Chunking TIME to get you going

Getting Started
Getting the GUI Things Done – Part 2

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
in the Time & Task Management Series

Getting back to GUI!
Looking at Good, Urgent, and Important

In Part 1 of this article, Getting off the couch & getting going, I began by suggesting a down-and-dirty way to tackle a number of different kinds of tasks by throwing them into a few metaphorical “task bins.”

In this way of moving through malaise to activation, I suggested that you separate your tasks into 3 metaphorical piles, and I began to explore the distinction between them:

  1. Tasks that would be Good to get done
  2. Tasks that are Urgent
  3. Tasks that are Important

In the way I look at productivity, any forward motion is good forward motion!

Making a dent in a task sure works better than giving in to those “mood fixers” we employ attempting to recenter from a serious bout of task anxiety — those bouts of back and forth texting or endless games of Words with Friends™ — and all sorts of things that actually take us in the opposite direction from the one we really want to travel.

Dent Making-101

Anyone who is struggling with activation can make behavior changes and kick themselves into getting into action by breaking down the task until it feels DO-able in any number of ways, such as:

  1. Picking something tiny to begin with, like putting away only the clean forks in the dishwasher – or just the glasses, or just the plates – or hanging up the outfit you tossed on a chair when you changed into pajamas and fell into bed last night, or picking out only one type of clothing from the laundry basket to fold and put away;
  2. Focusing on a smaller portion of a task, as in the closet example in the prior post;
  3. Chunking Time — setting a specific time limit and allowing yourself to STOP when the time is up.

Now let’s take a look at that last one.

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Chunking Time

Set a timer for five minutes and say, “I’m only going to do this huge obnoxious task for five minutes.”

Many people find that they can keep on going after they get started, but that’s really NOT the point of chunking time.

  • Let yourself stop if you are still experiencing resistance when the alarm rings. Promise yourself that tomorrow you’ll go for SIX and go do something else (besides sitting back down with the remote, that is).
  • When you do it the “stop when you said you would” way, you’ve just told your subconscious mind that you were inspiring momentum, not attempting to trick yourself into doing something you didn’t want to do — in other words, that you can be trusted to do what you promised yourself.
  • When you are still experiencing resistance and “should” yourself into going for longer, guess how easy it’s going to be to make yourself tackle the next 5-minute task?  Your inner three-year old won’t like it.  S/he’ll balk.
  • Only go for more time on task if you’re really inspired to keep going – and set your timer for another 5 minutes. Do it again if you still feel like it, or set the alarm for longer – but don’t go crazy here.

IMPORTANT: Don’t let that feeling of “NO MORE!” be where you end the task.

Your subconscious mind will file away the entire activity in the “odious” box.

Say “enough for today” at a good stopping point well before you are ready to run away screaming, or you are likely to wear out your resolve.  Baby steps work best when you’re stuck.

Giving up GREAT to get to GOOD

Negative self-talk makes activation problems worse. When we focus on doing every single task completely and to the very best of our ability and can’t seem to summon the energy to do it to that level, we fan the negative self-talk flame.

This new “failure” activates every negative thing about our lack of follow-though that we’ve ever thought or heard. Neurons that wire together fire together!

Related Post: Getting to Good Enough

Give yourself a break!   Forgive, normalize, endorse and allow.

  • Forgive yourself for being human;
  • Normalize your experience (vs. beating yourself up about it);
  • Endorse your resolve to do something about your tendency to “procrastinate”
    (or whatever you call it);
  • Allow yourself to do something to move the ball forward – no matter how tiny – every single day (or most of them, anyway!)

Forcing yourself to reach beyond the energy you have available rarely turns much of anything around. If it works in the moment it usually backfires on you later on.

Don’t discount that forgiveness step

In a procrastination study undertaken by Michael Wohl, Ph.D., at Carleton University in 2010, college freshmen who seemed to be in the grip of the self-flagellation habit were randomly sorted into two groups, shortly before an exam.

After the test, one group was instructed in how to forgive themselves for putting off studying. These students procrastinated far less than the other group when studying for the next exam.

It isn’t a perfect technique and the interpretation of the study results vary, but it certainly is one worth trying doncha’ think? If you need a bit more wind beneath your wings, check out some of the articles linked to this one – above and below.

If you’d like some personalized attention to your current challenges with time management, organization or task completion, I currently have several openings in my coaching schedule.

