Chunking TIME to get you going


Getting Started
Getting the GUI Things Done – Part 2

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

Getting back to GUI!
Looking at Good, Urgent, and Important

In Part 1 of this article, Getting off the couch & getting going, I began by suggesting a down-and-dirty way to tackle a number of different kinds of tasks by throwing them into a few metaphorical “task bins.”

In this way of moving through malaise to activation, I suggested that you separate your tasks into 3 metaphorical piles, and I began to explore the distinction between them:

  1. Tasks that would be Good to get done
  2. Tasks that are Urgent
  3. Tasks that are Important

In the way I look at productivity, any forward motion is good forward motion!

Making a dent in a task sure works better than giving in to those “mood fixers” we employ attempting to recenter from a serious bout of task anxiety — those bouts of back and forth texting or endless games of Words with Friends™ — and all sorts of things that actually take us in the opposite direction from the one we really want to travel.

Dent Making-101

Anyone who is struggling with activation can make behavior changes and kick themselves into getting 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 putting away only the clean forks in the dishwasher – or just the glasses, or just the plates – or hanging up the outfit you tossed on a chair when you changed into pajamas and fell into bed last night, or picking out only one type of clothing from the laundry basket to fold and put away;
  2. Focusing on a smaller portion of a task, as in the closet example in the prior post;
  3. Chunking Time — setting a specific time limit and allowing yourself to STOP when the time is up.

Now let’s take a look at that last one.

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Chunking Time

Set a timer for five minutes and say, “I’m only going to do this huge obnoxious task for five minutes.”

Many people find that they can keep on going after they get started, but that’s really NOT the point of chunking time.

  • Let yourself stop if you are still experiencing resistance when the alarm rings. Promise yourself that tomorrow you’ll go for SIX and go do something else (besides sitting back down with the remote, that is).
  • When you do it the “stop when you said you would” way, you’ve just told your subconscious mind that you were inspiring momentum, not attempting to trick yourself into doing something you didn’t want to do — in other words, that you can be trusted to do what you promised yourself.
  • When you are still experiencing resistance and “should” yourself into going for longer, guess how easy it’s going to be to make yourself tackle the next 5-minute task?  Your inner three-year old won’t like it.  S/he’ll balk.
  • Only go for more time on task if you’re really inspired to keep going – and set your timer for another 5 minutes. Do it again if you still feel like it, or set the alarm for longer – but don’t go crazy here.

IMPORTANT: Don’t let that feeling of “NO MORE!” be where you end the task.

Your subconscious mind will file away the entire activity in the “odious” box.

Say “enough for today” at a good stopping point well before you are ready to run away screaming, or you are likely to wear out your resolve.  Baby steps work best when you’re stuck.

Giving up GREAT to get to GOOD

Negative self-talk makes activation problems worse. When we focus on doing every single task completely and to the very best of our ability and can’t seem to summon the energy to do it to that level, we fan the negative self-talk flame.

This new “failure” activates every negative thing about our lack of follow-though that we’ve ever thought or heard. Neurons that wire together fire together!

Related Post: Getting to Good Enough

Give yourself a break!   Forgive, normalize, endorse and allow.

  • Forgive yourself for being human;
  • Normalize your experience (vs. beating yourself up about it);
  • Endorse your resolve to do something about your tendency to “procrastinate”
    (or whatever you call it);
  • Allow yourself to do something to move the ball forward – no matter how tiny – every single day (or most of them, anyway!)

Forcing yourself to reach beyond the energy you have available rarely turns much of anything around. If it works in the moment it usually backfires on you later on.

Don’t discount that forgiveness step

In a procrastination study undertaken by Michael Wohl, Ph.D., at Carleton University in 2010, college freshmen who seemed to be in the grip of the self-flagellation habit were randomly sorted into two groups, shortly before an exam.

After the test, one group was instructed in how to forgive themselves for putting off studying. These students procrastinated far less than the other group when studying for the next exam.

It isn’t a perfect technique and the interpretation of the study results vary, but it certainly is one worth trying doncha’ think? If you need a bit more wind beneath your wings, check out some of the articles linked to this one – above and below.

