How Toast took a prime role in my decision-making
It was Sunday morning and I was sitting in my office – little did I know how Toast would influence the next 3 hours.
I had a list of tasks in front of me, some of them in progress, including writing my blog, which I’d already decided would this week be about Sacrifice… while eating my breakfast: multi-grain toast and peanut butter (the crunchy variety – yum!) and sipping my mug of tea.
So many things to do and I’m deliberating over what to focus on first, next, etc
When really, I knew….
[ time for another mouthful of toast and a sip of tea ]
- This Blog
- Preparing a report and associated financials for some consultancy project work.
- Reviewing /revising my 6-month Plan
- Doing my Quarterly VAT return
- Revising some workshop materials for a Project-Management/Coaching Workshop
- Ironing my shirts for work this week
- preparing the vegetables for the roast dinner tonight
- Planning my Set Sails Coaching Experience event
- Sorting out my Inspiring Music playlist
- finding/booking a conference room for Coaching collaboration with colleagues
- blah,blah, blah, lots more mundane stuff
They all have some of my thoughts, but only one can get my focus at one time. And I will need to sacrifice the others at least for the duration…
[ turns for more tea and toast ]
When I look at my list, I know the one I should be working on as a priority.
[ so I eat more toast…. (that’s not the priority!) ]
Actually, it is.
Step forward Mr Maslow, take a bow!
After a good 8 hours’ sleep last night, my body is craving food – for it to renew my energy levels.
(ref. Abraham Maslow’s Heirarchy of Human Needs: Physiology is no.1 and can’t be ignored! )
So I finish my breakfast, while booting up my laptop and selecting my music to work by (D’Oh! still multi-tasking!) and can now focus on the other Important stuff…
Back to the Blog, Mr.Wise …
Consciously or not, we flit from one task to another, sacrificing those we leave behind. Why?
Is a lack of conviction or interest in the other task(s)?
An insight / calling to change to the task we swap to?
A sense of guilt that swaps you back to the task you were on before?
Comfort eating/drinking to distract from or avoid that important task (Toast!) ?
How many of these task-swaps are consciously occurring?
Toast, followed by Oxford Dictionary – quite a mouthful
(my interpretation first) putting conscious attention/action on one thing over personal desires/safety
Oxford Dictionary definition:
- An act of slaughtering an animal/person or surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity
- (Christian church) Christ’s offering of himself in the crucifixion
- An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important/worthy…..
But – how often do we sacrifice thing we might consciously judge as “more important” / value-add, for “less important” (eg. more pleasurable or comfort-focused).
What’s going on? NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) tells us that behind every action, there is a positive intent – whether we are consciously aware of it or not. So if you didn’t consciously decide to switch tasks, then your body (or sub-conscious) did!
So maybe it’s time to ask your body why. It’s quite possible that there’s another need to be met, align to whatever values are most important to you.
A Confession: I’m no Saint!
As I was drafting this Blog on Sunday, I totally KNEW what my two big priority tasks were.
In fact, my Inner Wisdom and Spirit knew EXACTLY what was no.1 priority. And it wasn’t this Blog. It was preparing the consultancy report and financials, as I’d committed to my Client that I would email it to them by first thing Monday morning.
So I put this Blog aside and gave myself 100% permission to focus totally on preparing the document, even though I really didn’t fancy doing it. 7 hours later, it was complete and sent off into the email void…
In the next few days, I’ll need to do similar for the VAT Return 🙁
How to avoid your “Inner Me” becoming your Enemy
(sorry, bad pun, couldn’t resist..)
You’re probably aware that will-power alone is not sustainable. That’s your conscious trying to maintain control over your body/sub-conscious. It might win in a short sprint, but just won’t win over the mile, believe me!
So how do you persuade your Inner Me that things like VAT Returns are worth doing, over going for a picnic with friends and family?
Obviously the longer out you plan these things, the more choice you have for approach and timing to get it done (and for the Procrastinators, the easier it is to put it off, … oops!).
If the deadline is a few weeks or more away, then maybe spending one afternoon sitting in the countryside sharing a lovely hamper of goodies and a chilled bottle of something bubbly with loved ones may still be an option..
But as the deadline gets nearer, sacrificing the lovely bubbly may just be necessary. So what choices do you have for persuading your “Inner Me” that it’s worth doing Now?
a) Importance and chunky biscuits
If you can break a task down into smaller more manageable chunks (approx 5-7), then you can celebrate completing each one in turn – have a short break, put the kettle on, have a cuppa and a biscuit or two as a treat, a well-done. And then move on promptly. Being able to reward yourself for having made progress will help spur you on.
What are the most important things in your life related to tasks you enjoy doing? If Fun is high importance for you, how can you add a sense of fun to this task? Maybe it’s cranking up some funky music to work by or awarding yourself a smiley sticker on completion of a page, or something else – you choose! If Challenge is high importance, maybe you could keep a record of how long the task takes you to complete it and try setting a Personal Best each time you do it. If you enjoy team-work, who can you ask to help or support you while you do it – how can you use their strengths to help you? How could you help them in return?
If you can align how your Inner Me likes tasks to be done, with the importance of this task, then you’ve got a great chance of completing it and having another biscuit.
b) Helga’s House of Pain
Helga knows when you’re going to be late completing the task. And she’ll find some interesting and painful ways to keep reminding you until you knuckle down and do it! Are you prepared to be the Sacrifice?
Some “Inner Me”s like the threat of Helga to spur them into action, either just knowing that she’s behind them is enough, or seeing how late they can leave it before Helga catches them – Ouch!
Most of us have very willing friends who would be more than happy to give us a gentle nudge in reminder if we need it, or agree to ring/text us to check if we’ve finished it when we say we would. A lot less painful than Helga’s toolkit.
A Journey into Choice
We all have our own preference on what best gets us moving on tasks: Biscuits or Helga!
We can leave it to our sub-conscious/body and keep flitting between one task and another, hopelessly trying to multi-task but seldom getting things completed, just more frustrated at ourselves for not having finished yet.
Or we can make a Choice.
Rather than “being distracted”, we can take responsibility for our actions and recognise that we are using external influences as an excuse to distract ourselves from getting the job done.
Take a look at the list of tasks you have to complete. If you’re in any doubt, have a quick check-in with your Inner Wisdom on which are the Priorities – you will get an answer if you ask, just be curious and listen for it!
And then make a conscious choice, giving yourself 100% permission to totally focus on the Priority task using whatever approach above best suits your style, until you complete it.
And then celebrate having Created the Success -You Deserve it.