What I Did to Avoid All-Or-Nothing Thinking

Chrissie Wywrot is a freelance writer and social media expert with focuses on LinkedIn profile development and blogging. She is also an advocate for The ChadTough Foundation which raises funds and awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG. Learn more about Chrissie and her business at chrissiewywrot.com.

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From an educator side we get overwhelmed, distracted and anxious about our mountain of emails and obligations that we never seem to make time for. And that’s just keeping our heads above water. What about time for our own growth? This practical blog post helps you focus when time feels like a precious commodity – which is every day. – Allison Zmuda, Learning Personalized Founder & Curator

all-or-nothing thinkingOne of my favorite Podcasters, Ed Gandia, recently posted an article on all-or-nothing thinking. Considering I am the poster child for all-or-nothing thinking, I immediately clicked on the blog and devoured every suggestion.

“You were going to touch base with three previous clients,” he writes. “But you have only 20 minutes before you have to leave for the day. So you don’t call any of them.

“Here’s the thing: It’s better to do something small than nothing at all.”

Well, Ed. Let me tell you something. Your words rang loud and clear with me because today — when I had just 30 minutes until I had to leave to pick up my kids from school — I felt the nudge of my usual all-or-nothing thinking. A task I had put on my list for the afternoon hadn’t been touched and I was feeling guilty and anxious.

Typically, I would poke around on social media, look at my email (then re-look at it), and — essentially — waste that 30 minutes.

Instead, I set a timer on my phone and dug in. Of course I didn’t complete all I had hoped to complete when I put the task on my calendar at the start of the day, but it felt awesome to get at least some of it done.

Getting Rid of Guilt

all-or-nothing thinkingI also have to give some credit to Paul Minors of The Productivity Podcast. A recent episode touches on guilt during down time – something I struggle with.

His suggestions — work especially hard during “up time,” enjoy the moment, don’t worry about what you aren’t doing while you’re relaxing, and scheduling your down time — are perfect.

These two concepts are closely related, in my opinion. All-or-nothing thinking has a lot to do with guilt … at least for me. The idea of, “If I can’t do all of it, why bother?” is a defeatist attitude rooted in perfectionism.

Setting a timer on my phone to focus 100-percent in small bursts is a solution I’ve stumbled upon that I love. I turn off all notifications on my phone and computer and focus without worrying about completing the task. My only concern is quality work.

Worrying is Wasting Time

One of Paul’s points is that worrying about what you aren’t doing while you’re supposed to be relaxing is a total waste of time. If you’re burning out your brain worrying then you most certainly aren’t relaxing.

I am the queen of worry. There is a part of me that believes worrying provides a sense of control, as though it gives me credit for spending time on something I’m not engaged with. It’s a ridiculous thought process.

At least I know other people struggle with the same thing. If they didn’t, these topics wouldn’t be the primary focus of so many blogs and Podcasts!

Action Steps to Get Rid of Worry

This is a work in progress for me, but here are some actions that have helped so far:

  • Get organized. Putting my projects into a management system – I use Things – helps me release tasks from the bondage of my mind. Once I know I will be reminded of something I have to do, I can stop worrying that I will forget something important.
  • Set a timer. I can’t stress enough how much this has worked for me. The reason it sticks out is because I get really engrossed tasks to the point that I will lose hours in it before look up from the computer. The timer system reassures me that I will have time to work on a bunch of things over the course of the day and that I won’t go over on time.
  • Set deadlines. It’s almost counterintuitive, but leaving projects open-ended is a sure way to get consumed with worry. If I set specific deadlines for projects and tasks within those projects, I can properly lay everything out and work effectively.

What helps you get rid of work worry?

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