If it's a story about me, then I'll say so up front.

This is a blog about Truth, Justice and the American Way. The stories are true. No names have been changed to protect anyone's identity, including my own. If the story is about me, then I'll say so right up front. If I don't use a name to identify whom the story is about, then it's because it's not relevant. So please do not call me or e-mail me with your kind condolences or unwarranted congratulations about something that you believe is a cleverly disguised bio from my alter ego. These stories, like my photo, are unretouched.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to Avoid Doing Anything

OK, I admit it: I’m “stuck.” I’m out of work; I’m depressed; I haven't blogged in nearly two months; I’m not answering people’s emails; I’m not cleaning my house. Frankly, I’m not doing anything. I’m stuck.

I’m not stuck physically, although if I gain any more weight or go another day without mopping my kitchen floor I may just get stuck there as well, unable to move my feet in the grime – much the same way that I am now unable to move my mind.

So, in the interests of continuing to provide good information to my readers (if I still have any readers left after this long period of inactivity), I am going to share my many helpful tricks to avoiding doing practically anything.

It helps that the Olympics are on, because watching all those bobsledders, and skaters, and skiers, and luge sliders is a full time job. And is it just me, or are those German luge guys just plain nuts? I’m happy for their five medals but still…. 95mph with no protection but a helmet? How crazy is that? In any case, as a proud citizen it is my patriotic duty to watch each and every competition, rooting for America. Plus it keeps me from being able to do much else right now.

Of course, if you are not doing anything then it stands to reason that your housekeeping is something less than spiffy. So there’s the problem of hiding things when you have company. Sure, when you’re as depressed as I have been you avoid having company as much as possible, if for no other reason than the general messiness of the house. But sometimes people do show up – maybe to watch the SuperBowl or the Olympics. How can you avoid letting them see how dysfunctional you are right now? The answer: Costco grape boxes! These things are not only free but they are amazing. They are really strong and will take a lot of weight. They run about 23½ inches by 15½ inches and they are technically nearly 5½ inches tall, but you really don’t want to fill them up higher than 5 inches because then it makes them hard to stack. And stacking is the best thing about Costco grape boxes. They have these four tabs that make the boxes interlocking. You can stack these suckers up to the ceiling!

So when someone is coming over and you haven’t the time or the mental capacity to actually go through all of that crap that has accumulated on every single flat surface in your house, you just sweep it into a Costco grape box. My personal system is to keep the surfaces separated so that you can later dig items out of the boxes more easily. The stuff from the dining room table goes in one box; the scraps of paper all over the coffee table into another; the magazines and mail balanced precariously on the chair goes into a different box; junk lying around the floor into another. See!! Brilliant. When I need something, I recall that I’m pretty sure it was somewhere on the dining room table. So you just go to the “Dining Room Table” box and dig thorough that. It actually helps a lot if you label the boxes as you stack them but there’s two problems with that:

1. It requires time and effort and the whole point of sweeping everything into Costco boxes is the elimination of time and effort.

2. The minute you start labeling them, there is a sense of “permanency” to the process. You are admitting to yourself that you’re not really going to immediately “unbox” everything as soon as your guests leave. Even if this is true (and let’s face it, it probably is), admitting it will diminish your self-esteem even further, make you more depressed and cause you to have to lie down….. some more….

So now that you have everything swept away, where do you put the boxes? Well, my current favorite is the garage. That garage will never see a car. My husband and I joke that our whole life is “somewhere in the garage.” Whatever we are looking for – our sunglasses, the 800-number to order a ShamWow, the title to the car, our overall sanity – is “somewhere in the garage.”

I didn’t used to have a garage. When we lived in an apartment in the city there was no storage whatsoever. So you know where I stashed the stacked-up Costco boxes? In the spare bedroom. You just throw a large white tablecloth over the stack, toss a flower arrangement on top and who is to know? Hey, when you live in an apartment you have to make due. I used to know a couple who kept a little studio apartment in Atlantic City. It was so small, that on laundry day, they pulled the tablecloths off of their bed-side tables and voila! One of the bed-tables was a mini washing machine and the other was a little dryer. Seriously. You make due.

