Moving Past Task Anxiety to stop “procrastinating”


Procrastination vs. Task Anxiety
Executive Functioning struggles redux

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

Poor Organization & Task Completion

Most of us with Executive Functioning struggles have difficulty “putting it all together.”

Our cognitive deck of cards gets shuffled in the process of recording “awarenesses” into short term memory and consolidating for long-term storage.

That makes it harder to figure out which cards to pull when it comes time to play the game — making it difficult to respond appropriately, or to correctly evaluate consequences, outcomes and timing.

As a result, projects tend to be abandoned unfinished in our dissatisfaction with our lack of ability to play at a level that makes the game interesting rather than an exercise in frustration.  Before we know it, we’ve labeled ourselves chronic procrastinators — and so have most of our associates and loved ones.

It certainly may look like chronic procrastination to anyone looking on. And boy howdy do those onlookers love to sling that label around — as if they believed that merely pointing it out would launch us into activation!

I would like to suggest that what’s really going on here is Task Anxiety.

Task anxiety, just what it sounds like, is what science used to call a “limbic system” activator — where your brain and body are primed to fight, flight or freeze, NOT to get things done!

EVEN those who push through and force themselves to tackle the tasks on their To-Do lists are, according to the latest studies, up to 50% less effective than they would be if they handled the task anxiety FIRST.

  • According to scientific studies conducted in the past few years by Dr. David Rock and his team, and Emotional Regulation Research founder, Stanford’s Dr. James J. Gross:

The degree to which your “limbic system” is aroused is
the degree to which your PFC [prefrontal cortex] is deactivated.

  • Task completion is decision-dependent — and deciding depends on prefrontal cortex activation.
  • The PFC of “the ADD/EFD brain-style,” which includes all of us with Executive Functioning struggles, is already under-performing, relative to the neurotypical population — and the research above was NOT carried out using the ADD/EFD population!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Madelyn’s 3-point Procrastination Primer

1. The greater the number of items to accomplish on the way to completing any particular task, the higher the likelihood of so-called “procrastination.

2. The higher the number of decisions to be made on the way to completing any particular task, the lower the probability that it will begin or end in a timely manner.

3. The more each item or decision depends on the completion of a prior step, the more likely it is to result in shut-down — and the greater the likelihood that the project will be tabled for another time.

Related Post: Procrastination — Activation vs. Motivation

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here’s the GOOD news:

Simply identifying what’s going on, whether you actually DO anything about it or not, helps to bring the PFC back online somewhat.  And there is SO much more you can do!

Identifying these areas and naming the steps involved will go a long way toward intentionality.

Awareness is always the first step, and “naming” it is the second.

Read more of this post

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.
Read more of this post

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.”

Read more of this post

The Condo Concept of Time Management


A better way to structure
the TIME of your LIFE

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the TaskMaster™ and Time Management Series

Lost in Time?

When we are driving around lost and our GPS seems to be stuck on, “RECALCULATING!” a map of the territory provides a quick hit of the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

We can still choose to take any of the roads on the map to get us where we are going from where we are NOW, but at least, with a map, we can tell the roads from the driveways!

Likewise, when life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than a quick glance at something with structure – like a TIME map.

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your seemingly “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that, together, create each of the days of our lives.

It can be adapted to your very own personal style — even if you prefer spontaneity and variety. It even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days, as well as for those of us who seem to have too much control and are overwhelmed deciding what to do when and what to do next.

A quick review

In an earlier article, Time Mapping Your Universe, I went into detail about how to set up a TimeMap (using my own, at the time, as an example of the concept). More importantly, in that earlier article I went into detail about the advantages of having and using a Time Map

WHY a Time Map?

  • Having a visible representation of how you believe the elements of your life would be best-scheduled reduces the number of decisions-in-the-moment.
  • That, in turn, increases cognitive bandwidth in the moment — so that you are able to actually accomplish something beyond planning, list-making and beating yourself up for getting off-task again.
  • In addition, it serves as a double-check to make sure that you aren’t saying yes to demands for your time and attention, when you really need to be saying NO or “Not right now.”
  • It also gives you somewhere to go to locate a quick answer for the inevitable question, “Well, when will you have time?”

