Okay so maybe overwhelmeditis is not a real word, or a real condition, but doesn’t it feel real sometimes? I’ve been trying to use the most of my long weekend to completely re-invent my freelancing business, as I mentioned in a previous post. I have a list a mile long (okay two pages) of things I need to get done this month, and the majority of that list consists of a ton of writing and planning for my freelance/content marketing business.
I felt completely overwhelmed. How in the world was I going to get anything done?
With the distinct exception of my fiction writing, I’m a total planner. If I have a lot to do, I waste a lot of time playing strategist. This is a huge flaw that I’ve been trying to overcome this year. In fact, it’s right up there at the top of my New Year’s Resolution list. Planning insomuch as it results in a list is great; without a to-do list I’m a lost cause. There’s something about seeing just how much I need to get done that puts a fire under my bum.
But while planning what to do during the month is outstanding – maybe even the week – planning what I’ll do each hour and knowing every single step that will take me there is just not necessary. I tend to think it is, but it’s not.
So today I tried something different. I just jumped in. I picked a place on the list, dove in, and started working. And in four hours I’ve officially accomplished more than I got done in the last three months.
There is really nothing to do but to start. That’s it. Once you have a list, just start. I keep a notebook of ideas, because one of the things that happens to me is that I’ll start thinking of things and go do them. Don’t do that. Rabbit trails lead nowhere.
I have a trusty composition book, and it’s full of pages of random bubbles and notes to myself. Later, once I’ve accomplished what I want to accomplish for the day, I go back and make note cards of each note I still feel is important, organize them, and make a new list. If it needs to be done this month, I’ll add it. If not, it goes on the next month’s list.
Does it feel crazy? Absolutely. I feel like I’m heading into a jungle with a machete today. It’s a little scary, super tangled, but – it’s productive. Because thanks to my broad list I know where I’m going, and thanks to my machete (which is focusing on one thing at a time, making the machete whatever I’m currently trying to cross off) I’m getting there one hack at a time.
It’s hard work. It’s insane. But it’s actually kind of fun, and I’m getting more done than I’ve ever accomplished in a matter of hours. Today I tweeted this:
You’re guaranteed to never get where you’re going if you never leave where you are.
I was having a conversation with a friend and gave her that piece of advice, and then realized it was really the advice I had finally taken for myself. Thinking about things and planning them is never going to get them done. It’s never going to get you where you want to be. And it’s never going to help you figure out what you want to do, or what the next right action is.
Knowing where I need to be next involves a lot of trying and failing, and that’s okay. The more things that crash and burn, the closer you are to the thing you need to be doing that will work.
So keep going. Keep trying. And if you have a list staring you in the face, just jump in!