Resolving To (Someday) Overcome Procrastination

Just eight percent of people who make a New Year’s resolution will stick with it this year. That’s why we’re talking resolutions all week long here at VCNB. We’re looking at common resolutions and some things you can do to power through and achieve your goals. We have covered budgets, health goals, savings and organization so far. Ironically, we put off writing about procrastination until the very end.

A wise man once said the “deadline is the ultimate inspiration.” While everyone doesn’t procrastinate, most people have a natural tendency to sometimes put off things they don’t want to do. Some of us though are paralyzed by distractions, bad habits and an inability to make decisions. While it can be hard, it is possible to overcome the habit of procrastination and get things done. You just have to want to possibly . . . maybe . . . commit. . . and start working on it . . . someday.

Put it in writing – It can be harder to ignore a task if it’s in writing. If it’s something simple, write it on a to-do list or even just on a post-it note. For some list makers, the simple act of crossing a task off the list is enough motivation to get to work. Bigger projects can be intimidating and have more steps so take a few minutes to brainstorm everything that needs done and write a plan. A detailed plan will help you get started and provide focus where there may otherwise be uncertainty.

Eliminate distractions – Sometimes procrastination is born from good old fashioned distractions. Who can judge when there are so many great distractions in 2016? There’s Facebook quizzes, Netflix binging, Youtube cat videos and other things that seem much more interesting! If you need to settle down and get a job done, turn off those distractions. Don’t worry. They’ll still be there for you later!

Find a change of scenery – It sounds silly but sometimes the best weapon against procrastination is simply moving to a different location. Take a walk or, if it’s portable, take your work to another room. Try it! This really works!

Deal with the worst – Usually the things we delay the longest are the ones we most hate to do. Instead of delaying the inevitable, try getting it done first! If you first finish the worst task, you won’t have so much to dread later that day! Another approach is to tell yourself you only have to do that worst job for fifteen minutes. You can do anything for fifteen minutes! Set a timer and get to work. Odds are you’ll keep going long after the timer has expired.

Bribery – When all else fails, bribe yourself with a treat! Most people respond well to a rewards system!

The truth is, when dealing with procrastination, the best defense is awareness and vigilance when making decisions. Remember, one failure doesn’t constitute a complete loss. Try again tomorrow. . . or maybe the day after that. Do you have a hack for getting things done? Share it in the comments section!

 

Keeping Your Resolution To Get Organized

Did you know that twenty-five percent of resolution makers abandon their goals within a week? With that in mind, we’re spending this week talking about New Year’s resolutions and ways to help you accomplish your goals. We’ve covered budgeting, saving money and health goals so far. Today we’re talking about organization.

A lot of resolutions have to do with organization. From getting to work on time to redoing a closet, organization skills relate to almost all aspects in life. Maybe you need to organize a desk so you can actually use it to pay bills and do work. Perhaps the organization you need isn’t for a physical space but for your time instead.

Regardless of what you’re organizing, there are some things to keep in mind and to keep you on track.

People sometimes mistake organization with perfection. They think it’s an all-or-nothing deal where everything is tucked away in a neatly labeled box. They equate an organized home with an empty home. However, organizer Christina Scalise explained it best when she said “Organization isn’t about perfection. It’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life.”

Another common mistake is believing that everything can be fixed in a day. Instead of trying to organize your entire home in a day, try spacing it out over a period of weeks or months. Identify the hot spots that you want to hit first and then write out a schedule for going through each one. Plan to do one big thing a week or something small every night by scheduling time to work on it.

This month, you may start with the paper clutter, cleaning out the old and developing a system for filing the new. Next month you could work on clothes closets and dresser drawers while March is the month you finally attack your messy laundry room. Clutter and disorganization doesn’t happen in a day so it’s unrealistic to think it can be fixed in a day or two.

When it comes to organizing it’s important to visualize whatever you are trying to accomplish. If you wish to cook in a kitchen where everything is easily accessible, start by looking at the space and how you’re using it. Can you use the space more wisely? Do you really need everything you are storing? If you don’t bake, chances are you don’t need to keep a dozen cookie sheets. Sometimes we aren’t disorganized, we just are trying to store things we don’t need.

People often believe that the first step to organization is to run out and buy a bunch of containers but the best first step is actually to choose one small piece of the puzzle. Start with that cabinet crammed full of coffee mugs. You probably have a few favorites that you use every day but do you need three dozen mugs? Maybe they make you happy and they need to stay but chances are you could purge a few, or maybe even a lot.

Start by pulling out the things you never use, don’t like, or are broken and begin filling boxes for thrift store donations or for friends you think might appreciate your extras. Once you have purged the unneeded and unwanted, then you can take stock of what you own and begin thinking about how it will fit in your space. Your coffee mugs may fit on a smaller shelf now and would be better across the room, next to the coffee maker. That enormous roaster you only use on Thanksgiving could be stored in the back of the pantry or even in another room. If you like to bake, organize your mixing bowls, measuring cups and other baking supplies in one area to create a baking station.

In other words, think about how you use your possessions and store them accordingly.

This example is about a kitchen but the philosophy behind it can be applied to anything. Just remember not to feel overwhelmed. Start with one drawer, one shelf, one corner of a room and work out from there.

If you’re trying to organize your time, think about the root of your problems. A good calendar can fix a lot of problems. Planning for tomorrow can cure most others. Create a landing zone where you keep your keys, coat, handbag and anything that needs to leave with you such as library books or mail.

Try laying out your clothes and packing lunches the night before. Gather ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner and review your schedule to know who goes where and when. Just knowing what lies ahead and having the supplies you need will do wonders to improve your life and time management!

Remember, organization is not an event and it isn’t a destination: it’s a lifestyle. Work at it gradually and you will achieve your goals!

Stick With A Savings Goal in 2016

It’s a sad truth that most Americans who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them for more than a month or even just a few days. This week we are looking at common resolutions that are great goals for any time of the year. So far we have covered sticking to a budget and living with healthy goals. Today we’re talking savings.

Our friends at NerdWallet.com wrote last year about how much the average American is stashing away. It turns out, it’s not enough.

While most experts recommend committing at least ten to fifteen percent of income to savings, the average American is saving less than five percent. Why is that rate so low? Well, part of the problem is that saving money can be difficult. For some the problem may be that they simply aren’t making enough money to live on and are struggling to get by today without saving for tomorrow. For some folks it just isn’t a priority. They would rather have a bigger house, premium cable, or just “live in the now” rather than have money for later.

For others, the inability to save money is a simple lack of discipline. If you’re the kind of person who wants to save money but never actually do because you forget and spend the money on something frivolous and think you’ll save extra next pay – we’re looking at you.

Don’t worry, this won’t be complicated. We have just one word for you: Automation.

Automation is a beautiful thing when it comes to building good habits and it’s especially helpful when committing to a savings plan. If your employer has a 401k or other type of retirement plan, set up automatic payroll contributions. The money is distributed to your 401k from your paycheck and it’s almost as though you never had the money in the first place.

If you want the money to collect in another type of savings account, say an Passbook Savings at VCNB (see how we snuck ourselves into the story?) you can set up automatic transfers for whatever amount you want, when you like. The best plan is probably to schedule the transfer on payday or the day after. That way, it’s done first thing and you aren’t tempted to spend rather than save.

One more thing: a lot of savers enjoy success making games out of saving money. For example, they stash every $5 bill they get or keep a change jar. There’s a great chart where you save an increasing amount for every week of the year. The plan is to save one dollar the first week of the year, two dollars the second week, three dollars the third week of the year. By the last week of the year, savers on this plan are saving $52. Those who follow the plan ease their way into saving regularly and accumulating over a thousand dollars in one year.

For many people, the key to sticking to a savings plan is automation. For others it’s making it easy and fun. Consider your personality and get started! Even if you can’t save fifteen percent of your income, save what you can today and work up to more.

We’re talking resolutions all week so check back tomorrow!