In the absence of a schedule imposed by another (like work or school), it is waaaaay too easy to get caught in the flexibility trap.

© Phillip Martin, artist/educatorThe Flexibility Trap

Entrepreneurs and service-professionals in particular, frequently get caught in the flexibility trap, inadvertently flying stand-by in our own lives in service to our businesses and the needs of others.

Those of us with alphabet disorders are some of the worst offenders, since many of us struggle with time and transition management.  Before we realize what hit us, our lives are no longer OUR lives.

  • Just because a certain hour is not already taken by another client, or another client project, doesn’t mean it’s “free time” we can book on the fly any time someone wants to use our services (or needs a favor).  That’s a recipe for burnout!
  • A TimeMap is a reminder that certain hours are “booked solid” already – with other items that are necessary to keep YOUR life on track and worth living.
  • ESPECIALLY if you love what you do, you need to schedule non-work time or you’ll quickly notice that there isn’t any.  Even if your long hot soak or reading time can’t be accomplished without family interruptions, it’s still more “you” time than not.  MAP IT IN!
    (This is doubly important if you are a Mom or Dad who works his or her fingers to the bone inside the home rather than at a job at a different location.)

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that, together, create each of the days of our lives.

Read more of this post

TimeKiss™ – Tips for Time Mapping


KISS: Keep It as Simple as you sCAN

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another in the TaskMaster™ Series
TimeMapping Part 2

© Phillip Martin – artist/educator

Finding Your Way

As I said in Part I of this article — when we’re lost, if we’re smart, we check the map.  A road map provides the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

When life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than structure  – a MAP of the territory.

A TIME Map

In Part I of this article, I explained the basic principles of TimeMapping, and gave you an example of the TimeMap I’m using currently – Down & Dirty style, which is what I recommend for you.

Like any map you might pick up at your local gas station, one that shows the major roads but not every house on the block, a TimeMap is an overview — something you can SCAN quickly to get your bearings.

Your TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make it up.

It NEEDS to be adapted to your very own personal style —  and, designed appropriately, it even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days.

Everything old is new again

TimeMapping is not a new technique, by the way. It was extremely popular with the Time Gurus in the ’80s.  With the increasing popularity of electronic devices, it fell into disfavor.

I think it’s past time to bring it back!  Never underestimate the power of paper.

Read more of this post

TIME Mapping Your Universe


Structuring the Time of your Life Part 1

© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
In the TaskMaster™ and Time Management Series

Lost in Time?

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

Phillip Martin: artist/educator

When we’re lost, if we’re smart, we check the map.  A map of the territory provides the structure we need to reorient, even if we’ve been driving in circles for some time.

When life itself feels like it is spiraling out of control, nothing is more helpful than structure.

NO, not the hateful kind of structure imposed from the outside — an inside look at how you want to be spending your time that you can hold up as a shield against life’s slings and arrows: a TimeMap.

Creating a TimeMap provides an organizational structure for your “impossible to schedule” life — reserving slots for broad categories representing the various activities that make up the tasks that together create each of the days of our lives.

It can be adapted to your very own personal style — even if you prefer spontaneity and variety — and it even works for those of us who have less than complete control over our days.

Time Mapping

In Time Management from the Inside Out, author Julie Morgenstern explains the time mapping concept beautifully:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“The Time Map is simply a visual diagram of your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule

. . . as well as . . .

a powerful tool for helping you be proactive amid the swirl of demands that come your way.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Read more of this post

TaskMaster: Ordering Your Deck


Getting Things Done – 101 Part 3
Another article in the Taskmaster™ Series
© by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

The last two of Ten Tips for Focus & Intentionality:
Prep-Time for Time Mapping

We LOVE Phillip Martin’s artword!

