I love delving into topics that explore the mental or spiritual side of simplicity (matched equally by my fondness for a calm space and a good physical de-clutter!). I’ve previously written about the importance of finding peace in your heart house, and questioning the busy rush we often find ourselves in.
In the past week I’ve made professional transitions which require a different set of skills and priorities to come to the fore, and at home I have several creative and functional projects with a myriad of smaller tasks either on the go or in the pipeline. They are all what I would choose to do, after some ruthless prioritisation, because they bring me (or have the potential to bring me) joy and satisfaction.
I am, however, notorious at perceiving most uninitiated tasks to be WAY harder than they actually turn out to be. Which means I spend a good deal of time fluffing about in the shallows, doing the empty tasks that dance around the actual task, or becoming overwhelmed by the thought of the task itself, which means I hold off even touching it until I absolutely must. The discomfort of the unknown haunts us all at times and the procrastination I’ve described above is something I’m confident we all experience in some way every day for things on our individual to-do lists.
The incredible thing is that, for the majority if not all of the tasks I complete, from the mundane to the higher level, once I stand on the other side, the ‘completed’ side, I consistently find myself thinking ‘Huh, that was actually more straightforward that I thought it would be’. Many a times have I realised that there is a fairly major incongruity between what I thought the task needed or involved, versus what it actually needed to be completed adequately. However, my mind has never quite closed the loop on deciding that therefore when I’m back on the flip side, the side where a new job needs to be done, I should just launch in. Instead, I revert back to a practised procrastination and mental foreboding.
In the past few weeks I’ve tried on a new technique for size, to help me overcome this brain block, one which involves meeting my task, but merely dipping my toe in the water of activity. What I’ve come to realise is that the biggest block for me comes from a dislike of the unknown – not knowing the contents of something, the steps involved, the outline, the smaller tasks needed. I’ve started to approach my tasks as I may approach interacting with new people – I meet them. I spend a few minutes getting to know them, without any obligation to form a deeper relationship. I dip my toe in the proverbial edge of the task, like a safari explorer watching the savannah animals from afar – I pop my head in, take a quick scope of the landscape, and in doing so I remove the most major barrier of ‘the unknown’ by doing a quick meet and greet with the task. I might take 1-2 minutes to skim review a document, jot down some ideas, or research further information. I feel no obligation to launch into deep work, but rather I see the meet and greet as an opportunity to mentally tick off that yes, I have in fact ‘started’ on thoughts around progressing the task, but most significantly, it often makes me more motivated to dive in not long after, because I have a better idea of what the landscape looks like and what actually needs doing.
This technique has certainly helped me to stand on the edge of a daunting task and feel like it is a more familiar companion, before I launch into any deeper involvement. It helps me to plan that deeper involvement more effectively, by knowing what my landscape looks like from the brief aerial mapping session I took during my meet and greet.
In this way, I find myself taking action in many more areas of my work and projects with greater ease and efficiency. It provides a tool for questioning the size and formidability of my tasks by adding some context and perspective, and lowering the barrier for entry. Mental de-cluttering is as much a focus of my mission these days as physical de-cluttering. Clearing the procrastination bugs help me to actually do what I’ve identified as important, and lessen the noise of all the rest.
Do you have techniques or strategies to help push you into action or get you moving? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time – simplify, focus, pursue and count your blessings.