Thursday, August 02, 2018

Six Steps to Tame Way Too Many Projects

Shoes that don't fit. How cool. :/

Too tight; too long. With added arch supports, they fit even worse. I bought these Rowley Slims Vans in the 00s because they looked cool, and I thought I’d get back into skateboarding, but I never bought a skateboard. I couldn’t even wear the shoes more than every once in a while. They hurt my arches because they are a size 11, and I wear a 9½–10. I was too impatient to special order ones that fit me. I was going to start skateboarding with clown shoes on a skateboard I hadn’t purchased yet. What was I thinking? My life has been filled with false starts like this. Intentions the size of mountains, but follow through measured in millimeters.

Since the writer’s conference in June, I’ve floundered a little. My days have been filled with family, as well as the fallout from pushing myself too hard. I have too much to do and too little time to do it. This isn’t a new situation I find myself in, however. My problem this time has been that I’ve used wishful thinking to map out my summer goals. Like when I bought the Vans, I’m enamored with the idea of these projects, but I didn’t think them through before committing to them. I often refer to this as Multi-Irons Syndrome.

People have a tendency to start more projects than they finish because it’s easy to come up with ideas, but hard work to bring them to life. Adults with ADHD have this problem, too, but their natural aversion to boredom amps up this process. If they don’t pay attention, they can have ten or more projects going and no projects near completion.

The way I avoid this problem is:

  1. Write down all my current open projects.
  2. Decide which are the top three.
  3. Organize the top three by priority.
  4. Resolve to work on the top project, and only the top project. (The hardest step!)
  5. Finish a project. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
  6. Move on to the next project.

You might think this is overly simplistic except that when I have too much going on, nothing gets done. I need to simplify, simplify, simplify in order to be productive. Writing down all the projects helps me let them go, because now they won’t be forgotten. I’m free to focus on the important ones.

Yet that’s not what I did for the past month. Here’s what I thought I’d finish by July 31st:

  1. Paperback version of Saying “NO” to Suicide
  2. Paperback version of Pokémon Legendaries in 7 Easy Steps
  3. Finish writing the next Pokémon book
  4. Various home projects
  5. Continue writing my middle grade novel, while also creating musical instruments unique to that world for research purposes. No, really.
  6. Start plotting a different middle grade series.
  7. Begin posting weekly Twelve Ways to Fight Off Depression blogs again.
  8. Write new articles for ADDitude mag and submit them.
  9. Migrate this blog away from Blogger

Never let it be said that I don’t dream big.

I knew when I started all these projects that I couldn’t possibly finish them all, but I didn’t anticipate that I would only finish one of them! I can tell that I’ve been sick and not quite myself. Taking on too many projects and failing to finish them triggers depression in me. I know better than this! Fortunately, I finished the ADDitude mag articles before the stress, sickness, and ticking began. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have finished those either.

Looking at my list, the top three are still my top three, and number one should become my one and only goal. Thinking this way, it’ll be done by the 10th. It’s ironic that we often feel that the busier we are, the more productive we are, but that’s a lie we tell ourselves. We’re only productive when we’re accomplishing things. Simplifying what we’re working on to just three things, while focusing on only one of them, helps us direct our time, drive, and energies into one task.

Coping Strategies: Next time you’re overwhelmed with too many projects, put most of them aside, keep the top three, and focus on the most important one. You’ll get more done that way.