Make It Easy


Thursday, June 7, 2001

Put time limits on
chores to avoid

Procrastination happens. Oh well. We are inundated every day with more information than our ancestors came across in a lifetime. We also are told by every medium out there that we are to Achieve! Succeed! Keep Up!

Sometimes the brain goes numb. We also procrastinate when we don't really believe in the project ahead of us, or when we don't know where to start. The Nike slogan is a good idea, but it isn't enough without a tool to make it happen.

So, Here is a tool I created that works for me:

I call it, low impact housekeeping. Buy a timer that ticks loudly and then goes DING!

When your brain goes to sleep, stop your regular work and set the timer for 10 minutes. Focus on clearing out one thing for the next 10 minutes. When the bell rings, stop and go back to your regular work. (The key is to Stop. If you know you will stop, you will be more willing to try this.)

Set up a "Low impact housekeeping file." When opening your mail, toss inconsequential things in there -- the junk mail that you might read, minor things to be filed eventually, magazines. Make it a point to have one 10-minute "LIHF" clearing every day. You will see your filing and reading piles disappear in a few weeks.

The greatest advantages to this system is the adrenaline rush. Most of us are numb from paperwork and routine. Racing against the clock will get you moving again so you can produce something useful.

I created this when was working out of my home in 1981. I found myself spending too much time on inconsequential work and not enough on the important stuff. When I started my LIHF system, my productivity tripled. I knew eventually I would get to the small stuff so I was comfortable letting it go.

This also works on housekeeping. I set the timer for 15 minutes, and the kids and I rush around picking things up, washing dishes and doing quick clean ups. A couple of these a day and the house stays live-able. Plus, it keeps the kids active and involved.

Next week -- a tip for getting through all those professional magazines.

Beth Terry is president of Pacific Rim Seminars.
This column is excerpted from her upcoming book,
101 Ways to Make Your Life Easier. Send questions
on management, customer service and other issues

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