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Strategize Organize LLC
Newsletter Volume 7, Issue 6

Step by Step


I listened to ADD coach Lynne Edris talk about the topic of follow-through.  She purposefully uses the word follow-through rather than procrastination because of the negative associations many have with procrastination, including associations of laziness, shame, and being a bad person. She has coined a "follow-through formula" that fits well into what I talk about with my clients. Lynne explains that in order to have follow-through one needs to feel that a task is manageable (not too big), well defined (understanding of the time and steps involved) and interesting (if interesting, the brain will be motivated). 
As it happens, a client and I were having a conversation, and we talked though a plan to work through a task.  She created a form to help with the plan.  I then adapted the form a bit and now use it with many of my clients.  The great thing about this form, which we call Step by Step, is that it concretizes the "follow through formula.” 
In this newsletter, I'm going to give an example of a task that has been thought through using the Step by Step form.  Hopefully by seeing this, you'll get a sense of what manageable, well defined, and interesting look like.


Step by Step
   Task Name:         Pack for a Four Day Conference

Steps   (manageable and defined) Estimated Time Actual Time (interesting)
check the weather 5 min. 1 min.
get out suitcase 5 min. 15 min.
pick out 3-8  pairs of pants and lay on bed or couch 5 min. 15  min.
pick out 3-8 shirts and lay on bed. 5 min. 15 min.
choose 2-4 sweaters or dress jackets. 5 min. 5 min.
make 4 conference outfits. 20 min. 60 min.
make  2 travel outfits.
5 min. 5 min.
choose jewelry for outfits 15 min. 5 min.
choose 1-2 pairs of conference shoes. 5 min. 1 min.
pick out socks 1 min. 1 min.
pick out undergarments 1 min. 1 min.
get out pajamas 1 min. 1 min.
make up a toiletry bag 5 min. 10 min.
pack 20 min. 10 min.
re-adjust number of clothes depending on space 10 min. 30 min.
put together technology tools 5 min. 5 min.
get together travel documents 5 min. 5 min.
collect conference information 15 min. 10 min.
pack these non-clothes items 5 min. 10 min.
get purse and jacket 1 min. 1 min.
2 hr.19 min.
3 hrs. 26 min.

Observations:  Thought I knew where the suitcases were, but I had to ask other family members.  Some of my clothes weren't washed, and I had to find some out of season clothes. Putting outfits together is hard.  I ended up with too many clothes and had to take things out.  Took pictures so I could remember for next time.  Ended up not taking patterned pants and took plain colors to wear more than once.  Conference info was easy to find!   


It In this example, the task of packing for a conference has been broken down into steps (manageable). It is clear what needs to happen (defined). There are time estimates (interest - which steps did I beat my estimated time, and which steps didn't I). 

Final Comments

This form can be used for all sorts of tasks…work, school, home, etc. Everyone can use it; however, those with ADD find it especially helpful.  The steps and time will obviously look different for each person using it. But the purpose is to help the brain see what can be hard to see.  Also, making things interesting for the brain is always good because it increases motivation. 
P.S. If you are interested in a packing checklist, here's a link.  Here is a link to a blank Step by Step form

All my best,

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Copyright (C) 2008 Susan Hunsberger Professional Organizer All rights reserved.
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