I took special interest in an article printed in our local newspaper. The journalist was featuring a story on the debate as to whether library fines should be abolished. My first knee jerk reaction was, ‘definitely, who likes to pay fines?”. Then I pondered a bit and realized what would happen if there was no fine. Would people never return their books? Would I then not be able to find the book I want when I go to the library because it has never been returned?
A similar debate took place when there was an increase in policeman giving out tickets if you surpassed the speed limit near schools. The stringency was so great that there was a cry from the public to stop the tickets.
This is not a discussion of legalities or politics, rather the impact that such changes can make in our lives. When I work with people who are challenged by procrastination or lack the ability to make good judgement, rules and regulations are helpful. I like to refer to some of these as cues. When you know a book has a due date, it is a cue that the book must be returned by a certain date. Without this parameter in time how will the person who procrastinates deal with no deadlines?
I am certain that often enough the procrastinator might be late in returning the book, but eventually I would hope most do or they are responsible to pay for the entire book, so the book is replaced.
What about slowing down near a school? Should we abolish those slow speeds and not have fines? Would this increase the number of accidents or G-d forbid fatalities?
Time management is such a huge issue for so many people that we must recognize that some rules that are put on us are for our own good. I take this one step further and teach my clients to create their own cues so that they know when it’s time for them to act.
There are natural cues. You are hungry, so your body tells you that it’s time to eat. That one is easy. What about cues to help remind you to take care of tasks and chores around the house?
Let’s take filing of documents as an example. When I teach my clients document management, I encourage them to use the smallest tote that will fit hanging folders so that when bills come in, they place it in a folder inside one hanging folder. One great resource for this is the Carry Bag/Tote. When that folder gets very thick, they are there to recognize this as a cue to one, pay their bills and two, file the paid bill away.
Another example of a cue is when you are cleaning up your bedroom. Don’t buy a large laundry basket. Buy one that will fit a few days’ worth of clothing. Once that is full, that is your cue to do the laundry.
It would be ideal if people who tend to procrastinate scheduled all their tasks by making a date with themselves in their calendar, but too often people don’t write these things down and even when they do, they tend not to refer to their calendar or ignore it all together. Therefore, setting yourself up in specific ways can help you remember the things you need to do. A great resource for this is the Define My Day Planner.
A few other examples are when your sink is piled up with dishes. Although it is better to wash or place the dishes into the dishwasher after use, too often this is not the case. The cue in this case is when there is no more room in the sink, it’s time to wash the dishes. For those who read this and feel this is extreme, one must understand that each person is different and not everyone remembers to take care of chores on a routine basis.
Dusting and vacuuming are one of the last chores ever done in homes. People tend to put this off since they don’t notice those dust bunnies or recognize the amount of accumulated dust. We know that this causes some health hazards, but how do we create a cue in this instance? I recommend that you place a yellow, orange, or pink piece of construction paper on a surface in each room of your house. These colors attract dust mites because they absorb the adequate amount of solar light for dust mites to thrive on. When you see the dust build up on these sheets, it is time to dust.
It is recommended that carpet be vacuumed twice a week and if there is a pet in the house, more frequently. The best recommendation for remembering to vacuum twice a week is to pick two favorite songs and promise yourself you will only listen to them if you are vacuuming. If you think this is far-fetched, it’s not. I used a similar cue for exercising. I introduced the concept of watching a favorite Netflix movie only if the person was on their exercise bike. It worked. Now this person exercises almost every day since she wants to watch her movies.
Whenever you choose to do a task, remember to set a timer, and don’t do the task for more than 15 minutes. A great resource for this is the Time Timer. Choose one area of your home and don’t try to do it all. The reason this is highly recommended is so that you won’t be put off when you must repeat the chore at another time. Your association with the task will be more positive. If you overdo it, you might create a negative response to doing a task and prevent yourself from attempting to do the task again.
It’s not easy to motivate oneself to do things you don’t want to do, which is why cuing is so important and helpful. Research has proven that it’s starting the activity that’s the hardest. Going from inertia to motion is always the hardest. Being that this is the case, make sure there is a nice reward for yourself (NOT FOOD), when you complete the task. Set up a point system for yourself and treat yourself after 50 points and do something that you enjoy doing. Have a plan for what you like to do so that you are prepared when the 50 points are done.
We also know that small incremental wins need to be celebrated. It is crucial that you pat yourself on the back each time you start and finish the task/project you set out to do. If you make your bed, recognize it, and acknowledge it. Investigate what it took for you to make this change in your habit so that you can set yourself up for success in the future and don’t forget to nurture yourself, give yourself that positive reinforcement with a pat on the back. The acronym for this is RAIN. R=Recognize, A=Acknowledge, I=Investigate, N=Nurture. The concept of RAIN is to make you feel good about yourself for each small accomplishment. Small incremental wins add up.
When we set ourselves up for success, we feed our brains with a positive mindset. Our brain recognizes these positives and will help us help ourselves form new productive habits.
There are many techniques and tools one can use to remember to do the things we need to do to function fully. Just remind yourself that setting yourself up for success puts you in a position to reach your personal best. You can check out my products page for some great resources to implement RAIN.
Wishing you lots of success and plenty of R.A.I.N.!
Founder of OrganizeU4Life
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