for anything less than entire books — difficult to handle briefly, even in an entire Series of posts on each topic!

While most of what I read on the inter-webs focuses on Tips and Techniques, I wanted to explore underlying principles, and I wanted to share them from a brain-based perspective.

QUITE the challenge — especially since I knew that most readers wouldn’t have my background of information, so I had to include an explanation of terms before I could move on even to underlying principles, much less sharing techniques that many have found helpful.

Don’t miss: Getting Things Done-101

The extent of the challenge stopped me for a while, I must admit, and it took me some time to begin to figure out how best to do it without wearing people out.  Long-time readers may have noted that my earlier articles are much longer than the ones I have been posting lately.

Whittling things down remains a challenge, but I don’t let that keep me from trying to be helpful in as brief a manner as I believe can get the job done for most people.

Moving along anyway

I am inspired by the malaise that seems to waft in with the summer heat, and I want to explore more about Getting Things Done. I plan to continue to whittle things down to a size we can manage in two ways:

  1. Dividing this topic and this article into parts, and
  2. Using language and examples that will relate primarily to those attempting to Get Things Done at home, whether the tasks are personal or professional in nature.

Let’s start by thinking about how to tackle a number of different kinds of tasks by throwing them into a few metaphorical “task bins.”

Getting GUI

Take a look at your task list every day (which implies that you make one, right?)  Separate the tasks that would be good to get done from the tasks that are URGENT and IMPORTANT.

Good to get done tasks

Good to get done tasks help you move your life forward – without the not-so-subtle pressure that normally accompanies a To-DO! List.  This category is for the “treadmill tasks” of life: the recurring chores that really don’t need to be done at a specific time or day, as long as they are done fairly regularly.

These are the tasks I keep encouraging you to put on autopilot:

  • Figure out a reasonably effective way to do them
  • Do them the same way every time so that they can become habitual.
  • Put them on auto-pilot. “Auto-pilot” habits don’t debit cognitive resources!  No deciding, no agonizing, and your conscious mind is freed for more important work.

Urgent Tasks

Urgent Tasks are two-fold, both of which you are going to work toward eliminating from your life as you learn more about what you need to be intentional about getting things done.

Type 1 Urgents are those items that carry a monetary, legal or emotional penalty for remaining undone — many of which are the result of not getting out in front of them earlier.

Taxes, license renewals, bills, birthday cakes, presents and cards all fall into the Type 1 Urgent category at the beginning.

Don’t beat yourself up about your struggles with this category — or ruminate over the fact that you “should” have taken care of whatever it is before it became a problem that had to be handled immediately (or else!)

Simply identify the items that belong here to make sure you don’t drop those balls in the future.

Many of us with Executive Functioning issues have developed the unfortunate habit of using the adrenaline rush that accompanies urgency to be ABLE to focus with intentionality.

Adrenaline is an endogenous psycho-stimulant (produced within).

It does work; we tend to get more done. But it comes with a high price tag.  There are healthier forms of energy that will help you get things done — more about those to come.

Bona fide Emergencies

Bona fide emergencies generally won’t make this list at all. They are the things that you rarely have time to put on a list in the first place, nor do you need to.

Fire, flood, illness, accidents and broken bones, necessary and well-maintained equipment that suddenly gives up the ghost  — things that it’s unlikely you could have predicted but MUST be dealt with immediately — ALL fall in the category of bona fide emergencies.

The only way to plan for bona fide emergencies is to leave a bit of ease in your schedule every single day so that you stand a shot at getting back on track when you have to stop to deal with them.

Type 2 Urgents are the things that you are going to practice saying no to: that means setting boundaries.

My favorite quote that describes this category perfectly is this one:
“Lack of planning in your life does not constitute an emergency for me.”

Many of the items in this category wouldn’t be on your plate to begin with if you would get the time and energy vampires off your neck.

Other items pop in here when you say yes because you can’t imagine how to say no.  You would not find yourself rushing to buy a hostess gift for a party with that couple you don’t enjoy, for example, if you hadn’t said yes in the first place!

We have a tendency to say yes to these items we really don’t want to do because it requires little of our decision-making power to respond in “emergency mode” — it feels like MORE to do to refuse to play, so we play.

It feels great to put out a fire — not so great to prevent one.

I’m not saying that setting boundaries is an easy fix, but it is a simple one, and the only one that will ever work to get Type 2 Urgents out of your life forever.

Unfortunately, until we learn to set and protect boundaries around what we allow others to push onto our plates, our behavior teaches those around us to do exactly what we do NOT want them to do.

