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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

As the weather starts to warm up, everyone seems to be winding up, making plans for the summer, talking about all the projects they're going to do. I love hearing about it, but I'm not going to lie. I feel overwhelmed. It's nice out! I should be doing so many things!

I think I'm not the only one. So I made us a little plan for how to get things done even when it's overwhelming.

  • Keep it simple. This is not as easy as it sounds. Make a note. Put it on your mirror. (And remember--if you're overwhelmed, your plan isn't simple enough).
  • Don't try to do everything. It's easy to see all the cool stuff out there and want to do it all. But trying that is just going to exhaust you or freeze you up so nothing gets done. So spend some time thinking of the things you really want to do, then whittle that list down to the ones that will really feel good. Put everything else on a list for later.
  • Celebrate when you take a small step! You're getting stuff done, and who cares how much your neighbor Janice did?
  • Make sure you put some fun things on your list. Fixing up the yard and the house and whatnot are great. But what do you want to remember at the end of the spring or summer? I want to remember drives in the country and going to the coast and visiting waterfalls and lighthouses. Put some experiences on your list. Make sure you sprinkle them in amongst the tasks and to-dos.
  • Take things off the list whenever you can. Doing a bunch of yard work? Don'e put making dinner on your list for the same day. If ever there was a time for carry-out, the evening of a big yard work day is it!
  • When you're thinking of what you want to do ask yourself some questions. "What's the simplest way of doing this?" "What's the smallest step I can take toward this?" "Why do I want to do this? What do I want to feel from doing this?" Make your plan from the answers.

We can do everything. Just not all at once. And we don't really need to. We just need to figure out the things that will make us feel good because we did them, then pick those. And keep those steps small and simple!

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8

I think that like many people, one of the reasons I was drawn to teaching and coaching was to learn more about how to do my own work and find ways to go through or around or over my own stumbling blocks.

One of my biggest stumbling blocks is perfectionism. That's true for so many creatives! What is it with our brains?! That's a question for a longer post, though.

Lately, to help me conquer my perfectionist tendencies, I'm working with the ideas in Jon Acuff's book and course Soundtracks. This week I have been practicing a new soundtrack for when I get frustrated because something is imperfect and not been working out. I've especially been using it as I'm trying to put together a version of that master to-do list idea I wrote about the other day. I've tried a couple of ideas that just aren't working for me, but instead of giving up on the idea, putting it aside for later and probably never getting back to it, I've been saying, "This one isn't quite working out for me. What else can I try?" And it's been pretty awesome.

My brain loves questions, so as I work more with these soundtrack ideas I'm seeing more and more that putting in questions with my statements is a really good way to go for me. My brain instantly starts coming up with answers when it gets a question, and that seems to be helping me not get stuck when things aren't working out. It's just a matter of finding the questions that really get to the heart of what's holding me back.

How do you keep yourself from getting stuck or quitting when things aren't going as you'd hoped? Do you like questions? Or does something else do a better job of getting you rolling again?

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4

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on unsplash.com

I really wanted to write "one list to rule them all." Who thought that when they read the title?

Anyhow, I'm playing with a new way of doing to-do lists that won't leave me with undone things on a daily list or feeling like I didn't put enough on my list. I'm thinking about a master list of things I want to do that I add to when something pops into my head. Then every day I would make a list of the things I did from the master list and cross them off on the main list.

So every day I get what we call in Kaizen-Muse coaching a ta-da list. I get to see what I accomplished and feel good about getting some things done. Plus I get that great feeling from crossing things off a to-do list.

I don't have all the details worked out (I may be overthinking this--it's a hobby). Will I keep it in a notebook? Or just the main list in a notebook and the daily list on an index card? Or the main list on one of my cork boards and the daily in a notebook or a planner or on index cards? Something else I haven't thought of yet.

That's what's on my mind today. I really want to do this and see how it feels, but I may make myself hold off because I'm getting ready to start the new two-month gig tomorrow, so things are feeling a little overwhelming which isn't the best time to add one more new thing. But I'd love to hear what you think or if you do anything like this.

Happy Sunday everyone!

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20

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I don't really have that much to do, but I think after an entire year being unemployed and not on a schedule, now that I'm starting to work a bit more (with a long-term job starting on the 14th) having anything that has to happen at certain times is feeling like a lot. So I'm going to handle it the way I usually do--with a list.

Things I'm planning for this week (and a little bit beyond):

  • Work on stories at least 4 times
  • Post ROW80 goals for Round 2
  • Make class handouts for the two embroidery classes I'm teaching the first weekend in May
  • Give feedback on L's writing that I meant to do last week
  • Try out new PT exercises for my knee and hip and start working them into my regular routines
  • Catch up on Wanderlust lessons
  • Blog daily
  • Read 3 blogs daily

I really want to put a million things on there. I was going to write out all the ROW80 goals here--maybe I should. I feel like there's a lot more I'm supposed to be getting done, but now that I'm making the list I don't know for sure what it all is. Working on my studio--cleaning, organizing, setting it up so I can actually work in there. Changing the sheets and washing the dirty ones. I'm sure there was so much more zooming through my head until I started the list. Maybe that means these are the important things. Anything else that comes up can go on a list for another time. I think this must be the list for this week. My head is feeling better, so it's definitely good enough to work with, and that's what I was aiming for, so I'm going to call it good.

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12

I wanted to write something "important" today, something meaningful and useful. I wanted to talk about how possibly my favorite way of getting things done is to get involved in a group of people doing what I'm doing. Groups and challenges and classes with regular lessons and groups where people share--all of these help me keep going on goals I might quit if I was working completely on my own. I'm really motivated by externals. I love stickers on my exercise calendar, coloring in dots on a habit tracker, reporting my progress and sharing my work in a group. All of these keep me moving.