If you’d like some personalized attention to your current challenges with time management, 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

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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!"

88 Responses to Chunking TIME to get you going

  1. Lots of good advice here, Madelyn. I suppose we all balk at doing this we don’t want to and prefer to spend our time doing things we do like. I try to do the things I don’t like first to get them out of the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are amazing at accomplishment, Robbie. I’m sure you could teach me a thing or several! Congrats on your recent honorable mention in Dan’s contest, btw. I’ll bet that had you flying.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Madelyn. I was extremely delighted as I have only been writing for one year and don’t have a writing background.

        Liked by 1 person

        • But you’ve had a lot of practice in that time and you are very creative, so I’m not surprised.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great article! My inner 3 yo balks a LOT!
    And definitely tricking myself to keep going does backfire!
    Came here from Kool Kitchen today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t Dolly the best? I couldn’t believe how she worked a mention for this post into an intro to a recipe. SO creative. Thanks so much for jumping over to read, and for taking the time to let me know.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, she is!! She is very creative!!
        You’re welcome, Madelyn.

        Like

  3. Thanks for all this information, Madelyn. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Like

    • Thank YOU for taking the time to read and comment, Suzanne.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  4. dgkaye says:

    Great advice my friend. Looking at the big picture of a to do list can be extremely overwhelming. I really like the ‘chunking’ idea. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Deb. Like writing (or editing) a chapter – or a number of pages – instead of an entire book!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Exactly! Wonderful analogy! 🙂 xo

        Liked by 1 person

        • High praise from you, Deb. Thanks.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • dgkaye says:

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Pickling Time and Chunking Kale – koolkosherkitchen

    • Again – I am so grateful for your LOVELY (and creative) mentions on your post – as well as to the links to both recent time posts. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  6. Christy B says:

    I have to “chunk time” when it comes to sorting emails or reading blog posts as I know the day will get away from me otherwise. You’re quite right that breaking down tasks will make us more likely to do that activation step too so I’m going to go read the couch potato post now. I’m going backwards, from part 2 to part 1 but… it makes life interesting 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • lol – even with chunking, I groan over dealing with email! It has gotten SO out of hand with all the marketing.

      There is not real backwards on ADDandSoMuchMore, btw. I try to repeat the salient background so that each post is fairly “stand-alone” – so you will zip through the repeated parts. My posts would be much shorter if I didn’t “review,” but I don’t think I’d have as many readers.

      I’m pleased as punch that you are interested enough to go back a post! Thank you.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christy B says:

        Oh I see now what you mean, Madelyn, about how you include review of past content so each post can stand on its own. Thanks for explaining that. And I see a new post from John’s reblog so I’ll be over there now xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • As always, you are a DOLL, Christy.
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

  7. daisymae2017 says:

    Interesting Post. Shared on LinkedIn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Crystal — for reading, commenting AND sharing. Have a great Sunday.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  8. Madelyn, thank you thank you for this post. I’ve had quite a bit on my plate recently (perhaps far too much) and I suspect that I became overwhelmed with a to-do list that exceeded my abilities.

    As you describe, activation became an issue. But your recommendations validated my attempts to slowly ease back into productivity gain by approaching tasks piece meal and recognizing partial victories as progress even if they don’t result in completion.

    You’re advice really is helpful and meaningful. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great comment, Gabe — and thanks for the acknowledgment.

      Simplistically stated:
      Overwhelm is not PFC friendly – lol. “Trying harder” is self-criticism and an amygdala activitor – PFC shutdown – fight/flight/freeze – and we spiral down from there as things remain undone and begin to pile up more quickly, increasing our overwhelm.

      “Priming the pump” really does work — as long as we don’t beat ourselves up for not doing MORE – lol – which starts the process all over again.

      Thanks for ringing in.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  9. That procrastination study sounds interesting – will look it up. Thank you for another interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dolly. Like I said – interp was mixed.