To begin with, demote the Type 2 Urgents:
Don’t say no, say LATER.

Take a baby step toward teaching your family and friends that ONLY when you’ve accomplished what is IMPORTANT will you be able to focus time or attention on Type 2 Urgents.

They may never understand that you have more important things to do than pick up the pieces of somebody else’s dropped ball or help them handle their over-commitments or lack of boundaries, but it is essential that you understand that reality yourself.

When you say, “Not now,” show any whiners and complainers your list of what needs to be done first and tell them to get them workin’ on it if they want you to be finished faster.

You probably won’t be able to count to three before you hear (with attitude, no doubt), Oh, never mind!

[More about this in an earlier article: Priorities-101:Yes means No]

So what’s IMPORTANT?  

That’s a VERY good question.  What IS “important” to you?  I’ll give you a hint with another favorite saying:

Nobody ever said, at the end of life,
“Darn!  I wish I’d spent more time on my chores.”

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

HOVER before clicking – often a box will appear to tell you what to expect

START SMALL – low hanging fruit

Experts in the area of “procrastination” say that in order to get yourself started on a task, it works best to lower the “barrier to entry.”

Research shows that even the worst so-called procrastinators find it much easier to activate if they choose a simple action item or one of the steps of a larger task to get them started.

In other words, make the threshold for getting started
so low that you are positive you can be successful.

Give yourself something easy to do to get you up off the couch, off your smart phone and away from your computer so that you can get into action in a direction you really do want to travel.

Take a couple of deep breaths, calm down and recenter first.  Know that merely starting, in and of itself, further reduces task-anxiety and gives you some wind beneath your wings — a small sense of accomplishment that feels good.

You’ll feel a lot better after you’ve done something,
even if you haven’t reached your ultimate goal
(and don’t make yourself wrong about what’s left to do!)

Tackling a Portion of a Larger Task

Let’s say that you really need to clean out your closet, but you’ve put it off for months because it seems like such a gargantuan task.  But it’s important since it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get to work on time because getting dressed is such a hassle.

For example: This time, instead of moving “clean out and organize closet” to yet another day on your to-do list, tell yourself, “OK, today I’m just going to walk into my closet and line up my shoes. That’s it. Shoes only – out of the pile and into a line – in pairs!”

If anything on the closet floor is in the way of “Shoes in a line!” handle it as quickly as possible without adding significantly to the task.

You don’t have to organize everything you come across, but you do have to get it quickly out of the way, even if that means throwing everything else currently on the floor of the closet into a box or clean trash bag to go through later.

Or if the bigger problem is finding a clean shirt that goes with what else you’d like to wear, pick a color and move all of them together on the rod – or separate them by type.  While you’re at it, toss anything that needs laundering into the hamper and move the empty hangers to the end of the closet pole.

Making a dent in the task sure works better than giving in to those “mood fixers” that rarely really work — such as grabbing a snack (or a drink!), updating your FaceBook profile (again), spending time you don’t really have trolling through Pinterest for closet organization ideas — or any one of a bazillion things we do attempting to recenter from a serious bout of task anxiety.

Dent Making-101

Anyone who is struggling with activation can make behavior changes and kick themselves into action by breaking down the task until it feels DO-able in any number of ways, such as:

  1. Picking something tiny to begin with, like hanging up the outfit you tossed on a chair when you changed into your pajamas and fell into bed;
  2. Focusing on a smaller portion of a task, as in the closet example above;
  3. Chunking Time — setting a specific time limit and allowing yourself to STOP when the time is up.

We’ll handle the third item in the next article.  Meanwhile, if you need a bit more wind beneath your wings, check out some of the articles linked to this one. They’ll pop out as you run your cursor over the greyish links, slightly lighter than the rest of the text – and most will give you a hint about what you’ll find when you click if you’ll hover just a bit before clicking.

If you’d like some personalized attention to your current challenges with organization or task completion, I currently have several openings in my coaching schedule.

Get in touch if you would like to hire me to personally coach you in a you-specific manner, holding you accountable in a way that will really help you get things done. I’d LOVE to partner with you

©2012, 2013, 2017, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)


As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Time & Task Management Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come.

If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), 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. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)


Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com

Related articles ’round the ‘net

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.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

76 Responses to Getting off the couch & getting going – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Developing those habits | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: Moving Past Task Anxiety to stop “procrastinating” | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Christy B says:

    I’ve gotten better at saying “no” as I’ve started to recognize the value of my time. It also has helped that my self-esteem has strengthened so I’m not always a people pleaser 😉 Not having to buy a bottle of wine to go an event i don’t really want to attend is nice xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • At the end of our lives, I’ll bet most of us would like to have that time we spent where we didn’t want to be BACK!

