Blog

Stories from a life in progress.

It doesn't have to be that complicated

I mentioned in my earlier catch-up post that yesterday gave me a nice little collection of minor ailments; it's too bad I'm not interested in complaining, because I missed a lot of good material.  Nothing in the least serious, but a whole bunch of annoyances -- stuffy nose, painful sinuses, stiff legs, dry skin, etc.  Blah de blah.  Someone bring the cheese, cause I've got plenty of whiiiiiiiine.

So yesterday was a missed opportunity, had I been a skilled comic writer who could make a good story out of it all.  I wasn't able to make a good story out of it, though, being too mired in the middle, so in lieu of complaining I just didn't say anything.  Nothing outside the boundaries of my own head, anyway.

Part of the annoyance is that I have so much to do right now, and not enough of it is getting done -- which is to say, not enough to satisfy me.  Yes, yes, there's a danger there of expecting too much, and I have to be careful I don't tip into that mistake.  But I've still been spending too much time spinning wheels, looking around and not even sure what to do.  When there are so many tasks, it's hard to know where to start.  (Pro tip: starting anywhere counts.  But that doesn't make it easy.)

I often enough think "I should sit down and plan what I'm going to do about ..." with various things finishing off that sentence.  But in reality I rarely do sit down and plan what I'm going to do.  I depend too much on my mind to keep track of what I'm in the middle of, and that doesn't work very well.  I can only keep one big thing in my brain at a time, one biggish project, and if I get stumped on that project or if I reach the end, I'm suddenly drifting.  I don't know what to do next.

Yesterday morning my mind was spinning with tasks, and I knew I wasn't even remembering them all, because I've been constantly wandering around the house thinking "oh right, I need to do that too" and not getting those things done.  So I finally did the most basic, practical piece of planning possible:

I sat down with a notebook and I wrote down every single thing I could think of that needed doing.

That's all.  That's plenty to get started.  I forget that plans don't need to be complete and they don't need to be elaborate in order to get started -- in fact, my best planning happens when I let the plans grow up with and around the work, so I can find the most appropriate shape for the plans to take in order to support the work.  Right now, I don't need spreadsheets and calendars and outlines.  I need a list.  I need to get all the things-to-do out of my head and onto a piece of paper, so I can see what's there and start crossing things off.  I need just enough planning to make a start.  If I need more planning, that will become apparent.  I can continue it then.

I've already crossed off a dozen small tasks, just because I had them on a list, where I could spot them and take care of them.  Even feeling really grouchy and icky yesterday, I made a lot of progress, thanks to one simple list.