It’s About Time
Ruth Wong

Overcome roadblocks
one at a time

I think there are times in all our lives when we reach a roadblock, a task that's staring us in the face but we can't get into gear to do it. That was the case for a friend who recently called me from work asking, "Do you have any secrets or anything that you tell yourself to make you DO something?"

It seems he had spent hours the day before sorting the paper clutter on his desk into action categories (a good step). But then due to lack of space, he piled the separated categories together without marking where one ended and the next began (not a good step).

Now he was staring at a paper pile 7 inches high, and he just couldn't bring himself to deal with the pile. He had reached a roadblock and was stuck.

What do you do in such a situation? I asked four questions that helped him analyze the problem and get into action mode.

My first question was, "What exactly do you need to do first?"

He answered, "Separate the pile into categories again."

I then asked, "How hard is that?" Upon thinking about it, he realized it wouldn't be that hard. He just had to find where one category ended and the next began.

My third question was, "How long would it take?"

"About half an hour," he replied.

My last question was, "What is the blockage?"

He replied, "Lack of space in which to spread out the papers."

His solution was to find an empty desk elsewhere on the floor.

Now that the real blockage -- lack of workspace -- was identified, a simple solution was evident and the task seemed doable.

When you face a roadblock and are stuck, try asking yourself the same four questions:

» What is my next step?

» How hard is it?

» How long would it take?

» What is the blockage?

By doing so, you are facing the roadblock objectively and not avoiding it, and the real reason could emerge along with the next logical step.

Avoidance of a necessary, dreaded task is not recommended, as it usually makes matters (workload, penalty, guilt or fatigue) worse jamming up any future work.

I encourage you to push through roadblocks one by one. It will be a good feeling to hurdle obstacles and be on your way to other things.

Happy hurdling! 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 features@starbulletin.com

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