I asked the window washer what bugged him the most in his life right now. (I get bored with my own perspective sometimes.) His answer surprised me, “Having too many projects going at once. Too much to think about.” Only 30 and he’s already feeling the stress of too much to do.
His dilemma is one that I share: too many unfinished tasks hanging in the wind. I get started on one thing, then BAM another idea strikes and I start that. Then tomorrow, another. Pretty soon, my monkey-mind is frantically jumping from branch to branch and picking which task to work on first seems impossible. Sometimes that decision pressure paralyzes any action at all, and I end up putting stuff off…. again. Honing my list process was essential. It has to be physical, real ink on real paper. Thinking about 20 things all at once feels overwhelming, but seeing it all on paper makes me realize that some of those tasks only take 30 minutes. Actually five minutes, like putting off a phone call because it means listening to endless reminders that “You are very important to us so please hold for the next available….” Grrrrrr.
Sometimes there is no choice. There are deadlines, so choosing is easier. But only paying attention to what “needs” to be done means everything else gets pushed to the back burner. Pretty soon there are 25 things begging for attention. But the “ahhhhh” of finally crossing something out is high motivation to keep on plodding through. Did you ever add something to your list after you finished just for the pleasure of crossing it out?
The trick is accounting for moods. Some days you just can’t or don’t feel like doing certain things. I’ve learned to go with my gut, scanning the list over until something catches my eye. That way, I don’t totally hate what I’m doing and am more likely to finish it. Finishing something that’s been hanging over your head for a long time is such a relief. Like the pressure eased.
Summertime presents another dilemma. The sun continually invites sun lovers outside, but that’s generally not on any list. Moods blossom with plenty of vitamin D, but a better mood activates creative juices which leads to longer lists. Creative brains brains work overtime in thinking of stuff to do. Oh my, if only there was a brain-pause button.
I love getting new ideas. I hate getting new ideas.
Got any good ones lately?