I had a report to write the other day. It felt long and overwhelming and was going to require a lot of focus. It did not feel fun. Twenty minutes after I sat down at my desk, I realized I was doing everything but the report. I also became aware that the anxious energy around getting that report done was moving with me into everything else I did (including starting to write this, because writing this was a lot more fun). I paused, pulled out the notes and materials I needed in order to be able to write, and did a little negotiating. I asked myself how long I thought I could write. Twenty minutes felt too long. My brain covered its eyes and let out a big sigh. At the mention of fifteen minutes, two little eyes hesitantly peered over their hands, and at the suggestion of 10 minutes, a deal was made. Because I was working ahead, I had the time to break this into smaller chunks and be gentle with my brain. No big battles today, thank you very much.
I noticed that this one task made everything I had to do feel large and overwhelming. It was as if it took a paint brush of frustration, and covered everything on my to-do list with that color/feeling. It was hanging over my head like a gray rain cloud about to burst. Once I was able to pause and realized what was going on, I could observe the frustration and tension. I’ve learned if I have something large and uninteresting to work on that I need to approach it in smaller pieces.
How did it go, you ask? I did it! My timer rang after ten minutes, and since I was so close to finishing I decided to push through and complete it. This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes my brain hears the timer and drops the task like a hot potato and walks away. The important thing is to find a starting point that feels accessible and an amount of time that will allow you to get some forward momentum, without shutting yourself down right from the start.
What is something you’ve been avoiding?
What is one small step you could take?
How long can you negotiate with yourself to work on it?
If you’re feeling stuck, let me know and I’d be happy to talk with you about it more!