      I’ve had to teach myself not only to say no to more, but to leave early when I must – comparing what’s going on to what’s on my plate otherwise. (And it only took 45-50 years to do so – lol!)
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Chunking TIME to get you going | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  5. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Still Another Writer's Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WONDERFUL news to wake up to. Thank you so much for your support with the reblog.
      xx, mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Grandtrines says:

        You are welcome! Hope all is well in your part of the world.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ditto! We are having a couple of cool days, so it is wonderful.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • Grandtrines says:

            Unusually cool here in Tejas, also. Wettest August on record & third wettest summer, so far.

            Like

            • Lucky you for the cool weather – ours is still relatively cool as well. ::whew:: And I’m sure the rain has been great for those beautiful Texas wildflowers.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • Grandtrines says:

              My yard has dandelions , but yes I get your point! 🙂 Thanks!

              Liked by 1 person

            • lol – if you don’t fertilize, the greens are eatable – with tons of nutritional benefits. Have a great weekend – even if you have to have it under an umbrella. 🙂
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • Grandtrines says:

              I do not fertilize, but some of the other critters do! 🙂 Hope your weekend is pleasant as well!

              Like

            • lol – wash the greens first.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • Grandtrines says:

              And everything else for that matter! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            • Do that second – lol.
              xx, mgh

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting and thorough post, Madelyn. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Suzanne. Thanks, too, for letting me know which of your three names you prefer (and how to spell it). lol
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Tina Frisco says:

    This couldn’t be more timely for me, Madelyn. You always break things down into manageable pieces. Dent Making-101 is priceless! Thank you for your ever-encouraging posts 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thrilled you took the time to read and let me know you enjoyed it, Tina. THANK YOU always.

      Let’s go make a few dents! 🙂
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tina Frisco says:

        I’m on it! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Me too – always, it seems to me. 🙂
          xx, mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  8. dgkaye says:

    This is fabulous. Helping to declutter our clutter is a great idea. For many of us, seeking out the ‘real’ priorities becomes lost in the abyss of all the to dos. Nice breakdown my friend. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks again, Deb. To the “naturally organized and neat” this may sound way too obvious, but to those of us down here in the messy trenches, chunking and dent-making serve as a ray of hope.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Hope floats my friend. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie encourages us to quit unproductive worrying and work on the tasks that need our attention. Please, read on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perfect wordage to intro your lovely reblog, John: “quit unproductive worrying.” Thank you so much!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Madelyn – I say a small prayer as I write these introductions hoping that I get it right – or close, anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Great idea – “aligning with your Higher Self” before taking action is another way I’ve heard it said. It’s a great reminder that we don’t have to do everything ALONE!
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

  10. You are so right in categorizing tasks this way. We have taught kids in my school to categorize and prioritize, although we named the categories differently (more kid-friendly, I suppose), but to train adults to tackle Task #1 – to categorize their tasks into GUI – is a task in itself. It is especially evident when a person with OCD perceives anything he/she impulsively grabs as URGENT and becomes obsessed with it to the total neglect of everything else.
    I am sure I am not telling you anything new – great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine you understand all of these dynamics better than I, Dolly, having taught them to children. Kids are amazing teachers of what works and what doesn’t, aren’t they?

      My hat’s off to you for finding ways to work “live” with OCD children – it takes a great deal of love and understanding (and energy!)
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • My hat is off to you (and I actually wear one all the time!) for training adults! Kids are pliable, even kids with the alphabet soup attached to their paperwork. But adults? You truly deserve a Purple Heart Medal for bravery!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank for the kudos, Dolly, but it’s not as difficult as you might think by the time they come to coaching. The going is often slower (more “bad” habits to undue), but not so dangerous. 🙂

          I, too, am a hat person. RARELY seen without one from my rather large collection, no matter the season. I took my dermo at his word after he removed a melanoma from my back: “NO sun!” was a super excuse for a hat collection – lol.
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

  11. Great post again Madelyn. We affectionately call it our do/due list and could have three meanings tangled in. We use to believe we could maintain the list in our brains but quickly realize we can’t. There is something rewarding when the end of the day comes and we can see from the check marks why we are exhausted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do/due – that’s the best! I’m stealing that one for sure – lol. I’m with you on the satisfaction of reviewing the checkmarks too (tho’ I usually do cross-outs — I love the way it feels to cross it out and say DONE!)