      Mine would be that when the students got “permission” to stop beating themselves up their PFC remained fully on board because the amygdala was not activated, as task anxiety went down, focus increased – which dominoed to “maybe I’ll just look at my notes” . . . etc.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with your opinion. Altogether, I haven’t had time to look at it yet, but I wonder which other variable would be affecting the data.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Could be anything – as we both know, studies can only “prove” what they design the experiment to study — and confirmation bias affects us all. I included it (with caveats) because it was cited in several other places as I drafted this several part article.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • As I tell my students, studies don’t “prove” anything; they only indicate, and then you have to look at the validity of the design.

            Liked by 1 person

            • YEP! That’s why I put it in quotes. 🙂
              Correlation does NOT “prove” causation.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • That’s another concept I try to drum into my students’ heads.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I hope yours take it to heart better than some of mine – lol. There are a handful all over the net with “proving” comments (without even a “seems to” modifier or a source-link). ::sigh::

              But then, some are saying other things that aren’t true either, all in the name of selling their services – and I KNOW I taught them better!
              xx,
              mgh

              Like

            • I don’t know whether they take it to heart, but they “seem to” remember that it affects their grades (us professors have our tricks!) 😻

              Liked by 1 person

            • lol – my guys don’t get grades. Too bad, huh?
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • That’s why they sometimes misinterpret the info – but you know it!

              Liked by 1 person

            • And THEN there’s the press. They “misinterpret” for greater readership – and the news spreads, compounding the inaccuracies in some sort of deranged game of i-net “telephone.”

              Reminds me of a lyric from a song from Pippen“although he really knows an awful lot of things they’re mostly wrong.” 🙂
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • LOL So true!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Funny and tragic at the same time.
              xx, mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight! We live in a world that doesn’t see beyond tonight, unfortunately!

              Like

            • Many do not, it seems. Do they even teach cause and effect thinking in schools these days?
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • I don’t know, I am not sure they do, but circular thinking proliferates!

              Liked by 1 person

            • I’m not so sure – if it’s not on “the test” teachers barely have time to teach many important things anymore. They all hate it, but nobody seems willing to treat their opinions with the *professional* respect they deserve these sorry days.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • Sadly, teachers don’t even get to teach “important things” nowadays, and who is making decisions as to what is important, anyway?

              Liked by 1 person

            • An appointee who knows absolutely NOTHING about education – and cares about it even less, that’s who. She wouldn’t know “important” if it locked her in a closet!!

              Just tasted the brownies – dry, dry, dry! So glad I decided to frost them (and have coffee by my side). A splash of Frangelico will improve them considerably, no doubt.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • So you shouldn’t have trusted that egg because it’s there for binding, not for moisture, and next time you’ll add a shot of whatever alcohol you have on hand, and the’ll be perfect!
              The emphasis on standardized testing in so-called “basic skills” has been there way before the current appointee.

              Liked by 1 person

            • True, but I know many people believed standardized testing was on the way out before the current regime took over. My hopes were dashed.

              lol – The current brownies were so disappointing that by the time there is a “next time” I may be too old to recall what I did. I’d better write it ON the recipe now!
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • “Many people” were delusional. Inflating grades is not a way out for standardized testing.

              Like

            • I wasn’t aware that many were doing that. Poor kids – it won’t be helpful to them once they get out of school, believing they have mastered material they have not.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • And the next issue is that, with all the drilling to the tests, nobody cares about mastering content any more. Do you know how much remediation is going on in colleges nowadays and how much funding is shifted to that area? It’s outrageous!

              Liked by 1 person

            • I know that when I taught an intro theatre class at UNO I had students who were not fully literate – could barely read and write.

              Seriously, I had to read some of their papers aloud to understand what they were saying. Their phonetic spelling wasn’t even grammar that I recognized – and yet they graduated from HS.

              Except for privately funded colleges, NOLA schools *must* accept anyone who graduates from a public HS, btw – the thinking was that they deserved a shot. Have to say I agreed, even tho’ I was horrified by how poorly prepared some of those HS grads were, academically.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • I believe they certainly deserve a shot, but the shot has to be offered much earlier – school, not college. College is not a place for remediation, but schools should be.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Agreed!
              xx, mgh

              Liked by 1 person

  10. Great one Madelyn. Especially the fab 4 of giving yourself a break. Its so liberating when one does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep – kicking back on the weekends is a pretty good idea too. We CAN when we chip away during the week. When we let things get DEEP it’s hard to allow ourselves to ever relax. Step by step is the best way out. Thanks for the visit and the comment.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • So important to stay on top of the task because it stinks playing catch up. Your post help us to remember to stay focused.

