Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's Your Motivation? Deadlines

One thing I know about myself is that I am really good at thinking up and starting projects. Finishing them is a different story altogether, and I am always trying to get better at finishing what I start.

Finishing projects around the house can be especially challenging because there aren't always specific deadlines around the home. Will the world end if the bathroom isn't cleaned today? Will daily life really be impacted if no one goes through the boxes down in the storage room? The exception would be meals (lest the ravenous hordes revolt) and emergencies, because yes, life will be impacted if nothing is done regarding the flood in the basement.

I've found it helpful to fabricate my own deadlines to help me move through tasks more efficiently. A few strategies I use include:
  • Entertaining: Somehow household tasks move up the priority list if I'm expecting people over, so when I'm feeling behind and unmotivated, sometimes I'll just invite some people over. It doesn't have to be a big party or anything; even a simple playdate will motivate me to vacuum and wipe down the bathroom. (You can ask the people who visit me: when they come to the door I am often finishing up the hall bath!)
  • Time Sensitive Rewards: I promise myself a reward if something gets done before a specified time. More on this later.
  • External Rewards: The latest example is that I reserved an energy efficient appliance rebate through our state rebate program. We have talked about buying a new refrigerator for years now, but we haven't followed through. Why? Because despite the fact that the fridge that we had was not meeting my needs AND using much more energy than newer models, it wasn't broken. I kept wishing it would break, but it wasn't cooperative. I'm happy to report that the rebate prodded us into moving forward with the appliance purchase.
 Whatever deadlines you fabricate for your household, be sure that they are realistic and doable for you.

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