Monday, September 24, 2012

Enjoy Procrastinating, and Get The Job Done Anyway - 7 Steps

1. Choose a task you have been meaning to get done but never seem to get around to doing. You must be able to see and touch something that represents this task to you. It could be a note about making a phone call or a file folder containing everything you need to start writing a report, or a stack of material you have been meaning to file.
2. Pick up the object, the note, the stack, the paint can...whatever it is. Preferably pick it up 10 times a day; but at least once a day. Hold it and look at it.
3. Say aloud the following words. "I don't want to...(fill in the blank with words similar to these the following) this client (specify his/her name), fill out this form, write this check to (specify the name)." "Nobody can make me...(say again what you are not doing.)" "I will do...(say what it is once more) when I am damm good and ready to do it!"
4. Pay attention to your creative (or resistant) thoughts as you do this process. Laughing, giggling, or stomping your feet during the process is okay too.
5. Repeat this process daily for at least 5 days -- unless of course you complete the task before then.
6. If the job still isn't done by now, you certainly know why it isn't done and/or what resources you need to do it. Decide whether or not you will actually do the task.
7. Do it, ditch it, or delegate it appropriately.
This works because procrastination is often a sign of ambivalence. Part of you does want or needs to do the task, but another part of you, usually a silent part, does not want to do it.
Giving the resistant part of you a chance to speak, as well as acknowledging that you have the power to complete the task when you are ready resolves the impasse.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hidden Traps for Life Partners Who Work Together

Neither couple I describe knows the other couple, but their stories are strikingly similar.
Craig and Warren are both recently retired executives. Craig's wife, Marcy, owns and operates a website design firm.  Warren's wife, Sharon, owns an exclusive gift shop.  Both businesses are successful, and each woman finds business ownership personally satisfying and rewarding.  Both women requested couples coaching for similar reasons.  Their husbands were interfering in their businesses.
Craig and Marcy were newlyweds.  It was a long distance romance, and they both were delighted when his retirement allowed them to be together.  His unspoken plan was to help her with her business so that she could work less, and they could spend more time together.  Her plan, also unspoken, was to continue to develop her business in order to sell it in a few years and fund her own retirement.
Craig enthusiastically earned his certification in web design.  He found the new information fun and refreshing after years of heavy corporate responsibility.  Marcy was delighted that he was busy and happy, until he started to help her with her work.  She found his suggestions insulting. It was her business, she was the expert, and she supervised many designers and negotiated profitable contracts.  Now he, a novice, was trying to tell her what to do!
Warren and Sharon did talk to each other about their plans and goals.  Warren felt that his expertise could be put to good use in Sharon's business.  He convinced her, against her "better judgment," that expanding the business would create long term benefits for both of them.  She decided to go along with his ideas.
They made plans together, expanded their capacity, hired several new employees, and Warren started pressuring everyone to be more productive.  Sharon began to hate going to work.  She had loved the personal contact with her customers,  but now she spent most of her time managing employees and trying to keep Warren calm.
Both women knew they were angry about their husbands' interference, baut neither could communicate about it effectively.  Each was trying to balance keeping the peace, supporting their husbands and taking care of themselves and their businesses.  Each time the women tried to discuss their own discomfort, their husbands would logically explain that they were only trying to help their wives.
During our sessions we uncovered the hidden assumptions and discussed them.  When each man discovered the cause of their respective spouse's feelings they was astonished to learn about the negative effects of genuinely trying to help their wives.
Neither of the men had thought much about how they were going to find a meaningful way to fill their time after retirement, and simply picked up what was convenient--their wife's business.  As the women learned to protect their own boundaries, a new conversation emerged.  Each man needed to explore their own options for finding their own fulfilling activities.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Boss Didn't Understand Why His Staff Wasn't Reading His Mind

