Ever since I mentioned my Hierarchy of Avoidance, people have been clamoring to hear more. (By "clamoring" I mean I got an email, from one person. And it was about something else entirely. But it WAS on the same day I made my initial comment.)
So, my Hierarchy of Avoidance theory. . . Actually, it's not really fair to call it a theory, since I've used it so many years now. It's definitely become a lifestyle, and a very productive, workable one.
Don't be put off by the word "avoidance". At first glance it may seem like it's in the same evil category as procrastination. But this isn't the case at all. The Hierarchy of Avoidance (HOA) is actually a useful tool for getting things DONE, whereas procrastination. . .well, we all know it just stockpiles tasks until there's so many of them that you just get buried, and then you're tapping out a Morse code signal from inside the rubble, hoping for rescue (preferably from a hottie with a refreshing beverage).
The important thing to remember about the Hierarchy of Avoidance is this: Not All Tasks Are Created Equal.
There is always a WORSE task than the one you don't want to do. Think of it as a Food Pyramid for To Do lists. Or for the medical types, it's triage, only for chores.
Now I'm not advocating that you ignore tasks, because that would turn into the Hierarchy of Ignorance, and that's a different situation entirely.
With my patented HOA program, you actually get things done, by avoiding other things you don't want to do. You can accomplish a task that seems yucky, or too difficult, or agonizingly debilitating – by comparing it to something that is even MORE yucky, MORE difficult, or WAY MORE debilitating to your psyche.
Okay then. Deep breaths, through the nose. And exhale, repeating after me: ACCOMPLISHMENT, through AVOIDANCE.
Let me give you an example. You need to clear those cobwebs in the corner of the living room ceiling before they celebrate their one-year anniversary. But you also should take the clothes out of the dryer while they are still your size, and the dishes sitting in the sink are looking like a science project run amok. So what do you do?
You pick the task you don't want to do. Then you pick the one that's worse than that, and then the one worse even than THAT. You are prioritizing things by their awfulness. You do the one that is LEAST yucky, avoiding the yuckier and yuckiest ones. Once the yucky one is out of the way, the yuckier one doesn't seem so bad, because it's not as awful as the yuckiest one, so you do it next.
I actually used this application on some recent revisions. That's right. I do all the rigorous testing beforehand so you can enjoy the final product without any bugs. Anyway, there were several different items in this list of revisions, and while all of them were challenging, it's not a big spoiler when I say some tasks were worse than others.
So I whipped out my HOA chart (don't expect to see this in stores right away, since it's still in beta form). I wrote down what I needed to accomplish, and then re-arranged the chores according to their relative Avoidance Quotient. Actually, I shifted them around so many times, it looked like I was practicing for a three-card monte competition.
So what did I have to avoid?
A new love scene. Okay, that's not as bad as this task, strengthening the conflict. And all those words I repeat over and over and over. . .yikes. That went straight to the bottom of the pyramid, because apparently I only use three different words to tell an 80,000 word story, so this would require a little more creative effort before it was off the list.
Even though it seemed daunting at first, I avoided, systematically, until everything was accomplished. Once I'd ninja-kicked the simpler tasks out of the way, I was confident and pumped up, ready to kick ass on the next thing on the chart. Amazingly, that item didn't seem so bad anymore, because there was SOMETHING WORSE than that!
One last insider tip: don't feel like you can't mix and match avoidance chores. This blog post was accomplished in record time because I was avoiding unpacking some boxes that have been in storage for two years. And the scene in my WIP that's making me grab a bottle of antacids is getting done next because I'm avoiding vacuuming out the sand that's accumulated in my car all winter. (That's how most housework gets done, actually, by avoiding writing tasks.)
Just remember: Accomplishment, through Avoidance.
Millions of happy avoiders can't be wrong.