What do you say to yourself when you need to slow down a little bit? It’s not humanly possible to simultaneously push forward in EVERY area of your life. But it’s definitely not easy to put something on hold that is truly important to you.
Even in this community—I know there are people here who WANT to get organized, but need to get some other things in place first so they can be in the right frame of mind.
Or there might be a goal that you are aching to achieve, but it isn’t the very highest priority right now.
How do you keep the hope alive without overwhelming yourself?
We’ve gathered some ideas from our Steps to Everyday Productivity (STEP) community and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Tips from our community:
1. Do a mind sweep.
Are there any tasks or projects that are weighing on your mind?
Are there any problems that you would like to address?
What is causing you stress?
Are there any routines that need to be implemented?
Take 5-10 minutes to brainstorm anything that is causing you stress. Once it is out of your brain and on paper, you can process those items into appropriate lists. This also gives you the mental space you need to focus on the projects that are most important.
2. Consider impact and priority.
In The One Thing by Gary Keller, he asks, “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
As you look at all the projects on your list, you’ll want to take some time to rearrange them. Which one project (or two) will build the most momentum and resonate most with your values? Move it to the top of your list.
Many people like to start by organizing their office spaces. Others choose to conquer something like back taxes (because then the stress won’t weigh on their minds).
We did an informal survey of our STEP community and found that these were the first projects they chose to complete:
- Catching up on paperwork
- Cleaning the office
- Organizing the budget and all the financial stuff
- Getting our will done
- Setting up the Command Central
- Starting my business
Eric did a project brainstorm by category inside Excel:
And then he gathered the top projects into a very focused Current Projects List:
If you have projects with deadlines they will also need to take priority, especially as that deadline approaches.
3. Find ways to increase your focus.
Once you’ve determined what project is most important (both overall and right now), look for ways you can work on tasks for that project without distractions. Here are a few ideas:
- Focus at only ONE task at a time and finish it completely.
- Try setting a time for 10 to 15 minutes. When you complete one task, move on to something else or take a break.
- Reduce interruptions. Turn on notifications on your phone and let people around you know that you will be available in 30 minutes or an hour. Find times or places to work when people are less likely to interrupt. Ex: wake up early or stay up late, go to the library, etc.
- Give yourself something to work towards. A simple reward to look forward to can make a big difference!
- Be selective in the outside resources you choose to follow. Our team member Danielle explained this really well:
One thing that has helped me the most the past year, is also to really drastically limit what outside resources I am pooling. I am SO good at gathering information (good things!) but it often reminds me where I am NOT. So I am cutting back on some really good and favorite things and being ultra selective with my ted talks, podcasts, information books and opting out completely of social media (except this group!). It is amazing how much more hope I feel when I am not regularly overwhelming my mind with MORE (even though it is good). 🙂
Creating and maintaining a Current Projects List and Next Actions List can also help with increasing focus. When you have time, you don’t have to sift through all the ideas and tasks that are pending, because they have already been filtered into a prioritized list! (If you’re interested in learning how to create and use these lists, we have a free training for you–linked in the resources below!)
4. Get back into balance.
Sometimes we get so focused on one task, project, or area of our life that everything else gets out of control and feels overwhelming. Taking a break to get caught up in the other areas of our life can give us the lift we need to keep going!
5. Ask for help.
Sometimes all we need is a new approach to a big project to help it feel more doable. Reaching out to friends and family can be a great way to get ideas! Someone might have access to a resource you haven’t tried before or may simple do things a way you hadn’t considered.
It can also make a difference to delegate. If you find you’re neglecting something that will move an important project forward, consider delegating it or asking for help.
Whether simply asking for new ideas or looking for some help, a simple way to do this is to post your question or problem on social media–quick and easy! (This is a great benefit of Facebook groups, like our STEP Mastery Facebook group: you can ask your questions to a group of like-minded people who are working towards similar goals!)
5. Listen to your body and let go of perfectionism.
I just stop when my body says stop. Will literally sit down and rest or sleep or whenever I need to. It will all be there for me to work on when I get back.
Today my husband got some great news from a doctors visit so we prayed, shopped, danced, cooked, and celebrated!
And I also worked on cleaning some clutter off my desk.
Now I feel refreshed and ready for a busy day tomorrow. That’s what life is about – right? ?STEP Mastery member
It’s important to give ourselves grace when we don’t have the mental or physical energy to work on our most important projects. We can honor that as we remind ourselves not to feel “guilty” about being human and needing breaks.
Sometimes we think that in order for something to count as progress, it has to be done a certain way or totally “finished.” Here is a beautiful comment from our STEP community on combatting perfectionism:
We are too hard on ourselves. Even some progress is an accomplishment. It’s hard to let go of perfection and say I did something and that’s good enough right now.
I went through years of papers and set up my freedom filer, it took a while to get through all that paper! One day a few weeks ago I pulled out the May folder just to see if there was anything there. Guess what? There was. It was the packing list and return label for my son’s online school for the books we need to return. That small thing was a huge win. Past me planned ahead for future me!
Normally I’d have put this off and would have had to call for a new list and new label to be sent. But there it was. Right where I needed it when I needed it. I haven’t actually mailed the box yet and instead of beating myself up (like I tend to do) I’m still impressed that the stuff was in that folder where it needed to be.
It’s a mental challenge all of this. Organization and routine aren’t actually that hard. I truly believe it’s self limiting beliefs, etc that stop us from getting things done. That’s the hard part is getting over what stops us. I have not finished the program but I did a couple of major things that have helped me so I’ve accepted that’s ok for now because it’s better than where I was. When I’m ready I will continue. I’m gearing up to revamp my command central. Now that I see what papers or tasks I delay dealing with I have a better idea going through that module again where I can set myself up better.Suzanna Hartman
Our limiting beliefs can hold us back. If you’re looking for an exercise that can help you identify some concrete mindset shifts so you can get “unstuck” –April shared one here!
We all have days where our plans are derailed–and that’s okay. Ask yourself, “What CAN I do?” We may not be able push forward to the degree that we want in most things, but we can often do a small thing to keep momentum. Or just take a break! That space can be just what we need to make a breakthrough or have a new creative thought.
QUESTION: What’s the ONE thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? – Gary Keller, The One Thing
CHALLENGE: Take a few minutes to do a mind sweep of the projects weighing on your mind. Glance through and pull the top 1-2 projects into your focused Current Projects List.
Want to learn more about using a Current Projects and Next Actions List? We’ll teach you all about it in our free training, How to Stop Drowning in Piles. Can’t wait to see you there!
*The One Thing by Gary Keller
For an exercise to help you change your limiting beliefs to liberating truths, check out this post!
***This page includes affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Agnes Koker says
looking forward to not drowning in piles
Taryn Wood says
Agnes, thanks for being here! We’re excited for you and know that you’ll find great success as you more forward one small step at a time. 🙂
Thank you SO much for this post. It is incredibly helpful.
I am inspired and have renewed hope.
Jessica Jackson says
I just finished my mind sweep and there were 96 projects on my list! I’m absolutely using Eric’s system to figure out what to tackle first!