Do you ever have sluggish days, weeks, or seasons, when you can't seem to get anything of significant worth done? The tasks exist, but the motivation to accomplish them doesn't.
I've been there more times than I can count and recently I've started to figure out the solution.
Do the ONE Thing.
WHAT one thing? The thing that you think about every time you open your laptop, sit down to rest, or look at your to do list. Do the one item that is the most time-sensitive, carries the most emotional weight, and consumes the most brain space.
How do you figure out what the "one thing" is? I've learned that my one thing is usually accompanied by some type of "should" feeling. "I really should get back to so and so." "I really should write that time-sensitive email." "I really should go to the grocery store today." These aren't the kind of should's that are based on social acceptance and culture, these are usually important responsibilities.
It seems that when I let "should"s remain undone, they clog my brain space and hinder my productivity. I recently began a week intending to spend every morning blogging but it seemed that every time I opened my computer, I considered one email that I needed to write, and then spent my morning surfing the web instead. On Thursday of that week, I finally decided to just write the email. After writing it, I had a flood of creative ideas and substantive thoughts. I almost couldn't type them fast enough. It was as if that one email was jamming my ability to do anything else.
This happens in other areas of my life too. I usually attempt to knock out grocery shopping on the weekend so that in the evenings I can simply make dinner. Occasionally, I can leave my grocery shopping until the very last minute and enjoy every second of my weekend. But other times, grocery shopping hangs over my head, squashing my motivation because I am dreading going to the store. On those weekends, I do best to wake up early and drag myself out of the house first thing on Saturday morning so that I can get shopping out of the way and get on with my weekend.
WHY don't we naturally just do the one thing? I wonder this often myself. Why can't I just buckle down and get that one overwhelming thing done?
Sometimes, it is because there is other work that must be done first. For example, I manage all of the filing in our home, and recently sat down to tackle the monstrous amount of work I had left undone for several months. I felt huge relief when I was finished; not because the task of filing itself was done, but because I had come across several documents or pieces of information that I needed in order to accomplish other tasks. I had to complete my filing before I could do the necessary things on my list.
Other times, I feel like whatever task needs to be completed will require too much energy when I feel like I have none to spare. That is usually my weekend grocery dilemma. I have zero interest in dragging myself to a store that is crowded with other people, finagling my cart around the produce section, finding items, standing on lower shelves to reach items placed unreasonably high, searching for that strange new spice... you get the picture. It takes energy and I don't think I have it. Surprisingly, dreading a task often takes way more energy than completing it.
In addition to small hinderances, I think everyone probably has one big thing that keeps them from doing the majority of the things that they need to do. Mine is insecurity. I get nerve-wracked over what people will think if I say the wrong words, don't communicate an idea clearly, or don't structure a project the way that someone else would. I worry that my words will be irrelevant, un-relatable, confusing, or even frustrating to others. I fear that I will do my absolute best work and then someone else will pick it apart. I realize, however, that people spend much less time thinking about my work than I think they do - and that what ultimately matter are my heart and intention in the process and whether or not the thing that I create will ultimately be glorifying to God.
So you've realized that there is a task on your to do list that is stealing all of your accomplishing joy, and you've figured out why you don't want to do it.
HOW do you go about completing this task? Here are some ideas:
1. If it will take less than 10 minutes, go ahead and knock it out. Right now! Go! You can do it! I'm cheering you on!
2. Schedule a time to complete the task and don't let anything else interfere. Move your calendar around, reschedule that coffee meeting, get it done. You will be much more productive once it's out of the way and you'll probably find yourself able to accomplish everything else on your to do list at a faster rate.
3. If you absolutely can't move your schedule around, determine that the next time you have unexpected free space in your schedule, you will knock the task out instead of reading that book or watching Netflix, and I mean the very next time - when your child takes an unexpected nap, when someone cancels a coffee meeting... promise yourself that you will complete it and stick to it!
WHAT NEXT? Once you've finished your project, store up all the feelings of accomplishment so that you can recall them and use them as personal motivation the very next time that you find yourself stuck!
What is your one thing? Tell me about how you conquered it! I can't wait to hear!