If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need a way to sort out all the stuff on your to-do list. A long list is useful but what’s really the priority? I’ve noticed if you keep a log for three days, you’ll figure out priorities super quickly. It shows you what you really think is important.
Recently, I did my Sifting Your Time Soil activity from Leaf Your Troubles Behind again. I designed it so readers could sort out the stuff that overwhelmed them and manage it all better. I nicked the strategy from business consultant David Allen and modified it for busy women and moms. It’s amazing what you discover.
What I Learned
First, categorizing things forces you to make tough but spirit-lifting decisions. For instance, when you decide vacuuming the car, which you may have thought of as a Must Do task, actually belongs in a Let Go slot, you feel liberated to forget about it and move on. Later, if you decide to do it, it’ll be a surprising win that will boost your spirit.
Also, when you take a hard look at the tasks before you, you realize delegating can save you. Perhaps, your spouse could pay the bills and your kids could empty the dishwasher. When our kids were in elementary school, we paid a quarter to whoever wanted to empty the dishwasher. It worked great, until they hit middle school when we had to turn that Hand Off chore into things like raking leaves, taking out garbage, and such.
The biggest thing I noticed was all the time I wasted. One small example: from about 4:30 to 5:00 on certain weekdays, I aimlessly checked social media. I took that extra half hour and slotted it into Me Time. That inspired me to use it better. I decided to get outside somehow: take a short walk with the dog, roam the garden, check the garage for things to give away, etc. Putting something light but active in those windows helped me feel more productive and in the moment.
I wish you a productive day!
I just finished a story on Medium about wasting writing time and 50 ways I’ve done that. When you get to middle age as I am, you realize how precious time is, which also makes you regret the time you’ve wasted. Granted, I haven’t wasted all of my time. I wrote during my 20s and 30s and have even published work, but I often feel like I could have produced more had I been more focused on the right things.
What Are the Right Things?
Figuring out what those right things are is never easy. What seems important at the time seems trivial later. What may seem trivial at the time actually is life-changing later. And was it worth it is the final question. This is what I’ve come to learn is a part of living life.
50 Ways to Not Write
Still, I spent too much time doing meaningless things I wish I hadn’t. They’re not anything terribly painful or heartbreaking, just the usual pedestrian things middle class people do without thinking. I found in making the list that most of what I did that was useless involved shopping, watching things I didn’t have to watch, interacting with people who didn’t give much back emotionally or psychologically, and reconfiguring my home.
The full article is on Medium. I’m grateful for any “claps” I receive. Here’s the post.
When I’m pressed for time, I put tasks off until later. So I’ve decided to do what I do when I’m convinced I have no time to garden in my yard. I think, “I can’t weed right now, I’ve got to take make dinner. Besides, the garden is a mess. I need a bigger chunk of time on another day to clean it up.” I trick myself. I promise myself that I’m going to work for a small amount of time: 15 minutes, a half-hour, hour, etc. This gives me a hard stop in my head. I promise myself freedom. I give myself an out. “If I weed one-sixth of the garden and the rest is still a mess, that’s okay. I accomplished a goal.”
How It Works
The trick works. I always focus for the allotted time. More often than not, I go beyond the allotted time. A half-hour passes and I’m on a roll. I’m into it. I’m cleaning up the weeds and seeing bare dirt and I want push on. I want to make at least half the border look good, then I’ll go in. And that is what I do. I’m not going to say, “And then I cleaned up the entire border and I’m awesome!” I do just the secondary, slightly bigger goal and that’s it.
You’d be surprised what can be accomplished in an hour. I know this from working as a professional on the clock. Sometimes an entire garden can be cleaned up. Sometimes not. The point is to set the bar low and either reach it or go beyond it. The task transforms from being overwhelming to doable. In pieces, it’s downright manageable. And often, because it was simpler and more doable than you thought, you end up inspired to do more the next day.
Just Do Writing
Writing is different. You have to psychologically be in a quiet space. It’s harder to transition into as I talked about here. But I find, even if it’s opening a story I’ve already written and tweaking it, that if I try working on my writing for a short time, I accomplish goodness. Even it’s a little something. Then I have the words staying in my head. Later, I get new ideas. I get back into living in the story. I’m more apt to say to myself, “OK, you have an hour before lunch, let’s just dive in and start typing. See what happens.” It’s almost the National Novel Writing Month approach. Just do it! Don’t procrastinate because it won’t be good. Dive in and see what happens. I finally bought in to that approach this last November. What happened was I finished the draft of a bad clunky novel. But I accomplished that. Now my goal is to revise it whenever I have a free 15 minutes, half-hour, or hour.