How do you decide how much work is enough in a given day? I always have a list for my day off on Friday and only cross off a few things. I am also taking an ugly Course Credit by Exam that I am going to have to have an extension for (running out of time) and feel that I am lack lustre or lazy on things. I work full time but I never feel that I get all that I should out of a day. Am I lazy? I am a hard worker at my job. Comments?

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The thoughts you are expressing have gone through my mind too in the past. I have read a little bit on the topic, and the most useful bit of info I found has to do with rewards.

If you have an ambitious list and you know you aren't doing what needs to be done, it's time to look at the rewards. That is to say, the rewards of not doing whichever item is next, as well as the rewards of getting it done.

Something I have trouble with is housework. It's like a treadmill--all action but no progress. So the reward for doing a particular piece of housework is very transitory and small--a very brief pat on the back before it's time to do that bit of work again. I am unmotivated to vac the carpet when the kids are just gonna come in with dirty shoes.

The reward of doing any given piece of housework is that pat on the back, the pride of ownership, an acknowledgement that clean houses have less sickness and more room to play. You have to sometimes get creative with thinking about rewards--the trick is to find a reward you can get enthusiastic about, so that reward will draw you toward the thing that needs to be done.

When I have a to-do list that shows certain things remaining on the list longer than necessary, or a day full of empty time wasters, that's the trigger for an introspective look at the benefits of doing vs not doing.

The easiest way to have a productive day is to fill it with things you *want* to get done. So ask yourself, 'why do I want to do this task?' And then see if your answer makes you want to get up and do it. If the answer just makes you feel like you just put on a 50-lb backpack, then this is not a motivating answer for you--either keep looking or acknowledge that you don't want to do it. You can do it anyway because there's a negative motivator like getting fired looming over you, or you can put it off and see if it goes away by itself.

I've spent hours researching desks, keyboard drawers, etc. here lately. I *want* to because I can't stand my desk. I want it gone, I'm sick of looking at the piles of crap on it. Am I motivated to actually clean the crap on the desk? Only a little. If I was motivated, I'd be spending real time on action rather than just griping and saying to myself "I really need to clean up this mess."


A different angle

Hi Shris: Thanks for helping me see this from a different angle. I think I am going to change my whole outlook and ask "What do I really want to get done tomorrow." I always make out my to do list the night before and try to get a few things done that night so I feel like I have a head start. And concerning rewards, getting something(s) done that needed to be done is really a reward in itself sometimes. Of course it's tough to find the reward in vacuuming when you know dirty shoes will soon be there. I like to think that even if that happens, think of the dirt that is exiting your house.

I hope you find a new desk soon. Have you thought about asking your local county offices if they have any that aren't being used anymore OR checking out auctions? Many times the quality is better for less money if you can find one that meets your needs. .



On the subject of desks, well, my current desk has at least 50 years left in its life span, barring water, fire, or catastrophies. It's a perfectly good desk, it just doesn't fit what I have to do anymore.

I have been hunting around for months, trying to decide what to do. Cubicle-farm type desks are OK, they're durable and readily available. However, I'm not real keen on the look and they're not as handy for some purposes. I want to get my computers and printers OFF my desktop and under the desk, so a cubicle-farm type desk would require installation of brackets and shelves underneath to handle such stuff.

I thought about the solid-wood variety (or plywood veneer with solid facing) and most of what I see in the stores near me is 500-ton baroque flowers or chairman-of-the-board monstrosities that just look like gibraltar come to sit in my office. The one I have is originally from an unfinished furniture place that we finished ourselves in a festive stain and polyurethane finish. This time, I want something a little more curvy and light, I think.

I found a desk from Legare in Texas. The stuff requires no tools to put together, which sounds cool to me. Pier1, Target, and Walmart all carry it (though Target and Walmart only online). I have been sourcing it and there's a guy on ebay who'll sell me a desk, penninsula, and shelf for cheap with free shipping and have it here in a week. By cheap, I mean that the whole setup I'm considering (including an add-on keyboard arm) would run me $725. That brings me back up short--do I *really* want to spend that much? Is there no way to make the desk I have work better for me?

I've kept a loose eye on Craigslist in my area, but not really seriously. Most of the stuff on craigslist seems to be pretty low quality, or else very beat up. I am at a point in my life now where I want something nice, something that's going to work for me, that I can hang onto for a few years. For $725 I'd have to hold onto it for quite a while...but the desk I'm using now has worked for about 10 years. Not bad. And we can sell it to get a little cash from it to offset some of the cost of the new setup.

Anyway, I'm sorta waffling. The Legare desk is a nice dark color, but I really love a cherry finish. I've got some cherry veneer cabinets up on the wall here already (we got them from a salvage place that took them out of a bank), and I would love to have all red cherry items in this room. The Legare color is espresso--a deep brown/black color. The photos online show a reddish color, but I've seen the color in person now and it's more black than red. I could get a fake cherry finish in a cubicle-farm setup, but somehow that seems like 'settling'.

I would love a cherry finish curvilinear desk in a plywood veneer, with either shelves or drawers underneath. A nice corner desk, actually. But I just haven't seen anything like that.


I found something useful in

I found something useful in a blog a few weeks back. The author called it "Productivity for lazy people" or something similar.

His recommendation is to do three things today.

That's it.

Three things don't sound like much, do they? But they force you to prioritize. I use this when I get home and I'm exhausted looking at my next actions list - I think, ok, I will select three things from this list to do today.

They're almost always the most important items (paying bills, etc) and everything else gets delegated to another day. It's kind of a psychological trick, but it works.

Once you're done with your three things, you may find more time to do other items on your list, but at least you will feel comfort in the fact that you accomplished your goal for today.

I don't do it every day, but on the days when I have a cold or those days when my inner child is throwing a temper tantrum against being an adult.

Ok I like this

Thanks Courtney. Yes, three things are very manageable and might spur a person on to do more. As you say, at least getting those three things done means you met your goal for the day. I love that !!!!! You should see my to do list. It's probably no wonder I don't get much accomplished. Thanks. Nice idea.