15-Minute Strategy: Managing the Gremlins

15 Feb
Hold on to a task, water it and leave it to grow... Terrifying  15-Minute Strategy: Managing the Gremlins images 7

Hold on to a task, water it and leave it to grow… Terrifying

Gremlins: we’ve all seen the movie… and we can relate to what happened. We find them along the way, they’re small, cute, furry little things and we take them into our lives. We hold on to them, we carry them about with us and we show them off to our friends and families. In fact, having lots of them makes us look important and we enjoy the admiration. “Oh you’re such a busy and important person”

But then we give them water and it all goes horribly wrong. They turn into monsters … and there’s hundreds of them. They’re all around us and they want to destroy us. Suddenly, everything is out of control and our lives are in danger of ruination.

Well, all this makes for a great movie, but you wouldn’t want it in your real life. So, why do we let it happen?

In real life, of course, our gremlins are all the TASKS that we’ve taken on board and committed to doing ourselves. We take them on individually and they each seem fine… individually. We take them on because we think they’re the right thing to do, or it would be nice to do, or it will help someone else’s life. We take them on with the best of intentions., then one day we take stock. We realize that we’ve over-committed and we’ve lost control. The list of tasks has piled up and each one of them seems completely impossible. They’ve each turned into a nightmare.

Recognise the picture?

Well, it’s not all bad. You can regain control of the ‘to-do’ list, the task list, the sticky notes, the reminders in the bottom of your handbag, the notes on the fridge, the naggers on the phone app … and all the others.

Managing the Gremlins is the second step in Epiphanies ’15-Minute Strategy’ and  will help you regain control. We learned about a simple ‘Keep or Chuck” tactic in the last posting (http://epiphanies.com.au/2014/02/04/15-minute-strategy-conquering-the-paper-mountain/) and that helped to reduce the pile of tasks considerably. However, the ones that are left are the ‘biggies’… these are the ones that we can’t dismiss; the ones that absolutely need to be done. They’re also, usually, the ones that terrify us the most because they are the most persistent.

So here are some handy tips from Epiphanies ’15-Minute Strategy’ for taking control of the gremlins:

  1. SEPARATE each individual task into individual units and write them as separate items in an electronic filing app. Do NOT make them into a list! (A list is simply rebuilding the mountain and perpetuating the terror. Single entries feel more ‘doable’)
  2. UNBUNDLE large complex tasks in to smaller items that would take 15 minutes or less to complete. Tag all of them with a common ‘project’ label so you can make sure they get done in sequence and they all get done over time.
  3. CREATE ‘TAGS’ for each item so that you can search for individual tasks as you want to tackle them.
  4. Make sure you tag the ‘ENERGY LEVEL’ you will require when you’re tackling each one. Don’t attempt high energy tasks when you’re feeling flat… do some shredding or dusting instead. Don’t do low energy tasks when you’re alive and buzzing… that’s the time to do the toughest tasks and to ‘ride the buzz’.
  5. Now BURN the ‘to-do’ lists and all the other scrappy little reminders as soon as you capture them in your filing app.
  6. Next, FORGET all about all the tasks you’ve just captured. That’s tight, put them right out of your head and take a deep breath. You haven’t lost them and you will get around to them, but you no longer need to hold them in your head and torture yourself with fear and worry.
  7. Now REMEMBER, each of your tasks has become a single, stand-alone, item that can each be accomplished in 15 minutes or less.
  8. TACKLE a single task whenever the opportunity arises… when you have a spare 15 minutes, search your app for a task to complete. When you’re at your computer, pull up the tasks that you tagged as computer tasks and do one, when you’re with friends or colleagues, pull up the tasks that needed their involvement and do one together. When your feeling flat, pull up some ‘low energy’ tasks and do them for 15 minutes (you’ll get the buzz of achievement and may even be able to go on to higher energy activities after that).

Yes, I know this sound mad. Filing, not listing your tasks. Forgetting about them. Being opportunistic, not deterministic, about how you tackle each task. Surely this isn’t what we’ve been taught all of our lives?

Well, no, this is a new way of looking at getting things done. ‘Do what you feel like doing, when you can’ is better than being frozen to the spot and doing none of them. By allowing yourself to do tasks as and when you feel able , or as specific resources become available will certainly get the jobs done efficiently and effectively. More importantly, you will feel less stressed and fearful and the sense of achievement from ‘small victories’ will build up into  a greater self confidence and assurance. In no time at all, the gremlins will be undrcontrol, the pile will be diminished and the fear will have gone.

Contact Epiphanies to learn how the Epiphanies ’15-Minute Strategy’  could help you turn your life around… 15 minutes at a time.



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  1. 15-Minute Strategy: Procrastinators bible | Epiphanies - May 6, 2014

    […] The Gremlin: Each and every thing on our list has lived with us for ages. We’ve looked at it before and we’ve put it from our minds as quickly as we can. Now, each of these tasks has taken on magical dimensions. We’ve built up fear of them and we can’t bear them peering at us with their beady little eyes… taunting us. We’d rather run away from the gremlins than face them. […]

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