Help! I Don’t Want To Quit Shopping!! Am I a shopping addict?

Help!! I don’t want to feel deprived. I don’t like being told no. I enjoy walking through the mall and seeing all pretty new colors. I like the feeling of walking through William Sonoma and picturing my perfect kitchen with perfect gadgets.  And don’t tell me I have a shopping addiction!!!

I think my trek through the mall gives me hope of a better lifestyle or a better home environment.

When I’m at the mall shopping, I enjoy the neatly stacked shirts, the organized and expertly combined colors. Everything is hung up and easy to see. Everything is orderly.

Funny how William Sonoma doesn’t have a stack of dirty dishes displayed in the corner. And they don’t have a stack of mail two weeks high teetering on the counter. Chico’s doesn’t have a pile of panties that have worn out elastic or holes in the seams displayed either…

No wonder I’ve always loved going to the mall. It was my escape from dishes, filled laundry baskets, and cluttered counter tops.

Do I have a shopping addiction?Buying a new outfit was liberating in some way. I’d come home, try to hang it up in my very full closet of clothes I haven’t worn in years. That is, if I could get into my closet…I’d have to push aside a very full laundry basket of clean stuff. Now what was in that basket anyway? (It had been in my closet for weeks….) But I had something new… Somehow it wasn’t as exciting the next day as it was the first day I brought it home and hung it up.

When I first heard about this simplicity and minimalist stuff, I shuttered. No way! I want a better life and I’m sure it means being able to shop for whatever I want, when I want. Right?

Where did that thinking come from? It certainly wasn’t from my depression era parents. They consistently rattled off phrases through out my childhood like: “You don’t need that.” “You need to learn how to say no.” “You need to save your money instead of wasting it on junk that’s just going to break.” “You have a closet full of clothes you don’t wear.”

I’m about to participate in Project 333.  But before I go through the steps of living with 33 wardrobe items for 3 months, I HAVE to take some internal steps in order to be successful.

I need to recognize:

  1. …that the feelings and emotions from the mall are stemmed from wanting and needing an organized, uncluttered lifestyle.
  2. …the need for more is really not a need for more. (Really? I need 15 purses?)
  3. …shopping isn’t a desire based on a physical need, but a desire based on emotion. I am trying to emotionally feel better by excessive shopping.
  4. …there is some other unfilled need or desire that triggers my urge to shop.
  5. …that shopping is an expensive hobby and creates more work at home taking care of, and storing the items. (I’m finding entertainment in other areas other than shopping)

I can declutter my house, organize mycloset, cancel magazine subscriptions….but until I dove in to why I wanted to shop, all the minimizing and simplifying didn’t help that much. Contentment and happiness needs to come from something more permanent than tossing out that shirt that was too small. (Yes, I hang on to it because I know I would love it when I lose 10 more pounds….)

Here’s what’s helped me and prepared me to do Project 333:

  • Happiness isn’t found in external things like a house, job, car, spouse, food, drugs, or shopping. My happiness is found in discovering my God-given purpose and pursuing it with the passion that naturally comes from recognizing it.
  • I need to remove things from my life that get in the way or distract me from my God-given purpose.
  • I want to spend more time investing in my purpose, and less time preparing for my purpose.
  • When I focus on my purpose, time wasters (shopping, tv, snacking) lose their appeal.

Okay…I think I’m ready.

 

Other books to help:

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Confessions of an addicted multi-tasker…How to simplify in the age of distraction.

I’ve always been proud that I’m a great multi-tasker.  I believe that God made moms with this fabulous ability of being focused on multiple tasks at one time.

