While I’m in Bali, I have invited LJ Earnest of SimpleProductivityBlog.com to share of her wisdom with you. Take a look and let me know what you think!
Harnessing Ripples To Get Things Done Easily
Imagine a still body of water, its surface glassy and reflecting of sky above you. Now imagine yourself throwing a rock into that water. Do you see the ripples radiate out from where the rock broke the surface? The ripples disturb the otherwise calm water in an orderly fashion until the energy from the initial event disappears.
We can harness that natural phenomenon to help us do things in our everyday lives. All we have to do is choose the right-sized rock and the body of water to disturb.
The Ripple Effect In Everyday Life
We can apply the effect by starting a small action and watching it ripple through our lives. How? Start small and watch the ripples spread.
Organizing A Bedroom
You want to organize your bedroom, but it is too overwhelming. So you organize the top of the bedside table. From there you see that it was easy, so you organize the dresser top. Then perhaps the dresser drawers, one at a time. Then the closet. And before you know it, the room is organized.
Clean A Kitchen
You’ve cooked a huge meal, and now there are dirty dishes, spills and food crumbs everywhere. Rather than deciding to move, you start by cleaning out the sink. From there, you stack all the dirty dishes. Then you load the dishwasher. Then you clean off the stove top. Then the counters. And wind up by sweeping the floor.
You want to meditate. You know it is good for you. But the thought of sitting for 30 minutes with a blank mind seems impossible. So you start by taking 30 seconds before you walk into work. Then perhaps 5 minutes while you are waiting for something to print. Then 10 minutes walking at lunch. Before you know it, you have worked in 30 minutes of meditation.
Dealing With Insurance Papers
You have a pile of doctor bills and papers from insurance to deal with. It has been building for months as you wait for the final payments to be made. But now is the time to move, although you would rather keep ignoring them. So you pull out all the papers and sort them into piles by doctor. That wasn’t so bad, so you put them in order. Next you figure out what the balance is for each doctor. Then you make notes of calls to make, with the phone number from the bill. Then you write out the checks. And you’re done.
Seem made up? I hope not. I have done every single one of these items in the last week.
The Right Size Rock
The bigger rock you throw, the bigger the ripples. Throw too big of a rock, and you will end up sloshing the water out of the edges of the pond, or the waves come back and interfere with the original waves. Throw too little of a rock, and you barely get any waves.
When we are looking to harness the ripple effect, we must consider what the right-sized rock is. It can’t be too big to disrupt what we are trying to accomplish; but neither too small that we cannot see the effects.
If you are looking to organize a bedroom, you don’t take everything off every flat surface, every item in the drawers and closet, and dump them in the middle of the room. That would overwhelm every attempt to make the room organized, and would probably take longer because you would have to sort through everything all at once. The rock would be too large.
On the other hand, if you walked into the room and decided to throw out one piece of paper from a pile of papers towering on the dresser, you wouldn’t see the effect of your action. The rock would be too small.
It is important to consider what will give you the feeling of making a difference, without overwhelming yourself.
Choosing The Water
The ripple effect will only work with water — throwing a rock at concrete doesn’t produce ripples. So we have to be mindful of what we choose to disturb, and make sure it is appropriate.
For example, if you have an important letter to write, deciding to clean your bedroom is not going to get the letter written. Or if you have to shovel snow from the sidewalks, cleaning the piles on the desk won’t get it done.
We must choose the water that will allow us to accomplish the important task before us, and make sure our goal can be reached directly. Inspiring yourself to work in general is not enough. You must work on the right thing.
The ripple effect allows us to work away little by little, using our successes to build on so that we can move forward. By taking on manageable actions, we get started. By reflecting on our completed actions, we get inspired to do a bit more. And surely as the ripple spreads out, the task gets accomplished with less effort and work than we had thought.
By putting ripples to work for us, and choosing the right size rock and appropriate water, we can sit back and harness the movement to get our tasks done.
LJ Earnest is a computer programmer by day, productivity geek all the time. Using the principles of productivity and simplicity at SimpleProductivityBlog.com, she helps people get through the stuff they have to do so they can get to the stuff they want to do. She can also be found at Twitter (@LJEarnest) and Facebook. Remember, a productive life doesn’t have to be complicated.