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Action Tip

Come unstuck!  (Cheerfully)

Do you feel you are trapped in an infernal spiral of tasks that aren’t moving forward but take up all your available brain time? Solutions for getting out of a rut.

Based on

I Didn’t Do the Thing Today by Madeleine Dore, (Penguin Random House, 2022).

1/ Set limits to get going 

Putting up boundaries enables you to “prime the pump” gently. 

  • Start with the finish line in mind. You can begin a task more easily when you know how you will go about it, the end goal and the deadline. Set your timer for each work session devoted to the task. 
  • Turn mountains into molehills. Divide your mountain of work up into simple sub-tasks on which you can concentrate easily. Once you have completed the first “molehill”, the mountain won’t seem so daunting. 
  • Visualize your limits. Organize your work into three columns: to do, in progress, done. Respect two key limits: 1/ Never have more than three tasks “in progress” at the same time 2/ Set a clear and realistic time limit for each one. 
  • Set your own deadlines. According to Parkinson’s Law, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” So set your own deadlines to avoid procrastination. You can ask an “accomplice” to remind you of them regularly (either in person or remotely). 
  • Remember you are human: a task may take twice as long to complete as planned, but it’s no big deal. Don’t start out with overly-ambitious limits. 
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Marianne Gerard
Published by Marianne Gerard
Marianne graduated from HEC in 1998 and is now a freelance journalist specializing in management and higher education. What really fires her up is the human dimension and she is c taking a psychology course at Rennes 2 University.