Even worse, when I lived in a one-bedroom apartment, hiding the Costco boxes got more difficult. Where did I put them? In the shower in the master bathroom. Of course, that makes it harder to ignore them once the guests go home. But, hey, you make due.

I should mention that occasionally your crap is taller than 5 inches? The answer: The Costco Dulcinea PureHeart seedless watermelon box or the Tuscan-style cantaloupe box. It’s a full 7½ inches tall (for those extra bulky items). And the tabs still fit neatly into the grape box slots for stacking convenience.

I have lots of other tips for avoiding doing anything. You can put off laundry forever as long as you have lots of underwear. You have a choice. You can do the laundry and face all that work (2-4 hours minimum) or the next time you’re in WalMart or Macy’s, just grab another couple of packs of underwear (32 seconds maximum). You do the math.

Of course, these days the obvious way to avoid getting any productive work done is social networking. Between email, participating in LinkedIn discussion groups, Tweeting, making witty remarks on your friends’ FaceBook pages, and answering the DM’s you have received from your many “business friends” across the country….. well, it pretty much consumes the day. And you have to do this stuff because this is the way we do business in 2010. (Or don’t do much business in 2010 – I’m not quite sure.)

I could give you more tips, but all of this blogging is exhausting and now I have to lie down …. some more. Maybe I should double up on my Prozac. But that would require walking up the stairs. Never mind. I think the women’s figure skating long program is starting. I’d like to return a couple of important phone calls, but unfortunately I’ll be stuck lying on the sofa for the next three hours. It’s my patriotic duty.


  1. Have you been peeking behind my shower curtain?!

    Thanks for the post... certainly something I can relate to! Please keep writing - I have learned a lot from your perspective already.

  2. Kay,
    Ha-ha , thanks for the great chuckle. It's refreshing to hear how one's life can become totally immobile and unmotivated. I think we've all been there for certain periods of time - , I know I have been. When I feel the overwhelm and "throw hands in the air" mood, I give myself permission to escape, usually in the form of a good book. Seems to do the trick for a while and I get revved up again.

    I've heard the word "inspired" be related to "in spirit". I think unless we have some reason to be motivated, and a vision that connects us to our motivation, it's hard to get going or keep going.

    I need to continually revisit my vision...I have it written out and on a dream board. This is the place I start with my clients, using a guided visualization.

    It's awfully hard to get somewhere if you don't know your destination!

    Jane Morrison
    CEO Wise Women Marketing
    CEO Smart Savvy Success
    Minneapolis-St. Paul
    Kay, where are you headed??

  3. Jane, actually, I do have a vision board. In fact, you can see me talking about it on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/user/myvisionboards#p/a/u/1/qWNAvBnBeTU

    I kept it on the wall of my office and to be perfectly honest, since I lost my job I'm not sure where my vision board is.

    Probably "somewhere in the garage." Maybe I need to get it out and revisit it.

    So, the answer to your questionat the end, "Kay, where are you headed??" is TO THE GARAGE. (It's scary in there!)

  4. Hi, Kay, love the blog (especially the name!). We all get stuck, I can definitely identify with that place. I find it's usually some kind of emotional baggage I have been carrying around that I need to give the old heave-ho. My only difference is that, when I'm stuck, I clean the house as a way to avoid work!


  5. Rebecca, I looked you up and it turns out that you have a terrific blog of your own called "Serial Reinvention." I read a lot of your articles, but my favorite was "There Are No Jobs. Don't Even Look." I highly recommend it at http://serialreinvention.com/2010/02/25/there-are-no-jobs-dont-even-look/

    And I know that Texas is a long way to come, but the next time you are stuck and feel like cleaning the house, could you please come over? (Hint: Tuesday looks good to me.)


  6. And I thought I felt that way at times because I live in Wisconsin where half of the year is in the cold, dark winter, but you live in Hawaii...a virtual paradise on earth!

    Sue Sattler
    President, Talent Network Group
    Waukesha, Wiscon

  7. I'm sitting in my office in Phoenix, Arizona, looking out at the sun and it's a beautiful day. I don't have time these days to get stuck, but when I did I would head to a networking event which forced me out of my comfort zone. Walking into a new networking group where I was forced to speak about what I do is a great way to get excited again about what you do.

