You know those days where you have a thousand things to do but you just can’t seem to get started on any of them? They are the most frustrating and confidence breaking days and it just seems like there is nowhere to turn. You know that feeling when you have no idea where to start… and it all just seems far, far, far too difficult… and impossible… and scary…. and really just too much… and it seems a much better idea to give up, curl into a ball and watch Netflix with a blanket over your head? Well I know those days. Let me share some of the things that help me get started when it all seems too much.
- Write a list – Sometimes the worst part is that you don’t fully appreciate how much you need to do. So spell it out. What exactly is there to be done? Write the things down. You will find your thousand things to do is most likely more like 3 or 4. And each of those has a few achievable parts to it. Divide everything into tasks and subtasks. Start big picture and then expand. And my advice is to hand write it. I don’t know what it is, but something about that tactile motion of putting hand to pen to paper really can calm your head down. Otherwise plug it into your favourite list app. Now look over your list and start with the small steps. Or just stare at it for a bit and realise that now you know what you need to do you can take it on piece by piece. If you still aren’t ready to go keep working down the steps…
- Take the lazy way in – Find a way to inspire yourself. If you have to write an article go read some other articles. If you have to prepare for an audition go listen to the soundtrack of the show you are looking at. If you are supposed to be picking a song go sing some of your old favourites even though you don’t know what you’re looking for. Do something that is minimally related that impacts your space as little as possible. This will get your mind working towards your goal. It’s certainly better than staring at the ceiling. As much as you want to jump in and get things done quickly this may be your best way to escape “doing nothing” mode.
- Get out of your space – Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. Go to the park or the beach or the library. Take a pad of paper or a laptop (maybe don’t take the laptop to the beach) and escape the place where everything is too hard. Write down some ideas, hum some tunes to yourself, sing out into the world from the safety of your car. Sometimes its just the reset you need. When the noise starts to settle it will be a lot easier to get started.
- Set a limit – Dedicate a short amount of time – for instance an hour. Say you will do as much as you can in that hour and then you will stop. Put a reward at the end of it like a tv show or a trip to the shops. The reality is it’s that first hour that will be the hardest because you know you have so much still ahead of you. So cut off the scary part and limit your time to just that. If you get something done that’s great. If you don’t then you’ve only wasted an hour. Do something even if it seems pointless. Sing the song wrong. Make a list of things vaguely related to the topic. Don’t stop or let yourself be distracted until time is up. And then the second the buzzer goes off walk away. You need to keep your promises to yourself. When you come back your brain will have kicked in a bit more because it will still be working while you are out and about. Even if you are suddenly on a roll stop for at least a little bit and grab some water or do some stretches before you keep going. You have showed yourself that you can do this and your head will be more raring to go.
- Do something else you need to do – Clean the oven. Do the groceries. Pay your electricity bill. Want that audition prep to seem more appealing? Well it will seem a whole lot more interesting while you are taking out the garbage bin. The big important thing here is that you shift from doing NOTHING. But it is also important to keep your tasks SMALL and EASY TO ACHIEVE (maybe not the best time to start the tax return and shift focus). Not only will it make you more willing to return to what you actually (if you admit it) enjoy doing, but it will give you a sense of achievement to know you are actually pretty capable.
And whenever your mindset improves head back to step 1…
- Go back to your list – And tick off things as you achieve them. It is truly the best feeling ever. Do the easiest things first and work your way up. Oh and a nice touch is to put a reward at the end of your list and tick that one off when you get there just before you grab your reward. Catching up on that season on Netflix will be so much more enjoyable when you don’t have somewhere else to be.
Best of luck!!!