It's About Time
Don’t inflate small tasks; get them done
Why is it that some people get small things done without delay and others don't? Sometimes the answer has less to do with laziness or lack of time, but more to do with viewpoint.
Years ago I met with a prospective client in his new home office. The movers had tracked in dirt and left a noticeable spot of loose soil on the white carpet. He said it had been there for two weeks and that he knew he really should vacuum it up.
I said that I bet I knew the reason he hadn't vacuumed it yet: He didn't see it as the small job it was, but in the larger context -- that when he did vacuum, he'd tackle the entire office.
He was amazed.
"You're right!" he said. "How did you know?"
I perceived that he was a right-brain, big-picture thinker who tends to see tasks in the larger context.
To such a person, a task is not seen as small, but inflated to include ALL that has to be done in connection to that action.
How did I know that? Because that's how my brain works, too. Take for example the simple task of watering the plants on my lanai. I have seven plants and two ficus trees. Watering them takes only a few minutes.
But I used to hesitate, thinking that if I watered the lanai plants, I should also water the potted plants on the deck as well as the potted palms on the far side of the yard. What was a simple task had been inflated to take much more time than I had, so it didn't get done.
I now recognize when I'm inflating a minitask and try to focus on the small job itself so that it will get it done.
I was working with a client sorting piles of papers. Her homework was to file a handful before my next visit. The papers remained un-filed for several weeks.
Why? Because, being a right-brain big-picture thinker, she thought that when she pulled the files, she should also purge unnecessary papers, a job that would take more time than she had.
I reminded her that the goal was just to get them filed. She did and it took only five minutes. Now at least they were in their proper "homes," where she could find them when needed.
If you have a minitask waiting to be done, I encourage you to focus on the job itself and just do it! It will be a good feeling to get those little tasks out of the way.
See you in two weeks!
"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong
, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org