      Thanks again for stopping by. I always love your comments.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Its yours to use anytime. Its great being able to share and learn. Having that safe place to express. What you speak of in your post brings order to our lives and helps alleviate some of the chaos for us.

        Liked by 1 person

        • In mine as well – as long as I remember that I must DO what I know (heh-heh-heh!). THAT’s the tricky part. I write and share to remind ME too!

          ON to my Do/Due list. 🙂
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • LOL. We’ll keep each other reminded.

            Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, I love this piece. Especially…the low hanging fruit, and the idea of “making a dent”. Thanks, M.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so welcome. Some days since my move here (maybe most days – lol), chunking is the only way I get the new “to-dos” picked off. I keep systematizing, but changes in circumstance means setting up new systems. After things are on autopilot it’s cake once again — for a while! 🙂

      Here’s to a week of lovely “dent making” for both of us!!!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  13. DC Gilbert says:

    Reblogged this on Patriot Warrior and commented:
    Great Post! Spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • How wonderful to see that you reblogged this post, DC. Thank you so much for sharing and for the endorsement that introduced your reblog.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  14. ‘It feels great to put out a fire — not so great to prevent one.’ Man. I love that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, me too. Great thing to remember, right? Many of us are firebugs for that very reason – lol.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Lucy Brazier says:

    This is great! I am reading this on barely three hours sleep, having been up most of the night over-thinking nonsense and worrying about nothing. It’s amazing what things seems critical at 3am! But I have come to a conclusion – I probably just need a holiday 😀
    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ya’ think? AND some sleep – can you nap? YOU are more *important* than your to-do list, my love. Take that holiday!!!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lucy Brazier says:

        I can sneak in a little nap later, fear not – there’s always time for a nap!
        xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh good! I hate to watch that sharp mind of yours get fuzzy. After all, there are TWO murders to solve now.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  16. love the GUI plan and I totally agree with this quote about the important things… another gem what gets a place on my desk ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m honored that I get desk-space – lol. Here’s to the important things.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  17. Great words, Madelyn and you have so rightly pointed that why worry for anything and one must always start from small and reach slowly and steadily wherever we want to go. Superb share and thanks so much for your encouragement and inspiring post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are a darling to comment so favorably, Kamal – and you picked out one of the most important points in the article. Thank you!
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

      • Thanks Madelyn have a great day

        Liked by 1 person

        • You too, Kamal – although yours will be beginning as mine is winding down.
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

          • Yes dear Madelyn I just got up

            Liked by 1 person

            • Good morning my lovely. Have a blessed day.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks Madelyn and good night dear. Have a great night with your little Tink.

              Liked by 1 person

            • lol – we meet on the edges of our days, don’t we? Tink & I will be headed off to bed very shortly.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • Yes dear but that is our world and atleast for sometime we can talk to each other.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Yes – and truly amazing!
              xx,
              mgh

              Like

            • Yes for sure

              Liked by 1 person

  18. I love reading your articles, Madelyn. I always note that I am the complete opposite. I chunk time to an extent that there is no free time in my day ever and I am a complete workaholic. I have recently discovered that this results in complete exploitation in the work place and have created my own cross to bear. I am remedying that by taking a 6 month sabbatical (during which time I plan to finish my two adult books) and then starting over next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you, Robbie! Down-time is sooooo important for both physical and mental health.

      I’m all for your 6 month sabbatical, but two books in that time might not leave enough down in your time. 🙂 You know your energy needs best, of course – but I’d love to hear about a lot of YOU moments during those 6 months.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Madelyn. Michael, Greg and I will also being doing lots of reading and baking and having good times together. I am quite lucky in that when I write it flows straight from my brain to my pen. I don’t agonise over paragraphs like some writers I know.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We are similar in that respect, Robbie. I write like I talk, and it seems to flow easily. As with many others, however, editing takes almost as much time as writing.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Get Off That Couch. Get Going. Part 1. – The Militant Negro™

  20. Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOW – you are quick on the draw – this JUST posted! Thank you so much for the reblog, you sweet man you.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is good to be fast on something, not so good for some other things….. good to see you. Hope your weekend was fabulous.

        Liked by 1 person

        • lol – yes, some things are best done slowly. 😉 Nice weekend here (raining tonight, so I’m hoping the brief black-out won’t recur, but at least it is COOL out — so grateful for that!)

          Hope yours was wonderful.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mine was uneventful and lazy, the best kind of weekend at my age. 🌹🤗🤓😁😎😊

            Liked by 1 person

            • Maybe the best at ANY age?
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • 😊😎😁🤗🌹

              Like

And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: