December 2002 Anticrastination Tip Sheet

What's the opposite of Procrastination?
A monthly Idea and Tip Sheet to
Help You Avoid the Procrastination Habit
From Rita Emmett
& THE PROCRASTINATING CHILD: A Handbook for Adults to Help
Children Stop Putting Things Off


Quote For December:

Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.
~ Eddie Cantor ~ 1892-1964, American Comedian

A Bonus:
Shopping Prayer

Lord, help me to shop thoughtfully.
Grant me a spirit of gratitude for what I already have,
And protect me from being possessed by my


Attention Canadian Friends

Rita's Canadian publisher, Random House, will send her on a media tour in Toronto some time around the last week of January. If you want to schedule Rita to present a program for your company or organization, call or email her and request a packet of information about the topics she presents. Her calendar fills up fast so (ahhh, you know we have to say this) don't procrastinate.


Winter Special And A Great Holiday Gift Idea
From now till January 31, order either book, THE PROCRASTINATOR'S HANDBOOK or THE PROCRASTINATING CHILD: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off from and receive a free copy (your choice of a CD or audio tape) of Rita's two radio interviews in Ireland. Each interview covers procrastination issues and is about 17 minutes long. Whether you are buying the book for yourself or to give as a gift, Rita will be delighted to personalize it and autograph it. Let her know whose name she should inscribe it to - yours if you're keeping it for yourself or the name of the person you are giving it to if it is a gift.


There's So Much To Do --- I Can't Do It All!

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Especially at holiday time? Like you have a million things to do and not enough time to do any of it? This month's Tip Sheet will teach you a strategy that will help you end that overwhelmed feeling and help you feel like you can breathe again. Possibly even relax! Maybe - heaven forbid - even enable you to enjoy the oncoming holiday season.

To start with, write down everything you have to do. List all the little tasks that make up the big jobs. For example, if you celebrate Christmas, don't just write one big overwhelming sucker like "DECORATE". Break it down to

  • get out decorations
  • put up outdoor decorations
  • put up inside decorations
  • assemble, buy or chop down a Christmas tree
  • set up tree
  • decorate tree

Then post that list somewhere that you can see it frequently, at least once a day. Maybe

  • on the refrigerator
  • at your desk
  • above the phone
  • on the bathroom mirror
  • taped to your car dashboard

Next, here is a five step strategy that will help you take the STING out of feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Select one thing to do from your list.
    Maybe select: make up card list or gift list, or make phone calls to plan who you will see on what days.
  2. Time it.
    Set an ordinary kitchen timer for one hour. Maybe you don't have a WHOLE evening or afternoon free to devote to this one thing, but you can carve out one spare hour every so often, can't you? The tick, tick, tick of the timer creates a sense of urgency and gets you moving. During that one hour, there are two rules. The first one is:
  3. Ignore everything else for that one hour.
    Isn't this where we usually get sabotaged? We decide we're really, really, really going to finally do something BUT first, let's check on our email. Then we'll make two quick phone calls, then I think I'll just ... and all of a sudden, the day is ending and we have 15 things started, nothing is completed and we say "Well, I was multi-tasking". Trust me, it's not multi-tasking if nothing is completed, is it? For this one hour, ignore everything else. The second rule is:
  4. No breaks.
    As a "Recovering Procrastinator" I know I used to start a one-hour task and have it last 14 months because I was so good at taking breaks. So as you're working on the one task you've selected and giving it one hour, you might find yourself thinking, "Hmmmm, I think I'll go make myself a cup of coffee, or tea or a drink of some sort or a sandwich or a salad or a seven course meal." You know how it goes. Just focus on your task and know that the timer will ding soon; THEN you are free to go cook up a storm if you want. The last step of this strategy is:
  5. Give yourself a reward.
    Now you can go get that coffee or tea or whatever. What do you love? THAT can be your reward for this one hour of work. Do you love a certain TV show or a favorite magazine or book? Or want to rent a new video that just came out? Or exercise? Walk in the fresh air? Ride your bike? Loaf? Relax? Nap? NOW you can do it guilt free as your reward for doing one solid hour's worth of work on something you were tempted to put off because it overwhelmed you.

And if you are a person like me who has a problem focusing or a short attention span, this might be the first time you've EVER completed one solid hour of work without interruptions, breaks or starting a bunch of other chores. And you just might be AMAZED at how much you can accomplish when you put in one pure hour of uninterrupted work.

There you have it -- five steps that together form a sure fire strategy that will take the STING out of feeling overwhelmed:

  • Select just one thing to do.
  • Time yourself for one hour.
  • Ignore everything else for that hour.
  • No breaks.
  • Give yourself a reward.

If you'd like a visual reminder of this, click here and you can print out the five steps along with an illustration of a cool little bumblebee with a smashed stinger. Here's hoping these tips will not only take the STING out of feeling overwhelmed but will also ease some of the stress that holidays can bring. Happy Holidays.

See you again next year.