Take for instance when my daughter Holly was a baby.  With a small baby girl on one hip, I could cook for a family of five, help my son Wesley build a model of the King Ranch, help my other son Clayton with algebra homework, and fold a load of laundry…all at the same time.  That was a normal 5:00 pm ritual for me.  And I breezed through it effortlessly.  And daily…

When I was in College I took a course on business management skills.  The final exam was an office simulation.  We were systematically given multiple tasks to fulfill.   Business reports to analyze and type (on electric typewriters.)  A filing cabinet to organize and label.  An event to plan.  All tasks had to be completed within one hour.  During the hour, we also had to handle walk-in tasks (sort of like a receptionist) and answer the phone. We were given so many tasks, that it was basically impossible to finish everything. (Think Kobayashi Maru from Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn) I remember watching the student before me walk out of the simulator frazzled and in tears.  I felt pretty good when I walked out of mine.  Three days later my professor called me into his office.  He said that no other student in the history of his teaching carer had ever finished the amount of tasks correctly and in such high quality.  I was a natural.  I had no idea my great talent would also be my greatest curse.

addicted to multi-taskingFast forward 30 years.  I’m addicted to multi-tasking.  I can’t sit and watch a movie…without some other task or activity. I usually have a computer or iPad on my lap.   Unless it’s eating…  TV combined with eating is dangerous for me.  Mindless eating and watching TV creates for much over-eating and over indulgence.

My computer is another place that my excessive multi-tasking has taken over.  I have about 20 programs running at once.   While I’m working away on writing, my mail messenger sends an audible alert… I click over to see what email has come in.  Then back to work.  Then a Facebook notification shows up in the top right hand corner of my screen….I pop over to see who responded to my latest post.  My phone is next to me….and I get not only several texts, but notifications that my coach has posted a new tweet.  I stop to read the tweets.

Then I hear the buzzer in the background….my last load of laundry is dry.  So I rush out to hang up my husband’s shirts so they won’t wrinkle.  I sit back down to write some more and notice the mail man dive by.  I grab my mailbox key and head out the door.

Am I ADD? I don’t think so.  But I do believe that I’ve become addicted to doing multiple activities at once.

Are we in the age of information or the age of distraction?  I’m clearly easily distracted.  We have an endless supply of reading, unlimited shopping, chatting, gossip, news, and on and on… And a constant bombardment of notifications…  HELP!!!

In my trek to simplicity, I realized I had to do something beyond cleaning up my closet and my desk.  I needed to slow down and simplify my daily routines and habits.

Why?  Because multi-tasking can be a weakness.  It is exhausting.  It allows you to do many things at a lesser quality.  Being pulled in many directions is not a pace that can be sustained over a lifetime.

So here’s some steps I’m taking to overcome my multi-tasking addiction:

  1. Become a single-tasker. (Single-tasking is the process of limiting distractions and creating opportunity to successfully invest into one task at a time.)
  2. Discern the difference between distractions and purpose.
  3. Unplug (Being connected via phone and electronic devices keep me from fully engaging in others or my tasks.)

What are some practical steps I’m taking?

  1. I’ve unsubscribed to email newsletters.  Instead I subscribe to the blog and add it to my blog reader.  (Used to be Google Reader…but now use Feedly)  Now I only read blogs and newsletters at one sitting…with my ipad away from my desk.
  2. I’ve turned off most of my twitter notifications.  (Except for my kids)
  3. Check Email only three times per day.  I check it once in the morning before I start work.  I check it after lunch, and then around 4, when I take about an hour to respond to any emails from the day.  The rest of the time, my email program is closed and I don’t receive any notifications.  I turned off notifications on my phone as well.  No sounds alert me when an email arrives.
  4. Set up a DO NOT DISTURB on my iPhone.  From 8 pm until 8 am I don’t receive any phone calls or texts.  I do have a favorites list, that allows my favorites to call during the DND times.  Or if someone calls twice in a 2 minute time span, it sends the call through.
  5. When I’m spending time with my children or my husband, I turn my phone on silent.  I am TRYING not to read any texts or answer calls when I’m devoting time to someone else.  (Not answering a phone call is a HUGE improvement for me.)  Before we became so connected via cell phones, I was more connected in person.

