Interpersonal Edge: To tackle big tasks, use the 5 minute solution
Sunday, December 20, 2015

 By Dr. Daneen Skube

Tribune Content Agency
  Q. My job has numerous large projects that I never get a chance to tackle. I can't seem to carve out enough time to get any one complicated assignment done. Do you have a strategy for getting large projects done when you are overwhelmed with daily demands?
  A. I teach clients what I call the "five-minute solution." Instead of waiting until you have unlimited time (i.e., when heck freezes over), break down each large projects into tiny increments. Now do one of those five-minute tasks each day. Before you know it, your project will be over and done with!
  Many of us go to work and walk around in life waiting for some ideal circumstance before we can be effective or have what we want. Clients tell me that someday they will negotiate with their boss, not have emergencies or finally become organized.
  If you keep holding your breath until your future becomes your ideal, you'll be dead a long time before anything you really want ever happens. Instead, walk into the reality of your workplace and be willing to carve out five minutes a day; it will allow you to get traction everyday on goals.
  When I first make this suggestion to new clients, they look at me like I am suggesting they cheat. The idea that just five-minutes (repeated every day) is a powerful step in time management hadn't occurred to them.
  The No. 1 hurdle my clients have is reasons they cannot have what they want right now. Their excuses center around why their current circumstances prevent them from achieving goals.
  We create our circumstances with the collaboration with others. If we don't like our circumstances, then we have two option: to change ourselves or to change our circumstances. 
  The most powerful option is to change ourselves. If we don't change ourselves, we may shift circumstances; yet because we keep responding in the same way, we end up recreating our circumstances. 
  Changing ourselves involves honestly turning our attention inward to our habitual emotional patterns, intellectual assumptions and lack of risking taking. A willingness to be really uncomfortable will assist this process. For instance if we walk around the world unwilling to be vulnerable and ask for help, we block all the support and wise counsel that surrounds us.
  There are times that, even after we shift ourselves, we realize our situation is a poor fit. We then have the maturity, impulse control and skills to gracefully exit and land a better position.
  A beautiful aspect of using the five-minute solution is you will go from feeling deprived and overwhelmed to being aware every day that you have what you need. You will only need to change the way you've been using your time to improve your productivity.
  The last word(s)
  Q. I spend a lot of my day trying to explain what I am doing when people get upset about problems at work. Nobody seems to listen and I end up in exhausting arguments. Is there a better approach?
  A. Yes, instead of explaining, start by repeating the other person's viewpoint. Others will only listen to you if they are certain you first fully understood their experience.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This was printed in the December 13, 2015 - December 26, 2015 edition.

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