A Dr Seuss Inspired Strategy for Getting Things Done
by Louise D'Allura on March 27th, 2014

 If you have trouble motivating that inner routine rebel too, this article by James Clear (who writes about using behaviour science to master your habits and improve your mental and physical health), puts a positive spin on constraints for helping us to get stuff done – James shares the example that the Dr Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham was written for a $50 bet - to write a book using only 50 words.  Those constraints produced a best seller!
How often though do we resent our constraints?  I know I do – which is why I LOVED this article.  It shows us that:

  1. Constraints can inspire us
  2. Focus on ‘lack’ as a positive vs a negative.  Any time you hear yourself saying “I only have 30 minutes/ dollars/ etc whatever – look at it as a positive.  How can I do THIS with only 30 minutes/ dollars/ whatever 
  3. When you’re tempted to ditch your routine, KEEP IT and use the constraints to help you get things done (time/ resources)
In the article James gives the example of his routine for writing articles is on Monday and Thursday – he does it regardless – convenient or not and just uses the ‘constraints’ of his situation to stimulate/ inspire the activity – location or time helps to inspire the task. 

I know I can relate and much of it has to do with sticking to the committment of the higher purpose.  It's now the third month of the year and I can think of things I have wanted to get done and have been putting off.  Really it is all about prorities - and putting our attention, shining the light as it were on those LITTLE things we need to do - or just create a space in our schedule for the 'next' step of a project.  Be it daily/ weekly/ monthly.  Whatever it has to be in our schedule.  

Over the years I thought we must FEEL motivated or inspired to do something.  This is no longer the case - I've since discovered it is about putting the things into your schedule  and you do it - I am training myself to do it without entering into a discussion with myself about all the reasons not to do a task. For me this has usually been about excercise.  When I related my values to the tasks that represent how I live by those values (walking everyday, doing weekly practice of yoga, dancing) getting in motion  is not a struggle.  I don't think - I just be and do it.  AND I now do it in whatever time I have - 10 - 15 - 20 minutes.  Constraints are now not a limiting factor, but I see it as still committing to do something for myself and my health - regardless of whatever is going on.  I don't enter into a discussion about why it's NOT possible.  I do what I can and when I am IN the moment/ after the walk I routinely THANK myself for it.  Even 10 or 15 minutes is enough to remind me how nice it is, and puts that inner routine rebel who says  "but I don't WAAAANT to!"  back in her place!!!

James describes it further in the article:
“The ability to show up everyday, stick to the schedule, and do the work — especially when you don’t feel like it — is so valuable that it is literally all you need to become better 99% of the time.

Professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way. Professionals know what is important to them and work towards it with purpose, amateurs get pulled off course by the urgencies of life.”

Now when James talks about the urgencies of life – he does acknowledge life happens, but it is our commitment to get right back into our priorities that will help us live an important life – not just an urgent one. 
I could really relate to this article and know a lot of my clients can too.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Now, I would love to hear from you! In the comments below, tell me what you think about using 'constraints' - either external or self imposed as a way to get things done?  I would love hear it!

If you’ve found this article of interest, please share it with your friends!  I really do appreciate you taking the time to read and share ;)

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Posted in Getting Stuff Done - Task Management, Routines / Habits - Self Management    Tagged with no tags


Lauren - March 7th, 2014 at 1:00 AM
My problem is I get bored or don't like doing one thing so I move onto another and during the day I have started so many things that I don't feel like I've achieved ANYTHING yet I haven't sat down all day. My husband says I should finish one thing before I move onto something else but that is difficult when you have 3 children with you. I would like to feel satisfied at some point that I have done enough but I don't. Can I get to that point?
Louise D'Allura - March 30th, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Hi Lauren
One of the biggest struggle points is moving on before things are started - this might be for a few of the reasons you've outlined. To counter this look a breaking the job down into bite sized bits so you can feel that sense of accomplishment. Really look at the critical tasks that have to be completed and focus on those. A lot of the tasks we are talking about won't be fun however the best motivation is how you FEEL - once it has been done? Organising guru Peter Walsh (Oprah's Organiser) says we have to finish the cycle - so much of our clutter / disorganisation is because we aren't completing the cycle. So, work out what jobs if not completed make it a struggle?
Let me know how you go!
Louise ;)
Debra Jarvis - March 9th, 2014 at 11:10 PM
Very Timely Louise! Appreciate your sharing this info here!!!
Louise D'Allura - March 30th, 2014 at 4:01 PM
Thanks Debra! It is a great one isn't it? Really helps to put a positive spin on limitations doesn't it?
Louise ;)
David Hooper - April 6th, 2014 at 11:05 PM
Wow, that's a really great article Louise! I love it - Dr. Seuss caught my eye, and then "Green Eggs and Ham" is my favourite of his books. I love that tidbit of information!

Louise D'Allura - April 22nd, 2014 at 7:12 PM
Hey David Yes! it is a great one isn't it. Very inspiring example of just how important it is to keep going - regardless of the circumstances. Success could be just around the corner! Louise ;)
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