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Chapter 12. The Secret Formula to Overco... > The Stop, Look, and Listen Formula i... - Pg. 122

The Secret Formula to Overcoming Procrastination 122 The Stop, Look, and Listen Formula in Action To make sure that the Stop, Look, and Listen formula works, I've been field-testing it in my own life for a few years now. I'm happy to report that it works like a charm. It's what gets me through writer's block, keeps me from putting off household chores (well, most of them), and enables me to make it to the gym a few times a week. But of all the things I've accomplished thanks to this formula, it's not the six published books, the organized house, or the major weight loss I recently achieved that I'm most proud of. It's the fact that I no longer procrastinate about refilling the water jug and putting it back in the refrigerator. Yes, that simple task used to be my most irritating procrastination habit, to me and to others. It's been a problem since childhood. My parents used to complain that I would drain our water pitcher of its last drop, then leave it on the kitchen counter for someone else to deal with. My father still uses that same old blue plastic water pitcher, and when I visit him, I sometimes catch myself wanting to do the same thing. You're Not Alone I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it. --Mae West In my own home, we keep water in a clear plastic jug with a screw-on cap that flips open for pouring. It's not exactly a complex piece of equipment to operate, so my husband always found it mind- boggling that I seemed incapable of refilling that jug. I'd even clean the entire kitchen but leave the empty water jug sitting out on the counter. I had no good explanation for why I did that. I just did it. Making matters worse was the fact that I've always consumed vast amounts of water, so I was usually the one who emptied the jug. One day, I was about to walk out of the kitchen, leaving the empty water jug sitting on the counter, when I decided to tackle the problem. I stopped, walked back over to the counter, and stared down the empty jug as if I were in some sort of stand-off in the Old West. Then I looked around for barriers that might be in my way, but I couldn't find any. The cap screws off easily. The jug fits well under the faucet. We have running water in the kitchen sink. I am able to lift a gallon of liquid. There's no padlock on the refrigerator door. No excuses there. Then I listened to what I was saying to myself during those split seconds when I would choose to put off the task. I discovered that I was saying things like: I really hate doing this. It's such a hassle. I don't have to do this now. I'll do it later. I just don't do that sort of thing. Ah ha! I found the source of the problem. Irrational, irresponsible, meaningless self-talk had led me to develop this habit. What I did to break the cycle was to think about the benefits of filling the jug with water and refrig- erating it. I thought about how nice it is when I want a glass of water and find a full, cold jug of it in the fridge and how annoying it is to find an empty one. I thought about how healthy it is to drink water and about the fact that on days when I don't refill the jug, I don't drink as much because I don't want to drink tepid tap water. I also thought about how silly it is to procrastinate over something as easy, quick, and minor as refilling a container of water and opening the refrigerator door. It worked. Now when I pour the last drop of water, I refill the container immediately and put it in the fridge. My husband's happier, I'm happier, and we're both maybe even a little healthier.