I’ve heard that when someone asked Ernest Hemingway how to begin to write a novel, his response was “First you defrost the refrigerator.”
Do you have a project you’ve been putting off forever? Are you feeling like you’ll never complete it because it feels too big and overwhelming? Maybe you’ve begun and then put it on hold to do something else and never gotten back to it. Or you haven’t even started it.
My friend and client Keri told me about a brilliant idea for a business. She was working a full time job and couldn’t quit until she had her business rolling but the thought of all she had to do to get to that point felt overwhelming. She imagined taking an unpaid sabbatical to work on her business but kept finding reasons she couldn’t take time off. The whole project just seemed too big to tackle so she felt paralyzed. An entire year went by and she did nothing.
Here’s how we solved her dilemma and got her business going. We made a list of all the things that would have to happen before she could launch her business. I helped her put the tasks in order and then asked her to commit just 2 hours a week to this list. Some weeks she worked the 2 hours straight on a Saturday. Other times, she found it easier to take fifteen or twenty minutes in the morning and do one thing on the list. Some days, it was simply a phone call or sending one email. Imagine if she’d done that a year prior? Instead of feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, she’d have put in over a hundred hours in tiny increments and have her business up and rolling.
If you’re like many of us, you have an idea for something that could make a big difference in your life or career but you just can’t seem to ever get to it.
In my private consulting, group coaching and also in the Mastermind Groups that I facilitate with Barbara Winter , I see this often.
Here are several ways you can get out of overwhelm and get that project launched once and for all:
- Break your BIG idea down into small, manageable parts. (Think about Keri’s 15-20 minutes a day. That’s 104 hours a year. Or if your project involves completing 90 tasks, do one small thing a day and you’ll have it nailed in three months.
- Make appointments with yourself to complete incremental tasks more frequently. Rather than wait until you can take a couple of weeks off to work on your project, schedule each small step on your calendar.
- Reward yourself for completing each piece. My favorite activity is walking my dog in nature so I promise myself that once I complete a particular chunk of work, often a tiny piece, I get to take a walk on the beach, by the lake or in the woods.
- Pay yourself. Seriously. You know that gorgeous lamp you covet for your home office but you don’t feel right spending the money until you have your business going? Try this: every time you mark off one item on your to-do list, put a dollar in your “purple lamp fund jar” and in six months, you’ll have your business launched AND $180. for the lamp.
- Track your progress. Try what my friend Laura did last winter when she was feeling particularly unproductive. One evening she sat down and made a list of every small thing she had done all day. Then she titled it “to-do today” and checked each item off. Particularly if you’ve been telling yourself you’re a procrastinator, listing even the tiniest tasks can give you a sense of accomplishment which will keep your momentum going.
If you are ready to tackle that BIG project now but need help lining up the priorities and implementing the above steps,
GO HERE to find out more about how I can help you develop a personal ACTION PLAN to get out of overwhelm and finally get it done.