Lets begin by reviewing steps 1-8.

You need to have those firmly in mind to be able to go forward with what we’re going to do next.

1. House the Homeless
2. Name the Game
3. Mise en Plasse
4. Plant and Stake
5. Remember the Cookie
6. Stop and Drop (thanks Maria!)
7. Survey the terrain
8. Boundary the space hogs

If you’re not ready to ride after reading the following few memory joggers, go back to read (or reread) Parts 1 & 2 of the “Getting Things Done-101” section of the TaskMaster articles.

Scroll to the bottom of this article for links to the rest of the TaskMaster series – and don’t forget that inside-the-article links to concepts mentioned are dark grey, to lower their distraction potential.  They turn red on mouse-over; hovering for a moment before you click will pop up a bit more info for many of them.

This article will continue to help you put your “deck” together.

Read more of this post

Mapping Your Universe


Getting Things Done – 101 Part 2
Another article in the Taskmaster™ Series
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Moving through the Ten Tips for Focus & Intentionality:
Prep-Time for Time Mapping

We LOVE Phillip Martin’s artword!

Lets begin by reviewing steps 1-6.

You need to have those firmly in mind to be able to go forward with what we’re going to do next.

1. House the Homeless
2. Name the Game
3. Mise en Plasse
4. Plant and Stake
5. Remember the Cookie
6. Stop and Drop (thanks Maria!)

Go back to read (or reread) Part 1 if you’re not ready to ride after reading those reminders.

As I said in the first part of Getting Things Done – 101:

The use of a Time Map – setting a regular and recurring time in your calendar or datebook where you plan to work on the same task each time – reduces the prefrontal cortex resource depletion that happens every darn time you try to DECIDE what to do.

Interestingly enough, shuffling the deck
– assuming you HAVE a deck to shuffle –

takes far fewer cognitive resources.

Think of it like a commune in your calendar. Every task has a tent, but the community members kind of float from one tent to the other, making sure all of the activities of the commune are attended to daily, weekly and monthly – just not always in the same tent.

This article begins to help you put that “deck” together.

Read more of this post

Getting Things Done – 101


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover.

Ten Tips for Focus and Intentionality — Part 1

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the TaskMaster™ Series

I finally had time to sit down and read a past issue of Maria Gracia’s excellent Get Organized Now newsletter.  This one had a great article entitled “Hopping and Dropping.”  (If you don’t already know Maria’s website, RUN to sign up – you’ll thank me for the tip many times.)  

Thanks Maria!  Your article reminded me to go look for a similar document on Organization and Task Completion, hiding out somewhere on my hard drive waiting for its turn in the blog spotlight in the TaskMaster™ series.

Getting things DONE

Those of us who are highly distractible (as well as those who are highly impulsive) generally run out of day l-o-n-g before we run out of To-Dos. We shake our heads sadly and ask ourselves,What did I DO all day? I’ve barely stopped working and I have nothing to show for it.”

Maria calls this “Hopping and Dropping — starting one task, hopping to another,” then dropping that task for something else, moving right along to whatever grabs your attention next — and repeating this process throughout the day.

This not only results in exhaustion, it’s lousy for getting much of anything DONE!

I call that exhaustion nonsense the [old] ADD/EFD Way!

Read more of this post

Juggling Invisible Balls



By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Part 2 of a 2-part article in a series of excerpts from my upcoming book,
TaskMaster™ – see article list below

Some Juggling is an INSIDE Job

 

Juggling invisible balls is my term for the conscious attempt to screen out persistent, irrelevant, or intrusive, off-task, background “noise.”

“Noise” refers to input from any modality (an area of information processing using our sensory apparatus);
“juggling” is a metaphor to help us understand the mechanism by which we handle life’s many demands.

In the previous TaskMaster Series article, Taking Your Functional Temperature, I introduced several analogies that help illuminate what’s going on “behind the scenes” to help explain WHY we struggle with focus — and WHY we struggle in ways that make it difficult-to-impossible to get things done.