    I can't wait to go check out your blog, and by the way with a name like BizBitchBlog, some how I think you have all the spunk to get unstuck. Good luck :)

    Christina Wagner
    Marketing Directory at KFNX

  8. Hey Kay - maybe you're not as stuck as you think - you wrote a blog post after 2 months! Sometimes I think we try to rush ourselves into or out of something cause it seems like the "right" thing to do. I say stay stuck - now that the Oylmpics are over, become one with the next thing on TV - switch up ice dancing for Dancing with the Stars. My point is that eventually all of your pent up physical and emotional energy will propel you off the couch and into more delightful blog posts like the one you just wrote. How would we ever know what free flow life felt like if we never were stuck?

  9. Kay this could be a time of change for you, stand still for a while an listen to what is calling....

  10. I hate to admit this but usually I cry from frustration! How about you? I know it is because I feel like "nobody's got my back" and I'm sinking alone.

    Janie Behr
    Louisville, Kentucky

  11. I have been stuck myself more than once. Luckily I have a wonderful, easy to learn technique that can quickly transform the quality of your life; often sky rocketing you to achieving goals and greater success. This technique is called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). As an advanced EFT practitioner, I have used this technique successfully myself for many issues - including blocks and being stuck. I also teach this technique to my clients.

    Emotions play a huge part in blocking or keeping us stuck. As a success coach, my passion and my business is all about removing people's blocks, the things that hold us back, that keep us stuck.

    All of these negative emotions (frustration, saddness, feelings of being alone, etc.) perpetuate the blocks, keeping you stuck.

    Once you identify the emotions undermining your success to move forward, you can begin resolving them. Once resoved, you feel liberated which is quite empowering not to mention motivating!

    Think about a goal you might have right now. Perhaps it’s a business or financial goal, or maybe a health and wellness goal -- whatever is important to you.

    What if you could find out what’s holding you back, sabotaging you? What if you could find out quickly and just get rid of it?

    Imagine being able to tap into higher levels of creativity, greater inspiration, improve performance. How would your success change? This is exactly how success coaching works!

    Thanks again for such a great topic. Please let me know if I may be of service to you.

    Judith (Judy) Wentzel
    Success Coach
    Charlotte, North Carolina

  12. Kay, we have missed your pithy comments and your hilarious honesty about life in and out of business. It's good to have you back.

    My wife thanks you for the tip about the Costco boxes. She never thought of the stacking trick but now she's in Seventh Heaven. I'm not sure that this is a good thing.

    Keep 'em coming! You have an amazing way of putting a funny spin on even the most mundane of subjects.

    Bob Baldwin

  13. Kay, I'm so stuck I decided to just settle in here and decorate. Also, I read. One book I recommend is "Getting Unstuck" by Timothy Butler. That said, it seems like the smartest people I know advise: Be stuck until you don't feel like being stuck anymore.

    Christine Osborne
    Transition Navigator at Discovering What's Next & Creative Director/Writer
    Greater Boston Area

  14. Funny, funny stuff. Maybe you need a change of profession. Have you considered writing full time?

  15. I was so glad I was wearing my LBL protection and not drinking any liquid while reading this one.

    Love the blog, Kay. It's so real because I just came out of a period like that. I'm working on a book about it. How stuck was I? So stuck Super Glue is suing for patent infringement...

    I have been enjoying all the comments too. What I discovered is that "stuck" is really a human thing, not a personal character flaw. It's part and parcel of the grief/mourning stage of dealing with the loss of your job. Laugh when you can. Be especially forgiving to yourself. Face the cold of "career winter" with thanks and good cheer. Be with your friends. This too shall pass.

    Edis Stanford-Bruce
    Creative Writer
    Reston, VA

  16. Yo (that's how we say hi in Philadelphia) Kay,

    I must say this blog on being stuck made me giggle. I enjoy a good irreverent sense of humor - as opposed to corporate speak or new age buzz words.

    I have worked as an attorney, psychologist, and a career and life coach. I understand the challenges of career change, and how being unhappy in your work can be a drain on your entire life. I find most people need some direction and guidance to get "unstuck".

    You definitely have a dry wit and the ability to poke fun at the ridiculousness of the usual moribund hiring practices. These are two talents you may want to consider when you are ready to face the world again.

    If you or your readers are interested, I would be happy to consult on how to use creative brainstorming to get "unstuck" in the future. In the meantime, have some fun and vent - this is not a waste of time. Self-healing comes in many forms.

    Decorating tip: A good friend of mine uses brightly colored fabrics from the polynesian islands to hide his apartment clutter. The designs are so beautiful, that no one focuses on what is underneath the fabric.

    Best wishes!

    Dr. Seth Kaufman
    Creative Vision Coaching
    Philadelphia, PA

  17. In March of 2003 I was diagnosed with advanced stage glaucoma and lost sight in my right eye and partial sight in my left eye. I needed four surgeries and time to readjust to a life without sight. I felt powerless because I was financially dependent on my family. I lost my identity, my purpose and most of all the choice to be authentic.

    I needed to work from home, since driving was no longer an option and became a life coach and motivational speaker. My message became the importance to live your own the life regardless of your circumstances. I woke up one day and decided I was going to live by my own values, and make my own lifestyle choices. My life began to dramatically change.

    The wall color and hand-me-down furniture in my home symbolized the control and influence I allowed others to have in my environment. I felt locked into other peoples’ values and decisions. When I made some different personal choices and simple changes I began to experience the power of Positive change. This decision represents a whole lifestyle change not just a wall color, but it started with the choice to create my environment and paint my walls green. I am no longer "tolerating" other people's choices in my environment.

    To be totally authentic we must take responsibility for our decisions.
    Think about your own life. Look around you, your home, and your workspace; does it reflect "you"? Or does it reflect other people's choices.

    I didn’t know it was my choice all along!
    Check out my newly released book "Paint Your Walls Green, Six Keys to Unlock the Power of Positive Change" on my website at www.jblifecoach.com

    Janie Behr
    Louisville, Kentucky

  18. I do a radio show and I have a fabulous interview with Libby Gill, an internationally respected executive coach, speaker and bestselling author. Her tips on how to get unstuck at work and in life might be helpful http://tinyurl.com/yzhbhbo

    I also tell my clients and listeners: whenever you feel stuck, take a 3-min break to breath (to relax), have an orange to boost immunity and get in a better mood (the skin) and to think how to get out of your comfort zone:-)

    Breathe, smile and be happy.

    Irina Wardas
    Owner at NaturalCounselor.com
    San Diego, California

  19. Never stop believing in yourself! I believe we have all felt "stuck" at some point in our lives. Whether it was from a career change or boredom, from doing the same mundane tasks day in and day out. You have to believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how long that tunnel may seem. You will eventually get to another destination that will bring you new challenges and experiences. Having friends and family that inspire you is priceless. I always think about my children even though they are all young adults. They keep me going when times are tough. We all have are own beacons to guide and light the way. Find it and inspire yourself!

    Marcela Fink
    President/Owner, Choice Technology, Inc.
    Maimi/Fort Lauderdale Area

  20. Life is too short to be "stuck". If you feel stuck, try a new activity - dancing, yoga, join a hiking group. About 10 years ago, I felt "stuck" & decided to get out of my comfort zone & raise money for Leukemia & train for a marathon. Along the way, I met wonderful new friends, traveled to Alaska, and helped a worthy cause.

    I just got back from a trip to Cabo taking my young adult sons - age 27 & 29 & encouraging them to get outside of their comfort zone - parasailing & snorkeling. What great fun to enjoy watching your family learn something new.

    PS: Probably my most amazing trip was for my 50th birthday - 2 years ago - traveled with my significant other, Nick, through Morocco & the night before my birthday rode a camel into the Sahara dessert - woke up on my 50th to the sunrise in the Sahara.

    Terri Weber
    Member Relationship Manager
    Greater Louisville Metro Chamber of Commerce
    Louisville, Kentucky

  21. Being stuck in life is a state of mind, and sadly, it reflects a focus on the self. The best cure for being stuck is to look around, enjoy what you have, and think of how can you make a difference in someone else's life! Instant joy and satisfaction follow. You work on this every day and pull yourself together, and one day you wonder when someone uses that expression "stuck in life", why would he/she think that! Good luck :)

    Stefany Almaden
    President/CEO the Almaden Group, Inc.
    Hospital and Health Care Consultant
    Pasadena, California

  22. Absolutely. Try doing something for someone else you think might be stuck or "down" and offer them help. For example, phone someone who is grieving a loss, make a dinner for someone who is sick, call someone you think is lonely. It gets us out of ourselves and being productive and compassionate--a great cure for the blues or being stuck.