As with any addiction, breaking away from multi-tasking is difficult.  As I wrote this blog, I thought about checking Facebook about a dozen times.  I even thought about checking to see if my newest client had emailed me back…  It’s all habits and I’m learning, slowly but surely, to focus.

Journey to Minimalism: Internal Clutter must be FIRST.

prioritylistSo it’s been a couple of months since I turned the corner on making major changes in my life. Not sure I like the word minimalism, though. It sounds like I want to live in a tent, without electricity. While I do love to camp, my lifestyle changes feel more dramatic on the inside rather than dramatic on the outside.

What made me want to change my life? This summer we didn’t take a family vacation. Busy schedules and budget restrictions kept us close to home. My 8 year old daughter suggested we just go to a hotel for a couple of nights. The idea sounded wonderful to me. But then I thought, why does that sound so good? My home should be more comfortable, with a pool nearby, a large screen tv, reliable internet… As I thought about the appeal of going to a hotel, I realized what sounded attractive was being somewhere I didn’t have piles of stuff dragging me down. That pile of mail on my kitchen counter. The pile of laundry needing to be washed. The pile of magazines overflowing on my desk. The pile of photos waiting to be put into photo albums. The pile of clothes in of my closet that slow me down as I look for favorite clothes to wear. Hotel life seemed simple, un-cluttered, and free of distractions. So I thought…how can i have that at home?

Then I read a transformational book by Joshua Becker called Simplify. And then I started reading his blog BecomingMinimalist.com I wanted a life more intentional. I wanted less stress. I wanted more contentment. At age 49, I felt a lightbulb turn on inside my head.

The external changes that I’ve made so far are few but significant:

  • Removed over half of the items in my closet and gave to the needy.
  • Did not renew some of my magazine subscriptions that came up for renewal.
  • Removed items in my kitchen that hadn’t been used in the last 2 years and that held no sentimental value.
  • Had a garage sale that helped me get rid of extra bedding and unused household items.
  • Started exercising consistently 5 times per week at CrossFit.
  • I still feel like I’m surrounded by clutter, but I’m encouraged. It’s a huge first step for me and I feel significantly lighter. I’m learning to let go of things, where I used to cling to things for who knows what reason. Hanging on to stuff because I might need it later was like an anchor to me. And not an anchor to keep me steady. An anchor that was pulling me down to the bottom of an ocean. Yes, I still have sentimental items like my grandmother’s cookie jar, or funky shawl my mother crocheted for me. But that vga cable for a computuer monitor I no longer have? It’s in the give away box. Friends, that’s huge for me…

But I assure you, I had to make some internal changes to be able to start on the external.

While at a dinner party a few weeks ago I learned that one of my neighbors was receiving chemo for breast cancer. I was so sad to learn this as she has a child the same age as my youngest. But even more intriguing was the news that when this neighbor woman learned the news of cancer, she bought a new Range Rover. Of course this is speculation that she bought the vehicle as a result of discovering her new battle. It may just be a coincidence. But what does remain is that many people who face a critical challenge do react in different ways.

When discussing the news with my close knit group of neighbors, one of my dear friends sitting at the table said “That’ll be me! If I find out I have cancer, I’m getting a new fancy car!” We all laughed and most agreed. As I sat there I pictured myself facing a potentially deadly disease…

I softly stated “Not me. There’s a whole lot more things more important to me than a fancy car. I think I’d be spending as much time as possible with my family.” It got quiet around the table. Then almost as if on cue, practically in unison, the group agreed they’d be doing things with their kids and their spouses. The shiny new car just didn’t seem very important when facing death.

A few years ago one woman from our close group of neighbors battled against cancer…twice. We all rallied around her, bringing her soup, hats for her bald head, candles, books. We all pitched in to help with the kids. She survived cancer for a second time to come out a changed woman. None of us faced the sickness or struggle, so we don’t have a perspective that she has. None of us are even close to understand what she went through. But we were all extremely shocked when once in remission, she packed up her things and left her husband and two young children. I won’t dare judge, because I too once packed up a few belongings and my 12 year old daughter and left a marriage of 15 years. I was harshly judged and ridiculed. I would never want to face that torment ever again. But when the heat gets turned on, impurities rise to the top. It’s not a pretty sight to see the imperfections pooling at the surface. Our inside values become revealed. We make decisions or changes when our perspective on longevity changes.