        Liked by 1 person

        • HABITS for the treadmill tasks for SURE! Whenever I skip a day, the law of attraction doubles the mess by morning — lol — compound. 🙂
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ain’t this the truth!!!!!!

            Liked by 1 person

  11. -Eugenia says:

    Love this post. I can feel waves of positivity flowing in all directions. I’ve always been a person that believes in step by step, and yes we are human and will make mistakes along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for underscoring the point of the post, Eugenia. TGIF!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • -Eugenia says:

        😃 Have a great weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • More like “productive” – writing and working, primarily. Fortunately I do enjoy my work. Working for myself, I take my “weekends” when deadlines allow. I hope yours is glorious and relaxing.
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

          • -Eugenia says:

            👍

            Liked by 1 person

  12. The time limit is a great idea, Madelyn. Wonderful post. TGIF and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Teagan. TGIF to you as well. Think of me as you toss back a cocktail.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie gifts us with the next installment of Getting Started with a practical explanation of Chunking Time. Please, read on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh John, you are so wonderful to reblog another of these posts. Forever grateful.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Madelyn. Just got back from our trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The musical was fantastic.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ll bet! Happy birthday to your wife again. MY kind of celebration.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Only the forks from the dishwasher? I think I go for Great! Good! good! OK! So-so! Rubbish! But all my Lists are up to date. It’s Friday evening, I can’t feel my left leg. Have a miagraine and will likely need to do a little something off the lists over the next 2 days. Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

    • lol – I included that example for a friend whose kitchen is periodically a total disaster – no clean dishes/dirty dishes on every surface and overfilling her double sink – because she feels like emptying her dishwasher sounds like too much work. 🙂

      Sorry for your migraine – feel better soon. Meanwhile it seems like you are in good enough shape to ignore today and go back to bed to sleep it off.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  15. foodzesty says:

    Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I appreciate your time reading and letting me know that you did.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • foodzesty says:

        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Again a great informative post, Madelyn and yes why feel guilty for anything. We sure are humans but have to pick up our sticks instead of lazying around. They rightly say An idle mind is a devils workshop. So take up whatever you like and give your space and time to each and every thing that you take up. Thanks for the share.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wonderful comment – great attitude, Kamal. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts here before Tink and I head off to bed.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks dear, Madelyn and you and Tink have a great night. Good night and sweet dreams.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Always sweet when I end my nights with you.
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

          • Welcome dear

            Liked by 1 person

            • 💕

              Like

            • Thanks

              Liked by 1 person

  17. thanks for encouraging posts… I will stop to feel guilty for all and nothing, to err IS human and I’m a human too, so I try no longer to worry about fails and I will forgive myself , yes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey – Tink and I just saw your recent DIY project (the “shameofa”)- no “err”ing on that one – for sure! I should only do so well. 🙂
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  18. Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kisses, kisses, kisses! You are wonderful to reblog this next part of the article. Thank you.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

      • It’s my pleasure, I was not getting notifications from WORSTpress about your blog post, and you’re not the only blog I don’t get notifications about, until last week. Seems WORSTpress is always fucking up the platform just to improve the platform for mobile apps.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yep – drives me nuts too. They don’t seem to ever TEST before unleashing, of course, but if the new kids have their way, ere long it will barely be usable for folks who actually read and write (anything beyond a tweet or a meme).

          The WP coders don’t seem to use their own platform – clearly – and they have no IDEA why many of us chose WP as our blogging platform to begin with. Those are the features they seem to be intent on axing.

          Hope they get a clue before our mass exodus! **Surely** somebody is working on a usable platform for writers – once the new BLOGGING platform launches, we’ll leave WP behind to fight for a small share of the mobile users as johnny come latelys.

          “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” (oops – too many words) 🙂
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

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