Lately I’ve been struggling a lot with motivation. There are so many things I want to do and make (and be!), and I’ve gotten to that point where I feel so overwhelmed that, instead of taking action, I just want to lie down, throw the covers over my head, and do nothing. (And, of course, whenever I do that, I feel guilty and terrible and even more overwhelmed.)
Indecisive about wanted to write about this week, I was sitting here (very unproductively watching endless episodes of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee) and it occurred to me that maybe this struggle — the frustration and disappointment that comes with feeling overwhelmed and, rather than tackling the tasks, doing nothing instead — is exactly the thing I should be writing about. So, rather than write about what I’ve done, as I often do, I’m writing today about what I plan to do to take small steps to make positive progress!
STEP 1 : ACCEPT WHERE YOU ARE
The first step to tackling any problem, I’ve found, is acceptance, and I think that’s quite true in this situation. First and foremost, I’ve got to accept where I am instead of frantically worrying about what haven’t yet done or fretting uselessly about what I want to accomplish. The complaining and worrying and freaking out is (clearly!) doing no good, so I’ve got to start by accepting where I am — much as I dislike this particularly unclear and frazzled time in my life. Once I begin to realize that this is where I am (and remember that it’s not where I’ll be forever!), I bet I’ll be able to feel just a tad less overwhelmed and a bit more able to take on what needs to be done.
STEP 2 : USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE
This step is actually what made me finally sit down and start writing. I was struggling and then I thought to myself, Why not try working backwards? Instead of writing and then creating an image for the blog post, why not look at the images you’ve recently created and see if you’re inspired by any of them? Of course, the first one I spotted was the one I made for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — and the perfect prompt to remind me that, wherever I am, I can get started using what I have. I might have some limitations at the moment — both physical and mental — but I still have a lot that I can work with!
STEP 3 : MAKE A (SHORT!) LIST
I’m a chronic list maker (could you tell from my listicle blog posts? ha!), but the older I get, the more I notice that lists aren’t always as productive as I think they are. Sometimes, as I mentioned, I look at that long list of to-do tasks and feel so overwhelmed I just snap my iPad shut and avoid them all together. This week I’m going to try making short, specific lists. Rather than something vague like “write next week’s blog post” it’ll be “write 5 tips about X.” Getting specific and direct with my lists might (hopefully!!) me take more action.
STEP 4 : DO THE HARD STUFF FIRST
We all have limited amounts of will power that apparently diminish over the course of a day, which means it’s important to get the stuff you really don’t want to do out of the way first. I’ve recently gotten into the habit of starting my days out slow and working more later in the day, but this week I’m aiming to get back on a get-up-and-get-to-work schedule, tackling the tasks I dislike first so that it’s more likely I’ll get them done.
STEP 5 : TRY DIFFERENT METHODS
Staying motivated, particularly if you feel like you don’t have access to the tools or mindsets you need, is challenging (which is why there are tons of books on productivity). One method that worked for me for awhile was keeping a “Done” lists alongside my “To-Do” list, where I’d track what I’d accomplished — however small! I’m going to revisit that one this week, and explore some other productivity habits (like the Pomodoro Technique, which has always intrigued me). We’re all different (and we all change, too!) so it’s probably a good idea to explore new methods when in a rut.
Wish me luck as I try to get a handle on this — and feel free to share any ideas or resources in the comments section below. I’d love to know what you do whenever you feel overwhelmed with a mountain of tasks that you’ve been putting off for months. Advice and resources greatly appreciated!