In my post last week, I talked about NOT doing something because you don’t feel like it and how to turn that into a positive.
I truly think it is an important skill, because I believe procrastination happens to all of us. No matter how much planning we do or how organized and disciplined we are, humans are still subject to pesky emotions that govern our actions – or our in-actions!
But I don’t want to advocate that as a habit, because you will always have a million little things that will put off that hard-but-important task.
So today, I want to talk about organizing. Not about organizing our stuff, but organizing our feelings.
I can see your eyes rolling now. “I know you like to be organized, Coryne, but organizing your feelings?!? What’s next, organizing your hair follicles?”
Stay with me here.
In my mind, people tend to organize tasks into one of two buckets: those that feel good and those that feel bad. I procrastinate washing the windows because I don’t like doing it; it feels bad. I don’t have that performance talk with my employee because it makes both of us uncomfortable; it feels bad.
I propose that we think about it a little differently. What happens if our two buckets are tasks that feel good and tasks that DO good?
Don’t all tasks do good in some way, shape or form? Well, yes, otherwise why would we bother? But a task doesn’t DO good until it gets done. And if we aren’t doing it because it feels bad, well, it’s just sitting on the to-do list, making us feel guilty!
We have to learn to process the feelings around those tasks, so they actually get done.
Organize How You Feel
By organizing your emotions, you are placing them in a context. You are figuring out
- where they come from,
- whether or not they serve you, and
- what they are trying to tell you.
Just being conscious of your feelings isn’t going to help you navigate your life. To do that, you have to be able to recognize your emotions and use them to your advantage.
Well, how in the heck do you turn “I don’t feel like going to work today” into an advantage?
I mean, if we don’t know what our long term goals are, how do we know if they are worth suffering for? How do we know if that task we don’t feel like doing is actually going to do good?
We need context.
How We Feel and the Five Whys
Once we have context, we can name our emotions through that lens and do a little digging, courtesy of the Five Whys. Let’s play this out with the “I don’t feel like going to work today” example.
- Why don’t I feel like going to work today? Because I’m drained and exhausted.
- Why am I drained and exhausted? Because I’ve been putting in extra hours on the Acme project.
- Why have I had to put in the extra hours? Because some of the other people have been out of the office and I feel responsible for the deliverable.
- Why do I feel more responsible than the other people? Because I have the most experience and a track record of delivering for Acme and I don’t want to blow that streak.
- Why is the streak important to me? Because I take pride in my work and eventually I want to be the lead for the Acme account.
There we go! That’s the long term goal tie-in. With all this introspection, we can now organize that “I don’t feel like going to work”.
- It comes from putting in too many hours lately
- It serves me because I want to head up the Acme account one day
- It’s trying to tell me to slow down a little so I don’t get burnt out.
And that is what emotions are supposed to tell us. People who thrive in life are not controlled by their feelings, but nor do they suppress or ignore them. Our emotions are a signaling system designed to communicate to us what we really need and want.
So you’ll be better for going through the trouble of organizing your emotions. You avoid the martyr syndrome of pushing through the tasks despite your feelings. Plus, you avoid the trap of letting your emotions control everything without analysis.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: You say I should own my emotions, but my accountant says it would be cheaper to lease them.