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DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who constantly crosses my boundaries by asking intrusive, personal questions about things like financial matters. How do I address this without making it confrontational? — Crossing the Line
DEAR CROSSING THE LINE: Decide what you want to share with this friend and what is off limits. Take the time to think about this since it seems to come up a lot. Also think about why this person keeps asking. Are they naturally nosy? Do they want to help you? What is their motivation for the constant questioning?
Next time they come with the barrage of questions, stop them. Ask them “why” questions: Why are you asking me about this? Why do you want to know? Get them to open up and share what’s on their mind. People are generally so fixated on themselves that these answers are probably all about them. It could be that they are fascinated by how you live the life you do. They could be curious about how you are able to manage your expenses based on their perception of your income compared to theirs. They may be envious that you can afford things they cannot. Ask so that you can learn.
Even so, you do not have to answer. When questions come up that go past your comfort level, you can simply not respond. Allow silence to fill the space. You can say you do not want to talk about that. You can say that topic is off limits. You can ask them to stop with the inquisition. You don’t owe them anything.
DEAR HARRIETTE: What strategies or methods can I use to enhance productivity and overcome procrastination habits? I’m seeking practical techniques that I can incorporate into my daily routine to help me prioritize tasks effectively, maintain focus and consistently meet deadlines without succumbing to my tendency to procrastinate. — Stop Procrastinating
DEAR STOP PROCRASTINATING: I am a big believer in lists. I make a list for every day — though I like to make it the day before — that outlines the tasks that must be completed the next day. I break the list down into categories: personal, home, health, finances. Then I move on to work items. Because I work on multiple projects at a time, I list the projects and break each one down into manageable tasks that can be completed within a day or a short period of time. I also list future projects and goals and similarly break those down into small enough components that they can be achieved. I check off what I have completed throughout the day so that I can stay aware of small victories. This fuels my motivation to keep working on my list.
Most important is creating the list at least the day before. In that way, when you wake up, you are immediately preparing to execute your plan rather than needing to carve out time to make the plan. Each evening, you review your to-do list to note what you completed and how, and what is left on the list. Then you refine the list for the next day so that you will be ready to execute the new plan when you get up. It works!