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Task Avoidance

I have only one critical task to complete today - submitting a not yet finished proposal for school - and I find myself doing dozens of unrelated tasks instead. I'm usually a Do It Early sort of person, so this foot-dragging is out of character as well as being an annoying interference.

That's why I've taken yet another few minutes from the day to post about it here. Just like standing up at an AA meeting (I've never been to an AA meeting, and I don't drink alcohol so I probably never will), I'm hoping that the act of acknowledging inappropriate behavior will lead to its end.

I suspect my true dis-motivation is that I'm proposing something that will commit me to a whole lot of interactions that I'm not very courageous about, so any barriers are welcome. Still, it's got to get done, and it's got to be done before the day is over. So back I go to it.

Edit to add: turned it in in time, I'm pretty pleased with it, and thank you for the helpful advice both here and through email!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2010 02:07 am (UTC)
"Hi my name is Greg, and I'm a business school-a-holic"

Send me anything you'd like reviewed.....
Jan. 12th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
I can send you a copy if you're interested. I landed up changing the focus of the write-up from discussing a lot of the prep work and environmental factors to just focusing on the main core of the idea.

I'm still not completely sure the market exists, but I think it's worth a shot.
Jan. 12th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
When I get stuck like that, I tend to use David Allen's "get unstuck" solution (three easy steps):

1. Define or clarify the thing you are trying to accomplish. What problem are you solving? It's remarkable how often people get stuck because they've somehow lost track of what it was they were doing.

2. Define or clarify your desired outcome (subtlely but critically different). What has to happen or be true for you to be satisfied that it's done? What is your ideal outcome or definition of "good enough"? At this step, sometimes it's also helpful to remind yourself of the benefits of being done -- why you're bothering to do this thing in the first place. And/or review any consequences of not getting it done -- motivate yourself with whatever combination of carrot and stick is most effective for your head space at the moment.

3. Define the *immediate* next action that will get you closer to that outcome. Break it down as far as you need to, to get to a description that is brief, specific and starts with a verb. If you were writing a set of directions for someone else to do this project/task, what would the next instruction be? Break it down until it doesn't feel daunting, even if it gets so basic as "sit down at the computer." The idea is to enable yourself to take the "single step" on the journey of a thousand miles, and thereby establish just enough forward momentum to get you moving.

As necessary, lather, rinse, repeat.
Jan. 12th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
I've seen those before too!

In this particular case, it was less a matter of understanding the surface reasons I wasn't getting it done, and facing the fact that I was nervous about committing to the actions this proposal will require.

I'm still going to do it of course, but it was news to me that I was nervous about it.
Jan. 13th, 2010 02:36 am (UTC)
It's always enlightening to discover why you're not doing something you know needs to get done. Particularly when you have a fairly clearly defined task, a clear deadline, and a desire, at least on the surface, to do it.

I find for myself that those interesting underlying weirdnesses tend to emerge when I'm doing that second step - the reminding myself of the benefits of success and the consequences of failure. Most of the time, once I can get clear on why it's important to do it, I can push myself past the fear/reluctance/dread/ whatever else is in my way.

But I completely sympathize with the stuckness that comes with dreading not just the task at hand, but the implications of completing it when the "reward" for getting it done is just a bunch more unappealing work! "Yes, let me hurry up and get the laundry done so I can start the ironing! Wheeee!"
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


after all
Alice Bentley

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