I spend significant portions of my day stressing–unproductive stressing over things I cannot address at that particular moment.
For example, I’ve wanted to update this blog’s email subscription to a new format for months. MONTHS.
But there’s always a million other things to do, too, and that project is a time-consuming one. So it sits. And every day that I don’t get it done, I end up stewing and stressing over it: When will I get this done? How will I get this done? Will I ever even have the time needed to get this done? This should have been done already. I should do it right now.
Except I can’t. Because, for example, I’m at work and doing job-related things (which are also important). Or I am overloaded taking care of other things, like finishing my book club read or writing my next blog post or maintaining wordhaus. Or I’m out at dinner with my husband. Or it’s 1 a.m. and I desperately need to get to sleep. Etc.
Basically, I feel like I’m doing everything all the time, and there’s never any end to it. And the weight of that frequently becomes all-consuming.
Is this just me? Do other creatives pushing out side projects and balancing work and family and, oh yeah, maybe a life, feel this way too? (Tell me how you cope in the comments!)
We’ve been having trouble with our puppy lately . Even though we already housebroke her, she’s been having accidents left and right again. (No really, this is related. Hang tight.) I’ve been really freaked out about why she’s doing this, and how to fix it.
Luckily last weekend we hung out with some friends with two dogs. These guys are real veterans at this stuff. So when they asked about our puppy, I told them the truth. Easy fix! they said—just get her back to basics. Lay it on thick with the positive reinforcement. Praise. Treats. Just like when you started training her.
The dog hasn’t had an accident since. Bam.
But this made me realize that I need to get back to basics with my task management, too. I’ve let my tasks get unruly, and now I’m paying the price. I don’t need to be running frantic all the time.
In fact, last year, I started writing out master to-do lists with everything I needed to on them, from posting a blog to finishing a book. Big tasks get broken into smaller ones that can be done in 60 minute increments. I wrote a day next to each item … and then, bam!, I did it on that day.
It’s not rocket science. But it does work.
And it’s beautiful. Just knowing that everything I have to do is all written down in one place gives me immeasurable peace of mind. Crossing something off that list each day helps me move steadily toward both my short-term and long-term goals. Even better, it allows me to have time to rest, too, rather than always hustling, because I know have a plan in place to get me where I need to go.
I am carrying my to-do notebook with me everywhere now. And ever since I got back to this habit, I’ve been breathing a little easier. And sleeping better, too. Slow but steady wins the race.
Tell me … how do you keep your to-dos from getting out of hand?