If you haven’t read the previous article, I STRONGLY suggest you start there, or I doubt the content below will be as valuable to you as it could be.

In this second section, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the reasons why functioning can be so erratic.

As I said in the first part of this article, on an average day, you may well be able to handle a great many things that, on another day, you simply cannot.

  • It makes sense ONLY if you start becoming aware of – and counting – invisible balls, so that you can better predict your functioning level BEFORE you attempt to take on more than you can manage.
  • Part of the value of ADD Coaching is helping you develop the habit of taking your functional temperature to help you take on the type and number of tasks that will keep you stimulated but not overwhelmed.

You will find tasks easier to manage if you learn to think of your day as if, like Alice, you were faced with one long  juggling  performance for The Red Queen.

You may certainly plan what objects you TAKE to her palace, but you must determine the order of your performance in the moment, so that the objects don’t come crashing down around you to the tune of, “Off with your head!”

Read more of this post

Sherlocking Task Anxiety


By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC Another in a series of articles from my upcoming book, TaskMaster™ – see article list below

Task Anxiety 101 – part 2

Watson, we need to review

The three most recent segments introduced a unique connection between bribery and intentionality, linking it to reward and acknowledgment. I introduced the connection between inner three-year-olds and the cookie concept, a real-world application of the importance of reward and acknowledgment to ongoing accomplishment.

IF you’ve been playing along . . .

In the TaskMaster™ Series Introduction and in Task Anxiety Awareness, you made some lists.

One is a List of Ten — activities you find yourself doing INSTEAD whenever you attempt to complete a task, or in response to an attempt to initiate a task.

  • This is a list of any ten of the things that YOU do that leaves you chronically behind and befuddled.
  • Many of you had self-identified with that not-very-helpful “chronic procrastinator” label as a result.
  • I encouraged you to reframe those tasks as “avoidance” activities: avoiding task anxiety.

You also have a List of Five Feelings.

I asked you to think of a specific example in your life where you tried to listen to “logical” advice from those who did not take the time to understand the parameters of your problem before stepping in to suggest their “simple solutions.”

  • I asked you to recall how you felt when you attempted to take that “logical” advice (or even thought about taking it), especially when accompanied by a failure to reach a goal or complete a task.
  • I suggested you write down at least five descriptive feeling words, then walked you through four paired-awareness exercises, shuffling the paired words around a bit to see if any new insights bubbled up from your unconscious.

Now, dear Watson, let’s connect some dots!

When the Game is Rigged


Reward and acknowledgment, part 3 


By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Another in a series of articles from my upcoming book,
TaskMaster™ – see article list below

Don’t be STINGY!

Think back to my earlier reminder that, during the training phase, you make good with those cookie bribes frequently.

Remember that I said that you can reconsider what has to be done for what kind of reward once the training is complete?

Don’t forget as you reconsider, however,
that you are working with an inner KID.  

Most adults I know have lost touch with how much they loved cookies as a kid.

Oh, we remember that kids love cookies, all right, that’s not the problem.

  • In fact, most Moms resort to keeping the cookies in a place the kids can’t reach them.
  • They say they want to keep the kids from eating every single cookie in the jar.

In another unbelievable application of black and white thinking, “You may not eat all of the cookies” transforms into “You may not eat ANY of the cookies” before a three-year-old can figure out what happened.

Since Moms generally dislike interruptions when they are busy and most Mom’s are pretty busy most days, repeated requests for a cookie are quickly considered whining for a cookie. Most Moms don’t like to give in to whining.

The game is rigged!

What’s the poor kid supposed to do? You’re too busy to stop long enough to crack the cookie safe on request and in a minute never comes.

Read more of this post

Doling out the Cookies


Reward and acknowledgment, part 2

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
Another in a series of articles from my
upcoming book, TaskMaster™
– see article list below

 

Before we leave the discussion about acknowledgment, lets talk about how it works.

