At one o’clock in the afternoon, I turned off my computer and headed to bed. The grayness of the English winter didn’t help how I was feeling. I felt like I’d been given a permission slip to curl up under the covers–tablet in hand–and get lost in Netflix or Facebook or something else. Anything other than work.
I can’t blame the dull weather for my feelings, though. At the root of it was my overwhelming-never ending-insurmountable to-do list. Most days I can stay focused and not let it overpower me. And then there are days like this.
Days when I’m drowning in quicksand from the moment I wake up. And the feeling persists as the day wears on until I feel defeated.
There’s so much to do that somehow my brain decides to just….well…tune out.
Facing what seems to be too much to do, my mind raises a white flag and walks off the battlefield, surrendering in defeat.
What’s the point?
I don’t know where to start.
I’ll never finish everything.
I don’t feel inspired to write or practice or market or anything.
I might as well do nothing.
A lazy day in bed almost won. Almost. But not quite.
I folded my to-do list in two and tucked it into the sleeve of my notebook.
Out of sight.
Then, I decided to do one thing.
Just. One. Simple. Thing.
That one thing wasn’t even on my to-do list. But it was something that made me feel productive.
I opened my email and started clearing out my inbox. It felt simple, effortless. You don’t need inspiration to clear emails. The emails that required more time, I just skipped. Everything else hit the chopping block: Open. Delay. Delete. Next.
After about 35 minutes, I was on a roll, not quite at full steam, but definitely not tempted back to bed.
I opened my notebook, unfolded my to-do list, made a random selection, and started….working.
The rest of the day unraveled as usual: no mid-day Netflix or Facebook scroll-a-thon. (It’s okay to have days like that, but it’s better to actively choose them, instead of being defeated by overwhelm.)
Now, it’s your turn.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and uninspired (they usually go together), I challenge you to do just one thing.
Don’t complicate this. If your to-do list is making you nauseous, remove it from sight. Do something that’s simple, yet productive. We’ve all got things that aren’t on our to-do list, but that still need to be done.
*Spend a few minutes clearing out your inbox (but only tackle emails that you can spend less than 5 minutes on, leave the rest for scheduled email tasks another time).
*Organize your Evernote or Dropbox or Documents.
*Move (stretch, walk, jog in place, whatever).
*Write a letter to someone you’ve been meaning to write to forever (we all have that person).
*Or something else
Decide what one thing you’re going to do that feels simple. Something that doesn’t need creative inspiration (if you’re feeling particularly uninspired). Don’t take too long with this.
Then, do one more simple thing and another and another….until you’re back on track. Afterwards, if you’re still struggling with feeling overwhelmed with your work, here’s a reminder of why you should keep going.
But first, try doing just one thing.
It’s become my mantra.