As in: “Where do I even start?”
Sound familiar? This thought goes through my head almost every time I start some kind of project, usually a big one, usually with no particular start or end dates, and no defined outcome… Right. So it’s not really a mystery why I don’t know where to start – I have no idea where I want to end up. Oops.
It’s the new year. There’s a lot of stuff I want to get done. Finding a way out of the “where do I” conundrum starts with being a little clearer with myself about what I really want. “Clean that room” is succinct, but vague. “Clean” encompasses a lot of action – declutter, put away, throw some things out, clean surfaces, clean the floor, maybe even washing couch covers and pillows. Faced with five or six still-considerable tasks, it’s easy to get paralyzed – which one first? But if I do that, then I need to do that other thing first… or if I do that, I need to go get (X)… (there’s always an “X” – it’s like the part of Murphy’s law no one ever told you about). Waaah!
This is one of the things my house ninjas managed beautifully – they did not tarry wondering where to start, they asked me where I wanted to end up and then they just DID. And it all got done. There’s a lesson there. One you probably don’t need to be a ninja to follow: Decide where you want to end up. And – Just start. It doesn’t matter where. Just do SOMETHING. And that something will be done. And you’ll be ready to do the next thing.
So I’ve been trying that. Sometimes this means I have to parse backwards through a task tree to get to the thing I can do – for example, realizing that I have to empty the dishwasher of clean dishes so that I can rinse and stow the next round of dirty dishes blocking the sink, so that I can get at the things I need to wash by hand. That can feel like a ridiculous round of “stuff”. But once the dishwasher is empty (and this takes, on average, about FOUR MINUTES – why is it something I procrastinate??) it frees up physical space – and some kind of psychic space – to get the rest done.
Setting aside the question of “where”, the idea of “beginning” leads to the question of “how”. And that I can answer. Set a timer so the task isn’t endless and, like the ninjas, just start. Go until the timer goes off and you can stop and take stock. The likelihood is you’ll have enough done to keep going until all, or some sizable part, of the job is done. And the relief will be amazing.
Whether it’s one stack of magazines sorted, or a rack of clean dishes dried and put away, those “do SOMETHING” tasks often kicks the wheels loose so I can do more. Today’s tasks included folding a pile of laundry that had set up shop on one corner of the bed and was threatening to reach the pillow. The clothes got put away and I got to reclaim my sleeping space. Then I grabbed the pile of leftover mail and sorted through that. Get a little done means getting more done. Getting more done means that my house is cleaner and more organized. And I can celebrate with a little piece of chocolate. Yay!
Stay tuned for more on the Here’s a Quarter blog next week! As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome – they are moderated (I know – adulting again), so they may take a little while to appear, but I read them all and appreciate that you were here. Thank you!