I think if I were to receive news of a disease that could kill me, the first thing I’d do is hop in my car to go see my son Clayton. I would hug him so tight and remind him of my unrelenting love. Next I would seek out my ex-husband and tell him I’m sorry. Then after a trip to see my parents, I’d cling to my daughters Holly and Maddie and my wonderful husband Randy, spending as much time as possible…building memories.

I think that we all have a tendency to collect treasures here on earth. Whether it be a nice home, nice clothes, expensive cars, fine jewelry. I was so excited when I purchased my first luxury car. I loved my beautiful house on the hill in the million dollar neighborhood. My idea of a good time was shopping. During the latest economic crash, a few things have changed. I no longer drive a Lexus. I’m driving a car with 275,000 miles, and a few dents and scratches reveal its age. It’s gone through 3 college kids in our family. We now live in a modest rental home.

At first I really struggled with the downgrades. It’s obvious I was chasing happiness with a home, a car, and pretty clothes. What happens when you base your happiness or your identity on material goods or a successful career and it all comes tumbling down in ruin?

The financial mess in the auto industry left my good friend and neighbor Lance without a job. He was upside down on the mortgage on his house. His entire identity was tied into his career and his ability to provide for his family. What did Lance do? He shot himself in the head and left behind his sweet wife and beautiful son….left them alone without a husband or dad. He chose death over his family.

I’d rather live in a shack and have no car than live without my family. Working myself to death so that I can drive the latest and greatest doesn’t make much sense anymore. What good is an expensive car if I don’t have time to see my kids. The smell of new leather doesn’t smell as nice as my children’s hug. Not that some people don’t get to have both…. But given the choice, I choose my family. If you were told you would die in 6 months, what would you do?

Here’s my list:

  • impact as many people I can
  • seek forgiveness of those I hurt
  • get rid of my junk so my kids and husband doesn’t have to
  • love on my kids
  • love on my parents
  • love on my husband
  • I wouldn’t buy a car. I wouldn’t put in a pool. I think the above needs to be my priority list regardless do how long I live.

I believe that putting a short term perspective on your life helps you refine your priorities. Once your priorities are refined, things that used to matter, seems less significant. I want to remove the unnecessary from my life to make room for the important. I don’t want to be distracted by things that really don’t matter. I want to stop being so busy, so I don’t miss building memories with my family.

So if this is minimalism…I’m in.

Top 10 ways to have a hotel Lifestyle at Home via Minimalism

hotelWe didn’t get to take a real family vacation last summer. We did do some fun things…one day at the water park…one day at Six Flags. But when my daughter said, “lets go somewhere where we can stay in a hotel room” my heart leapt with excitement at the thought. It actually sounded wonderful to me.

I toyed with the thought of booking us a couple nights at one of the area resorts or down on the beautiful San Antonio River Walk. But then I thought about what it would cost to stay in a local hotel for two nights and my frugal side said no. But it got me thinking.

Why does it sound so appealing? What makes a hotel room stay desirable with so much less stress? Here’s my top 10 reasons:

  • No clutter.
  • No stacks of mail to be sorted.
  • No piles of laundry needing to be folded or put away.
  • Only bare essentials in the bathroom.
  • Bare minimum of clothing to choose from.
  • No piles of toys.
  • No numerous electronic distractions.
  • No dishes piling up to be washed.
  • No unfinished projects.
  • No recorded televisions shows to watch
  • So is it possible to have a “Hotel Experience” at home? I like to think so. I started to tackle the above list, to create a relaxing-stress-free environment at home.