    Nannette Rundle Carroll
    Author, The Comunication Problem Solver
    Owner, Professional Training Consultant
    San Francisco Bay Area

  23. Actually, I quite agree with these ideas. In fact, I have held a long philosophy that when you can’t do anything to make yourself feel better, go out and try to make someone else feel better. It is for this reason that I regularly work with the Family Promise Homeless program. My husband and I have an 80-year-old friend that we try to take out to Sunday brunch and/or a movie each week. I virtually always give rides to at least two or three folks after religious services each week. It’s a good thing to make other people feel better. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it changes the way you personally feel, however. You do it because it’s the right thing to do. Not because you think it will be of any benefit to you – that’s just another road to disappointment. Now that the Olympics are over, however, I have taken Laurel excellent advice and am planning to move my allegiance from ice dancing to Dancing With the Stars (although during this “gap period” I am watching American Idol). As I said before, it’s difficult but one makes due.

  24. Kay, bravo to a well-written article. I completely understand the stuck feeling as I, too, am on the search for employment and get frustrated myself. However, I have the opposite problem. Although I am not a neat freak by any means and can wallow with the best, when I'm ultra-stressed, I get to cleaning. I think I've steamed my carpet 5 times in the last 4 months and my windows sparkle. My friends always know when I'm not at my best; when my apartment is perfectly spotless, there's a storm brewing!!

    Hang in there, Kay! But you just may be onto something with these tips. A book deal coming maybe? Weirder blogs have made it happen! ;-)


  25. Love your screen name: I wanted to name my alter ego blog DangerousChicks.com to talk about all the things no one really says out loud, but are thinking.

    Haha, Been there, done that :-) You are not alone...I sweep things into boxes to do at a later, much later time when I just don't have the energy to tackle it. Good tip.

  26. Great post! It is hard to feel the motivation to do housework when you're in a slump. Thanks for the tips! Most ingenious :-)

    Yip the luge guys are completely barmy - I'd say more but I need to head to the supermarket to find some storage trays ...

  27. Kay, your blog is totally entertaining. Are you stuck or just fallen into a niche? It sounds like you could use some of the skills you are playing with now. I just wrote a blog you might like "4 Tips to Break the Stuck Spell." http://firedupforsuccess.blogspot.com .

    Mary Lyn Miller
    Redondo Beach, California

  28. Kay, I have gotten stuck any number of times in my life. What you need is inspiration, girlfriend. I went back and read a number of other posts and I'm lovin' it! Your tale of being hacked on Twitter is awesome. Love your stories about job hunting and recruiter tips. Somehow, you manage to combine a lot of information into a blog that is entertaining and fun to read. The only person who doesn't seem to love you is you!

    And the blog name is priceless. You have real moxie. (Yes, Seth, we talk like that in Omaha.)

    Samantha Brothers

  29. Hope you get yourself back soon, your tips on procrastination however are excellent :-)

    Will keep an eye out for the right kind of 'housework help' boxes when I am next in Costco :-)


  30. A sunny day (finally) and pruning shears = therapy!

    Now if only someone could prune my dead wood, and maybe fix my aching back too.

    Susan Copenhaver, CID, IIDA
    Norfolk, Virginia

  31. Hi Kay

    Hello from even further than the other side of the pond - London, England. No, I haven't met the Queen and I don't know your friend John who also lives in England. However, I have just had some tea and might even have a scone later. And if you don't know what a scone is, go and read Jeeves & Wooster by P.G.Wodehouse. I say, what-ho! Dash it all, what?!

    Now that I've got my Very British Drivel opening out of my system, I must say that I loved this post. I may be a tea-drinking, scone-eating Brit, but some of it was pretty much like reading my diary from today (had I written one - too busy watching a re-run of the first Formula 1 grand prix of the year to do that.)

