How to handle “I’ll deal with it later”

istock_000003520880xsmall“I’ll deal with it later” is a phrase that folks commonly use to dismiss or avoid an important organizing task they don’t want to face at the moment. But “I’ll deal with it later” is also a subtle form of procrastination and has a tendency to contribute to a disorganized lifestyle.

I offer a simple, (albeit potentially slightly uncomfortable) exercise which can help curb this habit, at least for the short-term. Here’s how it works with my Sparkleize clients:

  • First, guide this person toward identifying the discrete action(s) that would be required for them to “deal with it later”. For example, let’s say the item in question is a box of miscellaneous junk. I often take my clients way outside the boundaries of their usual comfort zone by asking probing questions to identify the action required. To continue with the example, let’s say that ultimately they need to look at each item in the box and decide which items to keep and which to give to a donation center.
  • Next, encourage the person to write out these actions on the box itself – preferably by affixing a brightly colored sticky note indicating exactly what step(s) to take to “deal with” that box.
  • Finally, assign this task as homework to them, and follow up (or help them select another friend or family member to follow up).

This exercise — being forced to identify the discrete task and being accountable to getting it done — has the potential to help change procrastination habits. It establishes a tangible step that can be taken rather than their usual amorphous “deal with it later” which has no starting place. I suspect that the latter is a major factor in the feelings of being overwhelmed and difficulty making decisions which so often plague the disorganized.

Thoughts on this? Other ideas? Post a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know.