An acknowledgment, properly executed, carries one message and one message only:  GOOD JOB!

Think about the way we talk to each other.  Think about the subtext of the messages we send when we praise.  Think about the words we use.

•  Not bad!
•  Decent!
•  Almost perfect!
•  Great!  Now try it again with your back straight.

Excuse me?  I don’t know about your inner three-year-old, but mine hears an underlying message that takes away as much as it gives.

What tries to pass for acknowledgment above leaves me with the not-so-subtle feeling that, no matter how hard I try or how much I do, I will never be “perfect enough.”

Read more of this post

Virtue is not its own reward


Beating Back Task Anxiety – part 1

By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
One of a series of articles from my
upcoming book, TaskMaster™

Reward and acknowledgment

The misunderstanding and misapplication of the reward phase of task management is the single biggest mistake I notice in the world.

Don’t undervalue this part. 

The seemingly silly concept coming up is the single most important distinction to which you will ever be exposed.  

It will sometimes be the only thing that will keep you on track as you work your way through the items on your plate – whether that means filling out the Challenges Inventory™, putting together your Boggle Space, or getting through the rest of this article!

We are ALL Peter Pan

Inside every one of our grown-up selves lives an I’ll never grow up three-year-old who wants a cookie.

Maybe we can convince that three-year-old to behave for a while without that cookie, but eventually even the most well-behaved three-year-old is going to stage an old fashioned temper tantrum because s/he is tired of working on behaving and wants a reward for all the work s/he has done already!

Our inner three-year olds are totally uninspired by concepts of goodness and virtue and rewards in the afterlife.  Our inner three-year olds are wiser than we know.  Nobody behaves for sake of good behavior itself.

Playing by the rules, waiting our turn, and being quiet so that the grown ups can talk about important things (when we would much rather be free to do whatever we wanted at the playground down the street) is hard work.  

And if you think you’re getting all that hard work for free, you’d just better think again, buster!!

Three-year-olds want regular, recurring, tangible rewards for their efforts!  If you want to continue to motivate your inner three-year-old so that s/he will work with you instead of slowing you down with chronic distractions, the most effective way is BRIBERY!

Read more of this post

Task Anxiety Awareness


Task Anxiety 101 – Part 1

By Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T., MCC, SCAC
The second of a series of articles from
my upcoming book, TaskMaster™
– see article list below

Task Anxiety 101 - Part 1

Get out your notebook

Before I go into a bit of background explanation about task anxiety, I am about to ask you to make another list.

For those times when you attempt to complete something or in response to attempting to begin something, make a List of Ten activities you find yourself doing INSTEAD.  What is it that YOU do that leaves you chronically behind and befuddled.

As I asked in the first article in the TaskMaster Series:

What were some of the tactics you used to deal with your anxiety about not knowing how to tackle a particular task?
(Those supposed “procrastination” activities you took on instead of what you intended or needed to do)

I find it more useful, AND more accurate, to reframe those tasks as “avoidance” activities: avoiding task anxiety.

So now it’s time to get to work on changing a few things.

I’ll get you started by sharing my own list of activities I do when I “go unconscious” about my own task anxiety. To get the benefit of this section, you need to connect PERSONALLY – so take the time to write out your own List of Ten, so that you will be able to do the four exercises that follow.

I’ll bet you a year’s free coaching, if you don’t actually DO the exercises, there will be no new insights — and you will dismiss them as a huge waste of time and energy as you read about them.

(At the bottom of this article, I’ll give the skeptics among you a couple of credible scientists
to check out, with links to what they have to say about optimizing internal processing.)

TaskMaster – Getting Things DONE!


Remember – links on this site are dark grey to reduce distraction potential
while you’re reading. They turn red on mouseover
Hover before clicking for more info
.

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part One of the TaskMaster™ Series

Taming Training 101

You are about to learn to become your own Task Master.

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?

Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: