Are You Addicted to Feeling Good?

Did you know that the word “niggle” is an intransitive verb which according to Merriam-Webster, dates from about 1616 and means to trifle or to spend too much effort on minor details? Do you find yourself niggling away your time or do you use it meaningfully for your legal nurse consulting business? Most people claim to cherish their “quiet” time, but be honest. Do you spend the first part of your day on your email? Or, do you use that peak productivity time to knock out those hard projects for attorneys and big things for your CLNC® business.

The first part of my day is my quiet, productive time. These are the hours before my office is officially open and all the employees have shown up. By 8:30am there’s a line of penitents forming outside my door; employees asking for my input on a project, directors telling me why they won’t meet a deadline and the janitor asking me to diagnose a toenail fungus. If I’m lucky enough to be working from the sanctuary of my home office when my phone starts ringing off my desk, I know the office is open. Knowing this madness is coming, on my best days, I use my quiet time to hunker down and work on those projects that need the most concentration.

Less successful people gravitate towards what’s easy instead of what’s productive; I call this the “feel-good addiction.” Feel-good addicts start their days differently. Since they like to feel-good they focus on minor, easy to complete tasks – email, desktop organizing, sorting mail, more email and other nonproductive (but necessary) activities. The feel-good addiction is insidious for people who like to check things off, because you feel good after completing each small task (and you get to check it off your “to-do” list). This addiction bites you on the butt because that cheap check-mark high guarantees to frustrate, overwhelm and stress you out in the long term. You feel busier than ever but are accomplishing less of real value. When we get caught up in feeling good, we never get to our big commitments.

Even worse, about the time you’ve completed your feel-good tasks and are ready to start in on your real work, the other folks in the office have completed their feel-good tasks and they’re ready to start interrupting you from the big things you are ready to do or an attorney-client calls with the latest crisis (that’s when the line forms and the phone starts ringing).

When you break the “feel-good” addiction, you actually open the doors to achievement and to your passionate vision for your CLNC® business. Start by asking yourself; is this feel-good start to my day the best use of my time? Or, are these feel-good tasks best reserved for mental breaks throughout the day? That’s the way I use them. I, too am a happy checker-offer and I like knocking out tasks. Working for two hours on a report or project that I won’t finish doesn’t release the same amount of endorphins as cleaning out my email box (and forwarding those tasks on to others). After two hours I need to “get something checked off.” That’s when I indulge my own feel-good addiction and attack the stack of bills, plow into the financials or grab my mouse to viciously click through my email.

What you engage and focus on in your legal nurse consulting business is where you will yield results. Trivia saps the creative energy you need for accomplishing your audacious goals and will douse the fire that you need to fully engage your passionate vision. You may feel good for a while but at the end of the day, which will be here before you know it, all you’ve accomplished is of little value.

Break your addiction and work on those important projects, like that report for your attorney-client. We already have precious little free time, and it’s been mathematically proven that work expands to fill the time available, so we need to make the most of the time we have and not niggle it away. I’m not trying to say that some email isn’t important or that there might be something pressing in your in-box. If you can’t bring yourself to close your email box, at least turn off the sound alert so you won’t have the annoying little “ping” sound off every time a potential time-waster drops out of cyberspace and into your consciousness.

Remember you’re a nurse. Use your triage skills; just don’t start the surgery unless the patient is critical. Email doesn’t bleed out, doesn’t need defibrillation and, unlike an ICU patient, won’t expire if not tended to immediately.

I’ll look for you in line.

Success Is Inside!

P.S. Comment and share your best tip for breaking your feel-good addiction.

5 replies
  1. Becky Anderson
    Becky Anderson says:

    I have learned over the years that I need an organized space and desk to do my most productive work. When I started my CLNC® business, I found myself starting every day with cleaning and/or organizing my desk, filing things, etc. And Vickie is right, “work” expands to fill time. So I learned pretty quickly that I needed to end my day with quickly organizing my workspace, putting in plain sight the things that needed my attention first in the morning so that when I began my next day, I was fresh for the things of highest priority. It is working very well!

    Reply
  2. Vary Fischer
    Vary Fischer says:

    What a timely and excellent article! I just finished working two cases, got them loaded in my car, called each attorney to see when I could deliver them, found I had some “feel good” time, checked this blog, and WOW! Found I had just lived what Vickie had written about.

    It is so true. Getting into the meat of the work early in the day gives such a head start on projects that when they get put aside for a couple of hours later, you can’t stop thinking of them and THEY become the feel good project, because you know when you do finish, it will be such a great feeling.

    There’s a reason Ms. Vickie is the guru:-)

    Thanks for these tips, Vickie.

    Reply
  3. Connie S. Chappelle RN, MN, CLNC
    Connie S. Chappelle RN, MN, CLNC says:

    Not only does my best attorney-client work projects come in the early morning, but my best marketing ideas and work also come to me in the early morning. I try and keep a notepad and pen near so that an idea I may have buried in my subconscious won’t be lost if it should surface when I am working on something else. Sometimes people joke about my lists, but they also remark on how much I seem to be able to accomplish.

    Explore what works for you, but always get the big projects (e.g. work products with deadlines) out of the way first. It is my “feel-good” addiction.

    Reply
  4. Kaye Miller, RN, CN-III, CAPA, CLNC
    Kaye Miller, RN, CN-III, CAPA, CLNC says:

    While I agree mostly with this concept, I am one of those who has to start with the clean slate early to be my most productive. The key is discipline…knowing when to stop the trivial matters and “get on with it.” The positive mental organization in the morning will result in the best work product in the evening.

    Reply
  5. Lynne Woodside, RN, CLNC
    Lynne Woodside, RN, CLNC says:

    I developed a system when I was working in the corporate world (doing medical disability appeals reviews for the number two insurer in the nation) which worked then (with a zillion interruptions every day) and still works in my every day independent practice.

    Everything that comes into my office lands on the left side of my L-shaped desk in a designated tray in a stack of trays. Phone messages or calls to be returned are written down in order of receipt and/or urgency and placed square in front of my phone which is to the immediate right of the “Intake” trays. My most-used hardcopy reference texts are on the desktop-to-ceiling book shelf – which takes up the rest of the “L.” Immediately in front of me is a desktop-to-ceiling corkboard-covered wall. To the right is my Outgoing product(s) trays. Everything goes from the left in a clockwise fashion to the right of my desk. What isn’t completed gets put on my “where is it” calendar and subsequently onto my “appointments-with-myself” log.

    In addition, current and/or urgent files are color-coded and are put in “standing files” on that ceiling high book shelf with the attorney’s name or firm name in big block letters with the phone number and address on the standing file label for quick-look access if I need a quick question answered or relay a bump in the road. It really does work for me, but then I usually work alone…Now if I could just fix the fuzzy slippers, jeans and baggy sweater thing!

    Reply

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