1. Remove the clutter.

Grab 3 large garbage bags. The first is for things that you must keep and just need to be put away. One garbage bag is for giving away. The last garbage bag is for throwing away. Start with an easy room. I started with my bedroom. I gave my self 10 minutes to find things in my room that could go in one of my three bags. For example, on my dresser is a pile of un-matched socks. Some of them have been there for over 2 years. It’s great that I have one spot for un-matched socks to go, but seriously, after awhile, those socks just need to be thrown out. So into the trash bag they went. After 10 minutes, take the give-away bag out to your car, so that you can drop them off the next time you go out. Throw the trash bag in the trash. Now spend the next 10 minutes putting away everything in the bag. If you don’t have a place for it, you either need to create a place for it, or give it away. In 20 minutes time, you have come much closer to the “hotel” environment in your room. A great website to help you with clutter is Slow Your Home.

2. The Mail

This is probably the hardest thing of all for me. So much so, that I avoid going to the mailbox because I don’t want the piles to clutter up my desk. One of the first things I did was unsubscribe to all my magazines. We have the internet now. If I want to look up recipes, I usually do that online. I don’t need a pile of cooking magazines to inspire me. Junk mail gets tossed immediately. So do the catalogues. Again….the same catalogues are all online…. Another major mail reducer is signing up for paperless bills. Every monthly bill I used to get via US mail now comes via email. Water, Electric, cable, and phone are all now paperless. I only use a debit card, so I don’t get credit card bills, but those are even available online instead of through the mail. Every day I go to the mailbox when I have time to go ahead and sort through the mail. Then I immediately tackle the stack, and put them where the mail needs to go. Mostly the trash. What bills to end up slipping in, get put in my tray nearest my chair. I have to clear out the tray at the end of every day. If it’s a bill that needs to be paid in 2 weeks, I either schedule it online, or I write out the check and prepare it for mailing. I still it back in the tray so that I can touch it every day…and not forget to mail. Here’s some simple tips to help from Home Your Way.

3. The laundry

I read a tip online from The Streesed Mom that has worked out for me. Do one load of laundry every day. It’s not the washing and drying that is hard on me. It’s the folding and putting away. But when it’s a very small job that takes me about 10 minutes per day to do, I don’t mind. Some days I don’t have much in the dirty clothes. So I do a load of towels. Or I wash table linens. I don’t do laundry on saturday or Sundays.

4. The Bathroom

Here I am the worst of hoarders. I know what I need to do. But I haven’t quite gotten all the way there yet. One cool thing I did do was buy an over the door (clear) shoe organizer. Instead of shoes, I have organized all the different medicines so they are easy to find. I used to have them in baskets, which made for quite a chore when digging for immodium. I still need to spend an hour or two throwing away everything else that is in my closet. I have expired meds, old hair care products, make-up samples, and who knows what else that is clogging up my shelves. I’ll update you when that closet is tackled! Here’s a great post from Miss Minimalist.

5. The Clothing Closet

My daughter moved home from college a couple of weeks ago. I had been storing all my off season clothes in her walk-in closet. Now I don’t have a backup closet. So in order to easily put away everything, I had to do some minimizing. So I got rid of everything that was too big. I have been dropping in sizes since I started crossfit 8 months ago. And I know that I won’t go back up! (That’s my plan!) Now there is a section of clothes that I can’t fit into yet. But here’s the deal…will I actually want to wear them when I get down to that size? They’re really not in style anymore. And it’s not like I go into the office every day, so having 6-7 dressy blazers is not very realistic to have. So out they go. Go to Simplify101.com for more help on your closet.

6. The Toys

When I went through and removed all the extra toys that were cluttering up the bedroom and home, I noticed that my daughter enjoyed her existing toys so much more. Having a cluttered playroom with too many toys is not very enjoyable. It creates an emotional upheaval on trying to decide what to play with. It also creates turmoil when the friends come over, and they all want to play with something different. Before we minimized the toys, every day after the friends would leave, we were left with a huge mess. Now that we’ve narrowed down the toys, it’s much more manageable. We basically have Barbies and Legos. Oh…and the stuffed animals. Legos stay in one bin that has wheels and slides under the bed. The barbies and accessories fit in to bins that fit into the pretty pink cube. Stuffed animals are on the shelf. Christmas came, and we stayed within the guidelines of barbies or legos. I heard no complaints on Christmas morning… Read this blog on living with less toys from Becoming Minimalist.

7. The Electronics.

This Christmas was my first Christmas that I didn’t buy or received anything electronic. No computers, no iphones, no ipads, no ipods… I didn’t realize it until after Christmas was over. Not that we don’t all have that, but we didn’t upgrade to the bigger, better, and faster. We did get a chess board from my parents. I thought…why don’t I just get the app for the ipad to play chess. It’s no much nicer to see my daughter sitting on the floor with her friend playing with real chess pieces instead of hovered over the ipad. Not sure why yet….but I like it. Christmas day was great, because we could all talk and play together, instead of each of us escaping into our own little electronic world. People interaction is so much more fulfilling and lasting.

8. The Kitchen

Another area I’m still trying to conquer. Christmas vacation was not good for me, because I got out of my daily habits. I try to have my kitchen cleaned by the end of the day and I start the dishwasher when I go to bed. In the morning as I get my daughter off to school, I unload the dishwasher and then it’s ready for everyone to load their own dishes throughout the day. Somehow this has not happened in the last 2 weeks. So I need to come up with a holiday strategy for next year. (or summer!) Get more help here for kitchen organization.

9. The Projects

I had a large cylinder of poker sayings rolled up and stashed in the corner of my office for several years. I had planned to create some art for my wall. I finally woke up and realized I was never going to do it, nor would I actually like it hanging in my house. So I gave it away to a dear friend, who hosts poker 5 days a week. And she loves it. I have come to realize, that if I haven’t touched a project in 6 months, I need it to be gone.

10. Media

There is a certain stress to having hours and hours of shows to watch on your dvr. At least if your a hoarder like me, I even hoard recorded media. And finding a place to store a dvd collection is no longer an issue with me as well. What dvds I did own, I removed from the case and placed into a notebook that had pages that held the disk. Much easier to store than stacked up on a shelf. I no longer buy dvds. With the emergence of Netflix and Amazon prime, there is movie and tv shows available. If there’s a movie that I feel we must own, then I purchase it through amazon video on demand. It’s stored on a server somewhere, and available for me to watch on any internet device. I had a copy of Wizard of Oz on VHS. I gave away the copy and purchased the digital version on Amazon. I downloaded a copy to my ipad for the plane. I can also view it on my tv through my roku box. I love digital copies. Same with music. And pictures. I had my daughter’s bag of disposable cameras developed, but not printed. They gave me digital copies instead of prints. I am a work in progress for sure. But the idea of having a peaceful, no-stress environment is so appealing to me! Is it for you? Read this blog to find out why to watch less television from Becoming Minimalist.

 

Great Links to help you in your quest to make your home a relaxed, stress-free place:

Slow Your Home
Fly Lady
Becoming Minimalist
Zen Habits

Confessions of a Procrastinator. 5 ways to overcome

Confessions of a ProcrastinatorI meant to post this blog last week…

But surprise, I put it off… Anyone who is close to me, knows that procrastination is my worst fault. It is my weakness.

I have spent most of my life doing things that I “feel” like doing. Yes I am a very passionate and energetic person. I can dive into a project and do great things when I’m very passionate about it. The sad thing is, I never feel much passion about doing laundry or washing dishes. Who does? Okay, maybe there are a few people out there who do enjoy the process. I envy them. I am obviously not one of them.

When I look at my to-do list for the day, my tendency is to “hope I feel like editing that video this afternoon, because right now I only feel like checking email.”

Other traps are like this one: I’ll play around on Facebook while I drink my coffee…hoping that the caffeine buzz will spur me into production.

It’s really been what I call a “hit or miss lifestyle.” When you go through life doing things you only feel like doing, and postponing the rest, a huge layer of stress and anxiety fall into your life.

