Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stay on Green!

At least twice a week, I drive my 6-year-old niece to school. I have plenty of time to ask her about the previous day and talk about goals for the coming one. Her teacher uses a method of behavior management based on a traffic light (green = good and reward, yellow = caution and no reward, red = bad and punishment).

My niece is a "Chatty Cathy." She feels she needs to answer, explain, instruct, and otherwise talk out even when not permitted. Needless to say she has seen her share of "yellow" and a couple "reds." So, each morning when I drop her off I remind her to stay on green and mind the rules.

I do sympathize with an active six-year-old who struggles to stay focused and on task. I'm not that young and still struggle myself many days to keep my mind from straying down colorful bunny trails that lead to very little productivity.

I'm back to work this week -- but still struggling to get back into the routine. I really enjoyed 2 full weeks unplugged from the office. I did all the holiday stuff, played with my pets, painted a couple rooms, cleaned out some cupboards, and generally relaxed. Now I feel I need to do some of that kind of cleaning and reorganizing of my work stuff in these first couple of weeks of the new year so I can move full speed ahead -- stay on green -- and not get behind. (Hate to even point out that I'm already a day late posting a blog.)

A few problems and solutions I have are:
1) Proposals tend to sit too long waiting for attention. So I will set up a spreadsheet to better track proposals. I'll also attempt to set aside a block of time each month to be sure reviews of proposals keep moving.

2) I have information clutter. I have too many places where I track and store information about each book. Invariably I miss updating an area, so some team member doesn't get what they need. So I will work to move all such information pieces into one place using our new electronic management system that was installed last fall. It is now ready to receive what we have, and if I need it, a place can be developed there for my specific information needs.

3) I can't get a lot of reading done at my desk due to office distractions. So I will set aside a reading day at home every other Friday to catch up on reading.

Believe me, it is depressing to get to the end of a week and find that I missed accomplishing some goals because I was distracted by clutter that keeps building up like water and debris behind a dam. It is daunting managing that kind of thing, and it shuts down productivity and creativity. Wouldn't it be nice to reach the end of the week and feel that I accomplished reasonable goals, kept things flowing smoothly, and can look forward to a new week of new goals?

Sometimes we do have to completely stop and dump the clutter so that we can move ahead. So don't feel guilty if you need to stop for a day or more so that you can purge and reorganize. You'll feel better for it.

So my question for you today is. . .what is getting in the way of you staying on "green"? Do you have distractions to clear away in order to keep yourself from getting off track of your weekly goals? Don't let it hold you back another day.

Here's a "Happy Birthday" shout out to Annie Tipton, who is usually first to remind me when I haven't blogged. Also, yesterday (the 7th) was a milestone birthday for Tracie Peterson. I won't say which number, though.


Rachel Overton said...


.................and many more!

Caroline said...

Aw, great blog. I have a mountain of papers on my desk (I work at home) that keeps me from sitting down. Today I'm going to purge! Thanks for the nudge. I will feel so much better and my writing will also.


Mary Connealy said...

Stay on Green.

It does seem like all our tasks can end up stopping us.

I always try to make my daily word count.

I've slowed down over the holidays, no denying it, but I expected that. But now, I'm getting back on task.

Happy Birthday, Annie.

CatMom said...

Great post, Becky! I'll admit at times I feel like the "Queen of Clutter" because items (mainly paper) tend to pile up and it IS very distracting. So, I'm determined to start getting rid of some clutter each day, so it won't be so overwhelming. *grin* ~ Reading about your niece brought back fond memories of my 21-year teaching career...I often used that "traffic light" system(first grade/kindergarten) and it worked well. I always had quite a few little chatterboxes, but that's okay...such a sweet age! Blessings, Patti Jo :)

Becky said...

My niece hit red yesterday--of course she says it wasn't her fault. Sarah kept talking to her. LOL

Cathy S. said...

I definitely need to clear away distractions.

I actually spent an hour this week with someone who helped me organize (first time doing something like this.) Her tips, specific to my situation, were invaluable.

It's probably not unusual that we creative types struggle in this area. Can you tell I'm trying to let go of the guilt? I think that's half the battle.

Setting aside an hour to address the situation freed me up for the rest of the day. I'm doing it again next week. Baby steps!