Be Intolerant and Boost Your Productivity

For a couple of days at the beginning of last week, I felt completely unmotivated: more blob than human. One part of me wanted to market, work on my assignments, and generally be active and productive. But another, stronger, part of me wanted to lie on the couch and surf the Internet all week.

Then I remembered what my life coach Kristin Taliaferro taught me about tolerations. Tolerations are those little annoyances that drain our energy. They don’t have to be anything earth-shattering — “I hate my business card” and “The batteries on my meditation timer ran out” are examples of tolerations.

Kristin suggests making a list of 100 of your tolerations. This sounds like a lot, but believe me, once you get on a roll it’s hard to stop the griping. It took me a couple of hours to come up with a list that ranged from “Our spoons are stained from tea” to “My iPhone keeps asking me to join wireless networks.”

Just listing these tolerations made me feel more energetic, and I was excited to start knocking tolerations out of my life. To do this, I went through the list and determined which tolerations I had the resources to banish right then, in my home with no money. (Some tolerations required me to go shopping.)

That very day, I put the kibosh on six tolerations. The one that made me feel the most productive, believe it or not, was scrubbing the tea stains from my spoons with baking soda. It was so gratifying to see the baking soda turn tan with tea. Go ahead, laugh! But getting this task out of the way made me feel like a load was taken off my shoulders — and I was ready to tackle even more energy-zapping annoyances.

For the rest of the week, I was more productive than ever. And I got three assignments — one custom pub, one trade, and one profile for a local university — perhaps because I opened up room for them in my life.

This week, I’ve been deep-sixing tolerations every day. I bought a wallet online to replace the tiny change purse I’ve been jamming all my money into since high school. I figured out how to get the iPhone to stop asking me to join wireless networks, which took about 30 seconds. I finished the thank you cards for my son’s baby shower. I transferred my domain names from an annoying registrar to one recommended by my web designer. I trimmed the dead branches from my palm tree. I’m on a roll!

I challenge you to make a list of 100 of your tolerations — work-related or non — and knock three of them off the list today.

What tolerations are bugging you and what do you plan to do about them today? Please post in the Comments below! [lf]

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14 comments… add one
  • I so needed this, Linda. Off to make list of tolerations!

  • How ironic. I am hoping to knock a big tolerance off my list today. For more than two years I’ve been hunched over a jerry rigged desk system made up of a bedroom nightstand, an old wooden two-tiered crate, a writing desk and a vanity that I removed the mirror from and use the narrow “desk” part.I often avoid certain task because I don’t have space to write or proof away from my computer. I’ve done nothing about it but complain…until today. The shopping trip has me so excited. What have I waiting for all this time? Thanks for the post and additional motivation to make a tolerance list. Always good to know I’m not alone.

  • Beth

    But I feel like my whole life could be consumed by addressing tolerations. So many! Any quick tips on how to regulate how much time to devote to addressing them?

  • I think that I have too many to count. 😛

    This is a great exercise… I think I’ll work on it tonight.

  • The word tolerations doesn’t do it for me–but I know what you mean. Could you please get that Rachel woman to quit with the recorded calls. Yes, I am on the No-Call List.

  • Lori, good for you!

    Beth, I think the point of tolerations is that they’re small and you can knock them out quickly with a little focus. All the tolerations I mentioned in the post took me under 15 minutes to kill. You can do them in between writing tasks, or commit to a certain amount of time each day. Good luck!

  • It so funny that you are talking about this. I remember you writing about them before and I’ve been totally noticing them. And trust me, they need to get zapped! I’m going to do it. And if I have doubts, I’ll come back and read this. Thanks!

  • Valencia

    Great tip! My tolerations seems to appear on cold, rainy (yucky) days – like today. I decided about two hours ago to blow off the day – what better time to work on my list!

  • Kevin Sandridge

    Linda – your comment about the change purse reminded me of when I first started traveling to Europe. I spend 3 months living in London while in grad school. The amount of loose change in my pockets after just 2 days of mucking around nearly blew my mind! It soon became a real pain. Then, I noticed coin holders in nearly everyone’s hand as they checked out from the grocery and what not. And me – the silly American – with only my billfold. I went on with my “tolernace” of the bad system I was using for nearly another month until a friend took pity on my and handed me an extra coin holder they had. I’ve used one while traveling abroad ever since. As we don’t have as many larger denomination coins here in the US – it hasn’t been a problem since moving back.

  • I finally put index cards and a pen next to my bed this morning — #17 on my new tolerations list. Next up: #12, dusting my desk. I never do it, even though it drives me mad to see it while I’m working.

  • Thanks for all your comments! I hope you can bust your tolerations. I love having my list,,,when I’m feeling uninspired I look at it and see what I can strike from the list.

    Kevin, my new wallet came today. It’s beautiful, but my new toleration is that it’s too big to fit in my jacket pocket and I hate carrying a purse.

  • Kate

    What a great idea. There are always a million little things that bug me during the day, and when you work as home you see all of them right in front of you. It can be deeply depressing. I think I will give this a try.

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