There are days when it is harder to accomplish tasks that you know you have to do but, for whatever reason, avoid doing them. Before recently moving to Palm Springs CA, I have practiced marriage counseling for over 35 years and I have seen these small tasks escalate into sources of anxiety.
Tasks can be internally or externally dictated. An internal task is something you feel needs to be done, such as ironing, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning out closets or doing something special for your spouse for their birthday. An external task is one that comes from an outside source such as a deadline at work, family coming to visit or taking the kids to and from Soccer practice. Many tasks are not difficult tasks, nor necessarily time consuming, but we seem to put them off.
I was listening to a motivational speaker and he said “Just Do It”. I said to myself, “Easy for you to say”. But he went on to say that if you said to yourself ‘Just Do It’ 50 times at night and 50 times in the morning that you would be more productive.
A light bulb went on!
It follows Cognitive/Behavioral counseling principals. When you do the above exercise, you begin to rewire your brain and behavior changes will follow. I started doing it, and as a result I found myself walking by something that needed to be done and I’d say ‘Just Do It’ and I would do it then and there.
These were smaller tasks, but I would time myself to see how long it actually took to unload the dishwasher or fold clothes or put stuff away. This way I had a secondary thought process that I could use when I was avoiding a task. I would say ‘It only takes 15 minutes to do this, so Just Do It’.
With just this simple daily repetition of ’Just Do It’ each morning and evening 50 times, I became more productive because ‘Just Do It’ would pop into my head as I was passing by something that would only take 10, 15, 20 minutes to do. In the past I had a tendency to say “I’ll do it later” but later would never come because things would build up and become overwhelming and harder to get done. Sometimes we try and negotiate with ourselves and say things like “I’ll do that task after I check my Facebook” and often it doesn’t get done. Instead, use Facebook, for example, as a reward for jobs done. We can use this repetition technique like some people use ‘counting sheep’ to help them get to sleep. We can use this repetition technique every morning while we are getting ready to start the day: shower, shave, do hair, putting on makeup or getting dressed.
Accomplishing tasks whether generated by us or the outside, usually makes us feel better and tends to lift a weight from our shoulders and a sigh of relief. This also is a real world example of how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. In a simple real-world example above, if you control your thought, by telling yourself “Just Do It” it changes your behavior, you get things done and that gives you a feeling of joy and relief. This fundamental therapy principle, together with careful counseling from an experienced professional, can in-turn be used to address feelings of anxiety or depression or when you are facing a marriage crises.
In my next Blog I will discuss tackling the more difficult or overwhelming tasks. I will talk about other techniques to help ourselves get through these tasks that seem too overwhelming to us and makes us avoid accomplishing our goals.