Many people believe that everyone sees the world exactly the same way as they do. This is never true and was the source of much turmoil in Dr. Jacob's office.
When the Job Isn't Getting Done
"They never seem to get any work done on time, but they complain that they're being underutilized."
Dr. Jacob, a chiropractor, was talking about his office staff.
"I have to do so many things myself that they could do for me, but they don't. They just don't seem care about what I want. I just don't understand. I pay them well and they need their jobs."
As Dr. Jacob's frustration increased, he explored the idea that he had hired inappropriate people in the first place. He reflected that if only he could find the proper leverage he thought he could make them do what he had hired them to do.
Leverage to Dr. Jacob meant the proper combination of rewards and threats.
Guidelines May Be Necessary
When I asked about what guidelines the staff was given to do their work Dr. Jacob admitted that he let them set up their own procedures with very little input from him. He communicated his expectations very vaguely, because he himself hated to be told what to do.
Dr. Jacob thought if he were "nice" to them, they would like him and work hard to assure the success of the office.
Unclear Expectations Produce A Schizophrenic Experience for the Boss and His Staff
Dr. Jacob only got angry when they didn't meet his admittedly non-specific performance expectations. When he got frustrated enough, he would insist that his rules be followed; telling his confused and demoralized staff exactly how to do what he expected. They were constantly seesawing between unclear expectations and over-detailed instructions that discounted their intelligence and experience.a
Giving Others What You Need For Yourself May NOT Work
Dr. Jacob argued when I suggested that he needed to create clear guidelines for his staff and then leave them alone to do their jobs. He was sure his staff would hate him and quit if he did that, and he firmly believed they would never get any work done without closer supervision.
Dr. Jacob believed that everyone in the world hated structure as much as he did.
When I explained that most people need and want structured guidelines in order to feel safe and happy, Dr. Jacob was surprised. He explained how he had been forced to follow rules for most of his life and cherished his present freedom. He assumed that everybody else felt exactly the same way he did.
Give Your Staff What They Need to Produce Results
He experimented with the idea that some people felt nurtured by structure. Warily, he started telling his office manager only the outcomes he wanted including necessary completion times.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Turning Piles into Files

Are you searching for an organized office?  Then, the best thing you can do for yourself is schedule the time to clear the "To File" box and all those piles that have accumulated on your desktop, counters, chairs and floor.  If you want organization, you will need to get rid of the piles and break the habit of piling.  The secret is developing a filing system that works for you. 
Schedule some serious time in your dayplanner, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.  This is a good time to get those files in order, purge the unnecessary and archive those that you absolutely must keep, but rarely use.  Current, active files are for those items that you need to run your home or business for the fiscal year.  These files are accessed frequently and need to be in an order that makes sense to you.  The archival files include those items that you need or want to keep but are not accessed frequently.  These may include past year's tax forms and documentation, old love letters and personal correspondence that you cannot part with, children's art projects or research for your book. 
As you progress through your organizing project, be on the lookout for excess papers that are cluttering your files.  Toss or archive the old ones to make room for the current influx.  Box, label and store the archives in the attic, basement, garage or off-site.  Do not get caught in the trap of keeping papers "just in case."  Consult your attorney or accountant to find out what you personally need to keep and what you can safely toss.  
Here are some simple filing rules that may make it easier to determine where to put your papers:
1.  Separate personal and business files.  If you have a home-based business or bring work home from an outside office, be very careful to keep everything separate.  Set up specific zones or boundaries for each type of paperwork that enters your office.  Color coding separate files makes it easy to visually identify where a particular file belongs.
2.  Establish a labeling system that works for you.  There is no law that says it has to be alphabetical. You can use broad categories and subcategories, color-coded files, numerical files, 3-ring binders, cubbyholes or desktop files.   Whatever works best for you is the right thing to do. Just remember to label, label, label.
3.  When you first set up a filing system, use post-it notes for labels until you are comfortable with the order you have placed things.  It is much easier to tear off a sticky note than retype labels.  First set up the system, live with it for a while, and then type the labels.  Typed labels are neater and easier to read and worth the investment of time.  Use a label maker or learn how to use labeling software installed on most computers.
4.  Toss those prefabricated labels and concentrate on your own words.  Label files according to how you think.  You do not need to use nouns. Verbs and even full sentences may work better.  My favorite filing job was with my mother who wanted to keep some papers that were not specific to anything.  Of course, I posed the big question, "Why?"  Her response was that they were things she liked.  We set up a file labeled "Things I like" and she is happy.  She now has a place to put those trivial papers without cluttering her desktop.
Why get organized?  Paper has become the biggest source of clutter - junk mail, emails, correspondence, and website surfing.  Most of us prefer to read information on paper rather than the computer screen, so we print and print and print some more.  With the information highway spewing forth tons of data, the printers keep spewing forth tons of printed material even though statistics show that we use only 20% of the papers we keep.
It is time to wage war on the paper influx by learning to make wise choices.  Take a good look at everything piling up on your desk or countertops.  Is the information still relevant?  Is the information available somewhere else?  Toss papers that can be replicated or unimportant.   Clutter is simply the by-product of indecision.  Make the decision to purge!
Email is a major form of paper clutter as more households obtain computers.  Printed emails pile high around the computer with the good intentions of reading them someday.  Decide what action to take on the document while it is still in the computer inbox - act on it or delete it.  Be careful not to overload the inbox.  This, too, can become a source of clutter. 
When you take time to establish an effective way to handle incoming papers, you can win the battle of the piles.