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To Do List Draining You? Brighten Up The Tasks You Dread

Nov 3, 2007
Vampire Tasks

Everyone has at least one of them. Something you hate to do. Something you dread. You procrastinate about it or do your best to avoid it. When you have to do it you get crabby about it.

What is it for you? Your staff meeting? Traveling for business? Working with a particular client or co-worker? Dealing with computer problems? Doing your expense report? Performance reviews?

Whatever it is, it's a "vampire task" -- something that drains your energy.

But You Have to Do It

Most of the time my focus with clients is on the fun stuff --what lights them up, what they love, what they want, what energizes and enlivens them and how to do more of that.

When we do identify a task that's draining them, we look long and creatively about how they could stop doing it, delegate it, or hire it out.

Sometimes though there are tasks they choose to keep doing,at least for now.

It could be temporary. Like a woman starting her own business who dislikes accounting. As soon as she has enough income she'll hire a part-time accountant. In the meantime, she is the accountant, whether or not she enjoys it.

It could be something longer lasting. For instance, in most companies if you're a manager you'll need to do performance reviews, whether or not you enjoy them.

Taxes Wiped Me out

Yep, for me taxes were a big energy drain. I hated doing them.

Just the anticipation of doing them made me unhappy. Even though Dave, our accountant, did all the work of preparing our taxes, I still dreaded pulling together the information for him. Each year it took me two or three days and a lot of misery.

I do recognize we always have choices. And I did have choices about the taxes.

I could have just stopped doing them. But I wasn't too keen about the IRS knocking on my door looking for those unpaid taxes. I could have asked my husband to do our taxes. But I thought he might be even unhappier than I was about doing this task.

Yes, I did have other choices. And doing it myself seemed my best choice.

Now you might think I was doomed. Forever chained to miserable days in my office gathering information for my accountant. But you might also realize if that were the case there wouldn't be much of a point to this story.

And the point is I found a way to ease my tax misery.

Solution: The Taxes Strategy

A few months after I learned about making choices based on my lights -- what energizes and enlivens me -- tax season rolled around once again.

This time I was determined to find a way to do the taxes without draining my energy. So I looked at what I knew about what lit me up and I added some of that to my tax task.

I put on music I loved. I lit a candle that had a delicious fragrance. Depending on the time of day, I sipped a glass of wine. I asked my husband to bring something to do and just sit in my office while I worked on the taxes. I also spent just a couple of hours at a time on them, rather than powering my way through as I'd done in the past.

And it worked!

Now I must admit taxes still aren't the most fun thing I do. And they don't drain my energy in the way they used to.

You can apply my "taxes strategy" to your own draining tasks: incorporate things that light you up. Do this before, during, and/or after the task. My clients tell me this simple strategy makes a significant difference in their energy.

Some Ways to Brighten Up a Dull Task

Here are a few ways my clients have created more energy around the tasks that drain them:

*** Bookending the task: doing something fun before and after.

*** Changing the location: going to some place they love to do the task

*** Changing the conditions: music, candles, food, drink, lighting

*** Involving other people: to be with them, to do the task with them

One story I can't resist sharing: a client, unhappy doing the bills, asked her husband to join her and then paid the bills topless! I'm not saying I recommend this and she says it worked for them!

In Your Life

If you'd like to brighten up your dreaded task, here's what I recommend.

1) Pick something that drains and de-energizes you.

2) Ask yourself if it's something you can stop doing, delegate, or hire someone to do. If so, great! Do whichever one of those strategies will work. If not, go to step #3.

3) Experiment with doing two or three things that light you up (before, during and/or after that draining task) until you find what will make your experience less draining and more enjoyable.

The examples above of what my clients have done may give you some ideas. The key is choosing things that light YOU up, that YOU love, that are energizing and enlivening for YOU.

About the Author
Bonnie McFarland works with women at midlife who are bored, stuck, or restless and wondering what to do with the rest of their lives. Visit www.labellavia.com for her free e-book and ezine to create more pleasure, passion, and purpose in your life.
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