I have a confession. Some days, I don’t want to write. Some days, I don’t want to do anything: write, blog, pay bills, pay taxes, register my car, go to work, fix dinner, do laundry, take out the trash, make my bed… You get the idea. Some days I don’t want to be a responsible adult. What I’d like to do on days when adulting is overwhelming is run away–to a cave (a deluxe cave with furniture and rugs) on a mountain top, a cabin in a remote forest, a boat in the middle of the ocean–and hole up far away from everyone and everything. Be a hermit. I’d like to flip a switch and put the world on pause until my head stopped swimming and I emerged from my fog.Of course, life not being a sci-fi novel, I can’t stop the world. Life goes on. Running away is impractical. You have to do stuff whether you want to or not. What do I do when flight is not an option and I have to stick around and fight? I’ve discovered a few tricks to tame the world:
Break big tasks into smaller ones. Facing 3 or 4 small problems feels less overwhelming than facing one huge problem.
Celebrate small successes. 50 words written is better than zero. Half done is better than undone and you only have half as far to go.
Get out of the house. Go to the library, a coffee shop, a co-working space and work there. A change of scenery often changes perspective.
Set deadlines. Having a target to aim for makes tasks seem finite. Due “whenever” is too nebulous for me. I find it too easy to tell myself I’ll get around to it eventually without ever getting around to it.
Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone feels overwhelmed. No one is perfect. Really.
Say no, if you can, or at least delegate. Be honest. Do you really, truly, absolutely, positively have to do it? If the answer is, “no, not really,” it’s okay not to if your cup already runneth over. Or maybe you could give someone else the opportunity. Share the load. Yes, you have to pay taxes. But perhaps an accountant could do the paperwork.
Take breaks. Sometimes a walk or a cup of tea or a cheesy movie on Netflix is exactly what your brain needs to reset itself and get back in the game. Just don’t let “I’m taking a break” turn into “I’m never going back”. Your life needs you.
How do you keep driving forward when you’d really rather not?
I’ve also learned to break up a big task into little ones. My biggest paralyzer in writing is not loving what I’ve just written. I find it really hard to press on before fixing e erything.