Lisa D. (chaoticidealism) wrote,
Lisa D.

How to Do a Difficult Task

Routines are wonderful, but they don't apply to everything. Sometimes you have to do something you haven't done before and will never do again, or something that deviates from the usual, or something that's so complex it's overwhelming. So I made myself a task list to deal with these new or unusual situations... Apologies to my English teacher, as I am well aware this is not proper outline form:

How to Do a Difficult Task:
  1. Make coffee, if you want it. Remind yourself that you are almost certainly capable of completing the task.
  2. Check your stress level.
    1. If it's too high, reduce it with self-limiting* relaxation or recreational activity.
  3. Get yourself a cup of coffee and make a list of steps.
    1. Does the task require breaks? 
      1. If so, schedule self-limiting activity for breaks.
    2. Is each step simple enough not to be overwhelming? 
      1. If not, simplify the step in question by breaking it down further.
  4. Check over the task list.
    1. As written, will the task list take too long?
      1. If so, triage it. Place the most important subtasks first.
      2. If there are too many absolutely required subtasks to drop some of them, change them so that speed increases and quality decreases.
  5. Follow the task list, step by step.
    1. While following the list, keep a watch on:
      1. Time: Is the list taking too long? If so, go back to step 4.
      2. Stress level: Are you becoming inefficient or zoning out because of stress level? Do step 2, then return to 5.
      3. Perseveration: Are you stuck on one activity, unable to stop and go to the next step? As soon as you become aware of the problem, attempt to go to the easiest possible other activity in order to break the freeze.
        1. Once successful, recheck stress level and list complexity to see what caused the freeze and how to re-structure so it doesn't happen again. Then return to step 5.
    2. When the list ends, consciously decide on what to do next, to avoid falling into default** (inefficient) activity.
*Self-limiting: An activity with a natural end, rather than one that is easy to continue for sixteen hours. Drinking a cup of tea is a self-limiting activity; playing Solitaire is not.

**Default activity: What I call it when I do not have a plan and return to the things that are easiest for me to do, usually something involving Internet message boards. :)

Tags: asperger syndrome, executive dysfunction
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