Get in touch if you would like to hire me to personally coach you in a you-specific manner, holding you accountable in a way that will really help you get things done. I’d LOVE to partner with you

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There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

88 Responses to Chunking TIME to get you going

  1. Lots of good advice here, Madelyn. I suppose we all balk at doing this we don’t want to and prefer to spend our time doing things we do like. I try to do the things I don’t like first to get them out of the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great article! My inner 3 yo balks a LOT!
    And definitely tricking myself to keep going does backfire!
    Came here from Kool Kitchen today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for all this information, Madelyn. 🙂 — Suzanne


  4. dgkaye says:

    Great advice my friend. Looking at the big picture of a to do list can be extremely overwhelming. I really like the ‘chunking’ idea. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Pickling Time and Chunking Kale – koolkosherkitchen

  6. Christy B says:

    I have to “chunk time” when it comes to sorting emails or reading blog posts as I know the day will get away from me otherwise. You’re quite right that breaking down tasks will make us more likely to do that activation step too so I’m going to go read the couch potato post now. I’m going backwards, from part 2 to part 1 but… it makes life interesting 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. daisymae2017 says:

    Interesting Post. Shared on LinkedIn.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Madelyn, thank you thank you for this post. I’ve had quite a bit on my plate recently (perhaps far too much) and I suspect that I became overwhelmed with a to-do list that exceeded my abilities.

    As you describe, activation became an issue. But your recommendations validated my attempts to slowly ease back into productivity gain by approaching tasks piece meal and recognizing partial victories as progress even if they don’t result in completion.

    You’re advice really is helpful and meaningful. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great comment, Gabe — and thanks for the acknowledgment.

      Simplistically stated:
      Overwhelm is not PFC friendly – lol. “Trying harder” is self-criticism and an amygdala activitor – PFC shutdown – fight/flight/freeze – and we spiral down from there as things remain undone and begin to pile up more quickly, increasing our overwhelm.

      “Priming the pump” really does work — as long as we don’t beat ourselves up for not doing MORE – lol – which starts the process all over again.

      Thanks for ringing in.


  9. That procrastination study sounds interesting – will look it up. Thank you for another interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great one Madelyn. Especially the fab 4 of giving yourself a break. Its so liberating when one does.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. -Eugenia says:

    Love this post. I can feel waves of positivity flowing in all directions. I’ve always been a person that believes in step by step, and yes we are human and will make mistakes along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The time limit is a great idea, Madelyn. Wonderful post. TGIF and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie gifts us with the next installment of Getting Started with a practical explanation of Chunking Time. Please, read on…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Only the forks from the dishwasher? I think I go for Great! Good! good! OK! So-so! Rubbish! But all my Lists are up to date. It’s Friday evening, I can’t feel my left leg. Have a miagraine and will likely need to do a little something off the lists over the next 2 days. Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

    • lol – I included that example for a friend whose kitchen is periodically a total disaster – no clean dishes/dirty dishes on every surface and overfilling her double sink – because she feels like emptying her dishwasher sounds like too much work. 🙂

      Sorry for your migraine – feel better soon. Meanwhile it seems like you are in good enough shape to ignore today and go back to bed to sleep it off.


  15. Again a great informative post, Madelyn and yes why feel guilty for anything. We sure are humans but have to pick up our sticks instead of lazying around. They rightly say An idle mind is a devils workshop. So take up whatever you like and give your space and time to each and every thing that you take up. Thanks for the share.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. thanks for encouraging posts… I will stop to feel guilty for all and nothing, to err IS human and I’m a human too, so I try no longer to worry about fails and I will forgive myself , yes!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kisses, kisses, kisses! You are wonderful to reblog this next part of the article. Thank you.


      • Mr. Militant Negro says:

        It’s my pleasure, I was not getting notifications from WORSTpress about your blog post, and you’re not the only blog I don’t get notifications about, until last week. Seems WORSTpress is always fucking up the platform just to improve the platform for mobile apps.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yep – drives me nuts too. They don’t seem to ever TEST before unleashing, of course, but if the new kids have their way, ere long it will barely be usable for folks who actually read and write (anything beyond a tweet or a meme).

          The WP coders don’t seem to use their own platform – clearly – and they have no IDEA why many of us chose WP as our blogging platform to begin with. Those are the features they seem to be intent on axing.

          Hope they get a clue before our mass exodus! **Surely** somebody is working on a usable platform for writers – once the new BLOGGING platform launches, we’ll leave WP behind to fight for a small share of the mobile users as johnny come latelys.

          “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” (oops – too many words) 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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