Friday, March 03, 2006

Get An Egg Timer

On Wednesday, I drove to Lafayette Hill to hang out with Jamie Joffe, the publicist, and her organizer, Susan Sabo, of Organizers Inc. in West Chester. Jamie, as you may recall, operates her public relations firm out of her home. She does a good job for her clients, but is only now getting a grip on some of her routine business practices, such as invoicing, filing and most importantly delegating.

You can read about the whole session on Monday in the Inquirer, but there was one little delicious tidbit from Susan that won't make it into the paper because I ran out of room.

Suppose you have an odious task, such as culling through a backlog of files or emails. It must be done, but it is so daunting and depressing and boring that you just can't even bear the thought....

Here's what you do: You figure out how much time you can endure this dreadful job. Please underestimate. If in a fit of enthusiasm, you say, "An hour!," that is not good. Figure more like 10, 15 or 20 minutes, something reasonable and sustainable.

Bring in the egg timer. Set it for the time and then do not be interrrupted. No phone. No email. Avoid people. When the buzzer buzzes, you are done! Quit!

"Because the timer is ticking, it reminds you to stay on task," Sabo said. "People will say, `I can always do something for 15 minutes.' They have momentum then and they might do it again. But even if you don't do two sessions, you've done one and Score!"

The key, she said, is doing it every day. A small amount daily is a better than a sporadic bursts of enthusiasm, which leave you too exhausted to go on. Speaking of being too exhausted to go on, I have been working four 10+ hour days, so I have no plans to post anything on Saturday or Sunday, although I might try to come in and attack the desk a little. It's scary to contemplate.

More on Monday.

2 Comments:

Anonymous MEM said...

This is a very useful tip, and not just for large tasks.
I find that, when I am facing even a small task that is tricky or stressful (such as this here e-mail from a client who is disputing the results of some research), it helps me if I define a time when I WILL deal with it.
This gives me the chance to have a guilt-free period of NOT dealing with it; a defined interval when, however unpleasant, I MUST deal with it; and an identifiable "light at the end of the tunnel" when I will be finished with it.
I like to schedule the really tough ones right before lunch! Never at the end of the day, though...since that just means I take the residual stress home with me!

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Marie McVeigh said...

Jane -

I'm still so enjoying following your series on organization - and I
have picked up a tip that has been helping me deal with
procrastination.

Feeling overwhelmed by some stuff that's hard to do...I now set a time
to do it - the egg-timer thing - so that I know there is a time when I
don't have to worry about it, and a time when it will be over.

How's your office clean-up going?

-Marie McVeigh

9:27 AM  

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