Do Things Feel Impossible? Chunk It Out!
I don't have a lot of time to contribute to the blog at the moment. It saddens me, but I have a lot going on in the next couple of weeks! So what I figured is that I would show you how I work through overwhelming times in my life in case you have similar issues pop up. I hope it's helpful to someone!
1. Recognize Stress
I used to be terrible at recognizing the buildup of stress in myself. It would pile on further and further until I would break down, usually in the form of tears. It would surprise me and cause me to shut down everything for a day or two to get back together. I don't do that anymore. Now I've trained myself to listen to my body through meditation and practice. On the daily, I remind myself that taking care of me is just as important as taking care of others. It isn't always easy and sometimes I fall back into bad habits, but I am proud of where I am. I felt that buildup inside me now, so rather than let it spill over, I am going to do something about it! Hence this post!
2. List Out What Needs Doing
Chunking out your tasks is an amazing way to get things done. I am a firm believer that if you make a list of the things you need to accomplish you not only will feel satisfied (cross making a list off of that list!) but less stressed because the items aren't dinging around in your brain wondering if you will forget about them.
So, here is what is on my docket:
Midterm grades at school (Exciting, I know, but it takes a lot fo time, so it has to be on the list)
WB Fellowship (Edit spec script, a personal statement, and an updated resume)
Disney Fellowship (Finish acts II-IV of my original pilot, personal essay, staffing pitch, and summaries)
Thesis Proposal (Edit my 20 page paper and write/edit the first 20 pages of my novel)
Blog (build up to writing daily posts, gain followers, finish making book club, finish making the competition)
Teachers Pay Teachers (Finish creating store, put up first lesson for sale, start advertisement)
At least for me, this one is a tough one! You have to decide what either A) you can do less well or B) you can put off until a later date. I will almost never choose A because I am a bit of perfectionist, which means I will press pause on something until things loosen up. Looking at my list, the two things without looming due dates were number 5 (blog) and number 6 (TPT). Both these items are extremely important, but they are more long-term goals, goals I will dedicate a lot of time to once I finish these other important tasks. So that is what I am going to do... schedule some serious time to work on them after I accomplish tasks 1-4. It pains me, but I am only human! Luckily, I think I might use some of those personal essays to create another post and double dip!
4. Put it on a Calendar!
To me, there is nothing quite like crossing something off of a to do list. I make a to do list every day of my life. There is no way I could survive teaching without one! I like to make my to do list online using Trello, but have had paper ones in the past as well. Trello allows me to add tasks quickly, and my favorite part is that by using the calendar power-up, I can visually schedule out my week. Once I started creating a weekly to do list and then putting it onto the calendar, I realized how often I would slam a bunch of stuff onto Monday and Tuesday, exhausting myself for later in the week. Now I try to make my tasks more even and my week goes much smoother!
5. Chunk it out!
When I am feeling highly unmotivated, I know I have created too big of tasks for myself. See, if I don't feel accomplished, I lose momentum. Chunking out my tasks into smaller and smaller parts helps me feel like I am moving forward. Sometimes my tasks may be bigger but if I am needing extra motivation, I will do something as small as write the teaser. The teaser is usually three pages of script writing, really not a lot, but once I finish I can cross that off and know I am heading in the right direction. Usually this leads me into getting Act I done as well—momentum is a powerful thing!
I am also a big fan of the Pomodoro Timer technique. In this technique you set an alarm for 25 minutes. During that time you do as much work as possible, no cell phones, Facebook, or other distractions allowed. Then you give yourself a short 5 minute break. After four rounds of this, you can give yourself a longer break. I like to reserve fun things for my breaks, such as spider solitaire games. Bribery, even when practiced on yourself, works!
6. Remember to Schedule Self Care!
There are some non-negotiable things on my list these days, which weren't always. The first and foremost is my sleep. In my younger years, I used to work late into the night and get up early in the morning, like a lot of Americans. I'm so glad that I cut out that nonsense and I will never look back. My productivity, when rested, is far superior than when I lack shut eye. I'm also more creative and have an even demeanor. Sleep! It's not just for kids! The other thing I no longer negotiate on is my reading time. I read every single night before bed. Some reading sessions are longer than others, but there always is one. This rejuvenates me. Find something that does the same for you.
When I started this post, I felt a bit overwhelmed to tell you the truth. Now, I feel way better! I am ready to get back at it because not only did I list out the things that I needed to get done but I also accomplished something (writing this post) and gave myself permission to be human (acknowledging posts will be slower this week), now I just need to calendar this stuff out and I am on the track to success!
I really hope this helps someone else feeling overwhelmed, but if not it at least helped me!