Category Archives for "Tip of the Day"

Selecting Sticks: How to Stay Focused to Get Tasks Done

So much to do!! 

Where do I start? 

What should I do next? 

Put a stop to indecision and overwhelm once and for all! 

How? 

Let the sticks decide for you! 

I came up with this idea years ago when I was teaching, growing a side-business, and raising children. So much to do! Where would I start? Everything seemed important. This is when my Select-a-Stick method was born. 

I had already created Pick Me!, a random selection method to engage students and have all feel important. I thought, “If I can do this with student’s names and with randomly selecting activities for students, I could use the same concept in my own home!” 

I collected some craft sticks, a mug, and a permanent marker. On each stick, I wrote a job that needed to be done. Some of the jobs included: finish IEPs, help Chloe on her project, address Christmas cards, wrap presents, pay bills, plan dinners for 3 nights, shopping list, read a magazine for 15 min. (I always add something fun.), etc. I put the sticks in the mug and decided I would let the universe decide what to start on first. 

Even before I knew about Tiny Habits, I knew I was the type of person who didn’t want to do any one job for too long. So, I’d set a timer for 5 min., pick a stick, and work on that job until the timer went off. If I was really into the job, I’d set the timer for 5 more minutes. If I had finished the job, I’d throw the stick away. If not, I’d put it back in the mug. Then, I’d set the timer for 5 minutes and pick a new stick. 

By using this random selection method, I quieted the negative thoughts in my head. Movement created action. It was a fun way to stay in action. I gained confidence as I completed jobs that I had been putting off. I realized how much time 5 minutes really is. 

One time behaviors: 

  • Buy or collect craft sticks, a permanent marker, a cup or jar, and a timer 
  • Write the jobs you need to do on each stick, one job per stick

For example, Everyday jobs such as… 

  • Laundry
  • Movement 
  • Correspondence 
  • Connection 
  • Kitchen 
  • Menu Prep 
  • Shopping List 
  • Finances 
  • Me Time 

Specific jobs such as… 

  • Mail holiday packages 
  • RSVP to party 
  • Update address book 
  • Write end-of-year letter 
  • Prep veggies 
  • Dr. Appt 
  • Call Suzi 
  • Dry cleaning 
  • Watch one HGTV episode 

Major project completions such as… 

  • Clean out the garage 
  • Plant flowers in the front yard 
  • Rearrange a closet 

Pick a Stick and Start Moving 

By picking a random selection of sticks, the intention is to get you moving for a short or a long period of time. With the timer, you will decide how long you want to work at that particular job. As you complete each job on your stick you will begin to gain confidence in obtaining your goals, no matter how big or small. 

The sticks will keep you focused and in control. Many of you will want to make this a habit. Create a Tiny Habit recipe (Anchor Behavior Celebration) to ensure that you get things done.  

After I _________________, I will pick a stick and set a timer, and celebrate. Then celebrate again when the timer goes off for doing something. 

This is your time to play. If you don’t want to do the job listed on the stick, put it back and pick another one! Please make sure you plan for some down time after you have completed your job. Either write something fun on the other side of the stick or take a break between sticks. The sticks take the guesswork out of you taking action! Using these sticks will help with feeling stuck, indecisive and overwhelmed.

I made two Loom videos for a friend showing her how to use them. I’ve included the links below for you as well. 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. 

Selecting Sticks: Part 1 

Selecting Sticks: Part 2 

Best wishes, 

Val McKinley 

Tiny Habits Certified Coach 

Course Creator: Tiny Habits for Green Light Living—Using Emotional Regulation as a Catalyst for Action