I am not very good at procrastinating. I’ve tried to, but I’m just not good at it. If something needs to be done and I’m the one who has to do it, you can consider it done. I’m even better on a deadline. It’s on my schedule, and I can’t wait to cross it off. My friends know this about me, my co-workers, too. I would rather spend my time doing things I actually enjoy, which means not having to think about my to-do list.
Recently I was asked how I get things done that are less pleasant. This isn’t something I’ve ever put thought into, so it took me a minute to review what the last task I considered unpleasant was, and then more time to figure out how I had done it. In part, this is because I have a different classification system. Instead of pleasant or unpleasant, I think of tasks as necessary and not-so-necessary, and unpleasant things could be in either category.
How do I do it? First, I figure out how much time it will take, and then where it will fit into my schedule. If I know the task, or at least the part of it that will get done today, will be finished within the half-hour, it’s much easier to do. But more importantly, I plan something fun to do on either side of it. I named it the Fun Sandwich. Instead of pieces of bread on the outside, I have things that I enjoy, one before to get me motivated, and one after to reward myself. The middle is the meat, the thing I really must do. It’s pretty simple, really. And since I reward myself afterwards, even things that aren’t interesting or fun get a fun infusion from the activities on either side of them, which makes them not-so-unpleasant anymore.
Let me give you an example: If I have to clean the bathroom, which is not my favorite thing, but entirely necessary on occasion, I start by doing something else first. I’ll put on some lively music or make a cup of tea or make a phone call to a friend, knowing that when I’m finished I’m going to clean the bathroom. I might pull out the cleanser and sponge before I even make the tea as a way of setting the order of things into my own mind. Then, it’s on to the bathroom, carrying the positive energy from the previous task. I would have planned my reward in advance, too, so I know that after I’m finished with the bathroom, I’m going to read that magazine article I am interested in, or get on Facebook and tell my friends how fabulously clean my bathroom is. If the bread takes as much time as the meat in this sandwich, I think that’s a pretty good balance.
I may be tired by the end of the day, but at least you know I had a good time while I was getting all of that done! (I got this blog done, didn’t I?)