I like to blame my procrastination on the epidemic in our society that wants instant gratification. I know that sounds contradictory…delay versus instant. But the instant gratification that I’ve succumbed to actually fits in well with delaying the things that don’t bring instant gratification.

I’m guilty of saying and feeling: “I want it all and I want it now.” All the latest inventions or new technologies focus on getting us things quicker and more conveniently. My children don’t remember life before the microwave, but that was such a HUGE deal when we got our first one. We could cook a hot dog in under a minute versus the 10 minutes it took to boil them on the stove. I’m even currently guilty of using a single serve coffee maker rather than brewing a pot of coffee. Waiting 15 minutes for a pot to brew seems so long rather than the 30 seconds on my Keurig. Our television watching has even changed. We now predominately watch on demand internet content (Netflix & Hulu) rather than my childhood process of waiting until 8:00 in the evening to watch whatever was being broadcast at the time.

Oh sure, I’ve excused the above changes to the reasoning that I’m saving myself so much time that I can be more productive. But it’s really not about being productive for me. It’s about laziness and instant gratification.

Procrastination for me has been the biggest thief of my happiness. When I procrastinate, worry and dread start building up. Unfinished projects pressure me. It takes energy to ignore what needs to be finished. I don’t sleep as well when I have something hanging over my head.

Procrastination is a HABIT. And it’s a habit that needs breaking. Procrastination puts things off. Procrastination is disobedience. If we are willing to obey and take action in the small details, we will have fewer problems with the bigger projects in life.

Forming the habit of being a “now” person is a person who does what needs to be done as soon as you can. Joyce Meyer states in her new book “Making Good Habits, Breaking Bad Habits”: When we refuse to use our time to do the things we need to do, we always end up losing time taking care of the emergencies and messes we created through procrastinating.

Don’t wait for a convenient time to begin any task. Character is not developed through ease and convenience, but through doing NOW what needs to be done no matter how difficult it is.

What if you’ve procrastinated so much, that you’re overburdened and overwhelmed?

Here are a few steps you can do now (and what has helped me):

  • Make a list and start with the most difficult and get it out of the way. Seriously, try it and see how much relief you feel. I only have a limited supply of willpower. Once it’s been used up for the day, chances of tackling hard tasks are pretty slim. So I dive into my hardest task when my energy level is at its highest. This ensures the best results. When I delay the hard tasks to the end of the day,you can count on it that I’ll reschedule to the next day. The delay takes a toll on my energy all day long. In the end, stressing over the task I’m procrastinating negatively affects all the other tasks on my list. Oh…and beware of the tendency to just ignore the entire list. I’ve done that too!
  • Divide the task into smaller tasks. I get overwhelmed when a giant project looms over me. I don’t know where to start or what to do first. Keep in mind that forests are made up of individual trees. (Showing my Oregon roots here) Though you may not be able to take down a whole forest at once, you could certainly start with one tree (or even a branch).
  • Commit yourself for a small period of time. I set a timer on my phone…ten minutes to clean off my desk. By frantically racing the clock for that short period, I usually find myself engrossed in the task and continue working. (My husband calls it “the zone.”) The feeling of dread that has been on my mind is quickly replaced with a sense of pride and satisfaction. Seeing what I can accomplish in ten minutes when I put my mind to it is quite motivating.
  • Schedule your tasks on the calendar. When I can plan out a week in advance on my calender, it helps me move past the initial paralysis I feel. Instead of just writing the tasks down in a to-do list, I take it a step further and identify when and how I’ll accomplish it. Yes, I do a ton of moving things around, but somehow planning out the tasks helps me complete them. It also helps me not forget things or let some small jobs slip through the cracks.
  • Reward yourself. Psychologists know that reward is a much stronger motivator than punishment. I love rewards. Sometimes just knowing I’m going to enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio spurs me on.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now.

God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble.

Vow it, then do it. Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.