Many of my clients are overachievers, people who have so much to do or so much they want to do, but with that, comes anxiety and stuckness. Take the time you had 9 big things on your to-do list and instead of knocking them out like the badass you are, you're stalking celebrities social media, looking up ideas on Pinterest or tempted by a nap. Or when you set a New Years resolution to get back to creative pursuits, but for 3 weeks straight, you've been binging your favorite historical period drama/action/love story (totally not me folks, just an example).
There's a few tips and techniques I like to share with clients, that I use myself, and have found to be helpful in getting started or breaking down something that seems overwhelming. Neither are my original ideas, so I take no credit for these, simply the messenger.
1) I don't recall where I learned this technique, otherwise I'd give the author/creator credit. When you have a number of items on your to-do list and you have several hours open to complete them, chances are you get overwhelmed with where to begin and 3 hours later, you've only completed a fraction of what you imagined you could do in that time (this is an actual phenomenon whose name escapes me at the moment).
When I was in private practice my first time around, I was in constant "marketing mode" - creating content for blogs, handouts, updating my website, just trying to create anything meaningful that spoke to people. I'd frequent coffee shops to work and have a 2-hour time block to get much of this done. I'd leave with very little to show for it. Until...
I came across this technique. I started meeting up with a colleague to make this more fun. But it's quite simple:
-Set a timer for 25 minutes and pick out an item on your to-do list
-Dedicate yourself in those 25 minutes to that item
-When your timer goes off, set a 5-minute timer to chat, use the bathroom, get a snack, stand up, whatever you like
-Set another 25-minute timer and get back to work
-Rinse, wash, repeat
We would do this for 2 hours and in doing so, would have 4 segments that divided up our time and kept us on task.
2) The second technique is for getting started, especially with something creatively. This I pulled from The Artist's Way - a wonderful resource I recommend to so many clients who want to tap into their creativity. When you are experiencing writer's block (or a metaphorical writer's block with a different art medium), take the pressure off of creating your masterpiece. Begin by writing 3 pages in a journal, every morning (or whenever you can squeeze it in). You can write "I don't know what to write about" for 3 pages, it truly doesn't matter.
It was really quite amazing what I found when I began this practice. I'd work out problems I didn't know I was having, I'd come up with ideas that spurred bigger ideas, I'd process things that were upsetting me or creating distress and find resolution. I am NOT a journaler, I have failed to ever keep a journal consistently (or have the desire to). But this practice was so wonderful and eye-opening, I recommend it to a vast majority of my clients.
Perhaps these tools could help you find progress in your to-do list, tap back into creativity or simply add a bit more structure in your life!