Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Whole Nine Yards

A long list of things to do during the day can seem overwhelming, and lead to procrastination. The sage starts with the easiest or most immediate task, and nibbles away at the list until complete.
~ Today's Daily Quote from The TaoWoods Center ~

At times, modern life can seem overwhelming. For far too many people, the daily schedule is so crammed packed full of responsibilities, deadlines and expectations that they never know if they are coming or going. Looking at the entirety of the activities at hand can be quite daunting and cause many of us to simply want to throw up our hands or lapse into a fetal position.

I learned early in life the benefit of taking a big project and breaking it down into small attainable goals (though I certainly must relearn this lesson often). Like many youth of my day, I earned money mowing lawns. Several of the yards in my care were rather large. If I looked at each lawn in its entirety, I too often found it was difficult to motivate myself to commence the process. I could think of a thousand fun things I'd rather do!

So, I would draw sectors of each yard in my mind. I played a little game with myself. I'd say, "Once I complete this sector, I'll take a break and go get some lemonade." In most cases, however, once the sector was completed, I'd immediately move to the next one. I would follow this tact until the whole job was finished.

In my early twenties, I drove alone across the country from Hot Springs, Arkansas to Bend, Oregon. It was a trip of over 2,000 miles. Utilizing this same pattern, I made the trip in under 3 days.

At the outset, the length of the trip seemed very intimidating -- particularly since I'm not the adventurous sort (remember, I like sameness and repetition, not change). Using my road map, I plotted sectors along the route. Some sectors were for extended breaks and others were for overnight stops.

But a funny thing happened once I got on the road. I ended up not following my plot lines at all. Each time I made it to a marker, I'd think to myself, "Okay, I'm still feeling fresh, I think I can drive another 100 miles". So, I'd drive that 100 miles and then drive another 100 miles. Before I knew it, the long trip was completed.

Just within the past week, I played this same tune again. I've been busy doing the proverbial spring cleaning (even though it is technically summer now!) :-) Rather than being intimidated by the enormity of my project, I broke down the tasks by room and, sometimes, by various sections in a room. Within a short period of time, I realized I had completely reorganized the entire upstairs!

Each time I have a big project I try to follow this tact. At the outset, the same as most people, I tend to look at the immense work involved and procrastinate. At some point, I realize that the tasks must be done and that's when I begin breaking things down into more readily attainable components.

1 comment:

  1. Breaking big tasks into smaller bites is a great strategy for getting things done without becoming overwhelmed.


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