I feel like I just said everything, but this seems really short for a blog post, so here are I few more thoughts about this. I'm going to focus on finding an ongoing group for something you want to give regular time to. I also jump in on groups for 30 day challenges and things like that all the time; they're lots of fun and I learn a lot of new things that way, but right now I'm thinking about more sustainable group work.

Finding a Group:

  • A critique group is not the same as a support group to help you get things done. Critiquing is for when you're ready to polish things up. Critique too early can stop you in your tracks, so watch out for what kind of group you're getting into
  • Productivity groups can be helpful, but if everyone's only about checking things off and reporting what they've done and nothing more you might not get the encouragement you're looking for to do your work. Experiment and find out if it works for you.
  • It can be especially helpful if you're participating with people who are doing the same thing you are. For example, I participate in The 100 Day Project, and I love it (I get to color in circles on my tracker, and I report via Instagram every day so there's accountability), but I find that I'm most revved up and get things done easier for things like NaNoWriMo where I'm in there with people doing the same thing I'm doing.
  • Be willing to leave a group. This can be hard, especially if it's a small group. You might feel obligated to stay and help others. If it's not helping you move forward on your path, if it's making you feel stressed out, if you feel like "oh no, time to check in again," leave. Give yourself permission to leave if you need to, if it's not working for you.

I guess this comes down to something we know but maybe don't always pay enough attention to. Look for your people, the ones who are doing what you do, are interested in what you do, support you in what you do. Your people will cheer you on, pull you forward, help you reach your goals. They will help you drown out the voices saying to give up, you can't do this, it's pointless. Your people will tell you those voices are wrong, and they'll help you prove it. Find them, stand with them, succeed with them.

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12

My Habitica avatar fancied up with a few filters

I wanted to talk about one more way I keep track of things because I really like this site and app a lot. It's called Habitica, and it's sort of a role playing game as well as a productivity tool. And it helps me remember all the daily tasks and routines I want to do as well as work on building habits I want to have and tracking to-dos. And it's really cute and fun. You can play on a team, join guilds, participate in challenges. Or you can just use it solo (what I'm doing right now--I'm not even hatching eggs for new companion animals and mounts right now, but that's another thing you can do) to track your stuff.

Why do I love Habitica? Because of the three categories of things to track (and they're all on one screen on the website, although on the app you do have to move between them). Plus, it's pretty and whimsical and makes me smile.

The Three Categories:

Habits--you can track when you do certain habits you want to build. You can set it up so that you give yourself a plus if you do it and a minus if you don't, or you can just do a plus for every time you do the habit. Currently I use the habits column for studying Spanish, cleaning my kitchen sink at night, reaching my daily Fitbit goal, and a few other things. I just give myself pluses, but you can experiment with how you want to do it.

Dailies--this is for things you want to do every day. You can edit it so that they only show up on certain days. For example, I have meal planning show up for me on Sundays so I can get ready for the week. I have "take probiotic" on every day because otherwise I forget. This is also where I put temporary dailies like the 30 days of blogging I'm doing right now. You can also add checklists to your items--I have an evening routine with things like set out clothes, set up coffee maker, wash up and others that I want to do before bed. I have exercise set up for every day, but I've created a reward where I can buy skip exercise for some gold coins. It's a pretty nice and flexible system.

To Do--This is your basic to-do list. You can make single items or items with checklists so you can keep track of one-time things you want to get done (I really like this for projects I'm doing). You can set deadlines on these to help encourage you to get them done in a timely manner.

There *is* a learning curve to Habitica, but they walk you through it in small steps to help you learn it. And there's a guild that's all about helping out and answering questions, so the learning curve is easy enough to navigate. . If you're looking for something fun and a little different to help you get things done, I definitely recommend trying this out (it's free!).

Let me know if you try out Habitica. And what other apps and things do you like for helping you get things done? I'd love to hear about what you use.

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10

I've been wanting to write a blog post for over a month. I've started it at least four different times. But I seem to be doing all the things I coach people out of doing! So I haven't been writing it. The funniest part is that it's about my desire to share more (probably a lot more) about my love of planning and to-do lists and goals and how I feel like as a creative I need to adjust how these things are usually done.

Luckily, Effy Wild launched a thirty day blog challenge for April. I saw it yesterday and signed up to do a post a day this month. Having that deadline, plus an audience, should shake those words right out of me!

I'm doing one other new thing this month. Even though I love love love planners and lists and apps and systems, I have balked at using habit trackers even though I'm always attracted to the way they look. They just seem overwhelming--so many things to track! So many spaces to fill in! It's like my whole life would be micro-mananged.

But some people in a class I'm taking have been showing theirs, and they talked about only tracking a few habits a month, and I thought I could do that. I realized I already use a sort of habit tracker with my monthly exercise calendar (I'll show a picture of that maybe tomorrow). And with the trackers I use for my 365 Mile Challenge and The 100 Day Project. I thought maybe I might be thinking of them the wrong way, so I decided to experiment a little bit.

I went looking for different types of trackers and found these cool mini mandalas from The Artisan Life, and I jumped right in to using them this month. I'm going to track my daily blogging. The other two I don't plan to do every day, but I want to do them more days than not. I'm going to track cleaning things in small bursts (tiny, tiny bursts of 2 - 5 minutes) and to work on story writing (also in tiny increments--even 5 minutes is going to count). I can't wait to show you the colored-in trackers at the end of the month!

My April habit trackers ready to go!

Is there anything you'd like to get done? Break it into small steps, and let's do things together! Drop me a note and let me know what you're going to work on this month so I can cheer you on.

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