    Time wasting, procrastinating, and kidding myself that I'm doing something constructive is all part of the creative process, it seems to me. Unless you're George Bernard Shaw - and you aren't, because he's dead - then does anyone really, I mean *really* sit down from 9-5 each day and write? I'm at my most creative in the evenings. But then again, evenings is when I have my guilty pleasures like Heroes, Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives. Yes, yes, I know - all complete nonsense. And yet strangely addictive. I think the fact that I want to punch Teri Hatcher most of the time is the reason I watch it. And I'm so appalled by some of the acting in Ugly Betty that it feeds my inner psycho. Heroes? Gotta love Hiro...

    See? There I go again - talking drivel. I haven't even mentioned your Costco boxes. Maybe I'll save that for another day when I have more, er, time...


  32. Thank you for this wonderful post. It is true that people can spy on you through the video lens in your laptop. That is the only way you could see so clearly into my world.

    I am a huge fan of the "box" method to declutter, and now I will save money using the Cosco resources.

    And talk about innovation - I love the idea of using the washer and dryer as night stands.

    My personal perspective is that simply by noticing that you are stuck is the beginning of moving toward becoming unstuck!

    Joyfully yours,
    Mary Elizabeth

  33. Hello Kay,
    I can totally understand your position, especially when you or someone you know is in that "stuck" area. No job, no options and things just seem to keep swirling and swirling.

    I am dealing with the opposite side of watching someone, a dear loved one swirl around. But I know that they are better than that and can do better, but sometimes it just helps to hear it from someone else who is going through it.

    It shows that we are all human and susceptible to life.

    Keep your head up!

    Carol Dunlop

  34. The fact that you are able to talk about your life in the "stuck" zone with such humour leads me to believe that you will move out of it soon. Maybe on some level it's O.K. that you lost your last job, because there is something better out there waiting - something more appropriate for you at this time.

    Still, it's that in between "stuck" space, that is stressful & just doesn't feel good - waiting for the sign to do.......what next? I have felt stuck more times than I care to remember, and did find a few tricks which prevented my life and household from getting way out of control. Don't know if this would work for you, but it did for me.

    I have certain pieces of music that just seem to boost my energy level, so I'd put them and just couldn't feel depressed while listening. It was the oddest thing, but it was like flipping a switch.

    Then, I took some B complex several times a day B complex is rapidly depleted when you're under stress)along with a natural stress relief formula. This helped me cope better and move through the inertia.

    Now, this next trick I fought like the devil, but it worked - I made a list of things to do in the order of most importance and promised to start and finish at least four things that day. I mapped out on paper the specific times/hours I would devote to these tasks each day and then crossed them off my list upon completion. I did not answer the phone at this time or let anything interrupt.

    I also scheduled times to get out of the house, leave it behind and do some fun physical activity like walking or dancing.The physical exercize made me feel so much better and gave my mind a rest since I had to focus on something else.

    There are other tricks too, but it's getting late and I promised to clear up the coffee table before going to bed! LOL

    Keep writing,Kay:It's one of your gifts - Susan

  35. I know your in non-profit so way don't you check this out for work.

    I wanted to get this video into your hands as I felt it would be a great program for your organization to use as so many others have. Here is the link to the brief video overview:
    Introduction to Loan Home for Organizations
    I look forward to following up with you once you've had a chance to review the information.


  36. Dear VoIp Call Center:

    I tried to follow-up with you but unfortunately your Voip Call Center link takes me to an empty blogger box with no information. The loanhomeonline.com link took me to an interesting program with no contact information other than a common info request. I googled VoIP Call Center and found a lot of stuff but no contact info.

    I can only say that from what I have read about the Loan Home for Organizations program, it may not be possible for the Hawaii Women's Business Center to participate in this program. They are funded in part by a federal grant from the SBA, which has tight controls on what they may or may not do.

    The Hawaii Women's Business Center is an excellent resource for getting a small business loan under one of several federal SBA programs. These loans are strictly small business loans, but have excellent terms, consumer-friendly repayment plans and, because they are guaranteed in part by the federal government, many banks are more willing to lend the needed money.

    There may be restrictions written into the SBA contract, however, that would disallow direct participation in outside home loan programs, however. Since I am no longer ED at the Center, I can only suggest that you contact them directly at www.HWBC.org

    But thanks for the suggestion!